Thursday, February 9, 2017

Candid Author Talk: Staying Positive, Strong and Achieving Your Dreams

Staying at the top of your game is hard work. Like an athlete training for the Olympics or the Super Bowl, nothing is handed to you. It requires a lot of pushing, working and overcoming self-doubt. In life, you're going to experience ups and downs. Hard things are going to happen. People are going to kick you when you're down, they're going to walk away when you want them to stay, and they're going to wish they were you when you finally rise above them and achieve your dreams. We live in a harshly judgmental world pockmarked with egotists who use social media as a byway to torture public figures, punish their ex-boyfriends/girlfriends and compare themselves with airbrushed pictures of models, becoming depressed in the process when they don't measure up like they think they should. 

So how are we supposed to keep our chin up and keep moving on when everything seems to suck? 

This has been a real challenge for me in my life, and it's taken many years, many hardships and boatloads of tears to finally realize how to survive the harsh reality that not everybody in your life is going to be nice to you, and not everybody is going to understand your goals and dreams! This article is designed to be a pep-talk, a self-help guide and an encouragement to anyone who might be struggling to rise above the negativity of bad influences. 

Here's how I deal with it. 

Realize that negative people are toxic and have no place in your life. I have learned a lot about people and relationships over the course of my life. I'm a fairly quiet gal. I keep to myself, I have a sarcastic sense of humor, I enjoy reading books, watching Wheel of Fortune, cooking new things and going on fun road trips with my husband (can somebody say Sierra Nevadas or Disneyland?). In other words, I'm not exactly a social butterfly. Sure, I hang out with friends, go to parties and Bible study and all that - but I'm pretty reserved, and part of why I'm reserved is because I like to stay focused. I like keeping my eye on the prize - I like working, building my career, setting new goals, and subsequently achieving them! I have found that anybody who is chronically negative or dramatic will suck the energy and peace out of your heart. They'll stomp on you and deflate your creative energy like popping a hole in a balloon. Let me say this right now: People like that are not good for you. People who bring you down, chew you out, or bully you aren't worth your time. They are essentially taking your beautiful sparkle, your incredible talent and your creativity and drowning it. Politely and kindly send them packing. Nobody needs that. 

Grow up. Friends or colleagues who can't seem to mature beyond the realm of Middle School when it comes to dependability and reason are the kinds of people who really need to either grow up or find their way out of my house! I'm a working woman, and I've got things to do! I don't have time for pointless drama. This isn't meant to sound insensitive, either. There is a time and place for drama, sometimes, but you have to draw the line. I am including this here because I feel that so many young men and women in their 20s allow "drama" to suck up way too much of their time. If you want to be productive, surround yourself with people who build you up, not tear you down. The harsh reality is that real "grown-ups" don't allow themselves to play games with people, and they don't take crap from anyone. They're hardworking, common-sense and direct. My point is this: if you're a grown up, hang out with grown-ups. If you're not a grown-up, remember to try to act with maturity and grace. It will greatly enrich your life. 

You get rejected. You get hurt. Now what? Everybody's been hurt at some point! EVERYBODY. You can't avoid heartbreak, rejection or broken dreams. I've experienced my fair share in life, and guess what? I'll experience many more before my life here is over. Let's face it: living means that there is going to be ups and downs. One of my biggest struggles growing up (and to a degree, presently!), is avoiding the shock and hurt of being rejected or stomped on by someone I trusted deeply. OUCH. This kind of hurt can really depress you and threaten to pull you away from achieving your goals, whether you want to write books, become a doctor or travel to faraway places. The best method? Absorb the hurt for a moment - feel it. Experience it. Cry if you have to. And then, fasten your seat belt, steel your shoulders and dust your boots off. Move on, babe. Use every rejection and hurt as a teachable moment - it's experience, and you'll be smarter next time. Plus, if you're like'll use the emotional experiences to further enrich your writing! (You know what they say: Don't annoy a writer, they'll get their revenge in print!) 

I'm making no progress! I want to give up. Um, excuse me? Never! I think it's the Marines who supposedly don't know how to spell the word "defeat," or so it's been said. I love that mentality. When you go after something, realize that you're doing it with the mentality of a zero failure possibility. Look, there's a difference between taking a rest (You're sick! You have to attend a funeral! You need a vacation!) and flat-out GIVING UP. I'm sorry, but successful people don't give up. Ever. There are no excuses. Do what you have to do to get it done. Be a boss. Conquer your fears. Ignore anybody and everybody who doubts you, undervalues you or underestimates you. Your best revenge will be to kindly and lovingly be a smashing, knock-out, dazzling success story. 

What if I fail? Try again! A lot of people are afraid to try, simply because they're afraid to fail. I have this problem when it comes to bonding with people - I'm sometimes afraid of getting close to someone, because inevitably, something bad is going to happen. I just know it! This is not true, by the way, but it's a fear that I have - along with a lot of people, I think. How do you overcome this? You go for it anyway. And if you fail, you pick yourself up and keep going. Remember what I said about learning experiences? This would be one. 

Don't try to control everything. Let's be really honest for a moment: we as humans are always trying to control everything about our lives. I think this is especially true for women, because we tend to be more emotionally in tune with the world, and we want everybody and everything to be cohesive and happy. Unfortunately, this is not reality. We can't control everything, and the more we accept this, the happier we'll be. We can control our own outlook, behavior, work ethic, personal conduct and more - but we can't control anyone else's. We are responsible for our own attitudes and behavior. If somebody else has a crummy tude', that's their fault. If you try to help them and they refuse to be helped, take a step back. If they're smart, they'll figure it out themselves, eventually. If they're not that smart, say adios and stay focused on the objective: your objective. 

Don't speak before you think. If I could only tell you how many people I have encountered who lack a filter! For the love of all that's good and decent, THINK BEFORE YOU SPEAK. As adults, everyone should know better than to send a text message or make a phone call in the heat of emotion. It's a good way to say things you'll regret. A sign of maturity is to be able to restrain yourself from outbursts, to give some logical thought to a situation before you flip out. Sound harsh? Guess what, this is the method of champions! Be SMART. If someone sends me a message that's unkind, I sometimes will wait a day or two before responding - if I respond at all. Why? Because you never want to respond in anger. Ever. 

Remember to be kind, and to be the bigger person. Sometimes, life is messy. M-E-S-S-Y. It's no fun when it's rough, but hey: welcome to the human race, sweets. Being kind and professional even when somebody is spitting in your face is often the best option. Remain above reproach, as they say. You being in control and polite is the best way to defend yourself, anyway. Let me tell you, I have had some people say some awful things to me, whether it's in the form of online bullying (welcome to being an author, guys) or from someone who is close to you. The best way to respond is to remain silent. And sometimes, if you need to defend yourself, do so with calm and logic. After that, you've done all you can do. 

I wanted to share this article with you today to encourage you to keep your chin up. It's easy to feel defeated when things aren't perfect. I've had my fair share of disappointments and failures in life. I'm human. You're human. We've all had hard times. My main point is that you use the hard times to lift yourself up, to make yourself stronger. That, my friend, is what will make you a success in life. Be kind, be firm, be powerful, be focused, be smart and be awesome. Now, go out there and get it done! 

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