27 February 2007

Frustration Turns into Creativity

Tuesday 5:43pm 27Feb07

Yesterday I started the day off with a giggle thinking how relaxing my morning at work was going to be. Well, at least it started that way. Then it turned into a beat down session with me being the one beat down. I answered the phone with exasperation more times than not.

When I got home last night I was sure that I was going to dive into bed head first. I certainly couldn't blog. No one wants to read about that shit. I didn't even have the energy to go to the liquor store for a bottle of wine. The thought of standing in line sweating in my layers was akin to some kind of Japanese water torture.

I didn't think I was going to write at all. I started my journal, 'Today the wrath of Mercury retrograde reared its angry head in my direction.' Heck, I was the bullseye! The day was all about communication, miscommunication, hostile communication, Mercury's domain.

Somehow I figured out that sleeping and/or drinking wasn't the answer. So I wrote. I wrote my 1 hour mind cleanse for 30 minutes. I wrote my freeflow for my novel and I worked out. In the midst of working out I realized that frustration and anger motivate me.

I wrote in my journal, 'What a great thing sometimes frustration can be because it stops me and gets me to ask the question, what do I most need to focus on for my sanity and my future? I need to be able to ask that question when I'm not frustrated or angry. I want to feel good. I don't want to be ruled by a life of roller coaster emotions in order to create because that's the kind of person I am, the one who loves to create.'

Through the midst of all that I also decided that since I've got all my novel notes and drafts and scratchings in one place, I'm going to read everything I have and plug the pieces into appropriate chapters of my novel.

In my journal I wrote, 'It makes sense to go through all my pieces of writing to throw them all into White Wishes chapters. Read through it, mark up the page and type it into my novel that I'm working on now. Add the daily freeflow stuff that I'm doing for each chapter as well. Just keep adding and reading and reorganizing until I get there. And when I have read through every last bit of paper and have a whole novel then sculpt it like clay into what I want it to be.

I, today, February 26th 2007, feel like I can complete White Wishes and it's the best feeling ever. I can really do this. How wonderful is that? It's been a long time coming and there is still more work to do but I finally genuinely feel like I've got the right focus. I really need to have that feeling of creating out of thin air (freeflow/ stream of consciousness writing) because I love that feeling but, as well, I can plop the finished pieces together and read them and sculpt the scenes. It's really really good, this love of what I do.'

Some how I transformed the frustration and channeled it. I've been working toward harnessing my energy instead of turning it into depression for years, yesterday I nailed it.


22 February 2007

The Bar

I'm in love! Okay, not with a person, but with a place. It's a small bar near where I work. I keep telling myself not to become a regular at this bar. It's nice once in awhile to show up and have a beer to break up the month of going straight home to write. It's nice once in awhile to go in and socialize and enjoy the cold refreshing beer saturating my tongue. But it's not my place, it's not my hang out.

What I discover everytime I go in is that there's something really magical about it. Everytime I go in there I meet someone new. The key of course could be that I go in there by myself, mind you, I do know enough of the regulars that I could conceivably just talk to them each time and never meet another new person. But I always meet someone new. It's fascinating. I get to hear funny stories, heart warming stories, personal stories. Stories galore! The place feeds my writer brain. Sometimes I can sit for an hour or so and work on my writing, sometimes I can't write because the socializing is on high and either way it feeds me.

Someone remarked last night, when I said that I didn't know what anyone there did for a living, that it was rare to meet a person who didn't immediately ask that question. I said that I want to talk to people not gauge how much money they may or may not earn. How much money someone makes has never been an interest to me.

At the bar, beautiful things happen in front of me because I expect some type of beauty there. I expect to meet nice people and I always do.

Last night one of the regulars was there and his daughters showed up with his 14 month old grand son. The bartender scooped up the chubby peach of a child and carried him around showing him off to everybody, excited by the size of the child, admiring the child's sunny face. What a gorgeous occasion to see a man thrilled by children. What a beautiful blessing having the chance to see another side, a tender side of a man. Especially a man. Babies stereotypically fall under a woman's domain. Women coo and ooh and aah over babies. In our society, men aren't supposed to.
In Wabi Sabi for writers by Richard R. Powell, he writes, "Male stereotypes pull hard at a boy; male society encourages a kind of brutish toughness. But my heart was born tender and gentle; my strength increased when I turned away from male pride..."
What a joy to see a man that has overcome that noise and who openly enjoys the sight of a chubby baby. I could almost see his heart swelling with joy over this baby. I'd love to see him when he finally has his own child. What a deserving heart for such a sacred experience.

And then there was the tale that Derek told me because I asked... "I hope I'm not being too forward in asking but what happened?"
see Derek's story next entry.

So slowly I'm becoming a regular in an alternate Cheers universe where everyone is beginning to know my name and I like it. Where the people feed into my writing world and where nice things happen because I'm looking for them


Derek's Story

Thursday 7:58pm 22Feb07

He was a broker. He'd made his first million dollars by the time he was 28 years old. He said that he would have nightmares about money. He'd disappear for days at a time, running off to Vegas getting so doped up and thinking he was in Ajax. He'd call his wife saying he wasn't sure where he was. She complained to him, you're working too much, you're too focused on money, you need to spend more time with me and your sons.

He shrugged off her complaints. She wasn't complaining about flying off to go shopping with her best girlfriend on his money and not having to work for a living, he thought.

She left him.

He continued on his path.

She got in a serious car accident and broke her neck. The doctor's called him and told him to bring their sons in to say goodbye to their mother.

He brought them in then spent what was to be her final days with her in the hospital. He took a leave of absence from work and spent all his days at the hospital or taking care of his sons. She kept hanging on.

Eventually her situation started to improve. There was constant care but she was improving. The doctors put steel rods in her neck. He helped her when it was time to go home. He's continued to spend time with her and care for their sons.

One night they had a long talk. She said that despite loving her sons, she'd always wanted a little girl. They agreed and set out to get her pregnant. Doing what you do.

She's pregnant and it's a little girl. Derek moves back in with her in 6 weeks. He quit his job and got another low maintenance job.

He said, "now I'm having nightmares about having a baby. A little girl! Will she be healthy? Will the delivery be too hard on my wife? I'm a complete mess."

A complete mess? He's changed his life drastically. He listened to the message that the universe offered him. He's been given a second chance and he's taking it.

What a great story and I'm so grateful that he told it to me.


12 February 2007

Mesmerized By Uncertainty

Monday 12Feb07 5:59pm

I took a cab to work this morning and got to hear a portion of a speech by Martin Luther King Jr. In it he talked about people being mesmerized by uncertainty. I liked that phrasing. It's true isn't it? We do spend so much needless time being mesmerized by uncertainty, focusing on all the things that can go wrong, focusing on all the things that frustrate us, focusing on all the things that we can't control. Personally, I can get into that spiral so easily and forget that there are any other possibilities.

It's just as easy to focus on all the things that could go right for a change. It would certainly give me a boost of positivity. What if I could complete all my novels? What if I could write 3 hours a day, every single day for the rest of my life and love myself for prioritizing? What if that smiling guy actually feels the same way about me? Who cares if he doesn't, by the time I realize he might not I'll have moved on, anyway. What if tomorrow I can accomplish one goal and the next day accomplish two and build on my successes every single day?

I liked the quote that either Deepak Chopra or Wayne Dyer mentions in their talk together (Creating your world the way you really want it to be.) One of them says, " Stop worrying about things you can't control because you can't control them so why worry about them? And Stop worrying about the things you can control because you can control them so there's no point in worrying about them. If you don't worry about what you can't control because you can't control it and you don't worry about the things you can control because you can control it, there's nothing to worry about. So Stop Worrying!"

I finally get that sugar makes me sleepy and have successfully cut that out as an option. I'm going to try being mesmerized by certainty for change. See how high I can lift my energy. Things are going to happen the way they happen anyway whether I look forward to things or feel scared of some unforeseen fallout.

You never know. What if I could get everything I want?


03 February 2007

I'm On The Path

Saturday 1:42pm 3Feb07

I'm always thinking about starting on my spiritual path to enlightenment but I often get all caught up with the fact that I like the taste of beer. Some how I have it in my head that if i'm to follow this path I'm going to need to give up drinking beer and live some sort of puritan existence.

Listening to my Deepak Chopra and Wayne Dyer Cd's and the ideas that they discuss, I tick off that imaginary checklist of some of the things I already do. Some of the things I fell into on my own, like the 4am rising. I've spent the last few days reminding myself that I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be, doing what I'm supposed to be doing. It finally clicked in to my consciousness on Friday morning that I am already on the path. This is my path. I am a beer drinking woman on my path to spiritual enlightenment. ha ha!

Being on the path doesn't mean being perfect. And could I live with myself if I were perfect?

I discussed this with a girlfriend last night who listed off all the reasons why she is a failure or all the examples that prove that she has failed. I asked her if she ever felt like she was an outsider within her own family. She said yes. I told her that my interpretation of her life was that she has had to prove to herself that she can survive on her own, not leaning on her family. All the so called failures and failings and fuck ups were her way of proving to herself that she could survive anything.

You are already on your path. The things that you focus on that you feel bad that you haven't accomplished yet are only options for you to choose, if you want to choose them. If you want, you can choose something else.

A lot of people pay attention to me and what I do and how I think about things. What if I was the person to interest everyday people to notice what their path is? What if I am a guide to everyday people? Well I'd certainly be drinking beer with them, wouldn't I? I'd have a few beer and I'd speak to them in their language.

So I've decided that I am a beer drinking woman on my spriritual path to enlightenment. When my circumstances change so will my behaviour and when my behaviour changes so will my circumstances. And in the mean time I'm going to enjoy the taste of a beer or two.


Rise and Shine

1:15pm Saturday 3Feb07

Back in the days when I was a ticket seller at the North York Performing Arts Centre and I was doing my Child and Youth Work program at George Brown, I used to read business magazines like Canadian Business and Fortune Magazine. One of the things that I learned was that you could take a small successful business from somewhere and start the same thing where you are. Which we basically know as franchising. But there's the other side where you find something that a business is doing to generate more sales and customer interest and you basically copy that and get the same results. Hey I'm not a business geek so my explanation is crude!

Any how, that was how Dave Nichol started the insider's report back in the days when he was CEO of Loblaws. He took what he saw worked at another vastly different company and applied it to Loblaws. He started all those President's choice lines and brought Cott's black cherry to loblaws under the President's choice label. Because of black cherry, I had to love Dave Nichol. Since I'd moved to Toronto I'd looked high and low for Cott's black cherry. The Cott's label was prevalent but not Black Cherry until Dave changed all that.

Any way because of that, I'd read any article written about Dave Nichol. The business media was pretty bitchy when it came to Dave Nichol. They didn't see his vision and basically happily called him a copy cat. Hello, isn't that what Pepsi and Coke do?
In one article about him, I learned that he got up between 4 and 5:30am every single day. At the time I thought, "that's crazy, who can get up that early? It's still dark out!" But eventually it was something I was able to do.
Wow, I forgot about my Dave Nichol's days. I actually saw him one day when I was working at Harbourfront as he was coming out of the Cott's office at the Queen's Quay Terminal. We said hello to each other but I never did find the guts to tell him that I found him and his career inspiring.

On Wednesday, I was listening to my Wayne Dyer Cd's and he talks about rising between 3am and 6am as part of a spiritual practice. Hmm, from CEO's to Spiritual leaders and one little writer. ha ha!

Yesterday a girlfriend emailed me Jim Citrin's article about getting up early from the yahoo finance section that shows how other CEO's use their early mornings and I post it here: (click the Rise and Shine title to go to the actual Yahoo page and read some of the bitter comments - they're funny)

Tapping the Power of Your Morning Routine by Jim Citrin

Posted on Tuesday, January 30, 2007, 3:00AM

How disciplined are you about your early-morning routine?

If you want to maximize your success while achieving the best possible balance in your life, you may want to take a fresh look at what time you wake up and what you do with your time before getting to the office.

A Wakeup Call

Last week, I contacted some of the business leaders I greatly admire and inquired about their early-morning schedules.

Specifically, I asked 20 CEOs and top executives what time they wake up, when they have their first cup of coffee, when they start on email, what if anything they do for exercise, what time they leave for the office, and what else they do before walking out the door.

I heard back from half a dozen of them within 10 minutes, and, in a matter of a few hours, I received answers from a total of 17 out of the 20 -- a response rate that would be the envy of any market researcher.

It didn't take long for the patterns to emerge. Based on an analysis of the executives' schedules and activities, I discovered seven practices you should seriously consider adopting in order to make the most of your morning.

1 Start early.

This is the part of your morning routine over which you have the greatest control. To fit it all in, it's a must to start early. The latest any of the surveyed executives wake up is 6 a.m., and almost 80 percent wake up at 5:30 or earlier.

The early-bird-gets-the-worm award goes to Padmasree Warrior, chief technology officer for Motorola, who rises at 4:30 a.m., spends an hour on email, reads most of the news online, and then does an hour of either cardio or resistance training each morning. This allows her to get her son ready for school and drop him off, and still get to work by 8 or 8:30 in the morning.

2 Get a jump on email.

If you think you're alone in feeling overwhelmed by email, take comfort: even top CEOs and the most senior executives feel compelled to stay on top of their email, and most of them find time in the early morning to do so.

Ursula Burns, the No. 2 executive at technology giant Xerox, says, "I do email from the minute I get up [5:15 a.m.] and all day long, finishing around midnight." Haim Saban, chairman and CEO of investment firm Saban Capital Group, starts email right after his first cup of coffee "at 6:02 a.m." and works on it for about an hour before his 75-minute morning exercise regimen.

Lou D'Ambrosio, chief executive officer at telecommunications equipment leader Avaya Communications, is "on email literally within one minute after waking up. I spend about an hour at home in the morning doing email to jump-start the day. This allows me to have a clear mind when I set priorities for the day." Lou also does email from 10 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. at night.

Several executives wait until they get to the office before they start working on email. Matt Ouimet, president of the hotel group for Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, for example, rises at 5:30 a.m. and leaves the house at 6 a.m. to get to the office very early -- "I've always been anxious to get to work: game time" -- and responds to email undisturbed for an hour while the office is very quiet.

3 Exercise every morning.

It's often difficult to find a way to fit exercise into your busy schedule, but knowing that some of the most successful businesspeople do so might motivate you to find a way to work it into your routine.

More than 70 percent of the business leaders in my survey perform their exercise in the morning, while 15 percent find a way to do it during the day (one does it late at night before turning in). Only two of the executives admit to not exercising on a regular basis, although one said, "I know I should."

The individual who demonstrates the greatest exercise discipline is the CEO of a high-performing global technology company (I promised him anonymity so as not to blow his cover). "I exercise at lunchtime," he says. "I block the time every single day. This is because I'm a runner and that's the best time to run outside all year long."

4 Be thoughtful about the source, form, and timing of your news.

Much has been written about the demise of the newspaper, and, along those lines, about a quarter of the executives I spoke with has switched to online news. Yet most of the others maintain the morning newspaper as a central part of their routine.

Steve Reinemund, the CEO of PepsiCo, reads the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, and the Dallas Morning News. Rafe Sagalyn, CEO of the prestigious Sagalyn Literary Agency of Bethesda, Md., blends traditional and new media. He says, "I simultaneously skim online newspapers from Boston to Los Angeles and half a dozen blogs one really has to keep up with. At about 6:30 a.m., I fetch three morning papers -- the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal."

5 Problem-solve.

The quiet of the morning is often the time when your mind is at its clearest and most well-suited to solving important problems.

Steve Murphy, CEO of publishing company Rodale, says, "A line in a William Blake poem inspired me to think differently about my day: ‘Think in the morning, act in the noon, read in the evening, and sleep at night.' This has made a huge difference in my life. Now, I take out a yellow pad every morning and write my thoughts for the day, which allows me to be much more strategic and proactive than reactive."

6 Make family time.

Many business leaders find that the morning encourages important family time. Some have breakfast with their families or make taking kids to school a central part of the morning routine.
Clayton, Dubilier & Rice managing partner Kevin Conway lingers at home when he can to help send off all three kids to school. Greg Maffei, CEO of Liberty Media Corporation, says, "I try to talk one of my kids into going outside to get the paper, but end up getting it myself. I then have breakfast with my wife and kids, help the latter get dressed, and drive the older boys to the bus stop at 7:40 a.m."

7 Be creative with your morning routine.

Despite all the discipline and structure described in the above best practices, it doesn't mean you can't be creative with your morning rituals. Gerry Laybourne, founder, chairman, and CEO of Oxygen Media, maintains a routine similar to other business leaders.

However, she adds a unique twist to her schedule: "Once or twice a week, I go for a walk in Central Park with a young person seeking my advice. This is my way of helping bring along the next generation. I can't take time at the office to do this, but doing it in the morning allows me to get exercise and stay connected with young people at the same time."

The examples cited here have led me to reassess how I structure my early-morning time, and I hope they help you in making the most of your daily routine as well.

Are You Dreaming Big Enough?

Are You Dreaming Big Enough?

by Alan Cohen

I saw a billboard prominently displaying photos of two bottles of liquor. One was a small bottle with the caption, "Regular size." The other bottle was huge, several times larger than the tiny one --its caption was, "Fantasize."

The only dreams worth entertaining are those which are far greater than the life we are already living. If we are guilty of any sin (Self-Inflicted Nonsense), it is accommodation. We hurt ourselves not by what we ask for; but by what we settle for.

When choosing a goal, be sure it is outrageous. If it is something you have already done, or think you may be able to do, you are thinking too small. Worthy dreams stretch us beyond our history and challenge our limits, calling us to live larger than we thought we were.

Here is a powerful exercise that will show you how to step into bigger shoes. On a piece of paper, write the heading, "Know I Can." Under the heading, write down three goals you are confident you can accomplish, and probably will, within a matter of time. Below that section write, "Maybe I Can." Then number 4 through 6, and write down three projects you would like to do, but wonder if you really can. These are the dreams that stretch you beyond your current boundaries, but seem within the realm of possibility. Finally, write the heading, "Outrageous," and for numbers 7 through 9, record the three most outlandish visions you can think of, the dreams that thrill you to consider, but you don't see how they could possibly happen.

The second part of the exercise requires that you read your list daily, spending about twenty seconds visualizing each goal (sixty seconds if you are inspired). Hold each image clearly in mind, and get the feeling that your objective has already been realized.

The exercise becomes even more fun as you check off each goal when it is accomplished. Your visioning will be met with miracles and support from the universe through avenues you could never have predicted. As you complete checking off the first group, the second group will slide up to a higher level of possibility; the "Maybe I Can" section will become the "Know I Can." Your excitement will further increase when the third group ascends to become the second; somehow the "Outrageous" becomes "Maybe I Can," and before too long, "Know I Can." Then you can add more to your "Maybe I Can" and "Outrageous" lists and watch them slide up like credits rolling at the end of a movie. Your only job is to stay focused, keep visualizing, and remain open to receive more than you once thought you deserved.

A recent Amway convention centered on the theme, "Think Big-Settle for More." Life operates according to universal laws which, if you tap into them, will transport you home like a mighty stallion. Life gives us not what we struggle for, but what we allow. You can come to the ocean with a thimble, a bucket, or a tank truck, and you will take with you the volume of the container you brought.

As I was leading a guided meditation I had a vision of a great light shining down on everyone in the room. The light was the abundance of the universe, the vast love of God, replete with infinite good and blessings. In the vision each person was sitting with a basket in his or her lap; some held tiny baskets, and others had huge ones. Those with small baskets were receiving a little, and those with huge baskets were receiving a lot. All was offered to all, and each gathered as much as they were willing to hold.

William Blake boldly declared, "A man's reach should exceed his grasp, or else what's a heaven for?"

Outrageous goals are valuable because they expand your belief system and carve wider neural pathways in your brain, by which your good may be delivered to you. Even if you do not achieve your highest goal immediately, you will attain far more than you would have if you entertained a smaller dream. "I used to shoot for the moon, and I hit the mountains; now I shoot for the stars, and I'm hitting the moon."

Be humble enough to admit that you don't see your highest possibilities, yet powerful enough to accept God's vision of your potential. Even our most exalted insights glimpse but a tiny portion of the big picture. In 1949, an issue of Popular Mechanics magazine featured an article by the expert on the then-new field of computers. He predicted that "by the end of the century, computers may weigh as little as 1.5 tons." I am now writing on a laptop computer that weighs 6 pounds-one five hundredth the size he predicted! The most exalted visionary of his time erred by a factor of 500! Imagine that the good you can receive is 500 hundred times more wonderful than you can imagine, and you will be taking your first step toward thinking for yourself as God thinks for you.

Alan Cohen is the author of the bestselling The Dragon Doesn't Live Here Anymore.

Copyright © 1997 by Alan Cohen
All rights reserved. Inquiries should be addressed to
Hay House, P.O. Box 5100, Carlsbad, CA 92018