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Sell furniture. Quit job. Take road trip.

By | PEOPLE, travel | No Comments

“I got the inspiration for a road trip from my friend, Kenneth Mosher, who did an eight month trip for $8K. He went across the United States. He even bought a plane ticket and backpacked in Hawaii for two weeks. He was a friend, not just a random friend, but one I knew intimately from high school. We just kept bumping into each other over the years. I thought if he could do it, then I could. I knew I asked him questions. He believed I could do it,” Amanda said.

Kenneth Mosher at Garden of the Gods in Colorado

Kenneth Mosher at Garden of the Gods in Colorado texted Amanda, “I’m letting the universe guide me in every step. I’m here on a mission to help others open their eyes to reality and help them fight the battle within themselves.”

“Kenneth called me one day when I was on a break at work. I told him I was at corporate. He said he expected me to end up there. We kept exchanging stories. I felt like I had a preview into the rest of my life already. It wasn’t horrible, but I knew if I kept doing this my whole life, I’d regret it,” Amanda said.

“He said he did this and we had a conversation about it. There was never one trigger. He gave me the spark. I just thought I wasn’t that type of person. I didn’t think I was very adventurous, but I wanted to be. If you’re scared to do new things, what do you do? You just try new things,” Amanda said.

Amanda had a savings goal. Three months was her stretch. She still had student loans, a car payment, and a phone bill. She didn’t wait until all her bills were paid.

“This trip totally, totally intimidated me. I’m not adventurous, but I’d like to be, and this kind of attitude totally changes it. I decided that I wanted to talk myself into it more than talk myself out of it. Around October I started getting it in my mind that I wanted to leave around June. It ended up being May. I started selling my furniture. I made a series of small decisions. I quit my job. I couldn’t turn back. I kept moving forward. At a certain point, you can’t back out,” Amanda said.

“I read The Alchemist before my road trip. A friend recommended it. She told me it was about someone who pursued their dream and found it. When I came across it at a bookstore in the airport, I got it. This was the perfect book to read before my road trip,” Amanda said.

“Some people just don’t take the opportunity because they don’t think they’re the type to do it. Some people label themselves. I could tell myself I’m not well traveled. I’m alone. Some people will tell you when you move you need your next job lined up. Or you tell yourself you won’t travel until you have a friend or a partner who wants to go with you. And don’t forget the biggest one. Solo travel for a woman, you can’t do that! It’s not safe,” Amanda said.

“These are preconceived notions and labels. I needed someone who shattered that mold. For me it was Kenneth,” Amanda said.

“People write themselves out of the equation. I thought some people just had it in their heart. You might think that just other people do this. I just want to inspire you to go,” Amanda said.

You need a forerunner for things in life and sometimes you’re the forerunner.

“If you want to do it, there’s an ideal time. I had a friend who told me he was moving from Ft. Myers to San Diego. At first he told me about all his furniture and how he spent a lot of money on it. It turns out it’s just as expensive to move all the furniture, so you might as well sell it. After we talked about it, he decided to sell his stuff and make a two-week road trip out of it. You have to be prepared to let a lot of things go,” Amanda said.

Amanda Haataia sold virtually everything she had, quit her job, and started trekking solo across the United States.

Amanda Haataia sold virtually everything she owned, quit her job, and started trekking solo across the United States in her Scion. She didn’t consider herself adventurous until she embarked on this road trip.

“One of the highlights was at the Wildflower Cafe in Gardner, Colorado. I met a family and helped them wrangle in their horse. There were four generations from the great grandparents to the grandkids. This family left me the keys to their house. Something like this doesn’t fall in your lap when you’re sitting at home,” Amanda said.

Young boy Amanda met while helping the family wrangle in their horses.

Young boy Amanda met on her road trip. She helped the family wrangle in their horses.

“You never know how something holds you back until you let go of it. If you hold on to anything, everything has its price. You know its value in a good way. But then you start to understand your true value. Until you exercise your freedom, you don’t know you have it until you experiment and try it out,” Amanda said.


Your furniture can hold you back. I didn’t value freedom until I took this road trip. I used to think I was free when I could have dessert before dinner and that was my definition of freedom. 


“Another thing about Kenneth, is that he’s totally different now. A lot of his friends say he’s way better. And these are people who already thought highly of him. Sometimes we want to be better people, but if you’re always in the same environment, you’re not putting yourself to the test to see new values, or even have the desire to find yourself. Once you have the freedom to be however you want to be, you can craft yourself to be who you’re meant to be,” Amanda said.

This is a story of finding yourself.

“I knew I didn’t love my job. I also didn’t think I needed to love it. I picked all the logical things for a new job, but I knew I didn’t have enough information to know what I wanted to do. I felt I would get into another job, and it would be just the same. I felt I hadn’t lived enough. I came across a lot of other people who felt the same way and quit their job. I wouldn’t say I was adventurous until this road trip,” Amanda said.


You have the time to read the books and play out the things you care about. Most things you find out that don’t matter as much as you thought. Some things fade into the background and then other things stand out. If you don’t know what you want, what are you going to chase after?


“Sometimes it seems like a lot of hype about big cities. You can read blogs or read about places, but once you experience cities for their culture, climate, and price tag, then you can say I like this culture or this temperature during the day,” Amanda said.

“I loved Colorado Springs way more than Denver, but everyone hears about Denver. I realize I can get all of Denver for half the price in Colorado Springs. I started to realize how much outdoorsy stuff I like,” Amanda said.

"Jim Bishop's Castle was amazing! I loved visiting with the first best friend of my life, April Ann Amaya, my friend since I was six years old," Amanda said.

Jim Bishop’s Castle was an amazing part of my road trip! I loved visiting with the first best friend of my life, April Amaya, my friend since I was six years old,” Amanda said.

“You start to play with your values, rather than sitting behind a desk. You get all of that without living in one city for five years. You get a preview and taste of everything. Now when I approach my job search, I’ll know more about what I want to do, and some of the tradeoffs of each city. It’s way way better than what you could ever read,” Amanda said.

“I just want to inspire people to take road trips. You have to decide that you want to do it enough. You’ll discover on your own what matters and what doesn’t and it will be totally different from mine,” Amanda said.

I went to Wye Campground in Colorado Springs. I was away from everything. From my tent I could see the Milky Way. It was a great experience.

I went uphill for about an hour. I met some people in a group of five or six people. They had to drop off 2-3 people at airports because they couldn’t handle it. When you go out, you learn what you can handle.

“I had a myriad of experiences. Every day was new. Even if I had a bad day, there was always tomorrow which was so different.” Amanda said.


You realize the extent of flexing your freedom muscles. That’s what a road trip does. You don’t realize how free you can be until you test it. It’s a change in thinking. It isn’t always the experiences. It’s more about the things I was thinking, knowing I can do it.


“I had a lot of first times on this trip: couch surfing, going to a drive thru movie in Pueblo, Colorado. Wait, oh yeah, it’s called a drive in. I had a few times when I woke up and didn’t know where I was going to sleep that night for the first time. I wasn’t worried about it. It was the first time in Louisiana, first time in this state, first time trying new food. It was the first time I did a thirteen hour drive in one day. This was how long it took from Dallas to getting into Colorado. I just had to get to Colorado. Every day was a first for something,” Amanda said.

When was the last time you did something for the first time?

“My sense of adventure has gone up. I met a lot of people. Some of the people who hosted me are some of the most open-minded people. That’s why they get involved in couch-surfing,” Amanda said.

“On the road I read the amount that I’d like to, whereas before I couldn’t find the time to read. I flossed pretty much every night on the road. I met my goal to not use heat tools on my hair. Now I can go days without makeup and without caring about it,” Amanda said.


My concern for what other people think about me has gone down. I don’t care in a good way, a positive way. I know which advice to ignore and listen to now. Any time I come to a decision I get practical advice. I listen to my heart. On a road trip like this you wake up in a new day and you have three or four choices. You don’t feel obliged to go with your friend. You have a chance to go with yourself and not be ashamed of it.


“My first Couchsurfing experience was in Pensacola Beach. I texted them just before I arrived. My heart was racing. I told myself if I don’t feel safe, I’ll leave. I knew I could get a hotel. There were about five cars in front of the house. Someone was outside and offered to help me with my things. I told him I’d get my bag later. I asked for Alex. He told me I was at the right place,” Amanda said.

“I grabbed my purse and locked my car. I knocked on the door and there were about seven people inside. I wondered what I got myself into. It took me a while to get comfortable with all of them asking me where I’m from, where I’m going, how old I am, how far I am into my travels, and more and more questions. It was a house with four lifeguards. Apparently Pensacola Beach is not a safe place for surfing,” Amanda said.

If you don’t have the time to travel, you can be a host to Couchsurfers from all over the world.  You can also be picky with who you want to stay there and just accept people from other countries to learn about them. Hosts can choose who they want. If they don’t want to have someone that night, they just decline the request. You arrive and request a day or two, or possibly more. You just see how your vibe is, and how you click. Then you can see if you want to stay for a day or a week.

“One time I put in a request for a day and stayed for four. I stayed three days in New Orleans. I did two different Couchsurfing stays in Houston, two nights each.

One of the guys I met in New Orleans loved to cook. He cooked for me twice a day.He was from Honduras. His dad left the family and his mom had arthritis. He grew up cooking to help take care of the family.” Amanda said.

This man from Honduras loves to cook.

His dad left the family and his mom had arthritis. This man from Honduras learned to cook for his family at a young age.

“Once you get used to it, it gets easier. As I got more into my road trip, I felt more independent. I felt more comfortable on the road. I met travelers and would just crash with them. Couchsurfing it’s totally free,” Amanda said.

Couchsurfing is just a network to help you get comfortable with it. After a while you don’t need it, but at first it gives you references and you feel safer. When you sign up you fill out your about me page, your philosophy, how you participate, what music, movies or books you like, your age, occupation, current location, stuff like that.

If you’re a host, you say if you have a shared room or private bedroom, how many surfers can you have. You explain parking at the location, or things to do in the area. The more detailed you are, the more trustworthy you seem. And you can add photos too.

At the end of a stay you answer a few questions about your visit and what it was like. And you can leave a reference. Then you can read what others said about a host or visitor.


Cleverness can be learned, but does not get you far like true experiences can. I’d love to learn deeper truths about generosity, community and understanding.


“I downloaded Airbnb before my road trip, but I didn’t use it. Even if it’s $20 or $40 to stay somewhere, I valued each day so much that I didn’t want to spend this much. I called Kenneth twice along the way when I ran into something and I didn’t want to ask Reddit. He told me how he found free campsites. Free Campsites was a helpful site. I also used Hostelworld,” Amanda said.

 at 6th Street in Austin, Texas.

During this road trip Amanda met a lot of new friends along the way. Here are a few people she met at a hostel. They snapped a photo together at 6th Street in Austin, Texas.

“I liked staying at Drifter Jack’s Hostel in Austin, Texas. It’s a lot of solo travelers who come together. Everyone is very inviting. Everyone met around the pool table around 10 or 11 in the morning and evening and everyone would go out together. No one knows each other so everyone’s invited. They’re all cool people,” Amanda said.

"This fellow roadtripper put my ride to shame! His van a bed, sink and stove! After losing to pool, I was able to whup his son in Catan," Amanda said.

“This fellow roadtripper I met in Englewood, Colorado, put my ride to shame! His van had a bed, sink and stove! After losing to pool, I was able to whup his son in Catan,” Amanda said.

“I used Podcast Addict for entertainment on the road. I also downloaded the AllTrails app because I wanted to go hiking,” Amanda said.

“I used Reddit and some of the Subreddits.  Its fun to play with. They have a community for everything.  I subscribed to some Subreddits such as r/vandwellers, r/solotravel, r/roadtrip, r/nationalpark and r/travel. The content is invaluable. These were so helpful. If I didn’t know the answer, I would go to a community of people who cared about it,” Amanda said.

“You can ask a question like, ‘how did you eat breakfast on the road.’ And someone will answer. ‘If I wanted to have cereal, I’d buy small containers of almond milk.’ Someone told me to get a memory foam pad. This made camping even a little luxurious. It was helpful finding these communities,” Amanda said.


If you’re looking to talk yourself into something instead of out of it, go to the people who believe in it to get the answers you want. This is how to make something a reality. 


“But even a positive story has its baggage. Do you want to know some of the negatives of the road trip? It would be different for everyone. I even look at them almost positive now. There’s travel stress for sure. There are some days you feel like you should be doing more. You have this expectation when you travel that you should be doing this grandeur thing every day. I’m in this new city and just playing a board game and having a beer with someone while couch surfing. And then another day you just do laundry. You think about adventure, but it’s not 24/7. It’s really tame in a way,” Amanda said.


Nothing prepares you like the road trip itself. I was in a job I didn’t love. I wanted to do a road trip and I wanted to get the information to believe I could do it. If you just want it a little bit, that’s all you really need. Then you realize this applies to everything in life. As long as you’re going down some road. This road trip gave me so many avenues to go down. 


“Shutting down chapters can be sad. I cried several times on the trip and I’m ok with this. I lost my Kindle. I was bored with some of the people I met. The good part is that it was only a day. It’s not an entire life. You have bad days on a road trip, but you don’t feel stuck or attached to that day. If you have a bad day at work it can stick in your head, like this is my life. It’s going to be like this for ten or twenty years,” Amanda said.

“It’s easy to let it go because you can play with your priorities, but you have to experience some bad things to know. After a while with podcasts, I got annoyed with how political they were. I got lonely, but not as lonely as I thought. In fact, sometimes I got overwhelmed with meeting so many people. Pretty much everyone asks the same ten questions. Where are you going? When did you start? Where are you from? How old are you? You get used to it, but telling the same story while traveling gets exhausting. By the 47th person, it’s boring,” Amanda said.

"On this road trip I realized how much I want a horse, and dogs and cats," Amanda said.

“On this road trip, I realized how much I want a horse and dogs and cats,” Amanda said.

 


The benefits are beyond the road trip. You have no idea the extent of what you can do when you’re stuck in a routine. Don’t get me wrong, I love my routines and good habits. You don’t realize how many things you put around your head until you go out and do a road trip. Then I realized I can take this liberation with me wherever I am.


“Yes, this road trip changed my life,” Amanda said.

If you’re feeling sluggish with your life, a road trip might be the reboot you need to start over.

“I’d like to encourage you to do a road trip. You’ll transform from wanting to tell stories to wanting to do things. Just like when you’re a kid in the playground. You’re like a kid. You just want to climb that thing. You just want to go over that mountain. So I’d just meet someone and say, hey I’m doing this, do you want to join me?”

check-mark-black-green   Sell furniture.

 

check-mark-black-green   Quit job.

 

check-mark-black-green   Take road trip.

 

basic-square-checkbox-unticked   New beginning.

 

Amanda Haataia loves listening to music, watching movies and reading books. She enjoys the outdoors and is a card-carrying member of a National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass. She recently sold virtually everything she owned and started trekking across the country in her Scion topped with an unlocked cargo bag. In addition to traveling across the United States twice (once with family in 2005, and this trip in 2016), Amanda has also traveled to Canada, France, Ireland, Mexico, Spain and Switzerland.

 

2015-National Parks-Federal-Recreational-Lands-Pass

Jax Woodworkers gives away more toys each year

By | artists, gifts, NONPROFITS | 5 Comments

“I’m the last living founding member of Jax Woodworkers. All the others have passed away. I’ve been the Chaplin for many years,” Bobby Clayton said.

Woodrow Connors with Bobby Clayton, two of the four founders of Jax Woodworkers Club.

Woodrow Connors with Bobby Clayton, two of the four original founders of Jax Woodworkers Club.

“My neighbor, Woodrow Connors, had a two-car detached garage in his back yard. That’s where he had all his woodworking equipment. When we moved into the neighborhood, he had been living there several years before us. This is where Woodrow founded the club. I’ve been there ever since the beginning, since the inception. Jax Woodworkers formed with four men, including me. Carmen Fenanelli was a banker and became the treasurer right away. And Ray Reynolds was the other guy. He made a bunch of grandfather clocks and walking canes, plus many, many, many toys over the years. We’re considered to be the founders. But Woodrow was the man, the head man. It started a long time ago,” Bobby said.

Jax Woodworkers started in December 1989 in Woodrow’s garage.

Woodrow Connors with Ray Reynolds, two of the four founders of Jax Woodworkers Club.

Woodrow Connors with Ray Reynolds, two of the four founders of Jax Woodworkers Club.

“Woodrow was already making the crosses. They were designed to be hung in rear-view mirrors inside cars. He brought the idea from the North Jacksonville Baptist Church. He was a member of that church and that’s where he got the idea. He started making crosses in his garage. Each one is made of hardwood. They all have red yarn and a heart that holds the yarn together. His wife, Miriam, used to string the red yarn through the crosses and add the plastic hearts. The crosses were free and not to be sold. He just gave them away. Woodrow made more than 20,000 crosses and today they’re probably all over the world,” Bobby said.

Miriam and Woodrow Connors . . .

Miriam helped her husband, Woodrow Connors, by stringing red yarn through crosses that he gave away for free.

“I have a wood shop in my garage too. I put all my equipment on wheels. When I want to work, I roll everything out in the back and work on it,” Bobby said.

“Woodrow founded the club in his back yard. That’s where we started making toys. I’d walk over there. I was just one of the guys who was helping to get it started. We started with four guys. It grew to 60 plus members. We made thousands of toys and we’d give them all away. None of them are for sale. They’re for small children,” Bobby said.

“We’ve met at different places. We’ve moved around to anyplace that would have us. Now we’re meeting at St. Catherine’s Episcopal Church. We meet on the third Saturday of each month at noon. We eat in the church dining room before we start the meeting. The workers from the church fix us lunch,” Bobby said.

“After we eat, we start the meeting right on time. The president might mention if anyone is sick. Many of the members are older. We also have younger guys and gals and they’re happy to learn from the older woodworkers. They’re very skilled at what they do. Before they retired, some of them were woodworking artists.”

“The president always starts the meeting with a prayer and the pledge of allegiance. That’s important, the prayer part. Make sure you put that down. The secretary reads the minutes from the past meeting. Then the safety officer gives a safety report. Working with saws can be very dangerous, especially with small projects. He reads and speaks from his own personal experience. You don’t put thin plywood in a planer, for example. If you do it will fire bullets. This is just an example. You should never plane a piece of plywood,” Bobby said.

“On the third Saturday of November each year, all the members bring in the toys for distribution. Some of the toys go to Shriners. There are about fifteen agencies that come to pick up the toys during the pick-up time. We divide them between the groups. Some people take them to the hospitals and give them away,” Bobby said.

Jax Woodworkers club members lay out all the wood toys to prepare for pick up.

Jax Woodworkers club members lay out all the wood toys to prepare for pick up.

“The members of Jax Woodworkers make about 5,000 toys a year. In November, we spread the toys out all over the floor. People come with boxes to get the toys. They go fast,” Bobby said.

“One of the club’s biggest expenses is wheels. The wheels are expensive. The toy chairman orders wheels and axles with money collected from annual membership dues,” Bobby said.


Jax Woodworkers Club purchases the majority of their wheels from Woodworks.


Jax Woodworkers members make thousands of toys each year

Jax Woodworkers members prepare thousands of handmade toy cars, trucks, planes and other wood toys for their annual giveaway.

“Every year we make thousands of toys for the various agencies The American Legion, Sulzbacher Center. Some of them I never heard of before, such as a group for babies of prisoners,” Bobby said.

Jax Woodworkers . . .

Jax Woodworkers lay out all the toys for distribution each November for various nonprofits to come pick them up.

“The people who receive these toys are invited back from last year to this year and they tell about giving them away. When the children go into the room with plastic toys and wooden toys, they always run to the wooden toys. People get up with tears in their eyes to tell what a joy it is to get the toys. The men are humble. When you lay 5,000 toys out on the floor, it’s quite a sight. The woodworkers don’t want any credit. They’re just doing the work of the Lord,” Bobby said.

Jax Woodworkers . . .

Jax Woodworkers Club gives away thousands of handmade wood toys each year.

“The woodworkers have such great camaraderie. They’re not trying to outdo the other ones. They’re just trying to do something for the children,” Bobby said.

“One of the main places we get our wood is Rulon in St. Augustine. They supply us with wood. They’re in the business of making ceilings and wall systems for properties all over the world. We’ve developed a relationship with Rulon to get their wood. So we get choice wood, quite often poplar and black walnut. Rulon makes fancy commercial ceilings,” Bobby said.


“One of our members, Greg Fisher, found out about Rulon from a friend who was getting wood from them. Greg went to see Rulon to tell them what Jax Woodworkers Club does and our need for any wood they could give us. Rulon was happy to give us wood to make toys for needy children. They have been doing this now for over six years. Each meeting there is a pickup truck full of wood for our members donated by Rulon,” said Web Master Bob Corona.

Rulon International Jax Woodworkers Club Jacksonville Florida warehouse St. Augustine Florida Jacksonville community

Rulon International is committed to giving back to the community. They have been donating wood to Jax Woodworkers Club since 2010.


“I like this club because it gives us an opportunity to be of service to the Lord to see the children light up when we give them a toy. Aside from that, I personally enjoy getting a hold of a plan, making the toys, and sharing ideas on how to make different ones,” Bobby said.

“The woodworkers also build a lot of stuff for show-n-tell that’s not given away. We have show-n-tell at every meeting except December when we have our Christmas party. The callers make the calls to remind people about the meetings a few days before,” Bobby said.

“Making toys is our main goal, but at each meeting we do show-n-tell. The show-n-tell officer chooses a topic such as drill press or table saw. They’ll bring stuff in that they made with this equipment. We have a table full of stuff that has nothing to do with giveaway toys. Some guys come in with cabinets they’ve built or airplanes. We take it in and show it. You leave your name by your piece and someone will call you up to explain how you made it. And then people ask questions like, ‘what kind of glue did you use’ and so on,” Bobby said.

Bobby Clayton talking about a ukulele he made at Jax Woodworkers Show-N-Tell

Bobby Clayton at Jax Woodworkers March 2014 meeting during show-n-tell, describing how he made this ukulele.

“I made a ukulele once. I brought it in and showed it and played it. I’ve brought clocks in and showed them. I’ve probably made about twenty different clocks, one big grandfather clock. We have three grandfather clocks in our house. My father had an old clock made in Mississippi. it’s a little over three feet high. That’s what got me interested in clocks,” Bobby said.

“A few years ago a gentleman called the Jax Woodworkers Club to find out if anyone would be interested in purchasing a grandfather clock kit that his father purchased in 1991 from the Wisconsin Clock Company. That same year his father passed away leaving the kit in limbo for nine years. I negotiated a price that included all the basic parts including the movement and, to my surprise, a nine-tube striking system. I didn’t keep a record of how long it took to complete the project, but I would estimate between six to nine months, of course, part time,” Bobby said.

Bobby Clayton built . . .

Bobby Clayton has a number of clocks chiming every quarter hour throughout his home. This grandfather clock that he built from a kit, is the largest of his collection.

Sawdust Trails can be any Saturday of the month except during our monthly meeting. A member will host a gathering at their home. These events usually have about fifteen to twenty people. People volunteer and invite people to come to their house for breakfast on Saturday. This gives the other members a chance to see their workshop and learn something. We call this Sawdust Trails,” Bobby said.

Jax Woodworkers Club members Naylor Sawdust Trail gathering men Jacksonville Florida

Jax Woodworkers Club members at Jim and Wilma Naylor’s Sawdust Trail gathering in March, 2016.

“In December we have a Christmas party. People dress up in costumes. If you want to bring a gift, you can. If you do, then you get a ticket and pick a gift that looks attractive. It’s fun. We sing Christmas carols. All the wives are invited and many of them come. There are mostly men who do the woodworking, but some women do too,” Bobby said.


“Margaret Miller was the president for years. She kept us together. She stepped down to let others have a chance. She’s a woodworker. She makes some pretty good stuff. We have a mission statement, by-laws, and a full slate of elected officers,” Bobby said.

Margaret Miller holding an award she received in recognition for all her years leading Jax Woodworkers Club. The plaque was presented to her at the club's June 2015 meeting.

Margaret Miller holding an award she received in recognition for all her years of leading Jax Woodworkers Club. The plaque was presented to her at the club’s June 2015 meeting.

“We need help to get the word out there about Jax Woodworkers. Our club has many elderly members and young people are more into technology, so getting new members is difficult. I was president for six years. It was an honor and a privilege to be part of this great organization who, for over 25 years, have worked hours and hours to see to it needy children receive toys at Christmas. These members with beautiful hearts are a gift to the community,” said Margaret Miller.


Woodrow Connors went to join his Maker in Heaven on February 6, 2009. He was 95 years old. But this hasn’t stopped Jax Woodworkers from carrying out Woodrow’s vision of making more and more toys each year.

Woodrow Connors has made, and given away, more than 20,000 of these crosses. He gives them away for free. "The Gospel is free. Jesus didn't charge anything. How can i?" Woodrow said.

Woodrow Connors has made, and given away, more than 20,000 of these crosses. He gave them away for free everywhere he went. “The Gospel is free. Jesus didn’t charge anything. How can I?” he said.


“Woodrow wanted to expand the club. There’s another woodworkers club in Jacksonville at Woodcraft. They sell woodworking equipment and wood. There are many woodworking clubs all over the country. If you look up woodworkers, you can find many of them out there,” Bobby said.

Jax-Woodworkers-Corinthians-Bible-verse-reap-sow-gifts-wood-toys-handmade-airplanes-cars-trucks-wheels-DrLorraine

“I truly appreciate my daughter, Lorraine Haataia, and the work she did to pull this story together,” Bobby said.

Recipients of toys made by Jax Woodworkers Club include, but are not limited to, the following organizations:

Argyle-United-Methodist-Church-logo-Fort-Worth-Texas

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childrens-home-society-of-florida-embracing-children-inspiring-lives-logo

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Methodist-Childrens-Village-growing-kids-character-child-care-Jacksonville-Florida-curriculum-instruction-kindergarten-teachers-enroll

.

Northeast-Florida-Community-Hospice-compassionate-guide-logo

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shriners-hospitals-for-children-logo-love

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St. Andrew Episcopal Church

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Sulzbacher Center Way Home logo

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Jax-USO-logo-Jacksonville-support-services-home-mission-families-homefront-military-armed-forces-volunteer

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Wolfson-Childrens-Hospital-Baptist-Health-pediatric-Florida-Jacksonville-community-patients-quality-health-mission

How a mompreneur used online learning to startup a biz

By | artists, BUSINESS, gardening, parenting | 2 Comments

Most people don’t think of YouTube or Pinterest as online learning sites, but when used properly, they’re a rich source of knowledge.

Tami Shidawara-Vazquez started her business after she had her second child. After maternity leave from her FedEx job, she was looking for ways to earn some extra income. She was trying to think of things she could do at home. This is when this Silicon Valley mom decided to become a mompreneur and educate herself through online learning.

“I started making cakes for events.  I love creating sculpted cakes. It’s an art form for me. The kids go crazy for it when they see the cake come out. They love it. I love the reward of seeing kids’ and adults’ faces. They’re so wowed by it. It’s fun to see their reactions,” Tami said.

online learning train cake mompreneur startup

Tami made this train cake for a boy who was turning five years old.

“I also like the fun of trying to figure it out. Most of the time I’m creating something I’ve never done before. I have to Google the theme or go on Pinterest to see how other people have done it. Pinterest is my usual go-to place for ideas and online learning. Sometimes I find helpful DIY videos and tips,” Tami said.

“But doing cakes was hard with the kids. It was too hard to do baking and decorating with kids who need constant attention. They were always trying to sneak a lick of frosting or stick their fingers in the cake. It was too hard to juggle a cake business with kids that age,” Tami said.

online learning flea market

Tami Shidawara-Vazquez (left), pictured here with her friend, Violeta Sy (right) at the DeAnza Flea Market in 2013.

Tami started looking for other things she could do. That’s when her friend, Violeta Syintroduced her to shabby chic.

“Violeta was thinking we could do the flea market together. I started painting furniture and some wall decor. We went to DeAnza Flea Market together to see if our stuff would sell. She did really good. I did ok. It was a fun experience. I met some people who really encouraged me. I got some really good feedback from customers. It made me want to keep going and learn new stuff and try new techniques. It worked out and I started doing more and more pieces,” Tami said.

painting online learning kids toolbox helmet safety Restoration Illumination

Tami’s oldest son practicing safety-first with his bike helmet on.

The first project she did was an old wood toolbox that her boys did with her. Tami picked up this toolbox at a garage sale. They sanded it and stained it. Then they planted succulents in it. Ricardo was five and Mateo was three when Tami kicked off her wood restoration business with this first project.

handmade toolbox succulents online learning painting gardening children projects

This handmade toolbox is one of the first wood painting projects Tami did with the boys.

Tami chose Restoration Illumination as the name of her business because she wanted to restore things and give them a new life. “Restoration” is a means of giving an old item a new life. “Illumination” is a way of seeing things in a new light. She also liked that the name rhymed. Check out some of her pieces on Instagram at Restoration Illumination.

Tami liked the idea of starting a business where her boys could get involved. online learning painting kids boys family business

Tami liked the idea of starting a business where her boys could get involved.

Online learning opened up a whole new world for this former FedEx manager. She taught herself how to do shabby chic by watching YouTube videos and clicking through Pinterest links. By following along, she learned the techniques. From there she discovered farmhouse style, French Cottage, industrial, Funky Junk, and Trash to Treasure.

Online learning offers the flexibility that this mompreneur needed to gain the skills to build her business. As she was learning new techniques, she taught her boys the basics along the way.

boys painting helping work family business mompreneur online learning fun kids activities summer

The boys are always eager to help out. Tami loves watching them paint even when she has to redo their work.

“I have a home workshop. I started working in my back yard with just a couple projects. As I started getting more projects in, I started using the carport. I took over the carport and then as I added on even more projects and the work started coming in more, I took over one part of the garage. Then as it grew even more we built a little overhang. It’s been three years now. I’ve taken over the whole back yard,” Tami said.

boys power tools safety adult supervision family business

“My boys love any chance they get to use power tools. They know that safety is first. They can’t just play with them. They know that they’re actual tools and they can’t use them unless an adult is with them,” Tami said.

In addition to learning from YouTube videos and how-to articles, Tami also learns from shows on HGTV, DIYNetwork, and Great American Country.

Restoration-Illumination-Tami-Vazquez-Family-momprenuer-Bonding-chair-thankful-love-home-business-online-learning

“My older son enjoyed prepping and sanding this vintage chair for restoration. This was one of our earlier projects,” Tami said.

Tami is a big fan of Joanna Gaines, the “Magnolia Mom,” and host of HGTV‘s Fixer Upper show. This is one of Tami’s favorite shows for online learning.

“I’m inspired by Joanna’s down-to-earth personality and style. She renovates homes that others wouldn’t want and helps them to see the potential in it. They’re low-key and fun to watch. I love how when she’s staging, the kids come over and they have dinner together. I love how she involves her kids and makes time for family,” Tami said.

Tami is also a fan of Flea Market Flip, a competition where two teams have $500 to spend at a flea market. They have three projects that they have to do and one day to complete all three projects. Whoever has the most profit in the end wins $5,000.

“I love seeing what the teams come up with. They have a list of projects to do. I like seeing what they pick and how they turn it into something very unique or something with a new purpose. I like seeing the whole thought process of what they do,” Tami said.

boys flea market fun online learning painting selling furniture

Tami’s boys like going with her to the flea market because they get to find something fun for themselves, like Pokémon cards or Legos.

Salvage Dawgs is another one of Tami’s favorite shows.

“They go into old historic buildings that are being torn down. They get to go into a building and save pieces from inside before it’s demolished. They’re saving history and repurposing it. They find a lot of great stuff, a lot of architectural salvage. They usually show one project they’re working on and how they repurposed it for their shop,” Tami said.

“I watch shows after the kids go to sleep or when they’re at school. Or I watch after dinner is done and the homework is done. The boys get bored with the shows. They prefer to watch cartoons or play video games,” Instead of watching TV, I like to do things with them outside, things they can get involved with. Gardening is one activity that they do at school and we do at home. They were interested in planting a garden. They picked out some plants from Los Altos Nursery,” I like the gardening. It’s an activity plus it gives them a sense of pride that they’ve picked it out, they care for it and they get to watch it grow. It also gives them the responsibility to keep checking on the plants,” Tami said.

“The reason I started this business was because I wanted to take care of the kids and be with them at home. When I’m at home and working outside, the kids can be playing outside or they can be helping me out and I can still watch them while I’m working,”  Tami said.

jug repurposing boys garden gardening online learning

The boys love using their repurposed milk jug to water the garden they planted in their back yard.

“I started selling on Craigslist. As people came to buy things like a dresser, I would ask them if they needed anything else for other parts of their house. I got people interested in doing more work just by asking. Then I’d get referrals from them and it grew from there,” Tami said.

Most of Tami’s repeat customers are people who purchased one item from her and turned to her for help in finding more pieces. Tami especially enjoys working with these clients and shopping for them, finding the perfect piece. She likes working with customers who want to do an entire room in a new theme.

“Now Ricardo is helping more. He’s seven. When Mateo helps out, it’s more for fun and I usually have to redo it. He just turned six. Ricardo is getting to the point where I can use his work. He does signs and distressing. He’s good with banging up wood and distressing with hammers and chains. He’s good at it and he likes to do it,” Tami said.

“Sometimes they’re eager to help out and surprise me. I’m just afraid one day I’m going to come in the house and find out that they distressed all the furniture with hammer and chains,” Tami said.

online learning lettering Restoration Illumination mompreneur

Tami is especially excited when customers think it’s an authentic piece, but it’s something she just painted.

“You can learn a lot on YouTube! I love what I do. I can easily work twelve to fifteen hours a day,” she said.

Today, Tami considers herself a junker who loves shabby chic and French Cottage design. She also likes farmhouse style, especially for kitchens. She enjoys creating decorations that pull everything together.

If you’re interested in seeing some of Tami’s repurposing projects, check out:

9 Ideas to Repurpose Junk Into Treasure

“If you’re a working mom looking for a way to spend more time with your kids, I would definitely say to do something that you’re passionate about. That makes it really easy to love your work. If you need more skills, online learning is a great resource and a lot of it is free. It’s easily accessible, right at your fingertips. Even my boys use online learning for school to learn reading, spelling and math. If it’s something your kids can do with you, you can get them involved and use it as a bonding experience. It’s a chance to help them learn new skills. The more you can get them involved, the more time you get with them, and maybe you can even start a family business. The main thing is to just do what you love and try to keep the kids involved. But don’t get so wrapped up in your work that you’re not present with them. You need to be there not just physically, but for their needs as well. If they ask for help with homework or they want to show you something they did at school that they’re excited about, don’t put it off.  Make time to be there for them when they need it,” Tami said.

RestorationIlluminationLogo

Kids’ laundry piling up? Wash clothes with love and logic.

By | clothing & accessories, laundry, parenting | No Comments

Have you ever felt overwhelmed by laundry or other household chores?

Yes?

Me too.

In 2000, I married my soulmate, a widower with five children between the ages of 8 and 16. My newlywed and I went on a two-week honeymoon.

Family and friends stayed with the kids as they went on about their daily routine of going to school, playing soccer, doing homework, taking baths and showers, and doing all the normal things that kids do to turn clean clothes into laundry.

When we returned, I remember seeing laundry everywhere. Tops and bottoms were garnishing the edges of the bedroom floors. Clothes and shoes were tangled on the floors in closets. Towels, socks and underwear were on the floor in the bathrooms. Jackets were draped over couches and chairs. Socks were stuffed between couch cushions.

A day or two later, I asked the three youngest kids (who were home at the time) to go around the house and collect all the clothes, socks, underwear, and towels and bring them to the family room. I’ll never forget that scene. With all the stuff collected from around the house, plus the laundry my newlywed and I accumulated before and during our trip, I was faced with the biggest pile of laundry I’d ever encountered.

The pile was several feet wide and several feet deep. I had never seen anything like it. I was sure that this equated to many hours of washing, drying, sorting, folding and distributing everything back to the right closets and drawers.

most-memorable-days-dirtiest-clothesMy husband didn’t know how to operate a washer or dryer. At that moment, I had a glimpse of what I had gotten myself into. I didn’t panic. I went into problem-solving mode.

I had several years of teaching experience so my teacher gears were spinning. I also had experience with construction project management, so I felt confident I could handle this lightweight crew.

Step 1: Get everyone excited and engaged. As I expected, they were open to playing along.

Step 2: Get everyone to help divide and conquer: jeans pile, dark pile, white pile, and so on.

They threw clothes at each other, sometimes aiming at the right piles. They made faces and said things like, “eww, stinky” while displaying a pair of underwear or socks. It was totally fun and entertaining. I fell in love with the kids. It was the beginning of the parenting honeymoon. From this moment on, our lives were never the same.

Step 3: Teach everyone how to add detergent and choose the right water temperature based on the colors.

Step 4: Patiently wait for wash load #1 to do its thing.

Step 5: Teach everyone how to use the dryer.

Step 6: Do it again and again and again and again . . .

This, as it turned out, would be just one of the many initiations I faced as I dove into the deep end of the parenting pool.

Some moms prefer to do their kids’ laundry for many years, into their teens and beyond. Others lean more toward empowering kids with know-how.

These opposing styles represent two sides of a broad and colorful parenting spectrum. One end fosters dependence and control while the other cultivates independence and freedom.

A simple chore, like how you handle laundry in your household, reveals a lot about your personality and values.

Although I hadn’t yet read their books, I would soon learn that my parenting style was in line with the principles taught by the Love and Logic Institute. I’m so thankful for Dr. Foster Cline and Jim Fay. Their words would later calm my nerves at times when I felt tested.

Years later, I can now look back and smile knowing that all the kids know how to do laundry and much, much more.

6 Strategies to reduce stress and increase focus

By | coaches, IMPROVE DAILY | One Comment

“Please don’t give me any more to do. I’m filled up!”

“I don’t have time to think about the long term for my family or my work. All I can do is handle what I have every day and every week.”

“My team keeps pushing back on me telling me that they are overwhelmed when I can see that they can probably cut down their hours and get more done.”

“Let me just get to my vacation . . . then I will feel better . . . well at least for a while.”

These statements are typical of what Sunil Bhaskaran hears from people who come to him for an initial coaching session. Sunil is a coach who specializes in brain-activated performance enhancement.

"Oversimplified Leadership" by Sunilio Bhaskaran

“Oversimplified Leadership” by Sunilio Bhaskaran

“Many of these great people are very competent and actually do produce results, but they’re overwhelmed. They wish they could reduce their stress and increase their productivity. They sometimes have a negative state of mind and feel like they’re not getting anywhere,” Sunil says.

Here are six ways to resolve these issues:

1. Manage the working part of your brain.

The part of your brain that is responsible for most day to day work is your prefrontal cortex. This part of the brain is very inefficient in terms of memory and energy use. Every time you switch from one task to another or make a decision, your blood glucose level drops.

So if you make too many decisions or you switch from one task to another, you eventually burn out. Also with the reduced energy availability, your tendency to engage in distractions and impulses goes up as your prefrontal cortex is also responsible for resisting these urges or distractions.

Practice: Focus your time on projects that put more money and satisfaction back into your pocket. Put less focus and time into activities and projects that don’t.

"Stress and Overwhelm" by Sunilio Bhaskaran

“Stress and Overwhelm” by Sunilio Bhaskaran

2. Manage expectations.

You have a wonderful chemical in your brain called dopamine. It’s responsible for giving you feelings of motivation and confidence. The trouble with dopamine is that it responds to how you set up your expectations.

If you set up unrealistic expectations and you fail to meet these, your dopamine levels go down. This results in reduced motivation and confidence. The opposite occurs as well. If you set up realistic and win-able expectations for the day and you meet them, your dopamine, confidence and motivation all go up.

Which of the above situations do you prefer?

Practice: Set up realistic expectations daily. If you’re not accomplishing certain tasks or projects per day, cut down the number of tasks and/or break down projects to smaller more manageable chunks.

SuccessEqualsDriveSunilioBhaskaran

“Success = Drive” by Sunilio Bhaskaran

3. Put more oxygen into your future.

Sometimes you can’t avoid feeling overwhelmed due to family needs or emergencies. But it will probably pay off for you to be able to frame or create powerful reasons to relate to these crises better.

You may have noticed that people with similar backgrounds can go through similar situations but respond completely differently. While experiencing an increased workload, a death in the family, or other unexpected events, one person may be calm while another is in a state of panic. Genetics can play a part in this, but not all the time.

Most of the time, Sunil asserts, the differences are due to one being trained in a more compelling frame or context. One has a mission or vision and the other doesn’t. Having a mission or a frame empowers you with focus and the clarity to find solutions fast. It protects you from feeling overwhelmed.

CLICK HERE to buy More Money, More Time, Less Stress by Sunil Bhaskaran

Most people respond to crises or the feeling of being overwhelmed by referring to their past. Based on past occurrences, this situation is not going to go well at all. It’s much more useful is to start thinking about what it might look like from the future that you want to have happen.

Unless you take steps to boldly stimulate your thinking and actions towards the future, the default past based thinking will inevitably rule your life like a dictator that you don’t even know exists–because that dictator is automatic–so automatic that it escapes detection. Putting more oxygen in your thinking towards the future eventually will replace the past based thinking that keeps you stuck in a state of being overwhelmed.

Practice: Create a draft mission statement for yourself. Make it simple for now:

  • I communicate with my family from love and compassion.
  • In my business, I work for the betterment of my employees and clients pertaining to their financial well-being.

Keep your statement in front of you. Practice reading it twice a day and use it when you feel stuck or overwhelmed.

When you refer to the mission statement ask yourself, “What are my options to resolve this based on thinking from my mission statement instead of survival or comfort?”

"Getting to Know Yourself" by Sunilio Bhaskaran

“Getting to Know Yourself” by Sunilio Bhaskaran

4. Enjoy the benefits of outcome orientation.

People also get continually stuck by thinking about their work mostly in terms of actions instead of outcomes.

In his experience as a coach and business owner, Sunil has had the opportunity to observe himself and thousands of other people at work. He has observed that most people like to be in action even if their actions lack focus. It compensates (it seems) for the guilt that people feel about their lives. This drives people to try to appear like they are working hard. Never mind if they are actually producing results or not.

But then there are the wiser few who will work fewer hours and get equal or better results. This shift to outcome orientation comes through practice and dialogue.

Practice: Instead of creating a TO-DO LIST, create a TO-OUTCOME LIST. What results or outcomes will you produce today? Instead of saying you will make 50 phone calls today to prospects, say you will create at least two appointments (outcome) and at least three referrals (outcome).

"Restoring Integrity" by Sunilio Bhaskaran

“Restoring Integrity” by Sunilio Bhaskaran

5. Commit to structured practice and dialogue.

Sunil loves to coach because he passionate about working with people who are willing to do what it takes to increase focus and get to a higher level of performance.

In Sunil’s words, here’s what he does with his clients daily:

  • I dialogue through calls and email to identify the best outcomes to focus on for the day as well as what things to do so make sure we increase our chances of staying on track to the fulfillment of our mission and objectives. This dialogue is incredibly useful and effective while making life a lot more joyful and easier to deal with. Two heads committed to the same thing are better than one.
  • I suggest based on their outcomes how to fine tune their mission and their long term objectives if necessary. This creates an outstanding amount of clarity and power in their confidence regarding the fulfillment of mission and objectives.

Practice: Commit to practicing the above practices daily. Commit to hiring a coach who is willing to roll up his or her sleeves and work with you. 

ArtbySunilioBhaskaranTheGrantingOfBeing

“The Granting of Being” by Sunilio Bhaksharan is based on sweet memories of a woman mentor Sunil had more than 30 years ago. She taught him the value of compassionate listening. She sat silently but very attentively, absorbing everything he said without any judgment. She created a field where he could express anything he wanted.

6. Insist on learning to enjoy your life and your work.

Lots of people think you can’t have breakthroughs with conversation, but you can. Sometimes you can have some major breakthroughs after just a few conversations.

Practice: Do not tolerate long term suffering for another minute.

"If You Love It, Start It" by Sunilio Bhaskaran.

“If You Love It, Start It” by Sunilio Bhaskaran.

Sunil Bhaskaran is a former engineer who, many years ago, became interested in brain science as a vehicle for helping business owners and corporate professionals enhance their focus, creativity, confidence and performance in order to work smarter, not harder.

He has designed leadership, diversity, and accountability trainings for the corporate world. He has worked with Cisco, Comerica Bank, Compass Cares, JadooTV, Principal Financial Group, and Professional Convention Management Association, just to name a few.

Sunil Bhaskaran

Sunil Bhaskaran

He is the author of two books:

Sunil has more than 20 years experience working with business owners and professionals. He helps them make more money in less time. His programs also help committed business owners reduce their stress levels on average from a level 8-10 down to a level 2 in three to six months.

If you’re interested in having these results for yourself, connect with Sunil for an initial free coaching session at CahayaMind.com.

Sick and tired of dieting? CLICK ON IMAGE to gain the mental power to achieve your goals. This is how you can begin living the life you've always wanted to live.

Sick and tired of being stressed out? CLICK ON IMAGE to take the mental fitness challenge and gain the mental power and focus you need to achieve your goals. You can start living the life you’ve always wanted.

Get it done when life gets tough: Advice from Julie A Fast

By | authors, books, coaches, MIND | 4 Comments
Julie A Fast, Best Selling Author, Speaker, Columnist and Consultant

Julie A Fast, Best Selling Author, Speaker, Columnist and Consultant

I recently interviewed Julie A. Fast, a five time bestselling author, mental health in the workplace advocate, professional speaker and ePublishing pioneer. Julie has sold over 300,000 books, created her own radio show, was recently interviewed for People Magazine and was the original consultant for Claire Danes on the Showtime series Homeland. Julie does all of this while living with an illness that challenges and limits her work ability.

Julie’s bestselling book Get it Done When You’re Depressed: 50 Strategies for Keeping Your Life on Track shares the secrets of her success. I asked Julie, “How can we create a life where we are able to get things done even when life gets tough?” Her provocative and transformative answers changed the way I view my own work and I believe they can do the same for you.

There are people in life who can profoundly change the way we approach personal and professional challenges in a single conversation. Julie is one of these people. Throughout our conversation, Julie stressed the importance of having strategies in place we can use when life gets tough. She added, “Whether you’re going through stressful times due to relationship issues, work related worries and health concerns or even a feeling of hopelessness, your ability to take action and get things done doesn’t have to suffer as well.”

CLICK ON IMAGE TO BUY Get It Done When You’re Depressed by Julie A. Fast

Julie knows this from experience as she had to figure out a way to work successfully despite the limitations created by her bipolar disorder. I asked her how she gets so much done while faced with daily challenges and she shared four of the tips from her book Get it Done When You’re Depressed: 50 Strategies for Keeping Life on Track and how we can all apply them to our professional lives.

Julie replied, “You have to create a working world that fits your challenges in life. Because my bipolar disorder affects the type of work I do and the amount of time I’m able to work, I need systems in place that let me be successful despite my limitations. I knew that I had to become super efficient if I wanted to support myself on part time work, so I experimented with new ways to get myself out in the world and when they worked I knew it was time to share the strategies with others who struggle to stay professional and productive on the tough days.”

Julie told me she originally wrote the book for people who are depressed, but after years of comments about how the principles are so universal, she brought her ideas into the business world where she teaches professionals to stay focused and productive no matter what is happening in their personal lives.

I had a great time talking with Julie about her work philosophy. We had a lively discussion about the strategies in her book and how anyone can use them when an extra boost is needed to move forward in life. The following is an overview of how you can immediately apply Julie’s strategies to your life and learn to get things done whether you’re . . .

maze-cartoon

  • going through relationship difficulties
  • facing financial fears
  • in pain
  • low on the mental energy to work at your full potential
  • having focus and attention struggles

Just to name a few!

Here are four strategies Julie shared:

1. Don’t Wait Until You Want to Do Something

Julie’s life changed the moment she realized she could actually work even when seriously depressed. “I kept waiting to feel better to get started on a project. I thought I had to feel like working in order to work. The reality is that you don’t have to want to get things done, feel like working, feel good about your work or even believe you have the ability to do the work in order to move forward with a project. I taught myself to get started and wait for the positive feelings to come out of the work itself. We’re taught to base our actions off our feelings. But if you wait to feel like getting into action when life is tough, you won’t get much done. This always means the work is going to be harder to accomplish than when you’re feeling well, but at least you will have an end product when you work first no matter how you’re feeling.”

motivation-is-when-your-dreams-put-on-work-clothesJulie then explained that in the past on the days when a project felt so overwhelming she didn’t even know where to start, her brain would shut off and she would sit in front of her computer and cry in frustration. One day she thought, ‘What would happen if I just picked up my hands and started to write even though I don’t feel good or even feel capable of working? What if waiting until I feel better and want to write isn’t a good plan?’

She decided that getting something started was the only way to feel better and not the other way around. She realized she often wanted to keep working once the work progressed and that her mood was telling her she didn’t want to work when she actually did.

Julie doesn’t believe in motivation. Instead, she believes that on the tough days we will never feel motivated. She wrapped up this strategy with a statement I believe can change the way we see our professional lives. “I believe that action no matter how you feel creates the motivation needed to keep going. We often get it backwards,” Julie said.

2. Think Like an Athlete

Julie follows professional athletes intensely. She studies how they handle their wealth and personal relationships and yet still manage to get out on the field and do their work. She asked herself how successful professional athletes who are pulled in every direction can perform at a specific place and time under extreme pressure without letting their personal lives get in the way.

“Have you noticed that these athletes can be under unbelievable personal distress and yet still perform? I taught myself to do the same.” Julie realized that professional athletes know how to turn off the psychological noise and let the body do its job. Just like these top class athletes, Julie stressed we can also walk into pressure situations and no matter what we are feeling give the performance of our lives. She uses this technique for the basics such as cleaning her kitchen to the big events such as a keynote to hundreds of people.

Business Finish Line

Think like an athlete!

“On some days, especially before I got control of my illness, I would be crying on the way to an event, perform to my absolutely best ability and then go back to being depressed right after the event! I’ve learned to think like an athlete and give my best presentation on schedule. It allows me to perform no matter how I’m feeling. No matter what is going on in our lives, we can perform like a magnificent athlete when required,” Julie told me.

3. Wait to Judge Your Work

Julie told me the story of how she would try to work when not feeling her best and a voice would come up that said, ‘This work isn’t good enough. People will put it down. It’s not professional Julie!’ This created a feeling that the project she had to get finished wouldn’t be of high enough quality, so what was the point of even trying?

“Stress often leads to a self critical voice that will always judge your current work negatively,” Julie explained. “When life throws you a curve ball, you’re almost always incorrect if you judge your work in the moment. This is especially true if your challenges involve depression, anxiety or ADD symptoms. Waiting to judge my work until it was over saved my career. For example, when I have a speech, I remind myself to do my best and let the critical voice just float there on its own until it has no audience and has to leave! When I walk off the stage, I immediately say to myself, ‘Good job Julie. You can go through your work later and see where you need to improve, for now there is no judgment. Go meet your audience and enjoy yourself.”

Julie still hears the critical judgmental voice while she’s working, but it no longer gets to affect her work negatively. “I’ve gotten so good at this that I often don’t even look back at an event with criticism.” This strategy led to what she calls her big writing epiphany. “I realized the work I did when the judgmental voice was raging was just as good as the work I did when I was in the flow. I was depressed for a large part of the time I wrote Get it Done, but readers can’t tell at all. Listening to my judgmental voice while working was pointless as it was mostly lies!”

4. Be Your Own Drill Sergeant

I asked Julie for her favorite in the moment strategy to get things done. She chose 
Be Your Own Drill Sergeant as she told me it works on the worst days when you don’t even feel you can get out of bed and put your feet on the floor. “I’ve experienced severe depression for all of my adult life,’ Julie told me. “It’s great to have big ideas on how to get better, but I needed help on the days I was so depressed I could hardly lift a toothbrush.” Julie stressed that we all have days like this when life gets too overwhelming.

Be your own drill sergeant!

Be your own drill sergeant!

“If you’re going through a breakup or just lost your job, you need a way to keep going professionally. I had to find a way to break through my sadness and inertia in order to meet my contract deadlines and make money.”

Julie told me how many years ago when she was teaching herself to live with her illness she started to replace the hopeless thoughts with the intense and aggressive voice of a drill sergeant. “Get out of bed Julie Fast! Throw off the blankets, turn your body and put those feet on the floor!” This voice cut through the fog and got her body moving.

She then thought of how she could summon up a voice to help her on the days she couldn’t do it alone. I laughed when she told me her favorite voice, Scarlett O’Hara! “Ok Miss Julie. Fiddle dee dee. If I can save Tara, you sure as heck can fight this feeling and open that computer!” She now asks all of her audiences to conjure up their own drill sergeant whether it’s a beloved grandfather or a figure from a movie when they need that extra push to get started with the day.

Get-It-Done

After Julie shared her four strategies, I realized that I’ve also created tips to help myself through the days when my writing doesn’t flow or I feel overwhelmed with all of the work I need to do. She encouraged me to hone these strategies and make them a part of my work life so they will be there when I really need them.

Julie reminded me that her book and her work in general whether it be in a mental health or corporate context isn’t about learning her way of doing things. It’s about finding what works for us individually and then applying the strategies on the days we need that extra push to get started.

In the introduction to her book, Julie sums up the number one benefit of her book: “Getting things done is one of the best ways to feel better about yourself, which is automatically an antidote to depression.”

How to accomplish a BIG GOAL: Get in the right position

When you look through Julie’s book, you can see that her strategies are succinct and short to prevent adding more stress to an already difficult situation. I like that I didn’t have to read the entire book at once and am pleased that I can use her strategies while my life is going well, but I just need that extra nudge to start and stick to my goals.

Julie ended our interview with a final word of encouragement, “Get It Done When You’re Depressed isn’t about getting out of tough times. It’s about getting things done while you’re going through tough times. Then when life gets back to normal you don’t have to go back and repair your professional life. Instead, you can devote your energy to moving forward!”

We only covered four of the fifty tips in Julie’s book so I’m sure you can imagine how much more productive you can be when you learn them all. I encourage you to explore Julie’s other 46 strategies and change your ability to get things done starting today.

For more information on Julie’s work, please visit JulieFast.com. You can join her social media world on Twitter@JulieBipolar and read about her current ways of getting things done on her Facebook page Julie A. Fast. Julie’s books are available at all major bookstores and around the world on Amazon.

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How to write a book in 30 days

By | authors, coaches, education, POPULAR | No Comments

Have you been struggling for years to complete a book? If so, don’t worry. This is a common problem that many writers face. Are you ready for the secret of how to write a book in 30 days? “Go Write and You Won’t Go Wrong. It’s that simple,” says Michael Ray King.

Michael has helped hundreds of writers get un-stuck and finish the books that have been in them for years. Here are some of the tips he recommends to his clients:

Find a good place to write.

Find a place that’s pleasing to you. It can change from day to day. When you purposely go to these places, you’re already starting. On your way there you start formulating things in our head. A lot of creative work is done before you even start writing.

“I like writing in a restaurant because it has a lot of white noise. I can’t write at home because there’s a lot of children noise I can’t ignore,” Michael says.

CartoonWritersBlockKing

Consider your sound environment.

Music is a good writing trigger, as long as you know what genre works best for you. “Music with words can be especially inspiring when you’re writing poetry. I get the melody and it helps me pick up meter. It’s a fun poetry exercise,” Michael says. “But if you listen to songs with music, be careful not to plagiarize.”

Stay with your passion.

This is the most vital aspect of writing any book. You have to love what you’re writing. You can’t do this if you’re questioning yourself all the time. It invites a critic and a judge. You may have to go back and review a few prior paragraphs to refresh where you are, but move on. You need to love your writing from the very beginning, from the first draft all the way through the marketing of it. 

The first draft doesn’t need to have good grammar and continuity. Some people don’t like chaos, but if you’re truly creating from the heart, your words will seem chaotic at first. The stuff you’re writing fresh off the cuff doesn’t match up with the edited stuff so if you try to edit when you write, it feels like there’s a bug in your writing. This can bring you to a halt. Save the editing for later.

Michael allows writers to talk about their issues. Lots of issues come down to the personal judge and critic. “Writers have set patterns like this and that’s exactly what they need to change,” Michael says. 

Use index cards.

“I press people to use index cards. Get a specific pen you identify with your writing,” Michael says. If you have something special you connect with your writing, such as a pen, a desk, or a set of index cards, it’s a trigger to start writing.

Too many people de-prioritize their writing. In order to get your writing done, you have to prioritize it. If not, everything else will take priority over it.

Begin with one card. Write the title of your book. Be creative. You can change it at any time. Working with index cards is an ongoing process. Make a card for each chapter and section of your book. You can continue adding and reorganizing the index cards the whole time you’re writing your book. You can continue to shift them around at any time. Interacting with the cards gives you a hands-on approach allowing you to tap into your internal creative nature.

“When you digitize things, you’re taking out the human element. By using cards, you’re stay in touch with your creativity. There are huge advantages with computers, but they can also distance you from your creativity,” Michael says.

MichaelRayKingIndexCards

Michael Ray King’s index cards for his book on How to Write a Book in 30 Days.

“I’ve had people do the cards in a different way, but that’s ok,” Michael says. He believes that if it works for you, then it’s right for you.

Lots of people take five or more years to write a book. You don’t need that much time to write most books. If you’re writing a historical fiction novel and have to do a lot of research, it’s going to take longer.

Write at least 750 words each day for 30 days.

“You have to get to the point where you want to write the book so much that you’re writing because you want to get your message out, not just because you want to meet your daily word count or complete an index card. For some it may feel somewhat of a selfish priority,” Michael says.

If you’re writing what you know, then you should be able to knock out a first draft quickly.Having a plan for completion is important. That’s one of the biggest benefits of deciding to write your book in 30 days. Michael holds classes and webinars on How to Write a book in 30 Days.

GoWriteAndYouWontGoWrongLogo

Address the critic and the judge separately.

“That sentence isn’t constructed well,” you might be telling yourself. “Who are you to think you can write a book? Who would want to read this?”

“Put these voices in solitary confinement prison until you’re done with your first draft,” Michael says. “These voices just get in the way of creativity. Nuke them. Blow them up. You never need the internal judge. These critics will rob you of your book. If it’s happened to me, it’s happening to other people.”

“I had a coach who put me to the grindstone. I’m a totally different kind of coach,” Michael said. “You can throw everything into your book. Overwrite. If you think it’s cool or if it’s your truth, just put in in there. If you think it might tick someone off and you decide to leave it out, then you’re not writing properly.”

“There’s lots of diversity out there. Not everyone is going to agree with you. If you write vanilla, you won’t get anywhere. Howard Stern and Connie West don’t have filters, but we place filters on our views. Your views have more credence than these guys. Don’t censor yourself when you have truths to put out there. Don’t hold back,” Michael says.

Lots of writers tend to want to read over their stuff before moving on, but avoid it. New writing is going to be rocky at best. Wait until you rewrite and edit before you smooth it all out. 

Calliope - Muse of Epic Song: Writing Tablet

Calliope, the Muse of Epic Poetry

Welcome the muse.

Some writers say “my characters took over my book,” When this happens, it means there’s some mystical thing going on. “This means that you’ve allowed yourself to let your creativity run wild. When you can do this and maintain it, it works,” Michael says.  

Some writers say, “The book practically wrote itself.” When this happens, it means you’ve been able to get past the critic and let the book out. The muse is a special writing phenomenon. “I’ve even done this with sports or ballroom dancing,” Michael said. “You can get in a mode when you feel like your actions are being channeled. You don’t know where it’s coming from.”

“You can’t induce a muse. But when she shows up you better get to the computer and write because when she goes away, you might not see her again for a while. You can feel great about your writing, but that time with your muse is special. In 14 years of writing, I’ve never been able to force the muse to show up,” Michael says. 

Goodreads has hundreds of quotes from famous writers all the way back to Aristotle and up to modern day people. If you’re feeling stuck, read some qoutes from famous writers. It can help you get un-stuck.

Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia. E.L. Doctorow

“Don’t count on your muse. Even when she doesn’t show up, you need to get to the point where a day without writing is like a day without sunshine,” Michael says.

Don’t talk to non-writers about your book.

When you’re writing, especially a book, do not talk to non-writers about it. They will rob you of your zest. They won’t do it on purpose. If you give them a plot line, you beg the judge to come in. You might think, “that’s so much better than what I was thinking.” If they say “that’s been done before” then that will take the wind out of you. Tell people you’re writing a book, but don’t discuss the particulars of what it’s about. 

Find a trusted writers group.

Find a trusted writing support team with people who are actively writing. If you have synergy, it really helps. “That’s why my clients keep coming to class because it keeps them rolling,” Michael says. “It’s very motivational.”

“Lots of writing groups are social clubs. They’re not progressive. There’s often not enough encouragement to get your book out to market.” Michael says. “You have no business being in a critique group if you’re writing your first draft. If you do, it’s like asking the judge to destroy you. Most critique groups are nothing more than ego stroke groups. People will go in, read, and get feedback. It not only hinders the process time-wise, it handcuffs your creativity. It bottles you up. That’s what I’ve seen and learned. Let your horses run wild and then corral them. If you have a good editor later, that’s all you really need.”

Bridget Callaghan, Michael Ray King, Jeff Swesky and Nancy Quatrano at a Method Writers book launch event in Palm Coast, FL in October 2012

Bridget Callaghan, Michael Ray King, Jeff Swesky and Nancy Quatrano at a Method Writers book launch event in Palm Coast, FL in October 2012

Good writers groups encourage each other. “When I was a part of the Rogue Writers, the energy and synergy in those meetings were off the charts,” Michael said. “It’s a group that started in 2003. People in this group have written multiple books. When you’re around people who are really making it happen, you get caught up in it. That’s a good writing group.”

“You’re either a wanna be, a gonna be or an I am. There was a time when I was waffling between a wanna be and a gonna be. You want to get to that I am place. Write the book so you can say, I am an author. A good writers group will inspire this,” Michael says. “Being able to match personalities is critical. I hand picked people for the Rogue Writers. I wanted everyone to encourage each other and write books. We wrote together. Four of us wrote a novel together and a book of short stories.”

“You’ve got to be able to have fun together and still work. We’d play writing games. We’d laugh until we cried. Four people writing one novel is very interesting. You’ll sometimes see a collaboration of two people, but rarely four. We’d just sit there. We had a big timeline on the wall. If you make it too task oriented, there’s too much opportunity for friction and you squelch creativity,” Michael said. “Our meetings weren’t so much about sitting and writing. They were more about coming together to talk about what we had written.”

“I’m not a big fan of accountability to others. I think writers need to be accountable to themselves first. Set up a spreadsheet to track your word count toward the completion of your book,” Michael says. “I have a friend who posts her word count on Facebook. It’s her own accountability and can be inspiration to fellow writers at the same time. Word count isn’t the only measure, but it can be a barometer.”

Get a writing coach.

“I managed people for 20 years in retail. What I learned is that it’s a good thing to hire people better than me. I’m a big fan of personal coaches. A woman named Janice coached me in a business and personal way. We’d talk weekly to find a balance in life. She encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone. The biggest thing she taught me was that you don’t have to know things intellectually. I know things from internal channels. When things line up, I know it’s right. I’m intuitive. Stop trying to force things and trust your instincts and move forward. When you have your internal talks, just started trusting yourself.  She took me out of programmed negativity and put me in positive state of mind,” Michael said.

“A book shouldn’t feel like a huge monstrosity. Most people can write their first draft in 30 days just by writing for about an hour a day,” Michael says. “It’s simple but not easy. It takes a lot of discipline. If you don’t finish it in 30 days and it takes 45 or 60, you’ll still be happy. I’ve found that about 20-25% of the people who take my class finish in 30 days. The bulk of the people finish in 45-60 days. Some take 90, and a few never finish at all,” Michael said.

After your book is written, it’s time to move on to the editing process.

How to write a book in 30 days: Write the draft before you edit

Michael Ray King is the author of Go Write and You Won’t Go Wrong: Write Your Book in 30 Days! He’s a five-time award winning author. In addition to conducting classes, he is also a personal writing coach. He lives in Palm Coast, Florida.

How to attain authentic happiness in 7 emails

By | authors, HAVE FUN | One Comment

Have you ever said you’re happy when you really weren’t? When someone asks how you are, it’s natural to say you’re “ok,” even though you’re wishing for different circumstances. You want a bigger this or a better that. A lot of people feel this way.

What if I told you you didn’t have to go after a better job or a new mobile phone to be happy?

CLICK HERE TO BUY Authentic Happiness in Seven Emails by Javy W Galindo

“Many people settle for a less than optimal life, one where happiness is occasionally attained by pursuing pleasure. Instead, studies indicate that happiness is more of a choice than a goal to be pursued,” says Javy Galindo, author of Authentic Happiness in Seven Emails.

Javy teaches a course on the psychology of happiness. There are lots of books about how to be happy, but he wanted to write one that was simple. He often has students contact him with questions about his course, so he came up with the idea to write a book about how he might respond to their emails. Here’s a synopsis of what he has to say about happiness:

Email 1: What makes us happy?

Think about things you really wanted and got. When you get something you want, your happiness spikes, but then you forget about it. After a while, you don’t even remember those little things that made you happy in the past.

When people go from extreme poverty to a higher lifestyle, they do generally become happier. But this doesn’t happen to most people.

Your circumstances change throughout life, but your happiness typically goes back to similar baseline. Even people who go through traumatic or tragic life events, such as losing body parts or losing a love one, generally go back to their baseline happiness after the dust settles.

Australian evangelist and motivational speaker, Nick Vujicic, who was born with no limbs, speaks to a crowd.

Nick Vujicic was born without limbs. Because of childhood bullying, he once tried to drown himself. Today this Australian is a globe-trotting evangelist and motivational speaker. He’s pictured here speaking to an audience of 25,000 in Vietnam.

“Altering the conditions of our lives has less influence on our experience of happiness than our choices in thought and behavior. In other words, ultimately, we are what make us happy,” Javy said.

Email 2: Why do we do the things we do?

We do a lot of normal activities such as brushing our teeth or taking a shower without thinking about it. When we get dressed, we just do it without thinking about it. Our voluntary actions aren’t so voluntary. They seem to make us more efficient life-livers. A lot of what we do is unconscious activity.

Have-a-nice-day-getting-dressedIf happiness is a choice, then why don’t we just choose it?

Have you ever been upset when getting caught in traffic or got cut off? Are you thinking about it, or just reacting? It’s a problem when you begin to develop habits that cause you to be unhappy. Your heart is pumping and your internal body is taking care of a lot of activities without thinking about it. The way you think and perceive the world is often equally unconscious.

“Our choices of thought and behavior are often not voluntarily chosen, but are the result of unconscious processing through things such as habits, conditioned behaviors and evolutionary instincts,” Javy said.

Email 3: What is happiness anyway?

Be careful of the cult of positivity. It’s a component, but it’s not everything. Happiness is more than a feeling. Happiness is the state of a life well lived. Emotions are chemical reactions and they fade over time.

“Beyond simply feeling good, being happy also refers to a sense of satisfaction and meaning we experience through our engagement with life,” Javy said.

So get engaged with the activities that bring you satisfaction.

Email 4: Live easy.

How can we live with fewer unpleasant emotions? Choose not to burden yourself with difficult thoughts. Choose to live easy.

Don’t make things harder than they have to be. It’s not just about being un-miserable. The goal is to be happy. Develop healthy relationships with your joys.

Email 5: Live light.

If you do the same things every day, go back to the same place, eat the same food, or see the same person in the same place all the time, it becomes mundane.

are-you-happy-flow-chart

Are you happy? Do you want to be happy?

What if you continue to rely on the exact same thing? This is what happens with ice cream, alcohol, gambling or other addictive things. You need more and bigger to feel more. This is how you can get on a hedonic treadmill where you never reach happiness. These activities weigh you down and enslave you to dependencies.

So how can you experience more joy? Develop a healthy relationship with variations in small pleasures. Whether it’s flowers or coffee or music or travel, do these little things to bring joy to your daily life.

“We can enhance our experience of feeling good by placing more attention on the brighter sides of life and by being more lighthearted, enabling us to more easily appreciate the simple joys we experience every day,” Javy said.

Email 6: Live smooth.

People are happiest when they’re engaged in a physical activity, such as work they love. People who reach peak happiness get so engaged in what they’re doing that they lost track of time. They got so lost in the activity. It doesn’t matter whether you’re engrossed in a conversation, gardening, working, writing or doing some type of artistic or athletic endeavor. What matters is that it flows out of you. Everyone has a flow state. It’s where you lose yourself in an activity.

CLICK HERE TO BUY The Power of Thinking Differently by Javy W Galindo

“We are happy when we experience satisfaction with our activities. We often experience this when we enter flow states, states of complete engagement with our activity. The interesting thing is that the experience of flow is independent of the activity itself,” Javy said.

Email 7: Live meaningfully.

Many people search for purpose and meaning in life. Some people experience a vibrant life, while others see it dull. You become desensitized to things you see often.

You can always choose how you perceive things. Nothing changes about the world. You choose how you want to see things, positive or negative. This is The Power of Thinking Differently.

“The key is that we can make choices with how we engage in the world to make life feel more purposeful and meaningful. We can choose to participate in activities that involve some form of emotional risk, to give ourselves a feeling that our actions matter. We can pursue endeavors that are altruistic, prioritize building social bonds, and get in line with our virtues and character strengths. And we can choose to be open to new perspectives in order to make life more full of meaning.”

How to get happy now via habits, goals and resolutions

Javy Galindo

Javy Galindo

Javy Wong Galindo is a professor of philosophy, humanities, and psychology in Northern California. He has been a popular instructor at Heald College, John F. Kennedy University, and De Anza College. He is also a proud member of the American Association of Philosophy Teachers, the Society for Asian and Comparative Philosophy, and the Western Positive Psychology Association.

This former electrical engineer and performing arts instructor has had the privilege of working at several high-tech companies including Cisco Systems, Motorola, ViaSat, Tellus Technology, and Northrop Grumman among others.

Javy is now most well-known for his engaging college courses and public talks, his enthusiastic teaching style, and his ability to convey complex ideas in personally meaningful, simple terms. These characteristics are epitomized in his two books: Authentic Happiness in Seven Emails and The Power of Thinking Differently.

Javy is available for talks and workshops on various topics including creativity, innovation, creative thinking and authentic happiness. 

Life’s a Beach tips from No Fear and Bad Boy Club artist

By | artists, BUSINESS | 3 Comments

Some young people are so into the partying thing. When I used to party I had some really mind-opening experiences. I could see through all the crap that other people were about. I took this and applied it to my art. Every time I partied, I painted. After each party I had a piece of art to show for it. It was passive aggressive destruction. Back then I had a full mohawk. I was surfing in Florida with cut-off jeans. 

I met up with three guys who were motocross racers. They came to Miami to make jams. They were all from Chicago and none of them knew how to surf. They asked me to make them a logo, but I didn’t.

About three years later, I was strolling through California asking people if I could paint on surfboards to make some money so I could eat. Then one day I came across a Life’s a Beach ad in a surfer magazine. I called the number and drove out to see my old friends. I showed them some of my work.

Later I met up with them and made the logo for their clothing brand. They wanted to call it the Bad Boy Club so that’s what they had me do first. Life’s a Beach. I sat there and started drawing a pissed off character, a bad boy. God gave me the Bad Boy Club logo.

When I showed it to Mark Simo, he lost it. He said it was perfect. I wanted to fix the letters, but he told me, “no it’s just right. It’s perfect just the way it is.” 

“Are you kidding me?” That’s what I was thinking. This logo generated millions and millions of dollars. LATimes

Bad Boy Club original logo design by Mark "Boogaloo" Baagoe.

Bad Boy Club original logo design by Mark “Boogaloo” Baagoe.

From then on, life was perfect. The bad boy is so bad that he’s good. Life’s a Beach! They were into what they were creating. I kept making choke T-shirt designs and they kept giving me money. 

Inside the shirts there were care tags with little tips that said things like:

  • be kind to animals
  • don’t be a cement head
  • don’t play with matches

We did that for the mothers. They loved that stuff. 

After I did the first logo, they wanted me to put a different spin on their Life’s a Beach logo. Here’s what I came up with:

Life's a Beach original logo design by Mark "Boogaloo" Baagoe.

Life’s a Beach logo design by Mark “Boogaloo” Baagoe.

No Fear was our second company which was dubbed as dangerous sports gear. No Fear was all about dangerous sports goods: boxing, big wave riding, extreme fighting, mountain climbing, guys on skis killing big mountains, skaters, surfers hitting 100-foot waves, drag racers . . . that sort of stuff.

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After designing and creating lots of T-shirts designs for No Fear, I was able to afford a five-bedroom house on the beach in California. I carpeted the floor and walls of my garage. We played music there and I painted there. Quite often I’d stretch my own canvas. I had a safe full of cash. I’d burn a hundred dollar bill in the garage just because I could. It’s not about the money for me. It never was. 

Flame skull for No Fear by Mark "Boogaloo" Baagoe.

Flame skull designed for No Fear by Mark “Boogaloo” Baagoe.

I am a true American artist. Our educational system is shit. I doodled in school. And then years later lots of kids recognized my logos. Now when they see them, they’ll want to read my story and it will draw them to the higher power.  

When I asked Boogaloo what he would say if he had the opportunity to stand up in front of a stadium full of people, the first thing that came out of his mouth was, “Mommy.”

“I wouldn’t want to stand up in front of a big crowd of people, but I’ve been doing so many art shows that I learned to enjoy meeting people who come to my shows. But I do I want to write a book. Want to write my story?” he asked.

“I can’t promise a book,” I said, “but I can do a blog post. What do you want to tell the world?” Here are the lessons he learned that he’d like to share:

1. Always be true to your God-given talent.

I’ve reached a point in my life where I can’t deal with the bullshit anymore. I know what’s good for me and what’s bad for me. I’m at that age and maturity where I understand these things. I’d been looking for this place forever and I finally found it. Always be true to yourself and your God-given talent. 

2. Find where the pieces of the puzzle fit.

You have to find the pieces to the puzzle. They’re linked with God and spirituality. I’m a big fan of numbers, math and geometry. I love shapes. Shapes make art. Math is undeniable. Our birthday is a certain number. There are 12 apostles and 12 months. Three is my favorite number.

My favorite letter is R because it reminds me of the color green. Maybe because Robin had an R on his chest. My mom was good on a sewing machine. She made me a batman costume when I was a kid. I didn’t take it off for two weeks. I slept in that thing. Then my little brother wanted it and he slept in it for about three weeks. When all the pieces finally start to fit together, then you’ll see the big picture. 

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Zootsuit Swing by Mark “Boogaloo” Baagoe.

3. Don’t forget where you come from.

We’re nothing. We’re just a vapor in God’s universe. I feel like a rock star on stage, but then I remember I’m just a vapor in God’s eyes. And then I’m at peace. It helps me realize it’s not about me.  I’m two different kinds of people. My Chinese sign is the rat, so I’m a survivor. My astrological sign is Leo, the lion. I’m like a cat. I’ve always landed on my feet because I have protection. 

<insert pic of blue black lines>

4. Stay in the loop.

It’s not a time line. It’s a perfect circle. A lot of people think they have a hurdle to get over to get back on a line. But life isn’t like that for me. It’s more like a loop. Now things are going up and then it comes back full circle with my life and my art. I started out baptized as a baby. I was brand new. My name Mark was written in his book. He had my destiny predetermined before I was born. By keeping your finger on the pulse, you’re staying in the loop. 

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Six Foot Shacks mascot Surfer Joe designed by Mark “Boogaloo” Baagoe in 1980.

Now I see how all this loops back around, but now I’m better. It’s all about perseverance and being dedicated and being prolific. I’m still surfin’ at 54! Here’s one of my recent ventures in T-shirt design: Six foot shacks. Get shacked!

Mark "Boogaloo" Baagoe

Cleanse by Mark “Boogaloo” Baagoe in 2010

5. Ride the wave.

I’ve always been trying to paint what God looks like. But the only thing I’ve been able to paint that looks like God is a wave. Nothing can withstand the force of an ocean. Everything can be destroyed by a wave. Water is all-powerful.  

In 2003 I went to Maui to visit a friend. After seeing the waves in Maui, I went back Florida to pack up all my stuff to move to Maui.

6. Be prolific.

If you work on your talent every single day, even if it’s just one brush stroke every day. If you do this for 365 days over and over again, you’ll be successful. As you get older, you realize you don’t have to drive as hard to get where you want to go. 

7. Success is one failure after another.

If I didn’t pick myself up every time each time I failed, I’d be a compete failure. A failure is someone who doesn’t pick himself up. When you get pounded by a wave, do you just lay there and get pounded? No, you get back up on your board. It doesn’t mean you’re a failure for the rest of your life. You’re going to catch some of the greatest waves of your life. When you’re under water and you get pounded by a wave and you can’t see anything but grey and clouds of white, you reach for your leash and pull yourself to the floating board. When you finally get to the top you see another wave and your realize, oh shit.

Things like this happen. When you’re getting tumbled around and you can’t see what’s going, you just let the water throw you around like a rag doll. The secret is that you don’t panic. I have a hard time not panicking because sometimes my emotions take over.  Nowadays, doctors try to turn people’s emotions into phobias so they can give them pills. 

8. Trials make you grow.

The thing I’m most grateful for is the trials in life. Because without the trials, I wouldn’t know how much God loves me. Without trials, you don’t know the great parts of life. When you’re going through a trial, it really sucks, but we are put through these trials for one reason: to grow. We can’t be better racers unless we can jump over the hurdles. 

My Godfather gave me this book many years ago. It’s very tattered like me. That’s one of my inspirations. He was always telling me in his Jersey accent, “You gotta teach. You gotta teach art,” almost sounding like an offer I shouldn’t refuse. You’re really good. I’ve always wanted to be an art teacher, but I’ve never been conservative enough to deal with the schools.

9. I’m the captain of my own boat.

I was married twice, each time for two years. One of my wakeup moments was after my 2nd divorce.  People are so controlling. They want to control everything. When you love something so much, you think you can squeeze it and it will turn into a diamond. But that doesn’t work. You have to let them go. It was all about a blame game. After the dust settled, everything changed for me. 

Mark "Boogaloo" Bagoe in his garage studio in California in 199?

Mark “Boogaloo” Baagoe in his studio in Maui in 2005.

10. Be aware all the time.

Pay attention. You know what you’re going through in life, but you never know what other people are going through right now. I think about things like this. I can lose my temper very easily in this town when I get behind a slow tourist. I’m automatically judging people all the time. But I know I need to pay attention. And I’m constantly asking for forgiveness. 

11. It’s not my story.

Boogaloo walked to a closet and told us we were in for a treat. He pulled out a box that his mom had sent him recently. It was full of products, stickers, cards and toys . . . all with logos he designed.

This isn’t my story. It’s everyone’s story. Over the years, I’ve given all my stuff away. Here’s a Bad Boy watch, a Bad Boy key chain. I’ve always been a huge hot rod fan. We got together with Mattel, and we made a car. We made an Indy car. It was the best of all the racers. We made these Bad Boy watches.

We made Christmas cards and of course they were always late. He handed me one of the cards. “Here you can have this one,” he said to me. I love my work as an artist. Thank goodness I never had to go to war and kill people. I sit with a good conscious because God was gracious enough. 

My spirituality is like my muscles. If I don’t work them out every day, they get weak and useless. It’s the same for your body and mind. Spirituality is a muscle. If you don’t work it out it goes limp and weak. Faith isn’t something you push by the wayside.

12. God is not understandable.

Never rely on your own understanding about God. Plant a seed and let it grow. Don’t keep messing with it. You plant it and let it go. Walk away from it and let it grow. Some land on the rocks, some land on fertile soil, but the main idea is to plant the seeds. Be the one bold enough to plant the seeds. 

Now the No Fear logo is an antique. I can’t believe what some of these things go for on eBay. 

Boogaloo gave me some of his famous stickers and sent me off reminding me of his main message as an artist: May God’s gift to me be my gift to you.

Mark “Boogaloo” Baagoe with his art at Binky’s Banyan Boutique in Lahaina, Maui.

Mark “Boogaloo” Baagoe is an artist living a Lahaina a few blocks away from where his art sells at Binky’s Banyan Boutique.

Mark "Boogaloo" Bagoe

Mark “Boogaloo” Baagoe

Mark Boogaloo, aka “boogaloo,” was born in 1960 in New Jersey to a Catholic family that believed in hard work and enduring faith. This has been an important guide in his life, but from a young age he struggled with the emphasis on short hair, collared shirts and uniform behavior. He saw beauty beyond these boundaries and began to draw fantastic, creative images at an early age.

Boogaloo specializes in hand-drawn art. If you’re interested in a custom surf-board art, a logo or a commissioned piece, contact him at StillQuietSoul[at]yahoo.com.

Mark "Boogaloo" Bagoe art at Lahaina

Mark “Boogaloo” Baagoe art in DeRubeis Fine Art of Metal Gallery in Lahaina, Maui.

How to turn volunteer work into paid experiences

By | artists, BUSINESS, money | No Comments
Heward Jue with child in Rwanda, photographed by Wayne Kittelson.

Heward Jue with child in Rwanda. Photo by Wayne Kittelson.

Have you ever wished you could apply more time to a cause you believe in? Here’s some advice from a pro art director, designer and photographer who evolved his volunteer work into a more professional capacity.

“A lot of people donate their time and efforts to nonprofits in order to do some good and add more meaning to their lives. While volunteering is noble and altruistic, we all have a limited quantity of time to give to a cause. We all need to earn a living,” Heward says.

“Sometimes we can give more wholeheartedly of ourselves if we know our own needs are being met. One way to do this is to contribute your talents where there is grant funding set aside for a particular project. Corporations and wealthy individuals often sponsor humanitarian projects and need talented people to carry out the work,” Heward adds.

For over twenty years, Heward has worked for some of the country’s most creative ad agencies elevating countless brands.

“While working in advertising is a decent way to earn a living and can be fun, it often feels shallow in the larger scope of things,” claims Heward. “I don’t always agree with consumerism, so doing work for nonprofits gives me a sense of redemption.”

Today, Heward gravitates toward working with corporations or organizations on their altruistic projects. He recently traveled to Kenya and Tanzania for Asante Africa, and to Vietnam for Roots of Peace. Here’s how:

How Heward was introduced to Asante Africa Foundation and the Getty Images Creative Grant

Wamba Girl who will have the opportunity to get education through Asante Africa, photography by Heward Jue

A Kenyan preschooler photographed by Heward Jue while working with Asante Africa Foundation

Because of his work and personal interest in different cultures and developing countries, Heward has traveled to various parts of the world.

“I went to South Africa for a commercial wine project. But what captivated me was the sea of shanty towns I saw. I thought it would be interesting to visit the residents and take some portraits. The faces and spirits of the people I captured were absolutely wonderful, so I made large prints to hang in my office when I returned. One of my colleagues who knew the founder at Asante Africa Foundation saw the photos and introduced me to her. I started designing their annual reports and later became a Board Member,” Heward says.

“When I was at Asante Africa, I heard about the Getty Images Creative Grant. I decided to build a proposal and provided a portfolio to apply for this $20,000 grant. It was an international competition with 85 applicants from 23 different countries. We were one of the two awarded,” he states.

“Asante Africa Foundation helps to educate children in East Africa, where there are many obstacles besides poverty that hinder children from getting educated. For example, when girls start to menstruate, many stop attending school. Asante Africa Foundation helps by building girls’ toilets so that they have safe and private places to take care of the hygiene needs while at school,” Heward says.

Heward Jue adjusting microphone while working on project for Asante Africa

Heward Jue adjusting microphone while preparing to record a Maasai girl’s story for Asante Africa Foundation.

One of the main purposes of this project was to promote awareness for Asante Africa and the work they do. Utilizing his creative advertising background, Heward wrote, co-directed and shot this video for the foundation. It demonstrates the drastic differences between life with and without education:

A striking print campaign, as represented by this ad below, was also created to round out the campaign.

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How Heward got involved with Roots of Peace

“Back in 1999, I designed the Roots of Peace logo when their founder, Heidi Kuhn, was operating out of her living room. They’ve grown tremendously since then, and she recently contacted me to document their work in Vietnam,” Heward states.

Heward Jue capturing a story from a man in Vietnam

Photographer Heward Jue shooting while a Vietnamese farmer shares his story for Roots of Peace.

The ACE Group, a global insurer and one of Roots of Peace’s sponsors, provided the funding for this project.

 

RootsOfPeaceTurningMinesIntoVines

Photo by Tucker Kühn, Roots of Peace.

Roots of Peace’s mission is to restore economic vitality to war-torn regions by creating livelihood opportunities through agriculture. In Vietnam, where the war ended 40 years ago, there are still areas plagued with unexploded landmines, bombs and rocket-propelled grenades. Roots of Peace works with partners to remove these devices, turning what was once destructive land into productive, arable land.

Vietnamese victim family

A Vietnamese family empowered by the work of Roots of Peace. Photography by Heward Jue.

Can you turn your volunteer work into compensated opportunities?

Heward likes doing work for nonprofits that have noble causes. “Lots of people want to help nonprofits, but it doesn’t always have to be charity. There are funds out there, and you can do some research to find organizations that need your skill set. It’s just a matter of asking the right questions and finding the right avenues,” suggests Heward.

If you’re interested in getting paid to use your skills to support a nonprofit, here are a four suggestions from Heward:

1. Research to find opportunities you’re passionate about.

“It needs to first come from the heart,” Heward says. If you like and believe in what you’re doing, it’s better for everyone involved. Although Heward’s work often requires him to travel to far-out places, there are countless ways you can make a difference within the borders of your own country, state or city. You don’t have to go far to find people in need.

VolunteerMatch-Logo-Causerelatedmarketing.blogspot.com_Here are a few tools you can use to identify volunteer opportunities:

  • Use VolunteerMatch to “find a cause that lights you up.”
  • Search for “Volunteer Opportunities” on Yelp.
  • Use Facebook to “like” and get involved with nonprofits you believe in.

“Begin by giving a little of yourself,” Heward says.

You don’t have to be an expert to lend a helping hand. And you don’t have to put in long hours if you don’t want to. That’s the nature of the work. One of the advantages of volunteering is that you have the right say yes or no. But when you decide to say yes, you’ll find that there are endless possibilities to serve through nonprofits in almost any community in the world.

2. Get experience to build your credibility.

Get involved in small projects near or far. You need some experience and credibility before an organization will consider paying you. If you have a particular expertise or passion, it can be helpful to focus your work in this area.

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There’s a website or app for nearly everything these days. If you’re a photographer, for example, you can look for opportunities on PhotoPhilanthropy. By providing a means for photographers and nonprofit organizations to come together, they champion social change, one photo at a time.

Take a big sip of water and speak up a little louder. 

“Once you get into the areas you’re interested in and become known, then opportunities start coming to you,” Heward says.

3. Build your reputation.

Whichever area of work you want to get into, start getting involved with people and projects in those areas. Document your experience along the way. Photos or videos can help, but they’re not always a necessity. Once you make connections and friends, they remember you and they can always be used as a reference.

Share your passion and volunteer experiences on social media tools such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram or other social media tools. Then people start to get to know you.

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4. Search for opportunities to get paid for your expertise.

Research the sponsors of these organizations. Some have the funds to carry out the projects and they often need people to do the work.

“Charitable projects are a good way for corporations to give back to the world to help elevate humanity, instead of just their bottom line,” Heward comments.

You can also apply for grants to fund your work, as Heward did with the Getty Images Creative Grant. Getting paid in volunteer organizations doesn’t come easily. It’s a bonus that you can work toward in the long-run.

Heward Jue with ?? woman in city/area?, Africa

Heward Jue sharing his work with a Tanzanian villager.

How to make your vacation last a lifetime

As an art director and designer, Heward has won numerous awards for creative excellence including: The One Show, Communication Arts, Clio, Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival, Graphis, The Art Directors Club, The ObiesThe Effies, The ANDYs, and The ADDYs.

His photography has been recognized for excellence by PDN, Planet Magazine, Rangefinder Magazine, and the American Photographic Artists.

If you’re interested in having Heward shoot a project for your organization, contact him at HewardJue.com.

Heward Jue showing off his tan line after 10 days of shooting in Africa. Photo by Erna Grasz.

Heward Jue showing off his tan line after 10 days of shooting in Africa. Photo by Erna Grasz.

Looking for more ways to acquire, keep and produce more money? CLICK HERE now to start living your dream life!

Looking for more ways to acquire, keep and produce more money? CLICK HERE now to start living your dream life!

14 Marriage jokes to liven up your anniversary

By | love, parenting, spouses | One Comment

Everyone should get married at some time. After all, happiness isn’t the only thing in life. TensionNot

One of the reasons my husband and I decided to get married on a holiday weekend was to ensure that we’d always have the opportunity to get away for our anniversaries. This year my husband and I spent out 14th anniversary in Maui. What does a blogger want to do on her anniversary? Interview her husband, of course.

Lorraine and Bob celebrating 14th anniversary in Maui

Lorraine and Bob celebrating 14th anniversary in Maui

So as we sipped our fresh fruit smoothies before heading to the beach for the day, I asked my husband to help me brainstorm 14 tips for a happy marriage. I figured we should have learned at least one valuable lesson for each year of marriage. It didn’t take us long at all to come up with the following ideas:

1. Love may be blind but marriage is a real eye-opener. Anonymous

When you date someone for months or even years, it’s easy to get a false sense of security that you really know him or her. Most people are somewhat flexible when it comes to dating and courting. But inevitably, a new set of expectations kicks in when once you’re married. Based on culture and family history, people enter marriage with fixed notions of what they want from their life partner.

Try to have as much fun as possible as you iron out your differing assumptions and intentions. Look for opportunities to do things together that you both enjoy doing. Maintaining a strong marriage is a lifelong process.

2. Successful partners have a perfect understanding: he won’t try to run her life, and he won’t try to run his either. Anonymous

“Selfishness is one of the keys to failure,” my husband says. Keep prioritized lists of ways to please your spouse. For some, this is automatic. You probably already know your spouse’s favorite foods or hobbies, but other things may not be so obvious. If your spouse is going through a difficult time, you can ask, “What are several things I can do for you to help make this week easier for you?” The response may surprise you. It’s all about Love & Respect.

You can use this same list strategy for fun times. When you’re going on vacation together, you can ask, “What 3-5 things are most important for you on this trip?” When you approach marriage with a “me second” attitude, you’re much more likely to be rewarded with a fulfilling marriage. My husband said he liked this joke: “My wife and I agreed that I’d make all the big decisions and she’d make all the little decisions. In all these years, there just haven’t been any big decisions.”

3. When a girl marries, she exchanges the attentions of many men for the inattention of one. Helen Rowland

Find ways to do something together even if it means that you take breaks to do things that interest you. There’s a balance of doing things together while inserting extra activities along the way. My husband likes snorkeling, so we both have a good day when we go to a beach where he can snorkel while I read, walk, socialize or take pictures.

My husband sometimes likes watching (and napping through) golf or football on Sunday afternoons, but that doesn’t stop us from spending the afternoon together. I don’t mind golf in the background, except for all the annoying viagra and drug commercials. But when he watches football, he wears a headset while I write or do something else.

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4. Marriage is like having cable with one channel. Nathanel Stroman

People are naturally habitual. Some routines are good, but some aren’t. Take the time to label your good and bad routines and discuss the ones where you don’t agree. Find ways to weed out bad relationship habits or routines. Stay out of daily, weekly, monthly and annual ruts. Some people go the same place for holidays or vacation year after year, without taking advantage of how refreshing it can be to do something new.

Go someplace that makes you feel a bit uncomfortable. Visit family members you haven’t seen for a while or go to a foreign country. When you go out and explore new places together, you have to rely on each other. It puts a new aspect on partnering when you team up through new experiences.

5. The honeymoon is over when he phones to say he’ll be late for supper and she’s already left a note that it’s in the refrigerator. Bill Lawrence

My husband was a widower with five children. We got married on Labor Day weekend. Little did I know at that time how appropriate that date was for a woman diving into an instant family! But it surprised me when my husband insisted that we continue dating at least one evening a week, even after we got married. He believed in the importance of date nights with just the two of us.

Although I didn’t think it would be possible with children, he taught me that it was especially important when you have children. It doesn’t matter whether you’re going out for a Saturday night dinner or a Sunday afternoon stroll in the park. The important thing is to take some time where just the two of you can chat and catch up without the distractions of housekeeping, grocery shopping, preparing meals or caring for children. When you take time out for regular romantic interludes, it allows you to flush out small issues before they build up to big blowouts.

SorensenCartoonMarriageTimeListening

6. We always hold hands. If I let go, she shops. Henny Youngman

When you’re married, you’ll inevitably experience a roller coaster of emotions at different times. You may hurt your spouse or vice versa. But it’s important to let things go. This also means that you don’t overthink who makes more money, who does more cooking, or who does more or less of anything on any given day. As a couple, you have one bank account and you’re both responsible for making sure the finances balance at the end of each month.

Together you’re responsible for taking care of all the time-consuming details it takes to manage a family. How you spend your time and money says a lot, so it’s important to have an open checkbook and calendar so you each know how you’re spending your most important assets. “Awareness is good, but don’t keep score,” my husband says. Stay focused on the bigger picture.

7. I think we explored the further reaches of “for better or for worse.” Mary Archer

Children add both pleasure and stress to marriage. In a family situation, it’s critical to be united. When children are involved, it’s vital to discuss how you want to handle child-rearing and discipline. Don’t argue in front of your children or other family members. Work out your disagreements one-on-one whenever necessary.

It’s totally ok to have open discussions where everyone can voice their concerns and opinions, but once a decision is made, it’s important that at least one parent take the lead to see it through. This is part of being a team. This isn’t necessary for every little decision, but it can be important on bigger decisions where family members have conflicting views.

8. Husband: One who stands by you in troubles you wouldn’t have had if you hadn’t married him. Anonymous

Differing values are pushed onto relationships through family traditions and culture, but you don’t have to succumb to them in your home. This can be especially challenging with blended families where children are exposed to different households with conflicting house rules. And it can become intensified as kids are sorting through their own values through their teen years.

Look for ways to blend, support and even restrain differing values. It has always been important to me that the children eat real foods such as fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains. But I had to learn to let this go during holiday time with family members who have different standards.

Go Away! And other good advice parents should give kids

It’s actually beneficial for kids to be exposed to different values, traditions, cultures and lifestyles. It helps them learn from a young age that they have the freedom to decide how they want to manage their own lives after they move out.

9. The only thing worse than a husband who never notices what you cook or what you wear is a husband who always notices what you cook and what you wear. Sandra Litoff

SchwadronCartoonWifeStud

When everything about your marriage feels too predictable, it can become boring. Avoid getting into comfort zone ruts or bad habits that cause stagnation. Try new things together. Another great way to break up your routine is to travel. When you get away from home, you’re automatically forced into new circumstances that allow you to try new things. Be daring together. Try new foods, buy youthful outfits, go skinny dipping, do something that surprises your spouse in a fun way.

10. My husband said he needed more space . . . so I locked him outside. Rosanne Barr

Going out with the guys or having a ladies night out is ok in moderation. but it’s more important to do stuff together. Sitting on the couch together is nice, but if that’s all you do night after night, you’ll turn into couch potatoes . Ever since I’ve known my husband, he has been been finding ways for us to try new things together to create memories. “You have to plan for them. They don’t just happen automatically,” he says. Sometimes it may just be the two of you together, but it’s equally important to mix it up by doing things with friends and family.

11. Marriage is a wonderful institution, but who would want to live in an institution? M.L. Mencken

If you enjoy spending most of your non-working hours with your spouse, then you likely to have a strong marriage. If you don’t want to spend time together, it’s critical to figure out why and work through the issues. If either partner feels trapped or confined, both will suffer. It’s much easier to have a happy marriage when you’re married to your best friend.

12. Before marriage, a man will go home and lie awake all night thinking about something you said; after marriage, he’ll go to sleep before you finish saying it. Helen Rowland

Opposites attract. When couples fall in love, it’s sometimes despite the innate characteristics of their partner . . . the things that make them tick. These are the things that can make or break a marriage. Do you know your spouses’s love language? My sister, Jan, is passionate about art and her husband, Periklis, is passionate about flying. They’ve always been supportive of each other pursuing their dreams, despite their differences and fears:

How an artist leverages her passion to suppress fear

Supporting each other in pursuit of your passions sometimes involves short-term sacrifices as you work toward living out your dreams. Always listen to the voice deep inside you. It will guide you to your true north. And encourage your spouse to do the same. It may mean you need to temporarily set aside some fears or short-term desires in order to reach larger goals, but in the end, you’ll both be much happier.

13. I love being married. It’s so great to find that one special person you want to annoy for the rest of your life. Rita Rudner

Take the time to look over your marriage and think about your last several months or years. It’s much easier to laugh at the difficult situations after time has passed. Cherish the challenging times as opportunities that allowed you to learn more about each other. Reflect on the best experiences you’ve had with your spouse.

Find ways to create more positive memories while avoiding the not-so-good experiences in the future. Keep your mind on the good times and positive things that have happened over the years. Practice The 4:8 Principle.

14. The secret to a happy marriage is a secret. Henny Youngman

Make a conscious effort to discover your spouse’s hot points and what they need to feel loved. Some people need words of encouragement while others need a lot of touch. It can take years or even decades for couples to really understand each other. Some people are too embarrassed, shy or afraid to share their true feelings. Some people remain pent-up for years or even decades.

If you can learn to communicate fully and truthfully, you’ll have a much better chance at understanding each other’s deepest feelings and moving to new levels of trust. This can help you unlock ways to resolve your differences. Explore new ways to enjoy your sex life. If you’re happy in bed, you’re more likely to be happy everywhere else.

BruceEricKaplanCartoonof-course-i-care1

I enjoyed pulling together this list with my husband. It was a fun exercise that gave us an opportunity to reminisce and laugh. Together, we came up with more than 14 ideas, jokes and quotes in less than an hour. I hope these marriage jokes help to liven up your anniversary.

Later in the day I asked my husband if he would tell me the 14 things I do that annoy him the most and I would do the same for him. But he said he wasn’t in the mood for playing that game.

If you have something you’d like to add to the list, please leave a comment. There’s no such thing as a marriage that’s too good!

fear is not real ACIM Jan Clayton Pagratis

How an artist leverages her passion to suppress fear

By | artists, love, PEOPLE, transportation | 2 Comments

“At 2000 feet above the earth, as if dangling from a thread, all my attention is on the landscape below,” Jan says. “I haven’t forgotten my fear, but I set it aside as my husband dips the wing of the small aircraft so I’m better able to photograph the sights below.”

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My Silver Lining No.3 by Jan Clayton

Her husband, Periklis Pagratis, began flying about six years ago. He earned his private pilot’s license in 2008. More recently he became a Certified Flight Instructor and is now teaching others to fly. He owns a small airplane and flies often. When he first began flying, Jan worried all the time and would be in despair every time he went up.

“It took a while, but I knew the fear and anxiety that I was experiencing was my issue, not his,” Jan said. “I didn’t want my fears to inhibit his love and passion for flying in any way. Because I love my husband and wanted to participate in the activity he loves most, I began to fly with him last year. Overcoming fear is a process that seems to have no end. It’s still difficult for me.”

If you have a fear of flying, heights, darkness, dentists, needles, public speaking or something else, it may seem impossible to get over it. Embracing fear, on the other hand, is possible. When your passion or desire is strong enough, you can find ways to suppress fear. When you do, you have a chance to do something positive.

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Merge No.1 by Jan Clayton

“I try to do this with a mix of diversion, trust and faith. I keep my brain occupied with something positive other than the concern about our safety. I trust my husband to handle that. My faith is strengthened by the magnificent beauty of the world around me, especially when viewed from above,” Jan said.

The aeroplane has unveiled for us the true face of the earth. The machine does not isolate man from the great problems of nature but plunges him more deeply into them. Antoine de Saint-Exupery  in his book Wind, Sand and Stars

“My fear of flying in small aircraft slapped me in the face about five years ago when my husband became a pilot. I was destined to come face-to-face with this fear and learn to deal with it,” Jan said. “I knew I’d eventually have to fly with him. He flies all the time, but it took me almost five years to build up enough courage to go up in the air with him. When I finally made the decision to go, I took my camera. It wasn’t a conscious decision to overcome the fear, it was just a way to distract myself. Once I was up there, I saw so many gorgeous things going on in the landscape. I was captivated. I tuned into it immediately. It all happened by accident.”

I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear. Nelson Mandela


“Although my fear is ever present, once we’re in the air and I see the landscape below, the voices in my head quiet down. The landscape below captures my attention and I’m compelled to get down to work with my camera,” Jan said.

Her latest body of work is derived from fear, love and passion, all of which are enduring emotions in her life: fear of flying, love for her husband and passion for making art.

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Tidal Salt Marsh No.2 by Jan Clayton

“At first, the idea of coalescing my passion with my fear seemed like an odd mix, but coming to the canvas from a new angle, literally a bird’s eye view, has magnified the breadth of the work,” Jan said. She’s inspired by artists who have passion along with commitment and perseverance.

One has to believe in what one is doing, one has to commit oneself inwardly, in order to do painting. Once obsessed, one ultimately carries it to the point of believing that one might change human beings through painting. But if one lacks this passionate commitment, there is nothing left to do. Then it is best to leave it alone. Robert Rauschenberg

“It’s a strange conundrum to be aloft and detached, suspended in the air for an hour or so, then back on the ground with the surface of the earth underfoot. Seeing the earth from a different vantage point is so fascinating. The bird’s-eye-view gives me unique information about the subject. In this case, it’s the landscape. There’s so much to take in. Because we’re moving and the light is changing, I never know when or from where the next opportunity for a great photograph will appear,” Jan said.

There’s a constant state of movement you experience when flying in a small aircraft, not only because the airplane is moving, but also the surrounding natural world is changing.

“My preference is to be in the air very early dawn or late afternoon to dusk. From an artist’s perspective, the light at this time is the most beauful. The sunlight rakes across the landscape horizontally and defines the shapes of the trees, grasses, and other objects with long shadows. The colors aren’t bleached out by the sun’s harsh rays, but instead are almost glowing. The view from above is breathtaking. The waterways meander their way down to the ocean. The reflecting light on the surface of the water is in stark contrast to the land and saltmarsh. The tides are moving, waves are pounding, clouds are building, the earth is rotating and the light is fleeting.”

“The first time I flew over Tybee Island, I realized just how small the island really is and just how vulnerable it is to the whim of the ocean, the weather and the inhabitants. When viewed from above, all the problems that people have with each other, all our differences seem so small and insignificant. Sometimes we forget that we are nothing but small invisible parts of a bigger picture.”

“This bird’s-eye-view vantage point is enlightening on so many levels. Perhaps my work will inspire others to become more interested in the history or ecology of the area. It inspired me. I have a deeper appreciation of the importance of keeping our environment healthy. Georgia has a stunning coastline filled with wetlands and barrier islands. There is beauty and diversity. It’s wonderful to be able to share the scenery from above and through this perhaps a few more folks will gain an interest in the Georgia estuarine marshlands and its importance to the health of our planet,” Jan said.

“Change is constant and focusing on what divides us is futile while focusing on what unites us is beneficial. It’s worthwhile to preserve healthy relationships with others and our natural surroundings,” Jan said.

Being an artist is celebrating life. Henry Moore

If it weren’t for her husband’s passion for flying, she never would have experienced these new landscapes. Her current work is a combined effort of her finding a new way to apply her passion from a new perspective–up in the air.

Jan Clayton Periklis Pagratis fear flying artist

Jan and Periklis

She’s not really over the fear, but it changes her focus when she’s up in the air. She gets excited about what the landscape offers on that day. Despite her fear, now she wants to fly because each photograph adds to the overall body of work.

Currently, this collection contains photos of the area just below Tybee. She wants to go back up so she can shoot Tybee, St. Simons and Hilton Head. And she has her sights on other locations as well.

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St. Catherine’s Sound No.1 by Jan Clayton

Jan constantly draws inspiration from her daily interactions with the people in her life, her natural surroundings and the media. To her, art is about life. It’s about processing experiences and interconnectedness with others and the environment. It is an endlessly fascinating and continually developing process of discovery, intuition, improvisation, and finally reconciliation.

Jan Clayton’s works are featured at Kobo Gallery, located in the heart of the historic district in Savannah, Georgia. You can also see more of her collection on her website at at JanClayton.com.

fear is not real ACIM Jan Clayton Pagratis