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In absence of clearly defined goals, we become strangely loyal to performing daily acts of trivia. Author Unknown

We all know that without goals, we are not likely to achieve the degree of success that we desire in life. Not because we aren't working hard enough or are not talented enough - but because we fail to focus our energy on the tasks required to meet success.

There is no better time to refine your goals than the beginning of a new year when we are offered a fresh start. As 2012 draws to a close and 2013 lurks just around the corner, I've taken some time to consider my goals for the upcoming year.

In the past, I have set goals for how much I will write or how much money I will earn from my writing, but this year, I've decided to try something new. I have decided to set a goal of reaching a wider audience with my writing. This, of course, means increasing my following in social media. Although the exact numbers I am aiming for are not well-defined, just yet, I still have a few days to get that worked out.

In the meantime, if you are so inclined, you can help me reach my goals …

“What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?” ― Robert H. Schuller

As 2012 winds down and the new year looms ahead, many of us look to our future and begin the important work of setting new goals for reaching our dreams. Unfortunately, all too often we stop short of setting goals we really want to achieve because they seem too hard and we are afraid of failure.

Consider the words of Robert H. Schuller today and give some thought to what you would attempt to do if you knew you could not fail, for in that answer lies your heart's desire.

Reaching the goal may not be quick or easy, but with planning you can set manageable steps for reaching it. If you, like me, are a writer who strives to reach that magical goal of finishing a novel or writing your family history, begin now by setting short-term goals and working diligently toward them.

The key to your success is not the goals you set, but your willingness to work toward them to bring them to reality. For today, take the time to consider what it is you really wish to accomplish in 2013 and begin se…

Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared. Buddha

So often we become so focused on reaching our goals and dreams that we forget that happiness doesn't lie in reaching our goals. Happiness doesn't happen at some magical point at the end of the journey. Take the time today to look around you and give thanks for all that you have that you may experience happiness along the way.

Get into the habit of sharing your joy and good fortune with others so that you may both be blessed with happiness and great joy. May you take time away from your busy schedule today to laugh much and experience the joy of being alive.

“Christmas doesn't come from a store, maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more....” ― Dr. Seuss

Watching "The Grinch" is always a happy time for me. As a kid, my brother and I watched it together every year and even continued  while I was in college. Although he has been gone for over 20 years, it still brings back memories of him. Christmas isn't here until I watch "The Grinch".
Unfortunately, many people act a lot like the Grinch - before his transformation - when Christmas time rolls around. I like to think they act this way out of fear and not out a mean-spirited heart.
I'd like to encourage you to make an effort to turn things around for the Grinches in your life. Show them love and compassion that they may become open to the spirit of Christmas.
Today, I am grateful for Christmas memories, for the joy of knowing I am loved, and for the love I feel for my family and friends. I am grateful for Christmas lights that brighten the landscape, for songs to lift the spirits, and for a warm home to keep me cozy inside.
I am grateful for the birds of the …

He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree. Roy L. Smith

The spirit of Christmas is often lost in the constant drive to defend our own religious and spiritual views. The argument over whether to say "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Holidays" has reared its ugly head and the season has barely begun.

I'd like to urge you all to practice tolerance and compassion this year and simply say whichever you want and let others do the same. For me, the season will always be Christmas. If you subscribe to a different belief, that's fine with me. But, I do hope you find the season filled with love and compassion.

To me, the heart of Christmas is love and compassion for others, whether we agree with their views or not. When we stoop to arguing over silly things, like how to greet each other during the season, we give up the heart of Christmas.

If you find yourself in the battle of semantics or arguing with another human being because his beliefs differ from your, take a step back. Channel that energy into something positive to imp…

When you re-read a classic you do not see in the book more than you did before. You see more in you than there was before. ~Clifton Fadiman

I've recently begun rereading books that I read in my youth and am struck by how my focus has changed. As a former teacher, I am struck by the fact that perhaps we expect too much of our youth when we assume they will gain insight and wisdom from classics that they are not ready to understand. Oh, its not that they are not savvy enough, or smart enough to dissect the text. They are. It's just that some things cannot be understood without the life experience to support them. I'm not sure we should make them try.

I suppose it is the same with all things in life. How we react, how we see the events in our lives, and what we learn from them is intertwined with the being we are at the moment. It's not so much what happens as it is how we interpret those events.

When we view life with a critical eye, scanning the horizon for threats, that's exactly what we see. Not because the threats are there, but because it's how we choose to see them.

If you are in the habit of …

“If you wish to experience peace, provide peace for another.”

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It is so easy to forget as we go about our own lives that those around us may be facing battles we simply aren't aware of. It's not that we are self centered or uncaring, but that we become so wrapped up in our own lives that we simply don't see what is around us.

Last night, I learned that a young man in my community is battling a brain tumor. Not only is this young man in my community, he has been a close friend with my son since they were young children.Yet, I have been oblivious to his struggles. Not because I didn't care, but because I've been too caught up in my little world to even notice.

Although my heart goes out to this young man and I wish him peace and comfort as he struggles to overcome  this hurdle, it also goes out to his friends who are suddenly confronted with their mortality. At 26, one shouldn't have to think about such frightening possibilities.

His frien…

“People are just as happy as they make up their minds to be.” ― Abraham Lincoln

Courtesy of Freedigitalphotos.net I've been doing a lot of research and thinking about exactly what it is that makes some people travel through life with a positive attitude enjoying happiness and peace of mind, while others stumble through life dragging all their negative baggage with them. It's tempting to attribute a person's happiness to the circumstances of their lives, but that doesn't really hold water. Some are happy under dire circumstances, while others cannot find happiness even in the best of circumstances.

Something else, then, must determine a person's degree of happiness in life - but what is it?

After reading volumes of self-help and self improvement books by authors like Norman Vincent Peale, Richard Bach, Marci Shimoff, Dale Carnegie and a host of authors that span generations, I have come to the conclusion that the cause of your happiness - or lack thereof - is you. More specifically, the thoughts you allow into your mind, the thoughts you chose …

To laugh often and much, to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children ...

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“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children...to leave the world  a better place...to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”                                                                                                                                                                                                                 ~Ralph Waldo Emerson~
How easy it is to become so self absorbed that we forget there is more to life that achieving material things, and spend our time in pursuit of that which fuels our dreams without regard for the lives of those around us. Take a moment today to consider the words of Emerson, and consider how you might touch the lives of others. 
Consider your actions and words today and how they impact the lives around you. Do they move you and others to better themselves? Do they lift the spirit or echo with laughter and go…

Dedication: It is the effort of many that create the ripples that can move mountains.

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Sometimes we are so concerned with making big changes in our lives that we forget that change does not come overnight. Its so easy to forget that small efforts can make big changes. Like the pebble that sends out ripples that grow as they move outward, the efforts you make today are capable of leading you to a bright future.
Get into the habit of accomplishing small tasks that lead to your goals, today, and don't be discouraged because you can't reach them right away.
Today, I am grateful for the cool summer breeze, for tiny cucumbers on the vine, and tomatoes that turn from green to gold and finally red. I am grateful for the bees that are abuzz in my garden, for the hummingbird that darts about, and for dragonflies that devour mosquitoes about my head. I am grateful for the hoot of the owl in the midst of darkness, for the night sky in all its glory, and for mountains that remind me to stand strong.I am grateful for butterflies that flit from flower …

All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them. Walt Disney

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It's funny how you can go along in life convincing yourself you are working towards your goals and dreams, and then in flash realize you are playing it safe and not really taking a risk at all. I've been doing that for a while. As some of you know, I am a writer. It's what I do for a living. Lately, though I've been settling for work that comes my way and rationalizing that times are tough and I'm lucky to have work all.

It isn't like the work is bad or the pay is abysmal or anything like that. It's not. It's just that I suddenly realized that by playing it safe and sticking with a relatively sure thing,  I was probably missing out on opportunities to expand and grow as a writer.

I made a decision to do something about it and finally published my author site and put myself out there for the world to see. You can check it out, if you'd like at Professional Writing Services. Where it will lead is anyone's guess.

If you, like …

Expect A Miracle

Like most of us, I have a few books and authors that I turn to when I find myself lacking motivation. Today was one of those days and my author of choice was Norman Vincent Peale. Those of you already familiar with his work know how inspirational his work can be. Those of you who have not read is work; I urge to pick up a copy of  The Power of Positive Thinking. It has changed my life on a number of occasions, as it reminded me of the things I already know but sometimes forget to practice.

Today, I was reading You Can If You Think You Can by Dr. Peale. About half way through the book I suddenly confronted a chapter called "Expect A Miracle" and was immediately struck by how easily we forget the importance of our expectations.

I like to call it forgetting because it creeps up on us gradually. We don't make a conscious effort to alter our believing. Perhaps we are influenced by those around us, perhaps we simply forget that positive thinking requires active participation …

“The key is to keep company only with people who uplift you, whose presence calls forth your best.” ~ Epictetus

Over the course of the past few months, I have found myself sucked into the negative outlook of those around me. Oh, I'm not talking about my family here - or even my friends in real life. What I am talking about is online friends who seem to think it is necessary to bombard my senses with all that is negative and bad in the world.
The greatest offender, of course, is Facebook. Hardly a day goes by without several posts magically appearing that exhort me to take action to prove that I am a decent human being. You know what I am talking about. Those posts that claim any intelligent or compassionate human being would share their posts as proof of their superior standing in this world, while reminding me that and if I don't, then the devil must have a stronghold on my life. 
Sometimes, I find the irony amusing - especially when politically inclined people cry out for individual freedom while implying that if I don't share their message I am somehow a lesser human being. Do t…

What we can or cannot do, what we consider possible or impossible, is rarely a function of our true capability. It is more likely a function of our beliefs about who we are. Anthony Robbins

How easy it is to begin to define ourselves by the things that we lack. I am not smart enough. I am not talented enough. I don't have enough money  - I am too old - too fat - too thin - too set in my ways to do things I want to do in life. Yet inside each of us lies the amazing power to change our lives.

Recently, I noticed a friend referring to her life as "before I got sick" and "after I got sick," as though they were two separate lives. It struck me then how eager we are to define ourselves by our external surroundings and how easily we let go of our own control of our lives.

Many of us may catch ourselves referring to life as "when I was young" and "as I got older," as though they too are separate lives. Yet, few of us stop to consider that the changes that have befallen us are a result of defining ourselves by our lack - a lack of health - a lack of youth - instead of the abundance we have in our lives.

Cultivate the art of defining yo…

Happiness is never out of our reach for the miracle of life is that we are all free to follow the path of our dreams.

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Sometimes we get so caught up in the daily business of living that we forget to pursue our dreams. Not because our dreams aren't important anymore, or we think we can't reach them - but because we somehow lose track of where we were headed in the first place. This has been one of those times for me.
It's not that anything monumental has happened. It hasn't. It isn't even that I've suddenly had too many demands on my time. It has been more of a falling off so gradual I didn't even notice. Maybe it is due to the long winter or the economy that has all of us struggling to meet the demands of daily life. 
Yesterday, I took the day off from writing to work in my garden. As evening approached, I took my coffee to the backyard and sat listening the bird's as they bid the day farewell. Gazing over my garden beds,the gentle summer breeze bathed my face, and I was suddenly struck with just how lucky I am. Suddenly, I remembered why I ha…

“The optimist sees the rose and not its thorns; the pessimist stares at the thorns, oblivious to the rose” Kahlil Gibran

I'd like to share my slideshow of pink roses with you today. Please click the image to view the gorgeous pink roses!
So many times we let fear of the unknown or the possibility of getting hurt get in our way, stopping us from meeting our goals. Guard today against being the pessimist who is immobilized by fear. Strive first to see the beauty and goodness that is all around you. Go forward with joy in your heart that you may enjoy the beauty of the Universe - giving thanks to all that you have already been given. Only then will you begin to see the marvelous possibilities that await you in your future.
Today, I am grateful for gray skies that I know hold April rains necessary to transform my word to growing green things. I am grateful for the farewell of snow for another year, for the soft spring earth and for daffodils that sing out of spring.I am grateful for good food to celebrate the Easter weekend, for the comfort of a cozy home and for laughter that lightens the soul. I am gra…

The ultimate value of life depends upon awareness and the power of contemplation rather than upon mere survival.

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So many times in life we become so focused on the things we need to do to survive that we forget there is more to life than survival. Many of us live day to day or week to week - or if we are really lucky month to month, mainly in an attempt to work hard to make enough to pay our bills. Although it's nothing compared to how hard our ancestors worked just to survive - it can take its toll.
If you are in the habit of focusing your energy on survival you may be missing out on life along the way.
Last night while reading How to Get What You Want and Want What You Have by John Gray I came a gem that really started me to thinking.  
 "When outer success leaves us feeling unhappy, we conclude that the cause of our unhappiness is not having the next thing."
He goes on to explain that our thinking is logical, but wrong. According to him, unhappiness is simply a lack of inner joy and has nothing to do with the things we have. If he is correct, which he p…

Destiny is not matter of chance. It is a matter of choice ...

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Many spend their lives waiting for that magical moment when everything will fall together. Perhaps it is because we have been taught that all good things come in time and patience is a virtue. Perhaps it is because we secretly have no idea what we want in life, but think we will know it when we see.
It is infinitely easier to think that all things work as they should and that our true destiny is already mapped. It lets us of the hook and takes away our responsibility for our own success or failure.
Adjust your thinking today and embrace the thought that your destiny is not a matter of chance - that you have a choice. Begin to make choices that lead you in the direction of your dreams and you will soon find success and happiness.
Today, I am grateful for good books, soft chairs and cuddly blankets. I am grateful for writers who share a bit of their invisible world with the reader, for publishers who bring the book to life and for luxury of afternoons spent rea…

Listen to the sound of your dreams and be unafraid to follow the music.

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For many of us, following the sound of our dreams gets confused with following what others think we need or want. Instead of listening to our own music, we sometimes find ourselves listening to the sound of other people's dreams and follow it like the Pied Piper, never suspecting that it may be leading us astray.
Be still today and listen carefully for the music of your dreams that your joy may be full as you strive to reach your goals.
Today, I am grateful for frogs and toads that will soon emerge from their winter's slumber, for warm soft air that fills the heart with joy, and for melting streams and rivers that will soon flow freely. I am grateful for fiddleheads that will soon begin to grow, offering free food for all who seek them out. I am grateful for eyes to see, ears to hear and hands to feel. I am grateful for air to breathe, water to drink and the beauty of the Universe. I am grateful for trees that provide shade, babbling brooks that sooth…

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

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Sometimes we become so afraid of stepping out and doing something new that all we can focus on is the long journey that looms ahead of us. The way looks too long or the path too steep and we become paralyzed unable to move forward.
It is then that we must concentrate on taking the first step in the direction we want to go. As we begin the journey, we suddenly discover that momentum increases and its isn't nearly as difficult (or steep) as we imagined.
If you find yourself afraid to begin the journey today, step out in confidence and know that within you lies the ability to achieve your goals. There is no mountain too steep or path too long unless you make it so.
Today, I am grateful for the brilliant spring sun, for melting ice and snow, and for raised garden beds that emerge beneath the snow. I am grateful for clippings of fresh herbs that have survived the winter, for the lonely fox that calls in the distant woods, and for excited squirrels that scurry …

Goals are dreams with deadlines.

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So often we spend our lives dreaming of a bright future, yet never realizing that we are responsible for transforming those dreams to goals so that we can work toward them and achieve them. Somehow, we expect those lofty dreams to materialize without any effort on our part. I know I am guilty of this, and I betting you are too.
For today, take the time to identify your dreams and set goals for reaching them. Give your dreams deadlines and work steadfastly toward achieving them. Resist the urge to create vague images of happiness that you cannot define in words. If you, like most us, want a better life, get a clear image of what that life entails.
If you want a better job, consider what that job should be. If you want more money, give thought to how much money you need or want to create the life you desire, and get down to the business of making it happen. 
Now may be a good time to design that vision board you've been meaning to make - or update an old o…

Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world. Harriet Tubman

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Sometimes we get caught up in the habit of thinking and believing too small. We set goals that fall short of our real dreams because deep down we fear that we do not have the strength, courage and "smarts" to go further. But the exciting truth is: You do. You have within you all the power you need to reach your goals, it is up to you what you will set your sights on, and what you will choose to focus on, as you work to achieve your goals and reach your dreams.

Today, take a moment to consider what you really desire - not what you mistakenly "think" you can attain. Consider the words of Dr. Robert Schuller, "What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?" as you begin the important work of refining your goals.

Once you've set the new goals let Harriet Tubman's words:  "Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world." be yo…

Watch your character. It becomes your destiny.

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Sometimes we fool ourselves into thinking that if we but fix those around us, that our lives will miraculously fall into place and that we will find happiness and success. The problem lies not so much with the fixing as it does with the perception that others are somehow broken.

When we travel down the slippery slope to looking at others and seeing their flaws, we begin to set ourselves up for developing a critical character that seeks out the misfortunes and frailties of others. In the process, we deny ourselves the joy of life and soon begin to reap the negative repercussions  of our critical character.

For today, guard against the tendency to see others as somehow broken and look beyond their flaws to uncover their inner goodness. Seek to build them up with uplifting words and actions. Not only are you doing good for others, you will soon begin to reap the benefits of positive energy and positive light.

Today, I am grateful for melting snow and ice, for th…

The greatest waste in the world is the difference between what we are and what we could become.

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It is so easy to convince ourselves that we are what we are by nature and not by choice. Observe for the day the number of times you - or someone around you - comments "that's just the way I am." Granted it typically occurs when we are being challenged to think in new ways or change behaviors we really don't want to change. But, we say it with such gusto, with such confidence as though we are announcing to the world hard facts that cannot be changed.
The truth is who and what we are is as changeable as the wind and we hold the power to make those changes. Accepting ourselves as less than we area capable of being stunts our growth and prevents us from finding real success and real happiness.
For today, strive to go beyond what you think you are to reach for what you can become as you strive to reach your goals and dreams.
Today, I am grateful for the hidden possibilities in my life, for the courage to seek them out, and the wisdom to recogniz…

We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same.

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Too often we attribute our degree of happiness to the world around us and fail to consider our own contribution to our condition. Somehow, we have all been raised to believe that those around us control our happiness and our ability to reach our goals. The truth is: Only you hold that power.

How we react to, and deal with, the circumstances of our lives directly impacts our sense of happiness or our degree of misery. If you are in the habit of pointing the finger to others around you as an excuse to wallow in self pity or as the reason you haven't attained your goals, it is time to stop.

For today, take stock of your limiting beliefs that cause you unhappiness or create stumbling blocks in your journey to reach your goals. Devote your time to activities and thoughts that make you strong instead of miserable and you will soon find yourself back on track to achieving your goals.

Today, I am grateful for snowflakes that swirl from gray skies, for cold crisp …

"Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass, It's about learning to dance in the rain!"

If you are like most people, you might find yourself thinking that things will be better as soon as the current storm of difficulties passes. Or that now isn't the time to focus on your dreams, because the circumstances of your life aren't perfect. This thinking will get you nowhere for life is filled with storms. The secret is in learning to succeed in spite of them.

Strive today to find joy and peace in whatever circumstances you are in. Look past the storm to the beauty that awaits when the clouds clear and know that you can reach your dreams and goals despite life's little storms.

Today, I am grateful for the first morning rays as the sun hides just below the horizon, for the misty cloud of smoke from my neighbor's furnace that hangs close to the earth, and for eager children who wait for the school bus to appear.I am grateful for ideas that wrestle to be set free, for faith that everything will work out just as it should, and for ability to dance in the rain. I am…

If you find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn't lead anywhere. Frank Howard Clark

As human beings we often find ourselves surprised when obstacles seemingly block our way. For many, a simple tree across the path is a signal to turn back or to find another path. For others, the tree simply slows them down a bit as they decide on the best way to get around the obstacle.

As some of you know, I have recently faced an obstacle that has caused me to stop in my tracks and evaluate how best to get past this temporary setback. A regular source of writing income - the source that allowed me to devote time to other writing pursuits - like this blog - has been suddenly cutoff.

Like the tree across the path, I know that there is always a way around it and what lies beyond is often greater than what has come before. If you, like me, face obstacles in your path, don't let it stop your journey towards your dreams. Go over. Go under. Or go around - but don't turn back.

Today I am grateful for the blessings I know are just around the corner, for faith to hold fast to my drea…

You will never "find" time for anything. If you want time, you must make it. Charles Bruxton

So many times we spend our day running around and declaring we simply don't have time for all the things we want to do that we forget each of us is allotted 24 hours in a day - no more and no less. How we choose to use those hours is up to us.

I ran across some interesting information last night while doing some research. The author suggested that any time we spend during our work day that is not moving us toward our goals - either personally or professionally - is wasted time.

Now, I'm not suggesting that you give up leisure activities that promote a healthy life style, or that you neglect the relationships in your life. What I am suggesting is that you take a few days to "track" how you use your time.  I think you, like most of us, will find that you waste much more time that you ever would have guessed.

Take this post, for instance. I looked at the clock and thought, "I only have 15 minutes. What can I possibly accomplish in 15 minutes. I might as well visit…

The first step toward success is taken when you refuse to be a captive of the environment in which you first find yourself.” Mark Caine

So often we begin to view our lives and our dreams in relation to the obstacles in our paths. We become overwhelmed with the false belief that the circumstances around us hold us captive and  we fail to realize that we already hold the key to our success.
Strive today to break free of negative thoughts and beliefs and rise above the seeming obstacles in your way.    Give no mind to the circumstances that wish to hold you captive and set your eyes upon your goal.
Today, I am grateful for the shimmering moon, for dark silhouettes of trees and for starlight that twinkles in the night. I am grateful for the sound of the wind, for dancing wind chimes and for soft, silent snowfall. I am grateful for words to express my thoughts, for songs that touch the soul, and for the crisp bite of cucumbers right from the vine. I am grateful for memories that make life rich, for quiet moment in which to think and dream, and for the future that lies before me - secretive and unknown. I am grateful for op…