One of the top selling book categories is how to be successful. The best advice I received on being successful- ‘Just Show Up’.
Maggie was always there when I needed her. After a long day at work, she was waiting at the door to greet me. If I was working in the yard, and someone came on our property, she was right at my side to protect me. She remembered neighbors daily walk times, and was always at the fence waiting to say hello & maybe get a treat. Day or night, I could always count on Maggie to show up.
We live in a world that changes quicker than any other time in our past. People are constantly trying to make themselves marketable, employable or the most valuable on the team. I’ve learned the most important quality to have is to just be there. When I need help on a task, the quality I look for in the person to ask is not the smartest or strongest person. It’s the person who is going to show up- and be there until the job is done.
Maybe being successful is 1% Luck and 99% Dedication.
As a child I was told, ‘you don’t have to like everyone you meet, but you do have to love everyone’. As an adult, I finally understand the meaning of this statement. Interesting how dogs learn it a lot quicker than humans.
Maggie was very fussy about who she invited into her backyard. She immediately barked at any newcomer, then would slowly approach & sniff. If you passed her criteria (don’t ask what it was, I still don’t know), then all future meetings were met with a pounce of her paws & come hither turn of her head. What about the dogs that didn’t pass Maggie’s criteria? Most of the time, Maggie would watch them walk by with their owner. She would sit calmly by the picket fence, maintaining eye contact, but would never approach. One day, something interesting happened. A dog that Maggie wasn’t fond of was being heckled by a red-tailed hawk. The dog & her owner tried to continue their walk, while doing their best to ignore the bird. Maggie saw this and began to bark. She paced along the fence, while the hawk flew by repeatedly. Maggie didn’t stop barking. Eventually, the hawk gave up and flew away. Maggie went back to her resting spot.
We meet many people during the course of our life. Some people become friends for a time, while others become life-long relationships. And then, there are some people that we just don’t like. No matter the reasons for disliking someone, we must always recognize the need to love everyone. Everyone needs help now & then, and everyone deserves a chance to receive our love & kindness. We must never confuse not liking someone with hating them. The process of validating hatred towards someone requires a history of consistent abuse, neglect or evil behavior a person has knowingly & willingly conducted towards another. I’d like to think this type of person is a low percentage of the human race.
Maggie didn’t like every dog in the neighborhood, but she allowed them to walk by her fence in peace & quiet- offering help when needed. Shouldn’t people do the same?
It’s been said you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. I don’t think this is true. I believe dogs learned how to avoid mastering new tricks by changing their situation…which is a trick in itself, right?
Maggie never liked loud noises. She also disliked when a lot of people were in her house; especially if it disenabled her ability to herd efficiently. If the two were combined, I had one unhappy doggie. A group of people talking loudly in all rooms of my home….excuse me, I mean Maggie’s home. When Maggie was a puppy, she became totally frustrated with trying to fix the situation. However, as she grew older, she learned a trick to pacify her instincts. Maggie would find the quietest corner in the house and snuggle her body against the wall, while tucking her head in her chest. She removed herself from a situation she could not control.
As humans, how often do we try to fix a situation we cannot control? It is our basic instinct to help one another. The characteristics of kindness, empathy, and compassion are qualities we look for in someone to call a friend, spouse, or mentor. Many people have a fear of walking away from a situation, because they may be viewed as insensitive, weak, or self-centered. When we realize what we can and cannot change, it is at that moment we understand the trick being taught by the many ‘life situations’ we encounter. Our character is not defined by how we fix the situation, but how we react to the situation.
Maggie taught herself how to avoid noisy and crowded places, and became a much happier dog because of it. As humans, we must teach ourselves how to respond to life’s many situations. The change within ourselves appears when we have more faith in the lesson being taught, than the outcome of the situation.
Every January finds people making resolutions. If history taught us anything, one would realize a new year is just another day on the calendar. You can start to make better choices any day of the year. It all depends on the path you take.
Maggie liked to walk the trails in the state forests. She enjoyed the sounds of nature: running brooks, squirrels chatting, and the crunch of leaves under her paws. She could walk an entire trail and never see another person or dog- and she liked that! Even when a jogger passed by, it was far enough from her personal space; she never barked or chased.
When I walked Maggie on the more popular paved trails we find in so many communities, her response was much different. She would bark at the many cyclists passing on our left, show her teeth to the other dogs strolling by- size did not matter, and never was very kind to anyone with a stroller. Maggie enjoyed being outside & walking with me. However, this walk wasn’t as enjoyable as the trails in the forests.
The path we take in life has to be the one that fits our needs. Some people may prefer the freeway to arrive at their destination- quick, fast-paced, and lots of people to enjoy the ride. Others may prefer the footpath-a quiet, steady-pace, with little fan-fare. One path is no better than the other.
How does one know what path to take? The one that finds us enjoying to be ourselves.
“It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”
― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Have you ever walked into a crowded room, started to talk to someone, and instantly liked them? Have you ever walked into a crowded room, looked at somebody, and just knew something about the person made you feel uncomfortable?
Maggie was a delight to have in the yard while I was working in my flower garden. I never worried about an unexpected visitor, because she would let me know when someone was coming. If it was a stranger, Maggie would follow the person alongside our picket fence, barking for all the neighbors to hear, and letting this person know it was best if they kept walking. If the person was a friend or family member, Maggie would bark once to let me know we had company, and then run towards the person in anticipation of a treat or belly rub. Sometimes, Maggie responded in this friendly manner with people she was meeting for the first time. It’s as if she instinctively knew who was good and who was bad. I always admired this quality in Maggie, until I realized humans have it, too!
When I was a child, I often wondered how my parents & grandparents became so smart. They always knew who to trust, and how to react in different situations. My parents often told me the common clichés- ‘Trust Your Gut’ and ‘Listen To Your Heart’. As I got older, I became more confident to heed this advice. I also made a lot of mistakes which educated my gut and heart along the way! In today’s predominant visual world, I’d like to add this cliché- ‘Your Heart Sees Better Than Your Eyes’.
Every day, our eyes are bombarded with commercials selling products to make our lives easier, news media constantly showing the evil acts in our world, and people who would rather destroy other’s dreams than omit to their own insecurities. However, every day my heart sees people graciously volunteering their time to help another soul in need, media working with organizations to improve our world for future generations, and a person’s dream becoming reality because someone realized altruism doesn’t mean weakness.
Our hearts not only see better than our eyes-our hearts see people for who they are, how they will treat someone, and why we should share our heart with them…or maybe just bark & walk away.
September should be called the beginning of the new year. Commercials for back-to-school items, advertisements for television shows returning, and coupons for a last minute get-away before the return to work- all remind us that change is ‘in the air’.
Maggie looked at every day as a new day, new year and new beginning. Every morning, she was excited to go for a walk, even though it was the same morning walk. She would sniff every mailbox along the way and pause to watch a squirrel or bird in the tree. Maggie was constantly looking for all the new things the morning walk might bring, and maybe some familiar doggie friends, too!
Maggie consistently showed the same excitement at every meal. As the bowl lowered to her placemat, she would lick her lips in anticipation of the food being served. Playing in the yard meant walking past every shrub and sniffing every toy, just to make sure nothing new was lurking behind an arborvitae.
Maggie patiently waited every evening while her hair was brushed, and then would jump with excitement when she heard the clang of the cookie jar. A cookie was her night-time routine, but her enthusiasm never diminished.
I often wonder how much is missed while completing daily routines. My weekly schedule involves a long commute to work, exercising every afternoon on a walking trail, and writing in the evening at my kitchen table. Maybe I am missing the beautiful scenery of the country hills ,watching children play in the neighborhood, or the sunset over the fields that I can see from my kitchen window.
What if I looked at every day as a new day? Yesterday is gone and it is wasteful to worry about tomorrow. Today….today something exciting may happen…today I may see something I have never seen….today I may meet someone that changes the rest of my life….today I may accomplish something I never thought was possible…today is full of endless possibilities.
Today is a new day!
The summer from 2014 to 2015 was a definite rollercoaster of events. At the beginning of the summer of 2014, I was the recipient of a phone call from my agent; informing me that a publisher was interested in my book, ‘Legacy of Grandpa’s Grapevine’. That same week, I received a phone call from my veterinarian that my dog’s health was not getting better.
I spent the next few months learning to live without my little fur buddy, and finding the time to write/edit/revise, while still working at my full-time paying job. The winter months in New England were snowy and cold. Fortunately, it gave me extra time to spend at home to write and plan my book launch.
In the spring, I joined a talented group of authors for my first book signing in Nevine, Massachusetts. I couldn’t have asked for a better first-time experience in the business. I continue to attend book signings, blog, post, tweet, pin, and persuade readers to leave a review on Amazon. How I convince people just how important these reviews mean to authors, I still haven’t figured out.
The summer of 2015 will find me at my kitchen table completing the second story of the Manciano Family series; ‘Mama’s Bookends’. I hope to see you at a book signing, your name on my Twitter or Facebook page, or maybe even as a reviewer on Amazon!
Enjoyed the book signings in Nevine, MA and Groton, CT. Looking forward to participating in the Avon Authors Festival. I will give a 20 minute chat, along with three other authors, on July 14th. The event starts at 7:00. Please join me at the Avon Free Public Library, 281 Country Club Road, Avon, CT.
*Stay informed of future book signings by visiting my website.
‘Olivia’s Journey’ is a short story available on Kindle for only .99
‘Legacy of Grandpa’s Grapevine’ Available on Kindle or Paperback