Mindset

When we have a negative mindset, our determination and stubbornness can become a problem. We become too stubborn about the wrong things. I’m ugly. I’m stupid. I’m worthless. I’m fat. I’m too skinny. I’m too flat chested. I have too much acne. Who’s going to love me? I can’t read, so what can I do? I can’t see. I can’t walk. Or any number of things that are sometimes drilled into our psyche by others and by our own mind.

What we accomplish or don’t accomplish in life is based on the mindset we have. Whether we can be happy or whether we’re just plain miserable is based on what we allow ourselves to dwell on. If we keep telling ourselves that nothing ever goes right. This sucks. I hate my life. Then that is what we are training our brain to think and to perceive. They call this neuroplasticity. It’s our brain’s ability to re-wire itself. This is something I learned a lot about while fighting with OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder).

When I was at my worst, I had what you could call a can’t mindset. People would tell me to just stop doing my compulsions, and I would say, “That’s easy for you to say. I can’t do it. I can’t just stop.”

“Why?” they’d ask.

And that right there was a very good question. Why couldn’t I stop? It’s because that’s what I taught my brain. Now, I’m not a doctor—nowhere close to being a doctor—I just have my own experiences which has taught me things along the way. I’d done my compulsions so much that I’d developed a habit, an addiction of sorts. If I didn’t do them, I have such a feeling of dread that it would drop me to the floor in tears.

Can’t is a very powerful word, very destructive. And likewise, the opposite is also true—I can is equally powerful. Don’t tell yourself you’ll try, tell yourself you will. The words, I’ll try can set you up for failure, set you up for the idea that you might not do it. Instead, we need to be speaking positively to ourselves, not just for our mind’s sake, but for those around who hear us, who witness our journey…especially kids, who soak everything up like sponges.

How many more successful kids would there be if they saw us going after our dreams…if we were telling them that their dreams had value, that their dreams are important. Your dreams are important, too, and no one should be able to tell you otherwise. Biggest thing to remember is that what you allow your mindset to be is what you’ll become, whether good or bad. You tell yourself you can’t, you won’t. You tell yourself you can, and you will.

“But what if I fail?” you ask.

Did you know that believing you failed is a mindset of its own? What is failure? How do you define failure? Do you remember how I mentioned Thomas Edison earlier? A reporter once asked him about how it felt to fail 1000 times. He said, “I didn’t fail 1000 times. The light bulb was an invention that took 1,000 steps.”

Sometimes you won’t succeed right away. Nobody does, but it’s those who stay persistent that eventually get to where they want to go. You never truly fail until you give up, and even then, what’s to say that somewhere down the line, you don’t finally succeed? I put my writing aside for a decade, but I still came back and accomplished what I set out to do.

You are never too old or too young to start living your dream, setting yourself on the path to fulfilling it. If Akiane Kramarik, Hanalei Swan, Caroline Bercaw, Isabel Bercaw, and Alina Morse can believe in themselves and go after their dreams, why should we be any different?

As adults we sometimes forget how to dream, how to believe. I think this is where kids have a leg up on us. We become more logical minded and less fanciful, and in this I believe we are doing our kids a great injustice. They need to see us going after our dreams if they are to go after theirs.

And if they have a dream, they have to know that we believe in them. Their dreams are not stupid or unrealistic, that’s our own mindset that we are putting on them. They don’t deserve that. They deserve to know they can follow their passion. I know not all of us are rich. Some of us can’t put our kids in city sports(too expensive). We can’t buy our kids the moon as some may be able to, but we can help them reach for it by encouraging them. Believing in them. Letting them know that their dreams have value. That they have value.

As a mom of teenagers, I watch mine struggle through various issues, and I try to be there for them. They’ve seen me struggle with certain things myself, but I make a point of standing right back up and trying again. My goal is to teach them that they can do whatever they set their mind to, nothing has to stop them. One day at a time, one step at a time is how we get to where we want to go.

Life really is what you make it. We have to get rid of that negative mindset because life doesn’t stop for it. We keep aging, so we have to make a choice as to what that is going to look like for us. All I know is that I don’t want to lay on my death bed wishing I took the chance on my dreams.

You are never too old or too young to follow a dream. As long as you have breath, your dreams are waiting for you. So why don’t you decide today to go after them! Let today be a fresh start. I believe in you! The only thing left is for you to believe in yourself. If you find the strength to take that first step, please let me know. I’d love to hear from you.


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Following Your Passion

This article is a continuation of the Achieving Your Dream blog posts…

My dream started when I was a kid; but, of course, at the time, I didn’t really think it could go anywhere. Kids couldn’t do anything, right? You just go to school, come home, do chores, homework, play sports, and hang out with friends—the typical childhood life.

But, I experienced something that I hope you, my dear reader, never had to experience. I was bullied. When I was growing up, we lived in Port Alberni. One year, my parents decided that they no longer wanted to live in the city, and we moved out to the country. This meant that I would start my Grade Three year in a new school. Before this point, I had no negative experiences that I could recall, aside from failing my first attempt at Grade Three. The teachers and my family decided that I wasn’t catching on to things fast enough and felt that another year would help me out.

Anyway, shortly after I started at my new school, the kids had me pegged as someone not worth hanging out with. So, I’d just sit by myself and read. Since I had a lot of time to myself, I’d also bring my bible to school to read. When the other kids saw this, I became more of an outcast. I can remember the kids asking me to read it out loud to them, and as I was reading, they would laugh and giggle. Needless to say, I stopped doing that pretty quickly. They would call me names; throw spit-wads; pull my hair. You name it.

If any new kid joined the school, they would quickly be told not to hang out with me or they’d have the same fate. So they would either join in on the teasing or just stay away from me. I was called an ugly dog and my self-esteem plummeted. And as time went on, the bullying even became physical, so much so that the police had to get involved.  

This carried on until my 12th year in high school. Our city had about 22,000 people roughly and only 1 high school. That meant all the kids that tormented me in my earlier grades joined me in high school. There was nowhere else I could go. But I’m grateful for the four girls who befriended me during those years and the library clubs.

Back then, we didn’t really have the internet like we do now. Social media didn’t exist, so class bullies couldn’t get to me at home. And during the time we lived in the country(between my Grade Three and Grade Six year), we didn’t have a full cable package either, so we had to find other things to do with our time. I signed out an endless supplies of books from the library. I can remember reading Sweet Valley Twins, Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys, and whatever other book I found enjoyable. I just devoured them.

It was between grades 3-6 that I found out that I loved to write. I loved to tell stories because it allowed me to dream of better times, away from the harsh reality of bullying. I’d write about being a famous pro hockey player or a teenage mutant ninja cat(yes, I wrote fan-fiction about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles). I could be the popular kid that everyone loved, or a mermaid, or a musician. Anything you name it. Being able to dream through my stories gave me hope, a belief that there was a life beyond the bullying.

There were times, when living out in the country, that I would sit on the railing of our porch in the back of our house and write. Poetry was my go-to genre when I was particular upset or sad. My emotions would pour out onto the page, and it would help me feel better. It was my release—my healing power. Bottling things up inside never ended well, so all my anger and pain was focused on something constructive instead of destructive.

But never did I think that my newest passion would ever become anything more at that age. As mentioned earlier, there was no worldwide internet. There were no writing websites, like Wattpad and Raddish. There were no eBooks. If you wanted to publish anything, you had to send an actual paper copy to a publisher. It was one of those seemingly impossible dreams. But I was okay with that because I didn’t write to get published, it was a way of life for me—a way of coping with the difficult times.

Since my mind was always active and very rarely quiet, I had a difficult time sleeping at night. My method for falling asleep was to tell myself a story in my head, which I would end up writing down the next day. I guess writing has always been in my blood, my passion.

I dare say that every kid has a passion for something. Sometimes, to us parents, it can seem unachievable and we try to get them to think more realistically, but we need to let them explore because that’s what life is all about. My oldest son was always fascinated with diseases right from when he was little. He’d read about them endlessly, and often tried to talk to his teachers about them, and they’d freak out because it was almost like he was obsessed with them, and they didn’t think it was healthy. Sometimes he even knew more than the teachers did . It was his passion. Today, at 28 years old, he is working on becoming a pharmacologist.

If only we could all learn how to tap into that passion when we’re young and utilize it. I believe we’re all given a gift that ties in with our passion. Take Akiane Kramarik, for example, she is an art prodigy and started drawing complex, realistic paintings before she even turned ten.  I don’t mean stick people. I mean full-on realistic looking paintings of people that would blow your mind.

I think we vastly underestimate our kids today and their potential because we have gotten too used to underestimating ourselves and what we’re capable of. We project that onto our own kids, leaving them with the thought that maybe their dreams are too impossible. Having been bullied, I didn’t have too much confidence in myself and that affected my choices in life.

Despite writing a lot as a kid, I didn’t officially write my first novel until I was about 26 years old, and it was more than a decade later before it saw the light of day and was actually published. My first book was published two months after I turned 40. And now I look back and tell myself, what could I have accomplished had I believed in myself?

You see, after I wrote my story, I was so excited that I shared it in a critique group on yahoo. In my mind, I’d written a gem of a story and thought it was going to wow everyone (new writer dreams *lol*). Wrong. They tore it to itty bitty pieces, and it broke my heart.

After that experience, I put the story away for a few months. But eventually, I had the courage to pull it back out and really examine it, taking into careful consideration their critiques. I realized that much of what they were saying was right, so I re-wrote my story.

When I finished it a second time, I attended a writers’ Conference and had the chance to pitch my book to one of the Big Five, and the gentleman said that I could send him my full manuscript. I was over the moon, elated like you wouldn’t believe. Excited that someone seemed to like my story idea, especially after the critique group tore even the idea itself apart.

Anyway, not long later, I received a rejection in the mail. I don’t think anything hurts as much as that first publisher rejection, especially when you just found the courage to let someone else read it after an earlier rejection. With my low self-esteem, and ultimately two rejections, I just gave up my passion and threw all my focus into my young family—I was a married, mother of four. That was in 2006.

It wasn’t until 2016 that my passion came back to life with the help of a writing/reading website called, Wattpad, which my daughter introduced me to. She happened to find it and was writing a story on it, and I thought I’d check it out. One could never be too careful as a parent. After I joined the site and began to explore, my passion began to burn inside me again. That’s when I pulled my story back out of the dusty recesses of my usb drive, and I started to read it again.

Having been away from it for so long, a decade, I was able to approach it as a reader and could see everything that I needed to improve, so I started working on it again. Re-writing what I had to and editing everything else. As I started to share it, it took off and people seemed to love it. That’s when I learned that every story will have an audience, and every story will have people that don’t like it.

One of the ladies on the website knew of romance publisher and told me that I should submit it. After much debate with myself, I sent it off again. This time through email (yippy, I no longer had to send a papercopy, which I did the first time *lol* That was far too expensive).  After one agonizing year, and a couple of emails back and forth, I received the wonderful acceptance email from Black Velvet Seductions.

I was finally going to be a published author. That was something I couldn’t believe. The dream that started when I was a kid was finally coming to fruition. My first novel, “Her Lover’s Face,” was published in February of 2018. My second novel was published in 2019, and there are many others in the editing stage.

Aside from my novels, I also have 8 short stories published in anthologies. I have to admit that I am partial to an anthology called, “Slow Burn: The Fires That Bind Us,” released by Little Quail Press, which was created to help support the first responders in Australia after the Wildfires ravaged their countries. All the proceeds will be donated to the NSW Rural Fire Service. This anthology will only be up until May, so if you haven’t checked it out yet, I hope you will and support our hard working men and women.

Everyone needs support, especially when life gets away from us, which can often impact our drive or ambition to follow after our dreams. Sometimes, it’s our own mind that gets in the way. But that’s when we have to be stubborn and not let anything hold us back. We need to stay determined and keep on the path that will lead us to our dreams. I’ve learned that there is a good and bad side to being stubborn, and a good and bad side to being determined. We don’t always use determination and stubbornness in a good way, and it can hamper us rather than guiding us forward.

And this is where a person’s mindset comes in.

Please tune in next week as we explore Mindsets.



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Achieving Your Dream – Part Two

We’ve all seen them—the productivity memes. You know, the ones that say something like:

“You pick up a cup and attempt to go to the kitchen to do the dishes, but get distracted by a dirty table. You put the cup down to clean the table, then you find a bill that needs to be paid. On your way to the computer to pay the bill, you get distracted by dirty laundry on the floor. On your way to do the laundry, you get distracted by something else…and by the end of the day, you haven’t really accomplish anything at all.”

*Phew* Even reading that made me exhausted, but you get the general idea. There is a lot of stuff we want to do and have to do, but there is always something else that distracts us, and for some people, even more so. It’s not always easy to stay on task when so much is going on around us. Our dreams often take a backseat to life because them seem so impossible to accomplish.

Over a decade ago, I started playing an online game called Runescape. It’s this immense online multiplayer game and very addicting. You could interact with other players, chat with them, and train skills with them. Each skill could go up to Level 99, and as you raised your skills, you could do more and more things in the game. Some skills could take months or even a year or more to hit 99, depending on how much you play and how focused you are.

When I first started playing, I jumped from skill to skill, much like a person jumping from chore to chore or dream to dream. But I noticed after a while it felt like I wasn’t getting anywhere. That’s when I decided I needed to focus on one skill if I ever wanted to reach 99 in anything in a reasonable amount of time. So I chose to focus on their Woodcutting skill. I made a plan. I figured out how many logs I needed to cut and how many I could reasonably cut in a day and then counted out the number of days it would take to get to 99.

I started a daily journal on their forums to hold myself accountable to my goal. Each day I refused to do anything else in the game until that goal was done. People in the community were so used to people failing that they would tell me that my goal wasn’t possible; however, slowly but surely, I watched myself succeed, as did the community. Other people became inspired and started to believe that they, too, could hit the infamous 99’s. We even created a group to help inspire each other. We called it, “Achievers United.”

It was during this time that I learned the importance of focusing, making a plan, and giving myself a deadline—making sure that I didn’t let myself get distracted. Without a plan, a big goal can seem daunting because you can’t see the end in front of you. And without a daily log, you also can’t see what you’ve accomplished so far.

At some point, the novelty of working on something wears off and you find yourself in a dark tunnel, where you start losing motivation. You begin to wonder whether you can actually do it or not. Having a daily log lets you go see how far you’ve come from where you used to be, and that helps you start to believe that you can keep moving forward. If you’ve come this far, you can find the strength to keep going.

This is also where a daily goal comes in handy. If all you had to look at was the end goal and how you needed to, for example, cut 150,000 logs, you may get discouraged by the sheer size of the number. And likewise when you write a book, if all you focused on was that you needed 80,000-100,000 words, it might feel like too much. But if you break it down into a daily goal, and just focus on what’s in front of you for that day, it makes it so much easier.

How do you find out how much you should do on any given day? Well, work on your goal for one week. Do as much as you can each day so that you can see what you’re working with. At the end of the week, examine those numbers and pick something that you know you can do reasonably on a daily basis. In terms of writing, I know I can write 1500 words a day, so that’s my daily goal. If I do that, it’s possible to complete a book in 53 days, not counting your days of rest. Your daily goal may be different, it may be higher or it may be lower. Some I know can crank out over 7,000 words a day. For me, I think that would make my head explode.  *haha*

But when you break it down into manageable chunks, your dream becomes a lot easier to envision. My favourite part of having played Runescape was that I learned valuable transferable skills that I put to good use in my life. It’s how I’ve managed to write “THE END” on so many stories. And I’m telling you that you can do it too. You just have to set your mind to it and follow through.

The road may not always be easy and you may fall short at times, but don’t think of it as failure, just think of it as a step towards your goal. You never truly fail unless you give up.


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Check out “Her Lover’s Face”:

“Laryssa Mitchell is one of the lucky ones. The death of her abusive husband finally allows her to live again on her own terms, making her own choices. Her first official decision is to take back what was lost – her independence and her old job. But she soon finds herself in a living nightmare when she meets her new boss. If her husband is rotting in hell, then who is the man standing in front of her with a dead man’s face?

Alexander Richards doesn’t expect to catch an unconscious woman in his arms on his first day at work, nor does he envision himself willingly setting foot in a hospital again, reliving his painful loss. But that’s exactly what he chooses to do when Laryssa needs his help. Why?

She has a story to tell. He has a mystery to solve. In the midst of danger, passion sizzles between them, taking them by surprise. What will happen when all is brought to light? Will they be able to overcome their traumatic pasts and find love in each other, or will their ghosts have the final say?”