Life’s Detours

A very dear friend of mine gave me for Christmas a book called “642 Things to Write About” in an effort to encourage my editorial aspirations.  So in my second attempt in 2014 to produce a blog post I turned to a random page and selected a topic, How do you feel about love these days?

I instantly thought this will be so easy to write about.  Love surrounds us everyday of our lives, this will be a snap.  Then the definition flood hit my brain.  There are so many descriptions and thoughts that a simple little four letter word like love evokes. Grand stories have been told about true love or love lost.  Love has been blamed for horrific tragedies and decade long feuds. Love has served as a scapegoat from time to time. From coffee ice cream to my children I experience love in so many different ways.  Can love wear many hats and come in a variety of shapes and sizes?  How can I summarize the complexity of a feeling so strong that sometimes it is barely felt?

 I love to travel.  Give me a plane ticket, a lodging reservation and I am out the door.  As I sat staring at the computer screen a light bulb flashed above my head, to me love is a journey. The trip of a lifetime complete with a roadmap full of twist and unexpected turns. There are the long, never ending paths that require a few stops.  And if you are lucky a few out of the blue detours. Love is the process not the destination. To love or be loved requires constant movement.  Love is challenging work that requires sincere thought and navigation and an ultimate goal to never reach a final destination.

We are always in a hurry for the next big thing in our lives. We dream of a new house, a new job, a new adventure, looking around every corner for what is going to happen next.  Maybe just maybe if we can learn to stop and enjoy the experience of the journey we will not only discover love but pure, genuine happiness.

A truly happy person is the one who can enjoy the scenery on a detour. – Greeting Card Cover

Be Present

Happy New Year!  Well here we are again, the one day of the year that we all indulge ourselves the opportunity for a new beginning.  Imagine a giant Monopoly board and here we come screaming around Boardwalk and hit Go.  We do not receive $200, instead we collect fresh thoughts, unlimited opportunity for change, and an open minded state where anything is possible.

First move for many of us is to make (and then soon break) the annual New Year’s resolutions. You know the drill, all the bad habits you want to quit or the holiday weight gain you wish to loose. If we announce these messages of change on January 1, then we are sure to succeed.

I have a somewhat different take on the process.  To me the chance to reflect and motivate is a gift and the way I create my list is simply to write down “In 2014 I Inspire to…”  Actually this process of seriously considering the New Year as a tool for achievable actions began in 2005.  As I celebrated my birthday at the Mercedes Golf Tournament (currently known as Hyundai Tournament of Champions) in Maui looking out to the ocean from the 10th hole the world looked as though anything was possible. I thought to myself, “Why not aspire to be more?” But I didn’t want to take the negative approach of breaking a bad habit; I wanted to focus on the positive side of the coin.   That year I vowed to learn the game of golf and tackle the obstacle created by a stick, small ball and yards of green grass.  I even went as far as taking lessons.  Needless to say, my golf game is nothing to boast about, but I can play a round or maybe just a half of round!

So what is number one on my hit list for 2014, well for me it is pretty simple.  I inspire to live in the moment.  During class, at home, or even reading a book, I want to spend less time worrying about everything I am not accomplishing and just enjoy the process.  How many quotes have you read that basically point out the fact that the journey is more important than the destination?  Technology, multi-tasking, society in general encourages one to accomplish as much as we can in a single day and then get up and do it all over the next day.  But what is the point?  Why do we mow through the rose garden and never stop to smell the darn flowers? 

Now many of you that know me realize that this feat will not be as easy as learning a new game.  So what will be my strategies? The first and foremost enemy of being present has to be the cell phone. A cell phone is really not an appendage of ourselves.  We can remove the device from our space and we will not begin to hemorrhage technology tidbits of communication gold. My Blackberry and I will be taking some space from each other daily and developing new relationships.

But the best piece of advice I can give myself, it just be aware of being in the moment.  Last year on New Year’s Eve Day, Lilly and I spent some time exploring art galleries along the coast.  I bought a painting for my wall.  The words inscribed basically sum up my 2014 inspiration.

“Her favorite moments were those when she let go of all expectations and worries and just simply celebrated the very moment she was living”

Cheers to the 2014, may we all find the inspirations we desire. 

PS – I also inspire to write in my blog more frequently, I have a plan let’s hope it works!

The Knowledge Balance

Background (I started this post over a month ago and have reflected during the writing process)

Please excuse my diversion from my typical format and indulge me this process. I am in need of some self discovery and hope that writing my thoughts down might help me gain a better perspective.

I am currently flying 30,000 feet over the state of New Mexico returning from a marketing conference. Spending time in numerous sessions that sent my creative mind in countless directions is not only fulfilling but exhausting. Multiple times I found myself exploring the countless people and places that this subject matter could be applied for success. There are numerous business associates, friends, clients and industries that my ideas or knowledge could make a tremendous impact.

Youtility

At the conference the opening keynote speaker was Jay Baer. Jay focused on the concept of Youtility. As an economist I was intrigued of this new way of approaching utility. “Marketing so useful that people will pay for it”, is the definition given for Youtility. A concept that is built on the belief of usefulness driving sales.

As I shared my experiences the last night of the convention with a coleague it dawned upon me, were do you draw the line? When does MY knowledge become value. When does my Youtility cross the line into a revenue source?

Sharing vs Applying

Does action equal value? Can sharing concepts and techniques discovered pose little risk to the potential sale? Or as the old saying goes “Why buy the cow when you get the milk for free?”. After years of teaching I have discovered one truth, success can not be achieved without application. There is a huge difference in studying a discipline and applying concepts to a real life situation.

An entrepreneur attitude is one I hope to someday perfect. Harnessing my talents into a revenue generating source would take my Youtility to a whole new level of value. But the key is where to draw the line of sharing knowledge and placing a price tag on your talents. Maybe the answer lies in how you leverage your thoughts? The world of sales revolves around the pitch. The art of enticing a potential lead into actually paying for the service. But wouldn’t one first need to introduce the concepts in order to show value?

Or could it be as simple as purchasing a book on-line through Amazon? Where one can download a sample before you make a purchase to make sure the reading fits your need. Maybe the key is how many pages of knowledge do we share in a free download? Everyone has gifts worth sharing to better this crazy world in which we live. And I am the first to admit that giving is the first step in receiving. But, I also realize that gifts hold value and discovering ones worth is crucial in achieving long term success. Imagine if the added weight needed to put your soul in balance is selecting the pages of knowledge that are “free” to share. Not only could your inner scale rise, but maybe your checking account, too.

My Long Forgotten Blog..But Not Really

I have been very bad at writing in my blog and at times it deeply depresses me. I started this project over a year ago in hopes to train myself to write often. My ultimate goal is to write a book…….someday. My thought was if I can get in the routine of writing, bing bang boom before you know the infamous words of my bestselling novel would pour out onto the page like a rain storm in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

Yet as one can easily view, I have not accomplished much in the last year.

As I celebrated the first day of 2013, in my usual Type A style, I graded my accomplishments of my 2012 goals and created a 2013 agenda. As expected my writing rated poorly in 2012 and made the top five of accomplishments for the coming year.

So what strategy will I employ for better success in the coming months? Well I have been pondering this very dilemma and came up with a new strategy. I love to read. I love to read for lack of a better word, “self-help books”. One novel I really enjoy is The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor. There are many great lessons discovered in these pages, but for this example I am going to focus on “daily strokes of effort” as created through William James work. Basically it honors the old saying “practice makes perfect”.

The theory is to create the habit of doing something. Making an effort to do something daily, until it becomes second nature could be the key to my writing predicament. But I needed a simpler task than pen and paper. My solution was found in a piece of fruit.

I recently read that a healthy lifestyle should include eating an apple a day. I figured if I could get myself to consume an apple a day for 21 days, I could test the habit forming hypothesis. There were two reasons for this challenge. One it would require little effort and time and two how guilty could I be if I didn’t eat my apple.

Well I am over 21 days into this experiment. I will confess that I did not eat an apple every day, but there were few days I did skip. I also find myself thinking every afternoon that I need to go have my daily fruit snack. I might have just discovered how to take a bite out of my writing issues. Either way, both duties do nothing but better me as a person. And who can feel defeated about that!

Fitting a Square Peg into a Round Hole ….. Approaching Tasks from a New Perspective

Have you ever realized when you need to solve a problem, either big or small; it often helps to approach your thought process from a new vantage point?  Time and time again I find some of the biggest struggles I have had in life, were resolved once I stepped away from the issue and looked upon it in new light.  The ancient catch phrase of “trying to make a square peg fit into a round hole” is a trap we all fall into during our daily life. We are taught if we are given the proper tools and a proven plan of attack we should be able to come to a sound conclusion.  But once we walk away, clear our head and then approach from a new vantage point (a point that might not be proven or completely new), miraculously the clouds part, the sun shines through and we have the answer.

So where in the world am I heading today with this blog, well I am tackling the blog I posted a few weeks back.  One of my life goals is to write a book.  I have ALWAYS wanted to write a book.  And I thought to accomplish this task it would require me to get 50,000 – 75,000 words constructed into fictional story.  Come to find out, I was going about this all wrong.

During my time at the Content Marketing Conference (which by the way was amazing) I sat in on a seminar by accident that changed my perspective.  Not only was it by accident that I was in the seminar (I had the wrong room number), but the speaker scheduled cancelled at the last minute and we were greeted by Jim Kukral.  Jim has written a book titled “Write a F*$%’ing Book Already: The Insider’s Guide To Increasing Your Sales & Improving Your Career With A Book”.  At this moment I knew it was a sign from above and this was a message I needed to hear.

I was mesmerized by his presentation.  Jim pointed out that a book does not have to be 75,000 word fictional best seller. A book can be about anything you feel comfortable enough to write about.  And it needs to be only a fraction of the word count that I had been focusing on as a target.  Furthermore he suggested great ways to self-publish and tools to help the writing process.  But his message was simple and clear, write a book about what you know in a word processing program.  The end.

Could it really be that easy?  Have I been fighting this demon since college to only discover I was already full on countless books that just need to find the written form?  And the answer was “Yes”. So I have begun a new book titled the “ABC’s of Marketing… for Fairs and Festivals”.  It will focus on audience, branding and content.  I downloaded a trial version of Scrivener (a book writing helper) and I am happy to report I am well on my way.

September was the month to embrace your passion.  Little did I realize that I was holding onto my passion all wrong.  Once I released my grip and let it go, I finally discovered a way for my passion and I to truly cuddle.

To Be Happy or Not to Be Happy … Should there be a Question?

 

“A truly happy person is the one who can enjoy the scenery on a detour” – anonymous greeting card
I have a common habit of getting in a “blue funk” right around the first of every year.  I am not sure what causes this emotional shift, but last year I decided to comfort the mood head on.  I had received an iPad for Christmas.  A gift from my children that I became engrossed with morning, noon and night.  With my new Kindle app downloaded I begin to search for books on happiness.
One of the key features I enjoy about on-line book shopping, is the ability to “sample” books before purchasing them outright.  After many failed attempts, I stumbled upon the new road map to my happiness. (Stumbled    Upon is another app I discovered but that is for another post).
When the search engine retuned “The Happiness Advantage” the Seven Principles of Positive Pshyscology by Shawn Archer my search for the wisdom of being happy was discovered.  Basically the concept is simple.  One needs to learn to be happy instead of waiting for some life changing moment to be happy.  For example we run around thinking that once we get that job promotion, loose 10 pounds, basically accomplish a goal we have set for ourselves then we will allow ourselves to be happy.  Instead the author urges us to find happiness daily and these many goals will come so much easier.  There are many other great concepts in this book, basically I urge all to read.
For 2012 I discovered a book called “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin.  What I loved about this book is that it is set up by month.  I try to read a chapter per month and apply to my everyday life.
So why am I blogging about Happiness today?  Well September is embrace your passion month.  Anyone who knows me would tell you my dream job would be to be a writer.  So my challenge to myself and my three readers is….embrace your passion in the month of September.  Whether it is cooking or crafting, traveling or reading, or even a sporting activity..get out there and plan time in your schedule for your passion.
I am going to start writing a book.  And you my lucky readers are going to be my audience.  My plan (finger crossed) is to post each week 5,000 words of a book.  I know I’m dreaming big…but I find happiness in just the thought of writing a full sentence!  Heck I wrote 415 words in this post, what is another 4,500 🙂

Change..Friend or Foe?

Change is a dark stranger that on the surface scares one to death, but eventually can become your new best friend.
In my zealous state to create a blog I quickly wrote my first entry and then had high hopes of continuing each and every week.  As my few (and I mean three) followers know, there has not been a new post to read in weeks.  My plan was to follow up my beginning post with a piece on the effects of Western Bonanza on the exhibitors and their parents.  But as time rushed on, I regret the thoughts never landed from my head to the written page.
One of the key reasons is that there are changes happening with the program.  And it began my mind thinking about change.  I work in the fair industry which is on a roller coaster of revisions, especially in the state of California. At Cal Poly we are getting ready to change quarters and students are graduating beginning a new fresh start.  And then tomorrow marks my third wedding anniversary, which is a new journey that I’m still surprised I embarked down the path which was a major change.
So what is my point, well here it is in a nut shell.  Most people I know do not like change.  It scares them to death if their daily routine is altered.  Basically, surprises aren’t fun and the safety of predictability is as sacred as knowing where to find the mayonnaise in your local supermarket.  But, I actually beg to differ on this subject.  With change comes the hopes of great opportunities.
Unless we are tossed off our comfort path, we might never know there is something way greater just waiting to befriend us around the corner.  Today’s post is my simple steps for dealing with change.  There has been no great hours of research devoted just my 45 years of experiencing change.  You are more than welcomed to agree or change the list to fit your lifestyle, basically isn’t that the beauty of change anyway?
Simple Steps to Accepting Change:
1. Don’t use the bandage approach.
Ripping it off and dealing with total change can be painful and harder to adjust to in the long run.  For example, you get a new job and in your mind everything needs to be changed.  The people who your changes effect, your employees, customers, etc, need time to adjust.  Sometimes taking baby steps can actually make the process successful quickly.
2. Don’t make change just to make change.
Ever hear the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence? Well it isn’t and their septic will eventually overflow just like yours.  To many times we run around chasing happiness and have the grand notion that change is the secret cure.  Look for the root of the problem, then adjust accordingly.
3. Look for the silver lining… It is there sometimes you just have to sift through the clouds to find the sparkle.
Many times we encounter changes that we had simply no control over.  The most common reaction is to become “Eeyore” and respond with a downer answer and suffer through.  But I truly believe with every change the is a great opportunity to be discovered.  And the key to discovering the treasure is always within yourself.  If you sit around and wait for someone else to figure it out for you or simply had you the key to the Emerald City…well my friend it’s not going to happen.
4. When all else fails make a list.
I’m a huge believer in lists.  And not just list of things to do, but lists for everything.  I had. “bucket list” years before the movie hit the silver screen.  I have lists of things I like or enjoy, I have yearly goal lists.  Putting down on paper your thoughts in a list format can be very therapeutic.  I made a list a few years before I met Bobby outlining traits I wanted in a man, I found the list days before our wedding and I am happy to report he received 100%.
I guess one could say I was looking for a change when I started this blog.  I wanted something just for myself and would help me someday achieve my life long dream to write a book.  Changing my thought process and daily plans to find time for the blog is difficult, I must say.  But, once I complete a post I get that rush of self achievement that validates your own efforts to yourself.  And isn’t that who really controls your happiness anyway!

Hello world!

Welcome

If my “fairy godmother” would appear and ask me what I would like to be more than anything, I would reply a writer.  But after starting numerous books throughout my life, I decided a blog might be a good spot for me to start my writing career.

Why “A little bit about a lot of things”.. well basically I think it describes me pretty well.  I know a little bit about a lot of things.  I am a college professor with a degree in agriculture economics.  I teach marketing and classes in fair management.  Yes, fair management.  As in your local agriculture fair that celebrates the achievements of your community.  I enjoy traveling and expensive shoes.  I am a 5th generation agriculturist who grew up on the central coast of California.  I am a mother of three teenagers who have participated in all kinds of activities.

So watch what happens next as my first post will be featured this weekend titled “Learn by Doing”

 

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