NoFearOne of my plans (I prefer that word to resolutions … a plan is something that is going to get done, right?) for 2014 is to blog at least once per week. Since January 1st, I’ve been reflecting on why I haven’t done it in so long and have come to realize that it’s because of that other 4-letter F-word … FEAR!

Along with my big desire to live a positive and drama-free life, comes a big fear of reading negative comments about what I write.

Serendipitously, my Facebook newsfeed was filled with quotes about that other 4-letter F-word this morning — the day I decided to write about it!

Amy shared: “Facing your fears robs them of their power.” ~ Mark Burnett
Sue said: “Courage is one step ahead of fear.”
Heshie noted: “Courage adds dimension to your life.”
Eve wrote: “Fear fuels me!”
Maryellen posted: “Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear.” ~ George Addair

And … one of the 12 Gratitude Habits I created for Gratitude Boot Camp is Facing Your Fears.

So, here I come 4-letter F-word!

When I first started to blog years ago, I was taken aback by the negative comments that would come — always from anonymous posters. So, I stopped writing on-line. But, I stayed on-line. And, the attacks seem to have gotten worse. I’m always amazed and astonished at what, and who, people will lash out at in mean, and often downright evil, ways…

The 3 girls who were held captive, and tortured, for over 10 years in Ohio were called horrible names when they ventured out of their homes a short time after their release. The news of teenagers committing suicide, after being cyber-bullied, has become an all-too-frequent headline. And, already this year, a young girl was told to “go kill herself” because she tweeted that the earth was 2014 years old on New Year’s Day (whether she was kidding or mistaken, is telling her to go kill herself really necessary?).

Even the people you friend on Facebook can surprise you sometimes with what they write. Thankfully, Facebook affords you the ability to connect with positive people and the power to unfriend someone, if they do write negative or mean comments on your posts.

So, while I’m not ready to go out and hold a snake, I am ready to face that other 4-letter F-word when it comes to blogging. I will write every week, from now on. If someone says something mean or negative … I’ll read it, remind myself it’s their issue, say a prayer for them, and gladly delete their post. After all, I’m grateful my life is happy and I’m not afraid to keep it that way!

GoodBye2013The days of 2013
Seemed to pass by too fast.
But, in the midst of day-to-day living
We were blessed to make memories that will last.

My little man grew even taller
Jake is thriving in the first grade now
His teacher’s great — he loves math & reading
And, he proudly became a Cub Scout.

The year brought several visits with Stephanie
She and Barry traveled to Florida a lot.
We’re counting down the time til they live here
They’re ready to live where it’s hot.

Hailey spent time with us in the summer
Then, we drove her back to Ohio.
I can’t believe she’s in high school already
Where or where did the time go?

My family welcomed three new babies…
Ella Rose, Hayden, and Sage.
It’s a joy to see my nieces & nephews as parents
And watch them embrace this new stage.

I was blessed with great real estate customers
They made buying and selling homes fun.
I’m looking forward to helping more people
Find their place in the sun.

The biggest excitement for me this year
Was the “Artsy Ant Alphabet Art Adventures” book release.
To see the stories I wrote come to life and touch others
Has sure made my happiness increase.

There is so much I want to accomplish
As 2014 brings a fresh start.
I send you wishes of love, peace, prosperity, and happiness
From the very bottom of my heart.

Happy New Year!

                                                                                       

MeWithAAbook In 2009, I made the decision to pursue my life-long dream of becoming a writer. While attending a conference on getting your work published, I met Scott Howard. He showed me his wonderfully unique style of drawing and shared his idea for an alphabet book he was creating.

Shortly thereafter, we came up with the idea of turning his alphabet book into a story book, by combining his talent for drawing and my passion for writing. He had created a character named Artsy Ant and we decided to base the stories on Artsy’s adventures.

It was such a joy for me to come up with a story line that took Artsy on an incredible journey, where he would befriend colorful characters and inspire them to be and do their best.

Because of the intricate details of the illustrations in this one-of-a-kind book, the stories had to wait for 3 years to be told. Finally, the time has come for Artsy and his friends to meet the world! I can hardly explain how excited I am to finally be holding an advanced copy of the book in my hands! You can read more and order your copy of Artsy Ant Alphabet Art Adventure at http://SandySpeaks.com/ArtsyAnt.

After making my decision to write 4 years ago, I also started this blog and 2 more books. Well, everything got put on hold at the end of 2011, as the crash in the real estate market forced me to make some major changes (including moving back to my hometown after living in Celebration for 12 years). I stopped blogging and put my other two books on the back burner.

After seeing my stories come to life in Artsy Ant Alphabet Art Adventure, I have, once again, become energized and excited about writing. I found my blog, which had not been touched in over 2 years. Strangely, most of the articles I wrote have disappeared, with only 5 remaining from 2009. I did locate 7 more articles I’d written in 2010 & 2011 on my Author Page at http://EzineArticles.com. The rest are gone. So, I’m basically starting anew here on my site.

I’ve also dusted off my keyboard and have started working on finishing my book, Gratitude Habit. And, as soon as Scott finishes illustrating The Gratitubes, I’ll be introducing my 2nd children’s book to the world!

I could feel sad, embarrassed, or disappointed in myself for letting these projects fall behind for a while. Instead, I’m choosing to focus on what I have accomplished over the past 4 years and hope that, by never giving up on my dreams, I can inspire someone else to pick back up (or get started) on theirs!

Unconditional Love is a love that’s not limited by any conditions or in any way at all.  It is Absolute.  It is True.  And… it sure makes you happy when you give or receive it, doesn’t it?

For 13 years, I received the Unconditional Love of two very sweet animals — Shakespeare & Spencer — my precious persian cats.  Because I lost both of them this year, I am writing this article about them.  They truly did give me their Unconditional Love every day.

I grew up with dogs as family pets.  We never had a cat.  And, until the age of 36, I never had a pet in my adult life (except for fish in an aquarium).  I told myself I was not going to have any pets.  And, I certainly did not see myself with a cat.

One day, I was on an appointment to place a house on the market for sale.  As we were sitting at the kitchen table going over the required paperwork, a Mother Cat came walking out of the laundry room with two, tiny kittens trailing behind.  One of the kittens walked right up to me so I had to pick him up to pet him!  He was the cutest thing I had ever seen, especially when he snuggled up tightly on my chest.  The owner of the home told me she was selling the kittens and that they were peke-faced Persians.  The one I was holding onto had a crooked tail, so he would never be able to be a “show cat”, I was told.

I said good-bye and left there with no intention other than selling the home as quickly as possible.  But, for the next few days, I could not get that kitty-with-the-crooked-tail out of my head.  He was the first thing I thought of when I woke up each morning.

So, I found myself driving back to my listing with a check in hand… to buy the kitty with the crooked tail.  I named him Shakespeare.  He was 3 months old.  He followed me every where I went and slept at the foot of the bed, touching my feet. I was smitten.

Because I had never had a cat before, I bought a book that would tell me everything I ever wanted or needed to know about having a feline as a pet.  It informed me that indoor cats need the companionship of other cats, especially if you’re not often home.

When I had called the owner just to inquire whether or not she still had the other kitty (because I wasn’t sure I wanted two), she said “I can’t believe you called me today!  We just found out that the people who had taken that kitty are abusing him.  So, we rescued him but now we are leaving for vacation and weren’t sure what to do with him.”

So, I found myself driving back to my listing with a check in hand… to buy Shakespeare’s brother.  I named him Spencer.  He was all matted, dirty, and very clingy.  I just knew that seeing his brother again would cheer him right up.  Boy, was I wrong!!!

For three weeks, the two hissed at each other and steered clear of the other’s path.  I would cry “But, you’re brothers!  You’re supposed to love each other!”  I would call my girlfriends saying “What have I done?  They hate each other!”  One day, I came home and found the two of them licking each other!  From that day on, they were best buddies.  We were now a happy, little family.

Over the next 13 years, they were with me through three moves, four company changes, three relationship break-ups, and the birth of a baby.  And, they always loved me Unconditionally.  Shakespeare always slept at the foot of my bed, touching my feet.  Spencer and I cuddled on the couch for the last hour of every night, before I’d go to bed.  They were not your typical cats — they were very friendly.  If there were people around, they were right there!  Spencer would even play catch with a toy mouse!!

They both died from a fast growing tumor in their mouth.  Thankfully, they didn’t suffer for long.  It broke my heart to say good-bye to them on their final day.  And, it is very strange to not have them here.  I still find myself looking around for them sometimes and making sure I close the door so they don’t get out!

I’m so grateful to have experienced their Unconditional Love.  I’ll carry that lesson with me the next time I’m in a relationship.

Who knows?  Maybe there is another furry baby in my future.  For right now, though, I am content to remember the purrs and meows of my precious Persians — Shakespeare & Spencer.

In Memory Of…

Shakespeare – 8/9/96 ~ 5/21/09 and Spencer – 8/9/96 ~ 10/29/09

Lately, I have really been working on my own personal self-development.  I’ve been blessed with the responsibility of raising a child and I am on a new journey of coaching others, so I have to hold myself to a higher standard.

One very important attribute I’ve been concentrating on is the act of forgiveness.  One of the hardest things to do is to forgive someone who has caused you pain.  However, as I’ve recently discovered, it is extremely liberating to “get over it.” When you do, the hurt no longer dominates your mind.  When someone hurts me, I generally become consumed with thinking about it over and over and over.  Therefore, I would never forget the incident! How exhausting!

Recently, I was feeling very hurt by someone who I am close to.  As the incident started playing over and over again in my head, I realized I had to stop and forgive … truly forgive.  That decision allowed me to stop and look at things from their perspective.  It was amazing how I could physically feel the hurt going out of me and how I was crystal clear on the fact that I did not want to lose or mess up this valuable friendship.  I shudder to think of what might have happened if I were not in this period of working on myself!  Things are back to normal and, when we discussed the topic again, it was in a really casual & relaxing way. And, I’ve not thought of it since. This forgiveness stuff really works!

Sadly, there are sometimes instances where someone hurts you to the point where you know the relationship has to be over.  But, you still must practice forgiveness of that person. Otherwise, the incident/action continues to cause you pain and discomfort — even after the person is out of your life.

Even if you do not contact that person, because you simply cannot invite them back into your life, it is still crucial that you forgive them. That’s the only way you’ll be able to move on from the negative thoughts.  And, it actually makes you feel at peace whenever you ask God to bless the person who was hurtful.  It also helps to realize that some people are put into your life for a reason, but were not meant to stay in it forever.  As you reflect back on your relationship with that person, in a relaxed state, you will find there were lessons to be learned. You may even find yourself feeling gratitude towards that person for giving you those lessons.

It’s also important to forgive yourself.  That has been a bit of a struggle for me lately.  My whole life I have lived with the motto that “regret is a wasted emotion.” But, this year, I have been kicking myself for some of the mistakes I have made.  I finally realized that the time & energy I’m spending on beating myself up could be spent on taking positive steps toward a bright, new future.

Now, if something hurtful happens or I make a mistake, I strive to work on the forgiveness aspect of it as quickly as possible.  That way, I can move on toward my bright future.  And, I always stop to count my blessings, which helps me truly forgive so I can finally forget!

Gratitude Peace Marble

Gratitude Peace Marble

I am always amazed whenever The Universe brings people together at the precise moment when they are on the same exact path!  I recently had this wonderful phenomenon happen to me and, I not only acquired an amazing new friend, it solidified that my new business/mission is meant to be!

While attending Mega Book ’09, I was very fortunate to meet some remarkable people, including a gorgeous lady with a beautiful soul named Elizabeth Zachariah.  Elizabeth, along with her friends Cherie Duncan, Kim Roman Corle, and Jan Avant, made me feel completely welcome and I knew they were women that I wanted to get to know better.  After the event, we all connected on, and have stayed in touch through, Facebook.

During the week I decided to create Gratitude Boot Camp, I received a message from Elizabeth — the founder of Blue Marble 4 Life, Inc.  She wanted to ask me a question.  At that point, I had not shared my thoughts about Gratitude Boot Camp with anyone.  When I returned her call, she informed me that she was putting together a project that would send four Gratitude Marbles (to represent the four corners of the earth), along with a Peace Marble (inscribed with the word Peace in 37 languages), on a world-wide mission for peace.  Her plan was to appoint Blue Angel Ambassadors, throughout the world, which would host The Marbles and help spread a message of Gratitude, Peace, and Love.  She said that she immediately thought of me (even though she had no idea that I had just decided to devote my life to promoting the power of Gratitude) when she was thinking of Ambassadors.  It was serendipitous and I felt very honored!

As a Blue Angel Ambassador, it is my duty to host a Gratitude Gathering. This gathering will bring people together — to count their blessings and to take part in this special Global Celebration of Peace —  as we send The Marbles to the next destination on their incredible journey.

So, it is with great pleasure that I am hosting an event named “Walk in Gratitue — Live in Peace” in my hometown – Celebration, Florida.  At 4:00 p.m. on 9/26/09, we will gather on the front lawn of Celebration’s Heritage Hall at Spring Park. I encourage everyone to wear blue and to carry or wear a peace sign.

We will view The Marbles (which are arriving in Celebration after their trip to Hale Barns, Cheshire in The United Kingdom), sign the Gratitude Journal (which is accompanying The Marbles throughout their worldy journey), and record their visit to our great community.  Then, we will bid The Marbles a fond farewell as they leave Celebration and travel to Australia. Afterwards, we will continue our celebration of peace with a “Happiness Hour” at The Mona Lisa in Celebration.

You can visit www.BlueMarble4Life.com to watch the inspirational kick-off video, track The Marbles’ travels, and to register/join The Blue Marble Tribe, if you choose.  If you join, you will receive your very own Gratitude Blue Marble and The Gratitude Pledge.

If you cannot attend the Gratitude Gathering in Celebration, visit http://BlueMarble4Life.com to see if The Marbles are coming to your area!

You can also follow this exciting Global Celebration of Peace at www.YouTube.com/BlueMarble4Life, at www.Twitter.com/BlueMarble4Life, and at The Blue Marble 4 Life Fan Page on Facebook (http://bit.ly/pLPf3).

I believe that living a gratitude-filled life can change the world and promote peace amongst all of God’s children.

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GreenGWith my 50th birthday fast-approaching (wow – that does not even sound possible, even as I put it in writing for all the world to see – yikes) and ever since I unexpectedly & miracoulosly gave birth at the age of 46.5, I’ve been feeling the need for a change in my life.  I’ve always felt there was something more I should be doing. And, over the past 3 years, that need has turned into a burning desire.

Through the wondrous power of social media, I was invited to attend an event that changed my life forever — by starting me upon the path of my new beginning.  The event was held the first weekend of June and was called Mega Book ’09.  It was hosted by a man that I’ve long admired — Mark Victor Hansen.  He is a best-selling author (co-creating “The Chicken Soup for the Soul” series), the founder of MEGA Book University, and is a great leader, speaker, and philanthropist.

After attending what turned out to be a spiritual awakening for me, I decided it was time to fulfill my life-long dream of becoming a writer, coach, and speaker.  Every night for several weeks after Mega Book, I would lie in bed and, as I was drifting off to sleep, ask God to reveal to me what I should be doing, right now, to inspire and help others.  One night, I awoke at 2:00 a.m. with the words “Gratitude Boot Camp” practically screaming in my mind.  I ran downstairs, jumped on my computer, and was ecstatic to discover that the domain names for Gratitude Boot Camp were available (and not even for a premium price…yay)!  I didn’t even know what Gratitude Boot Camp meant but I felt that I needed to go for it!

For the past several weeks, I have been creating and am now launching “Gratitude Boot Camp” ~ a self-development program that guides attendees through positive and productive steps in order to Give, Grow, and Prosper!

It is the Mission of Gratitude Boot Camp to empower and inspire people to be aware of and focus on their current blessings and to take positive steps — based on gratitude — that will help them achieve a life of joy, peace, and prosperity.

I invite you to become a part of the growing gratitude community at http://Facebook.com/GratitudeBootCamp.

I’m in the process of writing two books (one for children) that will teach the 12 gratitude habits and how to incorporate them into your life.

Thank you for taking this exciting journey with me!

 

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