A Small Break In The Action

Sorry – no long post today folks. Major changes coming my way and I’ve been too preoccupied to write! But all that changes on Monday! Check back then to see what new and exciting things are happening.

* If you live in my area (North Central PA) you can catch me tomorrow (Sept. 20) at the Milton Harvest Festival in Milton, PA. I’ll be selling my Chicken Soup for the Soul book along with a few of my fellow authors selling their great books. Come harvest a book – signed and everything!

* Our writing group was interviewed last night by the Williamsport Sun Gazette for a feature piece about our upcoming writer’s conference. We’re big news! If you haven’t signed up yet – go here to do so! Discounted registration ends tomorrow! (But you can still register after that…) Plus check out our feature story in the October 5th edition of the Sun Gazette!

Keep checking in with me to see all that’s going on – big things are happening!

Be sure to check me out on Twitter and Instagram too!

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A Rare Quiet Moment

I love mornings like this. My husband’s hand reaches out under the covers to rest on my knee and I snuggle closer, putting my arm across his wide, warm chest. He kisses my forehead as we close the gap between us. He apologizes for waking me, but I tell him I was already partially awake. Saturday mornings when there is nothing to do is quite rare in our house so we take every moment with one another as a gift from God, catching up on much needed rest.

This morning it is also lightly raining outside. Our room is still blissfully gray, no sunlight to disturb our cat napping, and the light tap, tap of the rain on the window lulls us back into slumber. His steady breathing relaxes me and I snuggle closer for warmth.

We lay that way for awhile, occasionally mentioning that we should get up and stop being so lazy, but neither of us move. Moments like this are so few and far between that it is hard to let go of one another and venture out into the cold, dreary day.

I roll over to ease the cramps accumulating in my back from laying in one position for so long. After a moment, he follows me, sliding his hand along my waist and pulling me back into the warmth of his body. I reach for his hand and pull it close to my face, kissing it lightly. He kisses my back between my shoulder blades. We both fall back into sleep for a few more minutes.

These moments – no urgency, no expectations, and no need for talk. These moments are one of the reasons I love my husband so much and today, on his birthday, I want to give him my appreciation for his love.

Happy Birthday Honey.

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Chase One Rabbit

suemidd48:

A great book that I wrote the description for on Amazon. Helped me to get off my duff and get motivated. Check it out!

Originally posted on Write 15 Minutes A Day:

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It’s here!  The book that I’ve been working for over 2 years is finally finished.  It’s entitled “Chase One Rabbit.”

I’m really excited about it and would love to know what you think:
http://www.amazon.com/Chase-One-Rabbit-Failure-Success/dp/1500823007/ref=cm_cr_pr_bdcrb_top?ie=UTF8

Here’s what others are saying:

“This enjoyable, practical book gives you a series of simple technique you can use to get complete control of your time and your life.”

~Brian Tracy – Author, Time Power

“In his delightful book, Chase One Rabbit, Philip Kim helps you get clarity and focus on the most important, bite-sized things you can and should do to create your own success.  Philip has a wonderful way of telling stories that makes his principles for productivity come alive with meaning for anyone.”

~Joe Calloway

Author of Be the Best At What Matters Most

“I dare you to open to any page in this book and not find something inspirational or educational.  You…

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5 Quick Tips About Life

I’ve been contemplating making some major decisions in my life and it’s come to my attention that life doesn’t have a lot of rules. What I have found is there are a few quick tips about life that I’d like to share with my readers.

1) Life is different for everyone. This seems simple, but it’s a concept that has taken me about thirty years to figure out. So many of us compare ourselves to others and try to achieve what others have achieved, but their race is not our race. We’re all different. No two paths are the same so how could we ever try to copy what someone else has done. And why would we? Sure they have success, but we can too – in our own individual ways.

2) Life has a LOT of ups and downs. I know people say this all the time, but I’m not sure everyone gets how MANY ups and downs there are over the course of a lifetime. Too often people get discouraged (I know I have) when life takes a turn or a twist. I’ve personally been engaged twice, but only married once; I’ve worked over fifteen different jobs in about five different marketplaces in the last twenty-five years – including one major career change. And I’m considering another one. Again – don’t compare yourself to others who’ve never switched jobs or who found their soul mate at a young age – every one is different and change DOES occur.

3) Don’t eat yellow snow. Okay – this one is from my husband, but it is a pretty good tip for life. I think you can further this tip by saying: be cautious – things aren’t always as they seem. Some friends of mine say I’m a bit too cautious when it comes to some things, but I think being cautious is a prudent thing to do. It does save you heartache in the future and being cautious doesn’t mean you don’t do something – it just means you weigh out your options first. Like: Could I just go get a drink of water from the house INSTEAD of eating the yellow snow.

4) Don’t pee into the wind. Again from my hubby, but also a good tip and can be further explained as this: sometimes you need to know when to change direction. If you’re fighting an uphill battle CONSTANTLY maybe it’s time for a change. Maybe, just maybe, there is a simpler way.

5) Don’t be afraid to say it’s your fault. We all make mistakes – not one of us is perfect, but how often do we say “Yes, I take the blame”? Hardly ever from my experience. Think of all the times you’ve engaged in arguments, lost friendships, and spent the evening fuming over someone’s fraudulent behavior. Wouldn’t it have been simpler for you or the other person to just take responsibility? Don’t you think that life would be less stressful if we could just admit our mistakes and move on? I do and I try to “man up” when I’ve done something wrong. You’d be surprised how quickly an argument gets deflated if you just say “Yep. It was me. Sorry.”

So there you have it – five simple, but effective tips for life. I think many of us put too much importance on the word “life” an as a result over think every single step we make as we go through it. It doesn’t have to be that hard. Let’s work together to make it easier. What do you say?

Share your life tips in the comments section below!

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Foodie Friday – A Little Soup for the Soul

Do you know that song “I’m So Excited”? I can’t get it out of my head and I’ll tell you why: I recently got picked to host a dinner party courtesy of Chicken Soup for the Soul and their new food line! I entered the contest (as a contributor – thank you very much), but never thought it would go far. I mean, how many entries must they have received? But they picked me and last week my box of awesome Chicken Soup for the Soul food came right to my doorstep. (By the way – I totally see the appeal of that whole online grocery shopping now. I wish food would show up on my doorstep more often.)

I dug into that box with more excitement than I’ve attacked anything in quite a while. They sent me several items from their line with instructions on how to host my dinner party and included recipes! I called my friends, set the date and will be sure to post all about it! (Check back after October 5th for all the details! There may even be video…)

So after I decided what to make and how best to utilize my box o’ goodies I realized – there is more food here than I can make in one dinner party. And it wouldn’t all go together. HAPPY DANCE – I get to have more meals from this awesome box!

The first thing that caught my attention was the meal builder sauce. The one they sent to me was for Sloppy Joes. Now I’m not a huge fan of Sloppy Joes, but my mind started spinning with how I could make it even better and even healthier.

I bought some red and green peppers, chopped them up and got them cooking with a small bit of onion (I don’t really love onions…)

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Then I threw in the 2 lbs. of hamburger (you could use turkey to make it even healthier – something I’m going to try next time) indicated on the bottle. I’ll just say – that’s a lot of meat for me and my hubby, but you’ll see how we made it work for an entire week’s worth of meals.

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All you do after that is simply pour in the sauce. Easy peasy, nice and breezy. Dinner is DONE. Tweet: Easy peasy, nice and breezy. Dinner is DONE. #souperfoodparty

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Looks good doesn’t it? Here is one of the cool things about this new line: each package has the beginning of a story that inspired the food printed right on it! They give you a little bit of the story and then you can go online (easy to do if you have a phone that reads that little bar code there…) and read the rest! How genius is that? It really puts a personal touch to the product.

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So now I was all set to chow down, but I was nervous. I try to avoid a lot of prepackaged food because a lot of it tastes very salty. All those preservatives and what-not. To my surprise and delight though it wasn’t a bit salty tasting! It has 420 mg of sodium – which is not a lot if you look at some other prepackaged foods these days. Plus there are a lot of natural ingredients in this too. I wanted to stay away from a lot of carbs so the first night we had the Joes over Portobello mushrooms! My hubby grilled the caps first on our George Foreman grill (while I was at zumba!), we heated up the mix and topped the mushrooms. Yum.

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The next night, to keep it fresh and exciting, we used kaiser rolls (hubby had a whole one and I opted for half) and I paired it with some grilled asparagus. Double yum!

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I think you could also add in mushrooms to the sauce or even just use mushrooms instead of the meat! It’s really quick and easy and I will certainly be buying some more of this. Sadly, after day three of the meals – it’s almost gone. *pout* But I still have a few items to try out in my box so check back here often to see what other scrumptious meals I’ve put together.

And check back here after October 5th for my #souperfoodparty blog post!

Have you tried the new Chicken Soup for the Soul food line yet? What’s your favorite?

 

 

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Taking That First Step

Prologue – Devotions for Depressed Souls (working title)

Low self-esteem is my middle name. Not really. It’s Ann. But it seems like I’ve lived with bad self-image as long as I have my middle name.

In childhood I can remember being fearless and wanting to try new things. When my best friend wanted to go on the snowmobile, I readily agreed even though she would purposefully spin the machine, tossing me off the back every time. I acted mad and stormed away, but it was secretly fun. She would zoom up to me on the snowmobile, extend a hand, and we would go at it again. It never deterred me, and I knew she wasn’t doing it to hurt me. We’re still friends even today.

As I grew up though, I got thrown a lot of times in different situations, but it stopped being fun when the people quit lending a hand to help me back up. My self-esteem and fearlessness began to crumble.

One friend used me to split the cost of a trip, but then treated me badly the entire vacation. I endured a week of icy silence from her in a state that was over five hundred miles from home, and I had no car to leave. Afterwards, she told me she didn’t want to be friends anymore because we didn’t have the same beliefs. It irritated her, she said, that I forced my beliefs on her. I don’t even remember ever having a religious based conversation with her.

A former boyfriend repeatedly told me how overweight I was and kept a schedule of my gym visits. He was trying to “help” me, he said. He wanted me to live forever to be with him. I worked out, ate healthy foods, lost over thirty pounds, and he still left me because I wasn’t what he wanted. It was a punch in the gut and a blow to my self-esteem.

To make me a better worker, my flaws were pointed out daily by almost every boss I’ve ever had so I would “know what I was doing wrong,” although I was rarely told what I was doing right.

Over and over again people put me down for “my own good.” Maybe it made them feel better to say they were “helping” me.

They weren’t.

The more “help” offered the less I liked myself. I started down a spiral of self-doubt and despair. Some days it’s hard to even get out of bed. What’s the point? I’ll just fail today, too, like I’ve failed for the past forty years—how will today be different?

A friend frequently offers me this kind of advice: “Just be happy! Why care what others think?”

Probably because they keep telling me what they think. And how do you just “be happy”? I lost that somewhere along the way too. Recently I’ve noticed that I rarely have encouraging or happy thoughts. It’s hard for me to think positive things even when I am encouraged or praised by others. I deflect the good because the bad has cut so deep.

The other day my husband attempted to cheer me up by helping me to think of a relaxing place.

“Envision the ocean…the beach,” he said. “You love the beach. Isn’t it peaceful there? Aren’t you happy there?”

I knew he was trying his best, but my response deflated his encouragement instantly.

“The beach is so far. Is it windy? Is the sun out? I only like it when the sun is out. Are there a lot of people?… now I want to be on the beach and I’m not there… so now I’m more depressed.”

Even as the words left my mouth, I knew I had to make a change. My husband and I laughed about it because my thought process was so absurd and messed up, but this negative way of thinking about everything could eventually destroy my life.

In fact, it’s already affected my life and marriage. My husband and I talk about this negative outlook frequently and he tries to help (although in better ways than most have tried). He is discouraged as well because I cannot accept his self-less and unconditional love for me.

Why would anyone love me without restrictions? There is always something in it for the other person.

Christian friends all say, “Christ died for you!” and “He loves you so much!”—indicating that these things should ensure my happiness, but my mind won’t process the information. God’s love is unrestricted and unconditional, but I don’t ever feel worthy of His love either.

I began digging deeper into the notion that as a Christian I shouldn’t have these feelings about myself… which only started to make me feel worse. God isn’t here to show me Himself. He isn’t here to constantly bolster my completely deflated self-esteem.

Or is He?

So how could I change this perspective and acknowledge Christ’s love for me once and for all? What would it take to really believe I am loved for exactly who I am?

One morning, as I leafed through the Psalms, looking for some encouragement to just get me through one day, I realized that the Bible offers a plethora of encouragement as my friends keep telling me. Except it doesn’t seem to soak in when I read a verse here and there. I can’t get it to connect to ME.

What could I do to make that connection?

Then I felt God speak to me: “Read it from cover to cover and take notes.” I never considered this option. Wasn’t the Bible just a tool to pick out random verses to make me feel better? (I can hear my theology friends moaning…)

No, it isn’t meant for that. It’s meant as a study tool.

I made a vow to myself to start right then and there. I will work my way through the Bible writing down every instance of God’s love, care and provision for His children—from Adam to me. Those truths I will compare to my negative, self-doubting thoughts in hopes of dispelling the untruths of my deceitful brain. If nothing else, I surmise, I’ll know the word, and hopefully God, better.  At the second level, with any luck, I’ll rid myself of this negative thought processing. At the third level, if I publish my findings, then maybe I’ll connect with others who feel this way and, maybe, even be able to help them in their journey out of the abyss. At the maximum level I might be able to help a sea of others to overcome self-doubt, downcast thoughts and behaviors, and to push past what others think and see only what God tells us—forever leaving behind the negative lifestyle.

So…are you with me? Are you willing to read on…and maybe even take your own notes?

Over the next several months I will post my findings off and on here on my blog as I work my way through the Bible. It won’t be every day or even every week, but I want to share this journey with my readers and hopefully reach out to many others. Please feel free to comment below about your journey and how you’re trying to overcome the negative thoughts as well as share my posts with those you think could benefit from them. Let’s start a discussion. The time is now to put an end to the negativity weighing us down.

I’m reaching my hand out to help you up. Will you do the same?

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From failure to success – it really does happen

A woman contacted me recently and asked if I would design a book cover for her. She had seen my website and several other pages I have (like Twitter, Guru and Facebook). On those pages I frequently mentioned my graphic design background. I worked for almost ten years after college as a graphic designer in a variety of jobs, but I left the field due to multiple lay-offs and the frustration of working with demanding clients. I still enjoy doing design work, but mainly for friends and my church. I’ve done our church bulletin for several years now and recently starting working on flyers and mailers for our writing critique group.

So I agreed to help her out. I advised her that I was a little rusty, but she still agreed to move forward.

I dove into the work and was excited to get back in the mix of things. Unfortunately I didn’t realize how drastically the programs have changed, or how expensive they had become. I downloaded a free, thirty day trial of Photoshop and started, but I quickly became deterred. Although the program was similar, I found myself struggling to get over my learning curve. It was not coming back to me as it should and I felt an overwhelming sense of fear bearing down on me. Now I remembered the other reason I had quit this profession: the stress.

It wasn’t good enough. I couldn’t get the photos to mesh together the way I wanted. The light wasn’t quite right of this photo so I tried another one. Then another one. I spend hours looking for photos to use only to figure out I couldn’t make them blend (and bend) to my needs. I was struggling and failing. My self-esteem took a major hit as things kept working against me. I would chalk this up as another failure on my already LONG list.

After a few days work I reluctantly gave up. My failure was hard to swallow, but I could not move forward and the current results were not professional enough to provide to the client. I didn’t want to waste any more of her time so I reluctantly wrote her an email explaining my failure. I felt like a dog with its tail between its legs waiting for the master to scold it. Convinced she would be upset at the waste of time and the unfinished product, I hit the send button and braced myself for the response.

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When I saw her return email in my inbox, I clicked on it with trepidation, but I couldn’t believe what I was reading. Her graciousness floored me. She commended my honesty and dignity, saying she appreciated that I didn’t try to move forward with an inferior product. I never imagined she wouldn’t be upset.  I instantly felt better. Wiping my brow, I deleted the mercy filled email and chalked it up to a lesson learned: no more graphic design work.

A few days later I received another email from this same woman. Uh oh,  I thought, what did I do now? Once again, I clicked the email with an overbearing sense of fear and once again she surprised me with her words.

She wanted me to edit her work instead of creating a cover for it. She had read some of my writing and needed a “last look” at the work before getting it published. I was honored and astounded. What I had perceived to be a major failure had now come back to bless me in a new way. Thanking God for this new challenge, I readily accepted her generous offer and began editing her work.

I finished it today. Not only will I be paid for this work – so I can call myself a genuine “editor” – the book also was very good and I cannot wait to obtain my copy once she has published it so I can share it with others. Plus, I have a new contact and, I hope, a friend.

So. After a week of stress and over thinking – it worked out even better in the end than I had ever imagined. Isn’t that so indicative of what we do to ourselves everyday?

"Sometimes the best thing you can do is not think, not wonder, not imagine, not obsess. Just breathe, and have faith that everything will work out for the best."  #overthinking

What are you over thinking today that you can let go of? Take that first step of faith – you might be surprised by the path you are on once you stop and let it go (isn’t that a famous song right now?)

If you’d like me to edit, proofread or critique your work – give me a shout.

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