Top Ten Ways to Travel Smarter

People don’t take trips.  Trips take people.  John Steinbeck


I love to travel.  Every year I attend a lot of seminars and retreats.  I speak at a lot of conferences.  I’ve taken groups of high school students to Europe and back (didn’t even lose any)!

Most of my travel involves business but sometimes I travel just for fun and to see new places. I even write a monthly column for a couple of magazines on local destinations. Over the years I’ve developed a system for making travel as comfortable, productive and stress-free as possible.



Here’s my top ten tips for traveling well:

  • #10–  Plan ahead and have a regular system for packing.  I have a suitcase that I keep packed with basic items all the time.  The basic items I have included are based on disastrous trips I’ve taken where I arrived in Tennessee in the dead of winter without a sweater or at a hotel with a fitness center but nothing to work out in.  No, the suitcase isn’t huge… I add the basic clothing items I need when I pack but I have a few things that I’ve routinely forgotten that I keep in the suitcase.
  • #9–Bring a few comfort items that will help you feel at home no matter where you are.  For me this is some special caffeine free  tea bags that I can enjoy in the hotel room after a day of stress-full presentations and perhaps a chocolate treat.
  • #8–Ritual is important–As much as possible keep your regular schedule.  This means going to bed at the usual time and getting up at the usual time.  For me this includes a morning focus session where I outline my goals and action items for the day.  Travel should be energizing not exhausting.
  • #6–Hydrate–This is a big one and something I have to be continually mindful of no matter where I am.  Take your bottled water with you when possible.  If it’s not possible because you are flying, purchase a water bottle and use the filtered water where ever you are.
  • #5–Maintain a healthy diet–I know this is hard enough to do at home but sometimes it feels impossible when you are attending a conference or traveling.  The keynote lunch is loaded with carbs and oh, that tempting cheesecake dessert! Enjoy yourself but be selective and look for ways that you can keep your focus on healthy food.  You will feel better and be more energized for it.
  • #4– Allow enough time–Whenever I’m doing a presentation in another city, I like to arrive the day before and spend time getting prepared for the session.  I scope out the room I’m presenting in, checkout the set-up and review my notes as well as re-pack any items to have on hand for the session.  Nothing is worse than feeling out of sorts as you start a presentation because you spent the last thirty minutes frantically looking for the room…
  • #3–Learn something new–Travel is fraught with lots of downtime.  Minutes or hours sitting in an airport or driving to the destination.  I spend this time listening to audio books and podcasts that I follow. is a great site where you can download almost any book imaginable.  Be sure to take your phone/ipad and earbuds to make the most of your time.
  • #2–Meet someone new–Part of the excitement of travel is not only seeing new places but also seeing the world through new eyes.  Spend some time getting to know the locals in an area.  Don’t be afraid to ask for recommendations for places to eat, things to see and do.  Learn about the stories of the people you meet and share your story with them.
  • #1–Celebrate and be present–The number one travel tip is to celebrate your travel experience.  Look at the world through a positive lens.  Enjoy the people you meet and your surroundings! What will you learn and experience that will change the story of your life forever?

What is your favorite travel tip?  Tell me in the comments section… I’d love to hear.


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Do You Know Where You’re Going?


If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll probably end up somewhere else.  David Campbell

Does this quote sound like you?

Do you know where you are going?

Do you feel like you are always busy but never get anything done?

Do You Have Lots of Lists but Nothing to Show for It?

My sister-in-law works in a pawnshop and one day she discovered a list that a customer left behind in the shop (true story–I’m not making this up…):


Pretty obvious this individual needs to get more figured out than just how to check things off the list.  He (or she) needs to find a different path to follow and hopefully a different list!

No matter what your To Do List looks like we can all deceive ourselves into thinking that just because we are checking things off that we are living a productive intentional life.  This has been true for me as well.  Living an intentional goal oriented life is a relatively new experience.  I’ve always been organized with lots of to-do-lists.  I’ve always worked hard. Since I was quite productive and was checking things off my to-do-list, I felt confident I was moving forward.  Accomplishments however, in and of themselves are not always the desired end result. It is possible to be highly organized, energetic and productive but all in the wrong direction, much like someone who lives in New York and travels to California by way of Florida.  You can check off a lot of landmarks along the way but you may never arrive at your destination.

The Key to Living Intentionally

What makes the difference? Priorities and Focus.  In the past, I created a long never-ending list of stuff to accomplish.  About three years ago, I realized the importance of setting goals first and then tackling the list.  It’s not that I get any more done.  It’s that the things I get done are the things that move me along the path of accomplishing the goal.  Just having a goal creates focus and helps in setting priorities.

I’ve also found that in each major area of my life, it helps if  I determine a theme for the year.  In previous posts I’ve talked about choosing one word to orient my focus.  This year my word is possibilities.  This means that as I plan my schedule for each week and month, I look for and expand my possibilities.  So far this year, I’ve attended an author event in Tennessee and this week I’ll travel to South Carolina to speak at the Palmetto School Counselor Conference. I’m finding lots of possibilities!

Five Ways to Increase Your Productivity

In the past, I just tried to work harder and longer.  But no matter what I did, my lists just got longer and longer and I never seemed to get finished.  I was often frustrated that the things I really wanted to do never got done. At the end of the day, I had lots of little things done but still hadn’t focused on my writing or gotten the one thing done that would create some income.  Does this happen to you?

There are several reasons why we so easily get lost in the details and the seemingly urgent but not so important tasks of our lives.  One reason is that our brain craves completion.  We are naturally drawn toward tasks that are easily and swiftly completed.  This is why you mean to get that article written or that client on the phone but instead you find yourself emptying the dishwasher.  There is a natural resistance to something that is open-ended but short meaningless tasks are very seductive. How many times have you found yourself completing these tasks because it will “only take a minute”?  I’ve developed several techniques for making sure that I stay on track and focused during my working day.  This is especially important as an entrepreneur working out of my home.  Distractions are everywhere!

  • Have a daily focus time first thing in the morning
  • Develop a daily checklist which includes your One Thing (the one thing to get done no matter what)
  • Create a schedule and begin the day by completing your One Thing
  • Work in regular 55 minute bursts of focused energy followed by 5-10 minute breaks
  • Set aside a particular time for emails, phone calls, text messages and stick with it!!

What about you?  Are you living life on purpose?  Do you need some help?

Jump Start Party

At A Called Woman Coaching, we are committed to helping you Jumpstart 2015 and we want to do it in a BIG way so Kathy Brunner and Lynne Watts have put together a terrific way for you to Jump Start Your Year!  Here’s the deal:

Find a friend, any friend (this is your part… we’d like to but we can’t do this one for you)
Sign up for our Jumpstart Party 2015

Here’s what you get when you sign up:
Two copies of The Call:  Perfect Dream, Imperfect Life
(yes, real books mailed to you)


Two copies of Finding Your Fire
(See why you need a friend?)


Plus, you are both invited to: A special one hour teleseminar just for you, your friend and a few other Jumpstart participants

When: February 1st  at 8:00pm EST (it’s a virtual party where we will share productivity and energy strategies like the ones in this blog to get you going. We’ll also provide some personal coaching on your questions)

Where:  On the phone, silly–that’s why it’s called a virtual party

Why:  Because you want to rock it in 2015!

Can’t show up for the party?  Don’t worry we will record the call and send you a recording of the teleseminar 

Total Cost for books and the call:  49.95 + shipping

We can’t wait to have you join us for the Jumpstart Partee 2015!!
Here’s the link again:

Don’t Wait!  Offer Ends January 25th.

Questions?  Email us at:

A year from now you will wish you had started today… Karen Lamb

Party on…
Lynne and Kathy


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I walked 120 miles!

I recently saw the movie, Wild which chronicles Cheryl Stray’s 1,100 mile walk along the Pacific Crest Trail.  While I can’t say I accomplished something quite that monumental, I do have a homegrown story of a group of women who took on a physical challenge.   This energetic group of women wanted to create changes in their world by making a renewed commitment to exercise.

It all started in November when one member of our Thursday Sistas’ group issued a challenge.  She was pretty fired up to start an exercise program for herself and challenged us all to join in. The reward at the end of six weeks would be a celebratory dinner at a local restaurant, Capers.  This idea started a flurry of emails back and forth with everyone either joining in or at least commenting on it.  Here’s how it all started…

The Challenge Begins


We’re just going to have to come up with another reason to celebrate at Capers sometime.  I don’t want to wait until the next birthday to try it.  Maybe it could be a reward for walking so many miles or so many days in a month.  Would anyone want to do that with me?  We don’t have to walk together, just have a plan and stick to it without fail for a month or two.

Your Sista,



Day One-First Walk


The Challenge Guidelines:  Day One 

We’re starting on the coldest day of the year because TODAY MATTERS.  I’ve been starting “tomorrow” for a long time, and I’m telling you, that hasn’t worked.  Now for the sake of calendar symmetry, I would prefer to start officially tomorrow on a Sunday and have 6 straight-line weeks on my calendar.  But I’ve been told that’s crazy thinking, so let’s just start today.  

Charting suggestions so far:  Do it yourself any old way, the app My Fitness Pal, the app Everybody Walks.  I can’t comment since I know nothing about apps.  I have a feeling I’m about to learn.  :)

Today will be a beautiful day, so try to get outside in the warmest part and get moving.  Or turn on the TV, push the laundry off the elliptical machine, and walk that way.  We can work out each of our individual plans and our charting as we go along, but the most important part today is to take a walk.  When you have time, try to write down your personal plan.  Ready…set…GO!


Walking in Downtown Kennesaw

Walking in Downtown Kennesaw


There was of course one member who wanted to follow the beat of her own drum.

There’s Always an Exception to the Rule

Dear Sistas,

In real estate there process called a 1039 exchange where you and another person exchange ownership of pieces of property of equal value and avoid capital gains taxes.   I propose a 1039 exercise exchange for me – To wit: (doesn’t that sound really legal?)

I will not participate in your walking plan since my schedule is unpredictable and because I left Chicago 40 years ago so I would never have to walk very far in extreme cold again.  My proposal is to exchange your frigid frolics with three hour dance classes twice a week 

I went to the first class last night.  I spent several hours either dancing with the female instructor or with the only unattached male.  He is a very sweet man slightly shorter than me with absolutely no sense of rhythm.  He was either counting out the beats aloud (“…and one and two and three and turn…”) or repeating the steps (“ ….up fast fast slow back fast fast slow..”) It took real concentration on my part to dance at a pace that had no relationship whatever to the music.

Fortunately we also did some line dancing which requires no partner and the female instructor was great.  Tango anyone?  

Actually, I had a really good time and plan to go back again.  If I promise to do this strange but oddly entertaining form of exercise at least twice a week, can it stand in lieu of walking in a winter wonderland? I’ll even wear a pedometer or get a verification of attendance from the instructor if required.

Your kind consideration of this proposal will be greatly appreciated.

S.A. aka:  Happy Feet

The Official Answer

Dear Happy Feet

Thank you for the recent submission of your Alternative Exercise Proposal.  While the Sizzlin’ Sistas Social Club normally requires strict compliance with established Challenge criteria, your excellent standing as a Sista has earned you special consideration.  Your detailed activity description provided sufficient evidence that dancing does indeed meet the following Challenge requirement: “…it has to be a little more than you already do and…we’re going for faithful and consistent exercise without terrible suffering.”  While there is some concern that a poor dance partner may constitute “terrible suffering,” your assurance that you “had a really good time” has allayed concerns until you report otherwise.  After careful consideration, the Capers Challenge Committee has approved your request  with one stipulation: you must demonstrate your new dance skills at the SSSC Christmas Party on December 18, 2014, and teach fellow Sistas a dance of your choice.  Please note that your selected dance may be anything except the Hokey Pokey, the Chicken Dance, or Twerking.


Party on,

K.H.~Self-appointed Capers Challenge Committee Chair

Sizzlin’ Sistas Social Club

Walking Noonday Creek Trail

Walking Noonday Creek Trail

Regular Encouragement:  Day Three

DAY 3: AGreat Day To Start Again

It was an easy thing to walk this weekend because the weather was fine, I didn’t have any special plans, and my next-door neighbor was a motivating partner.  The reality, though, is that any little thing can de-rail my enthusiasm, like a cold bug or a long work day or RAIN AND EXTREME COLD.  Today may be our first special challenge day.  You may decide to make this your “rest day” (a trick I have used for years).  But maybe you’ll think of a creative way to squeeze in at least a partial workout before the next Ice Age sets in: walk around your building a few times at lunch or have a reconnaissance mission around the mall to get you psyched for Christmas shopping.  Oh, here’s my favorite idea: drop a couple of shots of peppermint schnapps and turn on the electric blanket before you drag your husband out for a fast and freezing night walk.  Don’t worry, he’ll agree to it as soon as he realizes you’re drinking.  However you work it out, make it a GOOD day!


Hiking Kennesaw Mtn-Coldest Day Ever

 More Motivation:  Day 5 -Off the block

I’m not going to bother you with emails every day, promise, but neither am I going to sit silently and watch this effort fade away.  I really need to improve my fitness no matter what, and you know what they say: “Misery loves company!”    :)

 If you’re in, how’s it going?  Did you define your plan?  Have done your activity yet?  This is a “no-guilt, no-perfection” program, so don’t feel bad if you’re slow off the starting block.  You might want to just come clean about the struggle and maybe your friends can give you a boost to get started.  Whether your problem is time, darkness, cold, injury, ugly workout clothes, or lack of energy and motivation, we’ll all understand. ~K.H.

 There Was Personal Investment


I’m so happy to hear the Capers Challenge is well under way!   I’ll tell you that the mention of water aerobics got my attention.  Where there is water, there are bathing suits.  Next time you don’t feel like walking, put your bathing suit on and then decide if you’re going to walk that day! 

It’s good to hear that some of you have have moved into the planning phase.  I’ve spent whole years in the planning phase, and consider myself an expert.  If you’re still not doing any actual exercise after purchasing an elliptical, a gym membership, a pretty water bottle, a lock for the gym locker, a special towel to wipe your sweat away, heel inserts for your walking shoes, an iPod, and flattering workout clothes, the Capers Challenge Committee will stage an intervention.

 Day 7: Sunrise at 7:18 and sunset at 5:33.  ~K.H.

Yep, stopped by the police because we were walking too fast!

Yep, stopped by the police because we were walking too fast!

 Quitting is Not an Option

Day 11 Is it time to quit?


LONG ANSWER:  It would be completely understandable to table this exercise thing until a better time.  There’s too much going on between the usual demands of work and home, plus the latest crisis, plus holiday prep and celebrations.  I can think of so many things I should be tending to instead of walking aimlessly for 40 minutes.  That just makes me more tired and stiff when I need to be at my best to handle everything else.

I know I have it easy.  When I think of the demands most of you are managing, I think I sure have a lot of nerve trying to motivate any of you– you are superwomen already.  But here’s the thing: in order for any of us to continue doing all our stuff this year and next, we need to be physically well enough to do stuff.  We need to be strong enough and able enough and we need to feel pretty good in our heads, too.  So this little exercise plan is a way to meet those needs without getting in too deep.  You are not paying a lot of money for this, or breaking yourself down, or investing huge amounts of time.  You’re just doing a little bit more exercise than you had been doing before and you’re doing it a little more consistently.  You’re in control of your own plan.  It might be time to adjust the plan or recommit yourself to one day at a time, but it’s not time to quit.  A little exercise is better than none. 

I wanted to share a really inspiring quote with you about not quitting, but I couldn’t find one that didn’t get on my nerves.  So instead, I’m sharing this bit of wisdom that cracked me up, even though it doesn’t support my goal here one bit:  If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.  Then quit.  There’s no point in being a damn fool about it. ~W.C. Fields

Walking Downtown Acworth

Walking Downtown Acworth

We Can Always Change Our Story

Hi Ladies,

This morning when Lynne asked me if I wanted to walk today, I had a physical reaction.  I made a sour face, my head drooped, I closed my eyes, my muscles all sent “NO!” messages to my brain, and my lazy butt whispered to my legs, “You don’t have to do it, just sit down.  She can sit down and read a book instead.”  I am not always enthusiastic.

So 20 minutes later, from a booth at Las Palmas, I texted Lynne that I DID want to walk.  What changed my attitude in that time?  Knowing that I was about to overeat unhealthy food and get lazy for the rest of the day, even though I really do have a lot of important stuff to do today.  So I decided to switch things up and see if a walk would re-energize me after my Chilequiles Mexicanos and sweet tea.  So, now I’m about to head out for what will surely be a good walk on a nice day, and I’m sure I’ll be glad I did it.

See, we can always change our story.  We can do better, make a new decision.  What’s your story today? ~K.H.

Lessons Learned

  • Changing habits isn’t easy but it is POSSIBLE. Start where you are and take one small step forward.
  • Support is essential.  If you are making a change in your life, find an accountability partner to spur you on.  Sorry, my neighbor K.H. is already taken…find your own:)
  • You will be amazed by the results of taking consistent action over time.  When I tallied up my miles, we had walked over 120 miles!

What about you?  How do you need to change your story?  Let’s do it!!  Ready, Set… Go!

Download my ebook:  Dream Achiever:  Learning to Fly and let’s start changing your story today!!

KSU Wandere

KSU Wander

  • Walking Kennesaw Mtn
    Walking Kennesaw Mtn

KSU Wander

New Year's Day Hike

New Year’s Day Hike

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Ten Ways to Make the Most of a Conference


Every year I attend conferences and I speak at conferences.  I guess you could call me a conference groupie. Conferences and retreats are great ways to expand not only your knowledge but also your network.  Every conference that I attend I expect to learn new ways to encourage and empower others to live their calling with passion and purpose.  I also expect to make a new friend or connection that I will also learn from.

Connecting at Conferences

I’ve met some people at conferences who are not only a great inspiration but also lifelong friends.  An example is Kathy Brunner who I first met several years ago at a Speak It Forward Conference.  We not only collaborate on the Called Woman Conference each year but we also attend other conferences together.  Here we are at the Christine Kane Uplevel Conference held in Atlanta last June.


In addition, I attended Christine Kane’s October retreat in Asheville, North Carolina where I was able to focus on creating successful business systems for the Called Woman Coaching Business.    Here I am with my strategy coach, Elaine Bailey and my awesome accountability partner, Mary Frances Gonzalez.


Ten Ways to Make the Most of Your Next Conference

I used to just show up at a conference and hope it would be worthwhile.  Of course, I would research the speaker and topic but ultimately I expected to be informed and entertained.  Not any more.  Now I come actively prepared to learn. What does that mean? Well, a lot of people come to a conference expecting to sit back and take it all in.  They are probably going to get the minimum out of the conference.  But to really get the most out of a conference, plan ahead and come ready to be actively involved.  Here are ten ways to maximize your conference experience:

  1. Review the schedule and plan your time.  Get to sessions early if you expect them to be crowded and sit in the front of the room.
  2. For any given topic, have a list of questions you would like to have answered.  Ask them.
  3. If you attend a conference with a friend make sure they are as eager to learn as you are.  Don’t let them distract you from the subject.  Make sure you spend time apart so that you meet new people.
  4. Take business cards.  Give them away.  Ask other people for their cards.  Make a note on the back that will help you remember the person.
  5. Know your elevator speech:  Who you are, what you do and why you are here
  6. Take pre-stamped postcards or cards to use as Thank You cards for speakers or other people that you meet. Write them while the material is still fresh and send them right away.
  7. Never eat alone.  Invite someone you don’t know to eat with you.  Invite a speaker to lunch.
  8. Identify the new people you meet that you want to stay in touch with and reach out quickly via one of the social media platforms.
  9. Take the time to thank the speakers for the insights they have shared.
  10. Take something to give away: your book, a link to an ebook, something more memorable than your business card. Share it!

Free Teleseminar Series:  Finding Your Focus and One Word for 2015

Ditch the New Years resolutions  for a strategy that will create intention and purpose!  Sign up here:

Want to make 2015 the year that you move forward in achieving your dream?  Contact me about my coaching packages.  I have 2 openings left.

A year from now you may wish you had started today.  Karen Lamb

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What Are You Afraid of?

A year ago I consulted with an aspiring author. We originally met at an author event where she asked the question, “How would you go about getting a children’s book published?  I’ve written a story and I’m not sure what to do next.”  Several years ago that could have been me asking the exact same question.  I gave her my card and offered to share my journey with her.  A few months later we were sitting at my kitchen table and I was giving her lots of information  on how to get started.  I love coaching aspiring authors because I’ve been there myself and I truly did not know where to start or who to ask for  advice.

Where is Trish today?  Today she is a published author selling her book.


What Are You Afraid Of?

“I think I need to get over my fears,” she said at one point.  “I think I’m afraid of success.”  Our fears often define us and keep us from moving forward don’t they?  I too have been plagued with fears.

  • What if I fail?
  • What if no one wants my books?
  • What if I’m fooling myself and I’m not really any good at writing?
  • What if I make the wrong decision?
  • What if I work and work at this and nothing happens?
  • What if I have a book signing party and NO ONE comes?

Trust me, my brain works overtime on the ways I could fail.

Are You Asking the Right Questions?

Maybe I’m not asking the right questions though.  Maybe I should be asking questions like:  What are the possibilities ahead?  How can I dream bigger?  Create more?  Serve others more?  Trish is right.  Sometimes it is not a fear of failure but a fear of success that paralyzes us.

Just as I coach other women who are dream achievers, I also have a business coach, Christine Kane, who urges me to overcome my fears and move myself forward in my business.  Here is the card I received from her for the holidays:

CK card

We all experience fear as we anticipate the future ahead.  We all need someone to both support and challenge us.  Who does that for you?

The Number One Regret of the Dying

In a book entitled, The Top Five Regrets of the Dying, an Australian nurse, Bonnie Ware, who spent years caring for the terminally ill writes that the number one regret is this:  I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.  Does that hit home for you? It did for me.

I still feel afraid everyday that the latest idea or venture won’t turn turn out.  I worry that someone will point out something that was wrong.  I worry that it will all fall flat.  It was only after Trish’s comment that I started counting up what I have accomplished in five years toward my dream of publishing a book and sustaining myself as a writer, speaker and coach. Three websites, two ongoing blogs, five books, regularly speaking and selling books at events, a coaching business where I help other women attain their dreams…  isn’t it funny how our fears get in the way of acknowledging our accomplishments?

The Key to Overcoming Fear

Helen Keller said, “Feel the fear, do it anyway.”  As I talked with Trish a year ago, I  encouraged her to recognize her fears and do it anyway She has and I’m so proud of her accomplishment.  That has been the key to anything I’ve accomplished as well.  One step, sometimes one very small step at a time, I’ve built it.  Not because I was confident and courageous.  I just did it anyway.  So can you.

What about you?  Are you living a life true to yourself, or the life others expect of you?


The Self-Publishing Guide by Lynne Watts is a comprehensive tool for anyone who is considering the self-publishing world. Due to her experience as a self-published writer, she has created a system that addresses the whole process.  Highly recommend this Self-Publishing Guide.
Trish Greenlee, aspiring published author

Download the free ebook:  Dream Achiever:  Learning to Fly and let’s start making your dreams a reality! Find it in the sidebar of this post.

Join my upcoming teleseminar:  Finding Your Focus and One Word in 2015.

Sign up Here:

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Creating Your Own Dance or Just Following the Routine?

 Are you living your life with exuberance?  Creativity?  Are you living your biggest story?  Or are you just surviving and flying under the radar? Here’s a preschooler who could teach us all a lesson about how to live with gusto!

What Are Your Excuses?

Of course, I know that none of us can engineer all the circumstances of our lives.  We don’t choose our families and we certainly don’t have control over other’s choices.  We can’t control the environment that we were born into or many times the health issues that we may encounter.  However, we can determine  our reaction to the circumstances of our lives.  As we move into 2015, here are three life lessons that steer my course and that I believe will help you live your bigger life story.

Live Life on Purpose

So often people let life happen rather than making it happen.  This has been the greatest lesson I’ve learned.  My early years were spent wishing, waiting and wondering if I’d be able to accomplish my dreams.  I reacted to  life rather than created my life.  I gave away my power to anyone and everyone.  Instead of a list of goals, I had a wish list and no action plan to make those dreams come true.  I had an exhaustive to-do-list and I was incredibly busy but without any clear direction.  Living intentionally has changed my focus and my life.

Look for the Opportunity in Everything

Living intentionally doesn’t mean that I don’t face opposition, failure and tragic circumstances.  Of course my life, like yours, has events and relationships that are discouraging and disappointing.  Sometimes I can make changes that improve the situation.  Sometimes I can’t.  But I can say that if I look hard enough there is always an opportunity in the midst of it all.  Maybe it means that I change my perspective.  Maybe it means that I learn something that I can share with someone else who is going through a similar concern.  Always it means that I have grown and changed in someway for the better.

Do Something New Everyday

I am a creature of routine and habit.  So often, my goal is to feel comfortable and keep the status quo.  Being open to learning from new experiences means being open to change.  This is true in simple things as well as in the bigger events in my life.

Here’s an example of my being resistant to change and learning.  I drove the same way to work for 20+ years.  It involved traveling down a winding, dark two way road before the sun was up.  It was fine early in the school year, but once we moved into the winter months and the weather was rainy, foggy and sometimes icy, the drive in the dark was treacherous.  Nevertheless, I persisted in traveling the same road believing that to change and drive a new route on the expressway to  my work would be even worse.  Finally, my last year at the school (!) when my arrival time was made even earlier, I decided to try the expressway and see if the drive was better.  Guess what?  It was a huge improvement!!  Why did it take me so long to try something that was so simple?  It was an unwillingness to learn and try something new.  This is an ongoing challenge but I continue to look for ways to learn and change even though it means doing things that are uncomfortable.


My One Word for 2015

Last week I posted a blog about selecting one word for 2015.  As I considered the word to choose, I wanted to choose one that would continue to encourage and move me into my bigger story.  A word that would at once challenge me and guide me.  I’ve chosen the word, possibilities.  Here is the definition:  abilities or qualities that could make someone or something better in the future.  I want to continually focus on the possibilities in the world, the things that could encourage and empower us all to live the biggest most amazingly incredible story possible.  

What about you?  Are you creating your own dance or just following the routine?  What are your possibilities for 2015?

Join me on September 11th for a free teleseminar on creating focus through one word for 2015.  Get the details and sign-up here:


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What Will Be Your One Word for 2015?


The New Year is just around the corner and I have a quick little test for you. (Don’t you just love pop quizzes?)

When I think about my plans for 2015, I am

a.  Not setting goals.  They never worked before and it is a waste of my time.

b.  Evaluating my past year and setting new goals based on my accomplishments last year

c.  Feeling totally overwhelmed.  I’m not sure what I accomplished last year (maybe survival?) or what I want to accomplish next year.  Maybe I’ll just take a nap and think about it later.

During the holiday season I’m

a.  Kicking back and sleeping in, over-eating and over-spending.  After all that’s what holidays are for, right?

b.  Holiday?  What holiday?  I’m keeping my nose to the grindstone.  Holidays are just like regular work days, except now I’m also exhausted from cooking, shopping, cleaning…

c.  Enjoying some time off with family and friends.  I have a system in place and know the steps I need to take each day to keep things running smoothly.

Feeling Overwhelmed?

This time of year, people love to ask you, “Are you ready for the holidays?” Trying to do it all can be exhausting.  I know.  This is especially true for women.  We’re trying to energize and renew relationships, honor family and spiritual traditions and work a job or run a business.  We’re trying to balance all those spinning plates in the air and cringing everytime we hear one crash.

Distractions are everywhere; elaborate Pinterest style decorating,  shopping for the perfect gift for everyone and attending every holiday extravaganza or event. As we are pulled in every direction, finding time to connect with family and friends in meaningful ways is a challenge.

My One Word for 2014

There are lots of ways to bring calm and order to the chaos.  One way is to create focus. In 2014, I created focus by picking one word to define my upcoming year. It was a north star.  An intention to align with. A  lens through which to view my world.

My one word for 2014 was adventure. It was a reminder to incorporate the spirit of adventure into everything that I did.  It seemed the perfect word for a year in which I retired from a 21 year career of school counseling in order to move forward into a new business of writing, speaking and coaching.

How did this word influence my year?  It gave me something to look for and focus on.  It also gave me something to intentionally create.  As I made plans, I made sure that adventure was a part of each goal.  I planned celebrations and get-togethers with friends and family. I traveled and visited new places and made new friends.  I signed up with a business coach for the first time ever as I ventured into the new territory of taking what had been a part-time activity and creating a business.

Once I began focusing on adventure, I saw the word everywhere I turned;  in my daily devotional, signs along the road and in conversation with others. It narrowed and highlighted my attention for the year. At one point as I was journalling about the word adventure and how I was incorporating it into my life, I realized that the word itself advised me on how to best use it.  In order to add adventure to my life, I had to venture out into new territory, new places, new relationships.  While adventure can sound exciting, it can also be a bit scary as I moved outside of my comfort zone.   I can truly say that focusing on that one word made a huge difference in my life.

My One Word for 2015

As I move into the new year, I’m already planning for my one word that will guide me forward. While I haven’t yet decided on my word, I’m considering and trying on various possibilities.  I’m reviewing the past year and planning for the future.

What about you?  How will you create focus for the upcoming year?  What will your one word be for 2014?  Want to develop your focus?  Change your world?  Join me for a free teleseminar on Finding Your Focus and One Word for 2015.  Sign up here:


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Rick Bragg Charms Everyone at Foxtale Book Shoppe


Tuesday evening, I had the privilege of meeting author, Rick Bragg for the the first time at Foxtale Book Shoppe in Woodstock, Georgia.  He entered a packed room following glowing introductions from the store owners and proceeded to entertain, enthrall and challenge the audience with stories of his recently published biography of rock and roll legend, Jerry Lee Lewis, His Own Story.  With a sharp wit, keen perception of human nature and engaging stories, he kept the audience spellbound.


After several minutes of talking about the two summers he spent interviewing Jerry Lee Lewis, he opened the floor for questions with this analogy:  Okay, I’m going to give you a chance to ask questions.  Now those of you with a Pentecostal background are probably going to sit here in silence for the next several minutes so let’s just cut to the chase.  I don’t believe there are any dumb questions and I’m not going to ask anyone to come forward and give their testimony so let’s just cut out the moment of silence and get on with it….

Here were some of the answers to questions from the audience:

What made you decide to write a biography of Jerry Lee Lewis?

I’d like to say that I had my life saved in a bar fight with Jerry Lee and wanted to repay the debt, but actually one day I got a call from my agent…

What was the biggest challenge in writing about Jerry Lee?

Jerry Lee lead a full out hard driving life and the challenge going in was finding the piece of his story that readers could sympathize with.  I believe I found that and nailed it in the first  chapter.

Was Jerry Lee Lewis agreeable to working with you? 

Of course he was.  I’m just like an adorable little puppy to be around.  What’s not to like?  Actually, we got along because any story he told, I could relate something similar in my own life, just on a different scale.  When he talked about getting punched out and knocked down the stairs by a band member, I could talk about getting punched out by a 300 pound bartender.  When he talked about the police chasing him and him rolling his Rolls Royce and surviving, I could talk about  the police chasing me and rolling my car and surviving… course mine wasn’t a Rolls Royce.

Is that story in the book?  

Of course, it’s in the book.  The book is over 500 pages. It’s all in the book.  There’s not a boring page in there either.



There wasn’t a boring moment in the evening either.  Rick Bragg is as adorable as a puppy and sharp witted as a fox. We could have stayed for hours and listened to his entertaining stories.  I look forward to reading his latest work!

Check out my latest work and download the ebook Dream Achieving:  Learning to Fly… You can find it in the sidebar.  Let me know what you think!

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To Sell is to Serve

2012-11-11 06.42.20One aspect of being a writer and an author that I initially dreaded was selling and marketing my books.  In the beginning I was one of those people who said, “I can’t sell anything.” I don’t think I’m alone in this.  I’ve talked to many authors who tell me how much they enjoy writing but once their book is finished they absolutely hate marketing and selling it. However if you produce a product, eventually you want to share it with others and unless you can afford to give it away, you will need to learn how to do that without melting into the floor.  The most helpful thing I’ve learned about selling wasn’t a technique or an engaging pitch.  It was a mindset shift, from selling to serving.


Be a Servant

In his excellent book, To Sell is Human: The Surprising Truth about Moving Others, Daniel Pink devotes a whole chapter to this idea.  He feels that good salespeople today don’t “up-sell”,  they “up-serve”. Up-selling at best is annoying and at worst, downright despicable.  It’s the super-sizing mentally that has you walking away from the counter with an order of french fries and an apple turnover when all you really wanted was a burger.

Up-serving on the other hand is an entirely different approach. It is really listening to the customer and going beyond the expected outcome, all in the customer’s best interest, even if it isn’t in the business’s immediate best interest. Of course ultimately, meeting the customer’s needs really is in the business’s best interest because a satisfied customer will return. Up-serving is building a relationship and honoring the customer.  Many businesses have jumped on the service bandwagon but are still missing the mark.  Up-serving is more than delivering  pizza in 30 minutes or less.  It is more than hollering out a welcome to every person entering the door.  So just what is up-serving?

Front Cover 2x3-1

Make it Personal

Up-serving is putting the customer first, literally.  This means taking the time to know what the customer wants and needs.  It is listening and then offering ways that your product can help.  This is very different than blindly trying to sell everyone you encounter an extra large order of fries or a set of tires just because they are on special today.

Up-serving is also being available.  It is not just learning about your customer’s needs but also being available to correct problems when they occur.  It’s a real voice on the phone not a machine.  It’s a customer service rep who doesn’t follow a script and who is understanding when there is frustration.

Make it Purposeful

Most people at their heart like to feel that what they do makes a difference.  This is why businesses like Tom’s Shoes and others like them are so successful.  They not only deliver an outstanding product (the first order of business) but they also make a difference in the world by turning profits into caring for others.  Tom’s shoes provides shoes for people in underdeveloped countries who can’t afford them using a one for one approach;  each pair of shoes sold, means that a pair of shoes is given away.  If you have a product that can follow their example in bettering the world, you will have an instant rapport with many of your customers.  Up-serving businesses aren’t just interested in making a difference in the lives of their customers.  They are interested in making a difference in the world.

What about you?  How are you up-serving other?  I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section of this blog.

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You Are One of my Thankfuls


Sometimes kids are the best at summing up life’s lessons.  My friend Ellen’s grand-daughter, Carleigh, did that at Thanksgiving a few years ago.  When asked what she was thankful for, she responded without hesitation, “YOU!” meaning of course my friend and her Gigi, Ellen.  Don’t you know Gigi was pretty excited to hear that response?  Wouldn’t you be excited to to hear who is thankful for you?

With that in mind and in the spirit of the Thanksgiving season, each year I publish my list of the top ten people in my life that I am thankful for.  Here it goes:

10.  The inspirational figures--Dave Ramsey, Dan Miller, Andy Stanley, Kent Julian and Christine Kane –who have devoted their lives to making a difference in the lives of others and who have truly made a difference in mine.  I’ve read their books, attended their conferences and benefited from their coaching.

 9.  My co-workers at Sixes Elementary.  Although I retired last May from my 20 year career as a school counselor at Sixes Elementary, I still consider myself part of the Sixes family.  I continue to be involved with sponsoring a weekly writing club with my friend, Candace Meek.   This is a group of educators that is dedicated to making a difference in the lives of all the children they touch.

8.  My Sunday School class at Kennesaw United Methodist Church.  I have belonged to the same church for over 27 years and in that length of time I have made a a lot of friends.  These are all people who celebrate with me in good times and who wrap their arms around me in the bad times.  I am eternally thankful.

7.  My Thursday ‘Love Ya Like A Sista’ group.  We support each other, we vacation together, we socialize together.  We love each other like sisters.

6. My close girlfriends, Valerie, Barbara and Ellen who know me so well and love me anyway.  You are the best.

5.  My grandfather. He was the first writer that I knew. I am so grateful that he recognized my talent and encouraged me to develop it.

4. My sister and brothers. There is a special bond between siblings and I will always cherish this.

3. My Mom and Dad.  The older I get, the more I appreciate the support, the encouragement, the sacrifices, the constructive criticism and the love that you shared to make me who I am today.

me and hayley

2.  My daughters.  It’s amazing the depth of love a parent can have for a child.  I am so honored and privileged to be a part of their lives and I am proud of their journey to becoming the best they can be.

1.  My God who loved me before I even knew Him and who sought me out and sent His son to reconcile and seal that relationship.

What about you?  What if during this season of thanks, you recognized those to whom  you are most grateful in your life?  Who would that be?

This is a reposting of the Thanksgiving post of 2011.  If you like it please share on Facebook and Twitter.

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