People are People

Man, it’s been a crazy week. I landed a few hours ago from an out of town meeting. A very intense one. Imagine sitting in a conference room with the most diverse personalities, each trying to speak louder than the other. But then again, it’s nothing new. Given the job I have, every day is a lesson in human nature.  In the ever-competitive world of corporate culture, every single company in America is undergoing its own version of a “transformation”.  The human aspect of this process is unnerving. It makes people nervous about their jobs, it makes them compete, throw colleagues under the bus, fosters an “every man for himself” kind of mentality.  The unknown makes people very uncomfortable. Insecurity rules one’s actions, and there’s nothing pretty about it.

Despite how much effort you place in your relationships, people are still people. Sometimes it becomes so discouraging, the way people react to situations – that you want to throw in the towel and stop trying. If you’re like me and it’s a function of your job, then you’re stuck with it.  But what about your personal dealings, the ones you have when you’re not at the office. People are still people then, and so the selfishness, the fear, the competition – they still exist.  Social media is teeming with these sorts of people. There are ones that only care about selling themselves, there are others who are too open, too dramatic, too negative. There are also ones who don’t care. And they have to tell the whole world about it.

But all this competitiveness is rooted in uncertainty, I’ve learned to combat it with knowledge and information. Sharing as much as I can honestly and truthfully helps build trust among people. They learn to trust you, they bank on your integrity. When you assure people about things, they listen to you, calm down because they know you will never lead them astray. Compassion and kindness, understanding the person for more than his/her words and actions, goes a long way. Most of the time, the people who scream the loudest are the ones who don’t even understand what the issue is about. This attitude, their words are all a defense against the fear and loneliness they feel inside. When you look at it with genuine empathy, you will find the good instead of the bad.

actions-speak-louder-than-words-quote-4-picture-quote-1

Actions speak louder than words.

You’ve heard that saying before, right? If everyone at that meeting I told you about, just stopped talking and started acting, it would have saved me time and money from making that trip. And my sanity.

We breeze through life sometimes without taking a step back to recognize our own frailties, our own motivations. The truth of the matter, is that we learn more about ourselves through our dealings with others. You set standards for yourself and choose who you want and don’t want to associate with. Taking the time to understand why people are people opens you up to tolerance and understanding. Knowing that your actions have spoken for you, that your history has defined who you are as a person, should be comforting. There’s just no need to claw your way out of ordinariness.

Lately, I’ve been reminding myself of the same things.

Let your patience, compassion, understanding and kindness speak for you.

People will see you through what you do.

So just do, will you?

fleuron

Happy 2018!

Let Go, gracefully.

I didn’t make that phrase up. I read it somewhere today, when trying to figure out what I want to focus on this year. In 2017, I wrote about being fearless – closing your eyes and jumping in, taking risks and living with no regrets. Since then, I’ve received so many messages and notes and shares on social media about how women like myself were inspired to make 2017 The Year of Me.

It wasn’t easy. Living fearlessly meant taking risks and pushing myself to the limit when it came to work, my job and my writing. I had so much to learn, made many mistakes, took ownership of everything I did, said and asked for.  The result? Well, I still have the best job in the world, and I’ve signed with two publishers for two books releasing within six months of each other.

What a difference a year makes! After living for two years in conflict and turmoil and heartbreak, 2017 was the first full year of peace for me. Pure peace. Light. Happiness. Gratitude. Living without fear also taught me how to take responsibility for my actions – when you live in a fog for two years of your life, there is so much to make up for. Time that was lost, time with the ones I love. Taking responsibility in no way means being apologetic. Or regretful. You are who you are, you can’t skip steps, and the journey is always, always worthwhile.

2017 is done. Now we move on to 2018.

The good thing about life, is that we get to do it over again, a reboot, a re-cast, every single year.

This year, it’s time to clean house, to rid yourself of all the things that weigh you down, burden you, hurt your heart. Sounds so simple, right? Unfortunately, it’s probably the most difficult thing you’ll ever have to do. Human nature is resilient, approval seeking, loving, giving, kind. None of us have the natural propensity to push people away, to sever ties with those we love but have outgrown in one way or another.

But letting go isn’t just about relationships. It’s about setting your mind up to attract and retain the good and the positive, the nurturing parts of your life. In the same light, it is also about discarding the situations and events that bring nothing to you, that don’t help you to grow and develop as a person. It could be a toxic relationship, a one-way friendship. It can also be a fruitless job, or a habit or behavior pattern that makes you feel worthless, or wasteful or uncomfortable. Because I was too busy flying around the country, it was easier to deny that there were situations in my life I should have dealt with, unspoken words that needed to be said, credit for successes that I should have taken. This year, I’m letting go of everything that isn’t worth my time, my stress, my love, my friendship.

hipstamaticphoto-536452909.538725

Let Go, gracefully.

Walk away from those who don’t deserve you.

Demand more out of your friendships. And expect your friends to demand more of you.

Cast your hurts aside and repair your relationships. Don’t waste another second missing someone when all you have to do is call. Or text. Or even email.

Forgive others for their mistakes. No one is perfect.

Remember that when we move past those who we’ve outgrown, we give the universe a chance to fill that void with something better. Give the universe the opportunity to fill your life with good things.

Let go of that drama in your life.

But do it gracefully. With dignity and style.

Here’s wishing you all a NEW YEAR full of love, happiness, peace and success.

 

 

 

Twice Around the World

This blog post is coming to you from the Dominican Republic! A place far away from home, a sort of refuge from the wintry weather and the hectic year that was.

My American Airlines annual update told me that I circled the world twice in 2017.

In a nutshell, I think this sums up my year. I feel like I’ve circled the world more than once and I have the battle scars to show for it.

In 2017, the world was kind to me. It opened me up to new beginnings, new opportunities. It taught me many things. It brought new people into my life, took away those who didn’t want to stay. It also taught me that with great influence comes great responsibility. And that responsibility starts with integrity and honesty. Because I received so much this year, I wanted to give back just as much. Giving, mentoring, participating in committees that want to change the world – the feeling of accomplishment it offers to us is a gift that is well within our reach. Circling the world twice also meant I worked harder than I ever had in my life. It meant being relentless, proving to yourself that you deserve the success that your career has afforded you. It’s exhausting, staying on top of the game, constantly learning, challenging your skills. And because it’s a task that’s truly daunting, I feel blessed to have the most supportive, encouraging mentors and leaders in the industry. They were with me during those two trips around the world.

Being away so frequently has its own casualties and losses. Circling the world meant that I couldn’t lay down any roots this year. I couldn’t invest in people, relationships or even friendships. Thank goodness, my friends decided to invest in me.

The world is a great big place, filled with so much prospect and hope. I’m thankful for the inspiration that has allowed me to continue my passion. Through all the work, the long hours, the travels, the time away on my own, I didn’t run out of words and I didn’t run out of love or support from all of you.

Hope this season fills you with wonderful memories of the year you’ve had and that 2018 takes you on a journey you will never, ever forget.

Life in Parallel

Months ago, I read a book called The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo. I loved it so much, I promised to write a review for it – of course this never happened. For those of you who know me, you probably shook your heads and asked, “when?”. This book resonated with me because the heroine put herself first and made choices in her life that separated her from her one true love. The story takes you through the years two people who loved each other crossed paths at different stages in life. I loved the author’s writing style so much, the melancholy, sad, yet hopeful voice of the main character felt very personal – I adopted the style for my new book, The Year I Left.

518ZhE0j0CL__SX294_BO1,204,203,200_

 

I’ve had many friends who have recently experienced some form of heartbreak, of separation from those they loved because being together didn’t make sense.

What does that mean, you ask? How can being with the one you love not make sense?

It’s heart wrenching to think that love isn’t enough to get you through a life together, even ludicrous when you know how much you are willing to sacrifice to make things work. This is why it takes so much time, sometimes many years, for people to finally admit that being together is not in their life’s plan. They fight for each other, fight each other, fight to stay together. Until self-respect, sanity, time, are all in jeopardy. Maybe they have different needs, want different things. Maybe it’s because their priorities will never align. One wants to go in this direction, the other wants to go the opposite way. Maybe it’s because they found each other too late, that too many lives would be ruined in the process of building theirs.

So many reasons and yet, it feels like the same death.

We try desperately to pick up where we leave off, living lives far apart but in parallel. Maybe we marry or stay married to other people. Maybe we have families, we get caught up in raising them, in building a new life. We spend years lost in the shuffle – you, him, her, all of us, move down the road of life, through separate streets and crossroads, ending up two blocks east or west or north or south. We live in the moments, seize the good times and force the fact that we are happier, more secure, more in line with what we want out of our partners, our marriages, our families.

It works on most days.

But on days when you allow yourself to get lost in your thoughts, there is one thing you’ll need to admit to yourself – you’ll never love as much, laugh as hard, swoon to the music you both swayed to, once upon a time when you thought you could take on the world. Before you realized that the world was too vast, too complicated – you promised each other it would be okay.

Those promises still hold. You are okay. He is okay. She is okay. I am fine, we are fine. We are living, moving forward every day. Love is love but its magnitude and depth varies from person to person. The love you have today may not be the same, or as deep or as funny or as strong. But it’s love and you’re loved and you have love.

That’s enough to assure yourself that you made the right decision.

 

For the Good and Everything in Between

Everyone with a creative mind knows how the brain can get inundated with thoughts, words, pictures, colors – every single day. When you’re writing a book while living in parallel, it’s much more exaggerated. The OFF switch is in overdrive, you struggle to separate yourself – the corporate executive during the day to the floaty writer in the wee hours of the night. The story I’m working on is so emotional and raw, I’ve been living in that mode for the past few months. I’ve been out of words lately, barely able to piece together a blog post. And today is not unlike those days, even as I sit at home in peace before the onslaught of family and friends and food and togetherness.

The nostalgia that hits me every year at this time is the hardest. In the past few years, I tried my best to run away from this time, refusing to think about all I’d missed, all I’d lost, all the things I couldn’t accept. Thanksgiving has a way of reminding you about your gifts, but It also brings back memories of your tears.

This year, I am home. Engaged, happy, and at peace. And I am filled with gratitude for every single thing that life has thrown my way.

This year, I am thankful:

For the failures that have thought me resilience. They’ve given me strength and experience.

For the successes and the gains that have shown me the world in all its wonder.

For the people who stopped by for a visit – every single one of them has left something valuable behind.

For those who left, I miss you with all my heart. I believe there’s a time and place for us and that I’ll be seeing you again sometime soon.

Even the one who keeps leaving and coming back – what a validation, isn’t it?

For those who stayed, you have enriched my life. Your trust in me has given me wings to fly!

For all the investments you’ve made in me, for showing up each month to have dinner, drinks, to catch up and feed our friendship. I love you for showing me how to be a friend.

For the laugh out loud moments, and ugly cries in the silence. The crazy, stupid “close your eyes and jump” moments that brought glory and peace and broken bones and bruises.

For the moon and the stars, the wishes and prayers they’ve heard.

Thank you for teaching me what life is all about and allowing me to live my life with no regrets.

But most of all, I want to let you all know how grateful I am that you’re still here. Following close, taking my words to heart. You, my readers and my followers, my Butterflies, my friends – I can’t imagine a world without you. For all your love and support, I am grateful.

I hold you all close to my heart. Today and every day.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING with so much love.

 

This is Where We Are

Today’s snow flurries tell me that we’ve completely skipped over fall and stumbled into winter. I hope you all had a wonderful summer with your loved ones and friends. I made it a point to spend time with my family, rode horses on weekends and looked for houses on the water.

I know many of you have been waiting for some news from me. My last book release was in January 2016! Since then, I’ve been leading two very hectic lives, trying desperately to keep relevant in the book industry even without having a single clue about release dates and project end dates.

When I decided never to go Indie again, I knew this meant having to control my obsession with schedules and deadlines. In reality, however, it also entailed letting go of all sense of time! I mean, who can live with the unknown indefinitely? Certainly not someone who has made a career of being exact, articulate and accurate. Even the most laid-back person has to come to terms with something finite at one point, don’t you agree? So when your agent tells you that your manuscript is currently in pitch, with no knowledge of who is going to read it or when, it’s nerve-wracking

“Why don’t you just write another book?” she suggested, tired of my constant follow ups and vented frustration.

That’s what I did. I agreed to write another book for Anvil Publishing and turn over Asian rights to this distributor. And here I am, plugging away, halfway through writing what is turning out to be my favorite work.

In the three months that I’ve been writing again, both books have been acquired.

We have release dates, and I couldn’t be more at peace.

Eight Goodbyes is a simple romance between a pragmatic scientist and a head in the clouds author. I wrote this book as a palette cleanser to In This Life. As you all know, ITL was one heck of a gritty, angsty, dramatic book – I needed to come off that rollercoaster and write something lighter, simpler, more delightful. My beta reader (yes, I only had one) said it was the best one I’ve written yet.

But she also hasn’t read The Year I Left. It’s a tear jerker. I’ll be back to make you cry. Again.

The Year I Left is in many ways, my story. When I was going through the toughest times a year ago, I always imagined what it would be like if we were given a second chance to do our lives over. The Year I Left explores this. Can you really do everything over? Or is your core made up of your past and your present and does it determine your future?

Sorry for digressing.

You all know that my editor is Jim Thomas, former Editorial Director of Random House. Jim has been working with me since In This Life, has edited Eight Goodbyes and is scheduled to receive The Year I Left as soon as I can get my act together. We had quite a few very slow bites from other publishers, only two rejections and still a handful left in review. Because of the volume of submissions, they move like turtles in this industry and I can’t wait any longer. I want to get these books to you next year. You’ve been waiting so patiently and as you all know, it’s never really been about the sales. Here’s what I did: I asked that all submissions be pulled so I can turn both books over to Vesuvian Media. My decision to do so was influenced by two factors: Jim Thomas shares a connection with this publisher which means that my books will be in good hands. It is one of the few publishers who also engages in books to film. Because I’ve already established my connections with scriptwriters and Hollywood pitches, I decided that this would be a good route to take.

Let’s go back to the books.

I am happy to announce that Eight Goodbyes will be seeing the light of day in the summer of 2018. And that The Year I Left will follow shortly after, in the spring of 2019. Since all this takes place while I am also juggling the greatest career of my life, having a good publisher makes all the difference. I simply cannot afford to take this all on by myself. While it would have been less stressful to hit the PUBLISH button on my own, I don’t have the time to market, sell and promote these books by myself.

I’ve made a deal with my agent. I can drive her crazy with production schedule spreadsheets as long as I know that she doesn’t have to listen to me.

So, it’s a win- win.

I am grateful to all of you for your patience and support. I promise they will be worth the wait. I am most thankful for heaven’s blessings – for keeping me alive and well as I maneuver my way through the most demanding but also most fulfilling days of my life.