Overcoming Fear by ‘Lifetime of Achievement’ by Jordan Maylea Ramirez

Fear is one of the major factors that stands in the way on our path from where we are today to where we want to go. Fear of failure, of course, but also the fear of the unknown, the fear of others and the (most often overlooked) fear of ourselves.

Lifetime of AchievementOne of my favorite quotes is by Maryanne Williamson and it states, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us most. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and famous?’…”

Have you ever asked yourself that question? “Who am I to be… ____________?” Who are you to be successful in this career? Who are you to be the best mother, wife, father, husband? Who are you to put yourself out there and expect the best not only of others but of yourself?

Who are you?

It is the second part of the quote that is my favorite part: “Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in all of us…”

All of us. That means me and that means you. We were created for greatness. It is OUR responsibility to not let fear stand in the way of that greatness.

I have a technique I use when I am afraid. I will admit, fear is one of the thing I struggle with most. I know that nothing productive can come from fear and worry, and yet I still continue to find myself scared of the outcome of certain situations.

When I begin to feel afraid I ask myself, “What is the WORST possible thing that could happen from me doing this?” Then I proceed to let my imagination run wild until I reach what truly would be the worst possible scenario. I then ask myself, “Then what?”

What will you do then? What will you do when faced with the worst-case-scenario?

It may be hard. Depending on the situation it may be the most difficult thing you have ever done. But chances are you will deal with it. Your life is not going to end. You will be okay. Fear is often False Evidence Appearing Real. The consequences we create in our head are often far worse than what would actually happen in reality.

We often make the mistake of allowing our minds to run wild with the “what ifs” but never asking ourselves, “Then what?” What would you do? How would you deal with it? Your own strength may surprise you.

Another thing to ask yourself is, “What is the WORST possible thing that could happen from me NOT doing this?” The answer may surprise you. You may find out that the consequences of not trying are far great than of trying and not succeeding.

Think for a moment about what I’ve said as you read the final part of this quote:

“And when we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

Today I am choosing to be liberated from my own fear. I hope my courage inspires you to do the same!


Jordan Maylea Ramirez 2Jordan lives with her husband Robert in Lubbock, Texas with their 3 dogs and two horses. Because both her parents have always been self-employed, she had an entrepreneurial spirit from an early age and began her first business at the age of 17. It was at that time that she first became fascinated with the subject of personal development and the impact a personal education can have on a person’s life. She grew up riding horses and competing in Dressage shows all across Texas and New Mexico. The sport continues to be one of the primary passions in her life and if she is not working or spending time with her family you can usually find her at the barn. Jordan has two younger siblings, Clayton and Paige, whom she is very close to, and she greatly enjoys spending time with her family. She and Robert enjoy entertaining friends at their home (especially during football season – Go Red Raiders!) and they love to travel the world and experience new countries and cultures together.

Her latest book is Lifetime of Achievement.


The Story Behind Lifetime of Achievement by Jordan Maylea Ramirez

Writing has always been something that’s come easily for me. I love to read, have been inspired by many books throughout my life (both fiction and non-fiction), and the idea of inspiring someone in that way is something I’ve always aspired to do. Thankfully, the career path I chose put me in the position to do just that!

Lifetime of AchievementMy parents have always been self-employed, so I caught the “entrepreneur bug” at an early age. I started my first business as a junior in high school by partnering with a direct sales company; although I had always excelled academically, I dropped out of college after my first year so I could pursue my business full-time. That was 7 years ago, and I’ve never looked back!

What really intrigued me about the direct sales industry was that virtually all the top earners were also die-hard personal development fanatics. They became successful by working on themselves first, and they continue to help others do the same. The stories of personal transformation really fascinated me – this stuff had really changed a lot of people’s lives, and their results told the story!

About two years into my entrepreneurial journey I went through a really hard time personally. Several months in I decided to pick up an unread book that had been on my shelf for several years; “Maximum Achievement”, by Brian Tracy, literally changed my life!

The principles I learned from that book really took hold of me, and it wasn’t long before I began experiencing results of my own that I wanted to share. My life is what it is today because of my journey with personal development, and I’ve made it my mission to help as many people experience its benefits as possible.
One of my mentors teaches that if you really want people to follow something, you have to make it simple for them – that’s the mission of my book. I took principles from some of my favorite personal development authors and combined them in a format that is easy to read and simple to implement. If my book helps just one person accomplish a goal they’ve been afraid to go after, then it’s accomplished its purpose!


Jordan Maylea Ramirez 2Jordan Maylea Ramirez lives with her husband Robert in Lubbock, Texas with their 3 dogs and two horses. Because both her parents have always been self-employed, she had an entrepreneurial spirit from an early age and began her first business at the age of 17. It was at that time that she first became fascinated with the subject of personal development and the impact a personal education can have on a person’s life. She grew up riding horses and competing in Dressage shows all across Texas and New Mexico. The sport continues to be one of the primary passions in her life and if she is not working or spending time with her family you can usually find her at the barn. Jordan has two younger siblings, Clayton and Paige, whom she is very close to, and she greatly enjoys spending time with her family. She and Robert enjoy entertaining friends at their home (especially during football season – Go Red Raiders!) and they love to travel the world and experience new countries and cultures together.

Her latest book is Lifetime of Achievement.


Guest Blogger Helen Smith: Work with Survivors of Torture Inspires New Dystopian Novel


Work with Survivors of Torture Inspires New Dystopian Novel

By Helen Smith, author of ‘The Miracle Inspector’

I was inspired to write my dystopian novel The Miracle Inspector after volunteering for several years as a writing mentor with exiled writers in London through an organization called Freedom from Torture (formerly The Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture.)

The people I met through Freedom from Torture were resilient, courageous, grateful to have found sanctuary in England — and desperately sad to have left friends, family, home and possessions behind in their country of origin. As part of our work as mentors, the other volunteers and I helped them tell their stories in poetry and prose. Rather than try to retell those stories in a book of my own, I began to wonder what it would be like if I could no longer live in London and had to flee. What kind of reception would I get if I turned up in another place without money, and with little cultural understanding of the place where I was seeking sanctuary? What if I had led an insular, protected life and didn’t know enough about how the world worked to know who to trust?

I came up with a young married couple, Lucas and Angela, who are living in London after some unspecified political upheaval that has led to England being partitioned. An ignorant fear of everything from terrorism to pedophilia has led to schools being shut down and women kept inside the home for their own protection, unable to work. There is no communication with the outside world. There is no air travel. London is surrounded by a big fence. Men are constantly being arrested and taken away to prison, so it’s rare to see anyone older than about thirty-five, and uneducated young men are in positions of power.

In my country, there is increasing surveillance of citizens. New powers of search and detention have been introduced ‘for our own protection’ and these are open to abuse. Some people will argue that it doesn’t matter if large numbers of people are inconvenienced and their privacy invaded, or even that innocent people are arrested and questioned, if it means that just one child is saved. But what if that child was never in danger anyway? What if there is no need for that transaction and we are paying to save that hypothetical one child with the wrong coin?

All these thoughts were going through my head when I was writing the book. I am at the stage in my life when the country seems to be going to the dogs… and yet I know that that feeling is partly a symptom of growing old. Plenty of things are better than they were when I was a child. Some are a little bit worse. Mostly it’s different. Importantly, everything is cyclical, and each generation will rebel against the previous one. In free societies, things eventually right themselves. But in somewhere like Iran, for example, though I think that the political situation will change, it might take longer than one generation before women can choose whether or not to wear the veil again.

The Miracle Inspector is a blackly comic book with some funny lines in it, and I have deliberately portrayed a society that is absurd. Though one of the characters is arrested and tortured, you never see what is happening to him. You don’t even get to imagine it. I wouldn’t want to read about something like that and don’t feel qualified to write about it. In my book, this character tries to escape what is happening to him by imagining a journey taken by another character that becomes increasingly surreal. Is she really on this journey or is the whole thing in his mind?

I’d like readers to find something in the book that seems relevant to them. They might find comparisons with what has happened in Iran, they might see hints about what is happening in their own country, or they might celebrate the fact that they live in a free society and, though I have depicted a bleak, dystopian London, that is something that could never happen. Perhaps they will end up asking the questions that I started out with.

Helen Smith is a member of the Writers Guild of Great Britain and English PEN. She traveled the world when her daughter was small, doing all sorts of strange jobs to support them both – from cleaning motels to working as a magician’s assistant – before returning to live in London where she wrote her first novel which was published by Gollancz (part of the Hachette Group).

She is the author of bestselling cult novel Alison Wonderland. She writes novels, poetry, plays and screenplays and is the recipient of an Arts Council of England Award. She’s a long-term supporter of the Medical Foundation for the Victims of Torture and mentors members of an exiled writers group to help them tell their stories.

Her latest book is the dystopian thriller The Miracle Inspector.

Visit her website at http://www.emperorsclothes.co.uk.

Friend her on Twitter:  www.twitter.com/ emperorsclothes

Become a fan at Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/authorhelensmith

Friend her at Goodreads:  http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2833648.Helen_Smith

Pick up a copy of The Miracle Inspector at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Miracle-Inspector-Helen-Smith/dp/0956517056

King Arthur – History or Legend? by Donna Fletcher Crow

King Arthur, History or Legend? Arthurian Britain: The Anointing of the King

By Donna Fletcher Crow, author of ‘Glastonbury: A Novel of the Holy Grail’

The ancient tale, the one we all know and love— told by bards and minstrels in royal courts and around the fireside in simple cottages since Medieval times and retold by every generation as each age has remodeled the story to stress the qualities that age valued most, whether valorous warskill, gallant lovemaking or spiritual virtues.

The story of Arthur, the boy who would become king, whose shining kingdom of Camelot would stand as a beacon of the ideal. Was Arthur a matter of historic fact? I’m always asked.

And I reply, “Some mighty warlord won the peace and kept it for a space of time. Someone held the barbaric Saxons at bay from the west country. Someone held the kingdom for long enough that when the new rulers came they were Christian. Someone held a torch against the dark, waiting for the light. We might as well name him Arthur.”

My Arthur proclaims his goals when he is anointed by Archbishop Merlinus Dubricius at Caerleon:

Then Arthurius stood, with his queen beside him, his face shining in the light of a hundred candles from the shimmer of the anointing oil and from a radiance deep within. All were silent, as if holding their breath. Not a man to whom speech-making came naturally, Arthurius knew what he would say. “My friends, my people, I declare to you that this is Logres— the true Britain— the land of truth to which God led Joseph of Arimathea with the light of truth, the land which God’s Holy Spirit had prepared to receive His Word in the fullness of His time.

“But the dark is rising against this light as it has countless times before and will countless times after us. And as in every age men will be called on to repel this darkness in the name of the God of Light, so are we called for our age. We have been given a space of time to build in peace. So must we build well so that our space can be filled with His light that will radiate beyond our own time. Long and long have I dreamed of a land of peace where the weak are protected from the strong, where the good are triumphant over the evil. With your help, I shall go forward from here to make this dream into truth.”

And so began the Camelot years. A time of flowering for the people and for the land. But it could not be forever. AT last even the mighty Arthur received his fatal blow as he battled for the peace. Arthur and his Guenivere are laid to rest by the brothers on the Holy Isle of Avalon watched over by the faithful Baudwin, the only one of Arthur’s band of valiant knights to survive the final battle:

As the monks turned to go, Brother Breden, youngest of their number and yet not so young anymore, said, “We are so few. Are we all that is left of Logres? Does the flame flicker so dimly?”

Gildas stopped still and, for once unfrowning, turned to his brothers. “I would speak to you in comfort the words of our long gone-away Archbishop Merlinus Ambrosius Dubricius who said, ‘The light was before the dark, righteousness before evil, grace before sin. God the Creator existed before Satan the destroyer. So will light outlive dark, so is righteousness stronger than evil, so will grace overcome sin.’ The darkness closes over us, my brothers, but the light will shine again. And this light— the shining of Logres— will be remembered on the other side of the dark.”

The brothers made their silent, brown-shadowed way up the path to the chanting of their nighttime prayers in the Old Church, leaving Baudwin alone by the grave of Arthurius High King and Gwenhumara High Queen. He sat on the evening dew-damp grass and brought from the soft golden doeskin bag on his shoulder the harp he had carried with him from Camel Hill. A night thrush sang from the overhanging branch of a flowering apple tree, and he waited until her song was finished, for the bard would not stifle his sister. Then his fingers moved across the strings.

“The Summer Kingdom has gone. It could not last upon this earth. It was but a vision, a foretaste of what is to come for those who love— for those who love Him who is the King above all High Kings. His Kingdom of Summer, of peace, and of love will come for all time.” The words came out in a strange chanting to a random plucking of strings, not at all the flowing bardsong Baudwin was wont to make. Yet the words rang with conviction. They were the words he found in his heart, and he knew they were true.

“But even so the end is not yet. The evil will not triumph forever. All that you did, my Arthurius, all that you lived for, my king, will rise again. It will live for generation unto generation. It will come again and again to each age with its own truth. Truth, like light, cannot die.

“It is given unto man— even such a man as you, my Arthurius— for you were but a man— once to die. In the end, all must die. But what you lived for, lives beyond and beyond.

“The triumph will be ours.”


Donna Fletcher Crow is the author of 40 books, mostly novels dealing with British history. The award-winning Glastonbury, A Novel of the Holy Grail, an Arthurian grail search epic covering 15 centuries of English history, is her best-known work. Donna and her husband live in Boise, Idaho. They have 4 adult children and 11 grandchildren. She is an enthusiastic gardener.

Donna is also the author of The Monastery Murders: A Very Private Grave and A Darkly Hidden Truth, as well as the Lord Danvers series of Victorian true-crime novels and the romantic suspense series The Elizabeth & Richard Mysteries. To read more about all of Donna’s books and see pictures from her garden and research trips go to: www.DonnaFletcherCrow.com.

Visit her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/#!/DonnaFletcherCr.

Become her fan on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/?ref=tn_tnmn#!/pages/Donna-Fletcher-Crow-Novelist-of-British-History/355123098656.

Pick up your copy of Donna Fletcher Crow’s Glastonbury: A Novel of the Holy Grail at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Glastonbury-Novel-Holy-Grail-ebook/dp/B00846FWYG/ref=sr_1_3?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1339097353&sr=1-3

Purchase your copy of Donna Fletcher Crow’s Glastonbury: A Novel of the Holy Grail at Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/glastonbury-donna-fletcher-crow/1103281249?ean=9781581341621

Why I Love Steampunk by SM Blooding, author of THE HANDS OF TAROT

Why I Love Steampunk!

By SM Blooding

There are many reasons why I love Steampunk!

In the era Steampunk is usually written, which is the beginning of the Industrial Age, we literally thought anything was possible. We’d just seen the horse and buggy, which had been used in various stages for the past several millennia, replaced by a vehicle that worked with gears and a motor. We flew with power and control that a hot air balloon just can’t compete with. We conquered the Wild West. Women made their mark, started going to universities. We pushed railroad through unapproachable territories. The sky was the limit! The feeling of this era is intoxicating. I mean, just picture yourself in that time; watching your first movie, hearing your first radio show, going on your first airplane ride, driving a car for the first time.

I had the opportunity to talk to my grandmother when I was younger, and she was still alive, and she had all these stories. At the time, I poo-pooed what she said. I ignored the wonder in her eyes as she talked about all these things, but as I got older, I started thinking of the stories I would tell my great-great grandchildren. What had I seen? What had my generation done? Hers had won a world war. Her generation had shown the world that we were the strongest nation. Her generation dared to be different, paved paths that were previously thought to be impossible.

I think the thing that draws me the most to Steampunk is the sense of wonder. We literally thought at the beginning of the 20th century that we would have cities under the sea, that we could build cities in the air. We thought the common mode of transportation would be flying cars. We had such big dreams and huge hopes for the future.

That was the route we actually took, though. In Steampunk, we kinda follow that same path, but we veer left. We use resources that are easier on our environment, and toy with renewable energies. Instead of shooting bullets that run out, we shoot electro-static, which is, in theory, is easy to generate while it’s working.

That, I think, is the second biggest reason I love Steampunk. We have planes that flap their wings, airships that use steam. The weapons that were thought up in Steampunk works are just as interesting. Electro-static, electric-array, plasma-pistols. What you don’t typically see are expendable sources. You see vehicles that are just crazy (the spider in The Wild Wild West for instance) and can run forever, weapons that are insane and never run out of ammo.

During this time, we had some pretty ingenious inventors; Nikola Tesla, Albert Einstein, the Wright Brothers, Ida Henrietta Hyde, Andrew Alford, Henry Ford. Things were being invented on nearly a daily basis. The Band-Aid, the ballpoint pen, the radio, crayons, the light bulb, the zipper.

So when you think “Steampunk”, we’re talking about an age when anything was possible. You could be in a situation, and you need a widget in order to survive. It would be nothing to just whip up said widget using a nail, a spring, cayan powder, and a glass bottle. Presto! The widget was born!

With that, however, there are many failures, and that’s almost more fun than the things that worked. You’d find yourself in a gun fight, and your inventor hands you a pistol that doesn’t work! Remember when Grandpa would get up and smack the TV because it just stopped working? Can you even imagine smacking your TV now? Oh, no. No, no!

My Steampunk isn’t on planet earth, but the society that I wrote about in The Hands of Tarot is just breaching this age. We’re playing around with different inventions. We’re discovering what we could build, embarking on a new age. It’s a lot of fun! There are things that aren’t working so well, and a few that are. Steampunk is for the geek. It just is. If you’re a geek, a nerd, a dork, then Steampunk is for you! Take it. Own it. Geek is the new black!

The thing I love the most about Steampunk is that the heroes are scientists. That is freaking amazing!


About the Author:

SM Blooding lives in Colorado with her pet rock, Rockie, and Ms. Jack, who’s a real bird. She’s still learning to play the piano and guitar, which is going marginally better, and for those of you looking for an Arabic update, she has successfully learned one word, “Yalla, people yalla!”

She’s dated vampires, werewolves, sorcerers, weapons smugglers and US Government assassins. Yes. She has stories.

Her latest book is the YA steampunk, The Hands of Tarot.

Visit SM Blooding on the web at  www.smblooding.com.

Stop by SM Blooding’s blog at http://www.smblooding.com/blog/.

Follow SM Blooding on Twitter:  https://twitter.com/#!/SMBlooding

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Follow SM Blooding at Goodreads:  http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5234671.S_M_Blooding

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Don’t forget to check out Colorado Paranormal Rescue: http://www.coloradoparanormalrescue.com/?q=content/about-us


About the Book:

She imprisoned and beat him.

And now she thinks he’s her trophy.

Synn El’Asim will do almost anything to prove her wrong. But he’s only proving her right.

Queen Nix awakened his Mark of power and inducted him into the House of Wands. She knew what she was doing. The son of the two most powerful Families standing against her is the ultimate prize. What she didn’t take into consideration was that maybe he was too strong for her.


The Families are weakened, and it’ll take a lot more than one young man with a powerful Mark to take on…

The Hands of Tarot.

Watch the Book Trailer:

Guest Blogger: Exploring the Morales Dictatorship in Plant Teacher by Caroline Alethia

Caroline Alethia is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in newspapers, magazines, on radio and in web outlets. Her words have reached audiences on six continents. She lived in Bolivia and was a witness to many of the events described in Plant Teacher. Plant TeacherYou can visit her website at www.plantteacherthebook.net. Website | Twitter | Facebook | Amazon | Amazon Kindle Store | Official Tour Page


Hailed by Huffington Post contributor Joel Hirst as a compelling and powerful story, Plant Teacher begins in 1972 when a hippie in Oakland, California flushes a syringe of LSD down a toilet. Thirty-five years later, the wayward drug paraphernalia has found its final resting place in Los Yungas, Bolivia, the umbilical cord between the Andes and Amazonia. Enter into this picture two young Americans, Cheryl Lewis, trying to forge her future in La Paz and Martin Banzer, trying to come to terms with his past in the same city. The two form an unlikely friendship against the backdrop of a country teetering at the brink of dictatorship and revolution. Bolivia sparks the taste for adventure in both young people and Martin finds himself experimenting with indigenous hallucinogenic plants while Cheryl flits from one personal relationship to another. Meanwhile, the syringe buried in the silt in a marsh in Los Yungas will shape their destinies more than either could anticipate or desire. Plant Teacher takes its readers on a fast-paced tour from the hippie excesses of Oakland, to the great streams of the Pacific Ocean and to the countryside, cities, natural wonders and ancient ruins of Bolivia. It reveals­ the mundane and the magical, and, along the way, readers glimpse the lives of everyday Bolivians struggling to establish equanimity or merely eke out a living during drastic political crisis.

Exploring the Morales Dictatorship in Plant Teacher

By Caroline Alethia


I happened to be in Bolivia from 2007 to 2008. If you haven’t kept up with your modern Bolivian history, this time period was when President Evo Morales exerted his first heavy thrusts toward consolidating power. Within an armed encampment, and underwritten by only his supporters, Morales amended the national Constitution to extend his term limit. Thousands of people marched the streets in protest. Three of these protesters were shot and killed. City centers were crippled for weeks by hunger strikes. A governor spoke out against a disingenuous plan to federalize the government and was promptly arrested.


In the meantime, the North American media continued to report on Morales as a popular and populist leader. Brief months before the U.S. ambassador was expelled from the country, I buttoned up my educational project and returned to the United States, knowing that I needed to write about Bolivia.


The novel that followed, Plant Teacher, explores the lives of an expatriate community living in Bolivia during this troubled time. In my early forays into writing the novel, and as I fleshed out the different characters, my initial impulse was to write the story in the first person, told from the viewpoint of a young American of Bolivian descent, Martin Banzer, who travels to La Paz to explore his roots.


It soon became clear to me that there was much about Bolivia that could not be exposed through Martin’s limited impressions. To begin with, there was the country’s rich history with its indigenous and its colonial roots which Martin would have known very little about. I wanted to color Plant Teacher with native folklore and traditional narratives: the Inca creation legend; the Amerindian trichotomy of inner Earth, outer Earth, and the celestial realm.


Deciding to switch to third person in order to bring in these traditional and historic elements immediately also freed me to develop a pantheon of characters, each seeing the upheaval in Bolivia through his or her own perspective prism. I was able to delve into the fears and confusion of an orphan overwhelmed by the loss of his mother, and into the banal and very realistic life of a cleaning lady concerned mostly about staying healthy and, thus, being able to keep her job. The mestiza waitress at the tony coffee shop was able to feel roused by the president’s weekly radio address while the omnipresent cholitas—Bolivia’s bowler-capped Amerindian women—could worry about their loss of sales and the disappearance of tourists.


Additional expatriate characters also came to life with the freedom of the third person. Initially intended as the main character, Martin soon had to share the stage with two other Americans. Cheryl, a young woman drawn to Bolivia for the adventure, grew into a full-fledged main character with her own peculiarities (agnostic on religion but with a religious fervor for Austrian depth psychiatrist, Alfred Adler). Her sparring partner became Gus, an older missionary with more of an interest in economic development projects than in saving souls.


While I planned for these characters to tell the story of a Bolivia in upheaval, I found, as I progressed in my writing, that something very different happened. Like the real people I came to know during my time in this South American country, the characters in Plant Teacher come to develop an almost schizophrenic approach to life. While marchers and hunger strikers and rioters occupy the streets, Martin and Cheryl and Gus drink cappuccinos, go fishing, and write poetry. Humans, I have come to understand, need normalcy, and they will create it even—perhaps especially—under the most trying of conditions. The third person narrative allows Plant Teacher to explore individuals, communities, politics, history and culture. And, in so doing, it allows the book to tell a story that is unusual, if not unique, but also deeply real and deeply human.

Guest Blogger: What the World Needs Now – Authentic leadership by Andreas Dudas

Andreas Dudàs has more than 20 years leadership experience gained in top executive positions in over 25 countries. Visionary entrepreneur, mentor, motivational speaker & expert on authentic (life) leadership, he is the author of Do You Dare To Be Yourself? Learn more at www.andreasdudas.com.

What the World Needs Now – Authentic leadership by Andreas Dudas

On the one hand, never throughout the entire history were human beings offered such a bewildering array of opportunities to foster personal growth, accumulate wealth or build great nations. Each time I leave the new airport in New Delhi, for example, I am overwhelmed with the rapid change of the environment driven by a mind-boggling growth rate of the economy. On the other hand, never has humanity faced so much misery: A rising number of armed and violent conflicts, water and air pollution, congested highways, a rapid shift in weather conditions and the exploitation of natural resources without considering even the most basic environmental regulations.

Many scholars claim that the dramatic challenges we witness are mainly driven by two key factors: a sudden and startling surge in human population and a fast acceleration of the scientific and technological revolution, which has provided us with a sheer unimaginable power to affect the world around us. Some scholars tend to assert that new technologies, genetic engineering or other innovative products will be the keys for coping with our pressing problems. I completely disagree! Only a new leadership paradigm will remedy the current havoc.

For nearly 2000 years, the worldview has been driven by a leadership paradigm based on autonomy, separateness and control. These have also been the root metaphors influencing religion, business and science mainly in the Western world. This traditional archetype supports not only autonomy and freedom, but also control and manipulation. Nothing was wrong with such an approach, up to a point, for it was the basis for an enormous technical advancement on earth. But at the same time, this old paradigm has led us into a disaster and is now in big trouble not just that it relates to the environment, but across many fields such as politics, education and business. Already in the early 1990s, many renowned personalities emphasized that the shortcomings of command-and-control management were becoming apparent. The hierarchy of bosses organized in ranks with each superior exercising authority over subordinates who do exactly what their boss wants, has long been dominant. Many companies underwent a drastic paradigm shift in their leadership style over the last two decades. However, daily news on “poor management” suggests that not a lot of things have really changed.

What our planet needs now is a drastic shift towards a leadership paradigm embracing values such as interrelationship, cooperation, integration, balance, holism and especially love. These are exactly the values found in individuals living authentically. Such people have learned to act in accord with their core values, preferences, and needs as opposed to acting merely to please others or avoid punishments through playing a role. Such individuals have found the power of speaking up and lending a caring hand to our planet by reaching deep into their hearts. Only a huge investment of self-awareness and self-respect has nurtured their immense power to show respect for others and for the earth as a whole.

The sad news is that business, politics and education are not rewarding authenticity yet. We all are growing up in a command-and-control society, which nurtures our constant fear of not amounting to anything or loosing praise and recognition if we dare to live up to our innate principles and values. Furthermore, success in our society is still measured against the amount of money we accumulate or how fast we advance in our career, which spurs an ego-rooted rather than a heart-centered behavior. It often favors competition rather than cooperation. However, the greatest leaders of all times have set a stunning example of what one can achieve through leading from the heart. At the time of Mahatma Gandhi’s death, his personal possessions were valued at less than two dollars. His power and strength was derived from internal depths of his soul. Gandhi showed that the human heart is a source of tremendous power holding the capacity to change the course of history. We all have the birth right and even obligation to live up to our authentic self, which in turn feeds the power of living up to values so much in need, such as cooperation, appreciation and balance, and supporting a sustainable development of our planet. Since most of us stuck in the “comfort and fear zone” we need strong leaders empowering us to live authentically and promoting the strength to value respect for others. Reach deep in your heart, stand up for your true self and become one of the future leaders empowering others to reclaim their authentic presence!

Guest Blogger: Blueberries and Bowls by Kim Antieau

Mmm blueberries.  When I think of blueberries, I think of blueberry pancakes.  Or piping hot blueberry muffins.  Mmm…mmm.  Today our guest is Kim Antieau, author of Her Frozen Wild, who has written a piece about blueberries and…bowls.  Enjoy!

Kim Antieau has written many novels, short stories, poems, and essays. Her work has appeared in numerous publications, both in print and online, including The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Asimov’s SF, The Clinton Street Quarterly, The Journal of Mythic Arts, EarthFirst!, Alternet, Sage Woman, and Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine. She was the founder, editor, and publisher of Daughters of Nyx: A Magazine of Goddess Stories, Mythmaking, and Fairy Tales. Her work has twice been short-listed for the Tiptree Award, and has appeared in many Best of the Year anthologies. Critics have admired her “literary fearlessness” and her vivid language and imagination. She has had nine novels published. Her first novel, The Jigsaw Woman, is a modern classic of feminist literature. Kim lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, writer Mario Milosevic.

Her latest book is Her Frozen Wild.

Learn more about Kim and her writing at www.kimantieau.com.

Bowls & Blueberries

By Kim Antieau

I have a thing for bowls. I am sometimes particular in my lust for bowls. I like them plain without much hoopin’ and a hollerin’. I like the ones that are white on the inside, colorful on the outside, mostly. My grandma had similar bowls, for mixing fresh pie dough and decadent cake recipes.

My husband Mario brought a blue bowl into the marriage. We called it a cereal bowl. Deep, you know, so you could stir the cereal, milk, and whatnot around with a flourish. When this blue bowl broke, I was desolate. Relative desolation, of course. American desolation. “Oh, my favorite TV program went off the air” kind of desolation. Still, I missed the old thing. It never chipped, you see. I have a thing about chipped dishes. They kind of make me shudder: It’s like seeing a chipped bone.

Seriously, though, I like my bowls. I don’t buy a lot of things. For instance, I have one pair of jeans. I have two pairs of shoes. Penny loafers, which really need replacing. And a pair of running shoes that I use for hiking. I don’t buy stuff. But I have many bowls. Forty-two, I believe, counting the mixing, serving, salad, soup, and cereal bowls. The plain bowls are my favorites. These bowls are beautiful in their simplicity.

Sometimes I open the cupboard and stare at the plain bowls. Piled on top of each other. Egg yellow, split pea, plum, blue, dusty cranberry. They’re like huge open flowers, each one spooning the next. Or bowling the next, I suppose. Almost nesting, but not quite. I like the colors. I want to take photographs of them the way I take photographs of rhododendrons: up close and personal.

Every time I make something that requires using one of these bowls, I smile. I reach for one bowl, deliberately, slowly, and take it off the pile. I look inside at the translucent white well to make certain nothing untoward has dropped inside.

When my friend Linda was ill, I asked her what she wanted to eat. She wanted pumpkin pudding. So I made it, and I used one of my big bowls. Into the bowl put in pumpkin, eggs, honey, cinnamon, and my love, and I wished for her healing. Afterward, I washed out the big bowl with reverence. What a wonderful thing it was to cradle that which nourishes us—even if it was only for a short while.

The following day, I took the pudding to Linda.

The day was blue like my blue bowl. Was the sky the color of the bowl or was the bowl the color of the sky?

Linda and I sat on weather-worn benches, the dark green grass at out ankles. Swallows swooped above us, singing their watery arias. A wren sat on a small willow tree near the large bird feeder and sang to us. Flowers grew along the fence lines, wild and brightly colored. Linda said, “I need to cut the grass and weed the flowers.” She ate the pudding as she sat sheltered by the bowl of the sky, with me alongside her.

Later that night, Linda was in so much pain that she called an ambulance. I didn’t learn about this until the next day when she called to tell me she went to the hospital. She called after she was home again. I didn’t fuss over her. She hated that. I just listened. When I got off the phone I went to the cupboards, opened the doors, and stared at the bowls. They were still beautiful. Full of memory. Potential. Color.

Then I pulled out two big mixing bowls. One was split pea colored, the other was chick yellow. Mario loved my blueberry muffins. Only they weren’t muffins. That was too much fuss to pour the mixture into a muffin tin. Too much bother to clean. So I made blueberry cake. I had the recipe memorized. First I measured out two cups of rice flour and put it in the split pea bowl. I should have sifted it, but I didn’t. I dropped in two teaspoons of baking soda, and then I stirred the dry mixture together.

In the yellow bowl, I put a teaspoon of vanilla extract, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup maple syrup, and one egg. I whisked them all together, then added 3/4 cup water. I gently poured the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients.

I stirred everything together with a bamboo mixing spoon. Next, I dropped a cup (or more) of frozen blueberries into the bowl along with my love and affection. I folded the blueberries into the mixture carefully. Almost immediately the cake mixture turned blue. Not ordinary blue. But a blue-green. No, that wasn’t it. It was the color of blue that you’d imagine a mermaid’s tail would be. It was so deep and light and natural and perfect that I could only oooh and aaah. I showed it to Mario. If I were a painter, I thought, I would spend a lifetime trying to create this color. But then, why bother? Nature had already done it.

I oiled a Pyrex dish and then poured the blueberry mixture into it. I put it in the oven at 375° for about 30 minutes. I washed the mixing bowls carefully, reluctant to clean away the blueberry cosmos.

Later, I served my beloved blueberry cake. I watched Mario eating my love and affection for him along with the blueberries, egg, flour, and oil. I wondered what he would think if he knew he was eating the cosmos, too. He seemed happy as he ate.

I wished my pumpkin pudding could have made Linda happy—or eased her pain. Maybe it had for a few minutes.

Mario promised to make one of my favorite dishes on the following day: a kind of stir-fry with rice and tofu and veggies all mixed together. He would use the huge chick yellow bowl that we had not had an occasion to use yet. It would be a glorious sight, I was certain. A great feast.

“This is even better than usual,” Mario said as he ate the blueberry cake. “Did you do anything different?”

I smiled. “It’s the bowls, darlin’. It’s the bowls.”

copyright © 2012 by Kim Antieau. All rights reserved.


Guest Blogger: Noah Baird author of ‘Donations to Clarity’ tells us how lying will make us better writers

Noah Baird wanted to attend the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Clown College, but his grades weren’t good enough (who knew?).  However, his grades were good enough to fly for the U.S. Navy (again, who knew?), where he spent 14 years until the government figured out surfers don’t make the best military aviators. He has also tried to be a stand-up comedian in Hawaii for Japanese tourists where the language barrier really screwed up some great jokes. On the bright side, a sailboat was named after the punchline of one of his jokes.

He has several political satire pieces published on The Spoof under the pen name orioncrew.  Noah received his bachelors in Historical and Political Sciences from Chaminade University, where he graduated magna cum laude. He knows nothing about hoaxing Bigfoot. Donations to Clarity is his first novel.

You can visit his website at www.noahbaird.com or his blog at www.noahbaird.wordpress.com.

Connect with him at Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Noah-Baird-Writer/100193913390453.

About Donations to Clarity

The plan was simple: hoax bigfoot, then sell tours to bigfoot enthusiasts. The plan wasn’t brilliant, and neither were Harry, Earl, and Patch. The three chemical-abusing friends only wanted to avoid the 9 to 5 rat race, but their antics attract the attention of a real bigfoot. When the misogynistic Earl is mistaken for a female bigfoot by the nearsighted creature and captured; it is just the beginning of their problems.

The U.S. Government has a plan to naturalize the mythical creatures living within the U.S. borders.  The problem is the plan needs to be carried out carefully.  You can’t just drop little green men and Sasquatch in the middle of Walmart without warning Ma and Pa Taxpayer. The naturalization program is not ready to be set into motion, and the rogue bigfoot is bringing too much attention to itself, including a feisty investigative reporter who uncovers the truth of the government conspiracy and two bigfoot researchers. No longer able to contain the situation, government agents are tasked with eliminating the bigfoot and all witnesses.

Between bong hits and water balloon fights, Harry and Patch come up with a plan to save Earl and the lovestruck bigfoot. Where do you hide a giant, mythical creature? In an insane asylum, because who is going to listen to them?

Along the way, the three friends learn Star Wars was a government training film for children, the truth behind Elvis meeting President Nixon, and the significance of the weight of the human turd.

How Lying Will Make Us Better Writers

By Noah Baird

Hi, everyone! I’m Noah Baird, author of Donations to Clarity. Today, I am guest blogging for As the Pages Turn.

Today we are going to talk about lying. I used to be a liar; now I write fiction. I lied so well someone published me. That means I have a black belt in telling lies. I am a Jedi Master of Bull.

You’ve been told your entire life not to tell a lie. As children, we held George Washington is great esteem because he could not tell a lie. Turns out, that whole little story about George was itself a big lie. We were told a lie to teach us not to lie. So, pull up your big-boy pants, and start squeezing that bs gland.

Lying will make you a better writer. Not those little ‘white lies’ we tell each other. I don’t mean when you tell your wife she looks great in those new jeans, or when you tell the neighbors how cute their mutant children are. I mean a gigantic, steaming pile of a lie. The kind of lies you can barely keep a straight face telling. Lies so big you feel sorry for anyone who believes you.

Mark Twain said, or at least he’s credited for saying, “Why shouldn’t truth be stranger than fiction? Fiction, after all, has to make sense.” The same goes for a lie. Have you ever heard a young child lie? Small children lie so poorly it is hardly worth listening to. It’s not until we are teenagers that our skill at lying becomes believable. And it’s not until we start drinking that they start becoming truly entertaining.

To write fiction is to lie. We pull the threads of bs out of the ethereal and weave the fabric of fibbery. If you want to write fiction that is believable, then you need to lie with conviction.

I lie to my children nearly everyday. I’ve told them lies, they have repeated my lies in school, and I get phone calls from stern-sounding teachers wanting to discuss their concerns about my fibbing children. That was another lie; my ex-wife gets phone calls from the teachers. I just get the talk.

I once told my son, who was attending preschool at a Presbyterian church, the reason we celebrated the Easter Bunny was because when Jesus died and was buried in a cave, an egg-shaped rock was placed in front of the cave so Jesus couldn’t get out. The Easter Bunny pushed the rock away from the cave and saved J.C. The chocolate symbolizes the wood of the crucifixion. We got a very nice phone call from the school to discuss what I’m teaching the children.

Sometimes I lie because my children ask far too many questions for their size. I have two little boys, 4 and 7, who are bubbling fountains of questions. Sometimes I lie because I don’t know the correct answer, but usually I lie because it’s a lot more fun.

One day while shaving, flanked by both boys quizzing me on my shaving ritual, my oldest asked me, “Dad, why do you grow hair all over your body and mommy doesn’t?” I crouched down to their level, looked them both in the eyes, and very seriously explained to them I was a werewolf. I had to shave because some people are afraid of werewolves, and I didn’t want to scare them. I watched as their eyes grew big. They both nodded obediently when I explained this was a big secret and they shouldn’t tell people I was a werewolf.

Here are the facts as I described them:

  • My hair is brown when I’m a werewolf (they asked).
  • I don’t transform in front of them because I’m afraid it would scare them.
  • I won’t eat the dog.
  • I became a werewolf when I was bitten by a werewolf when I was a boy. That makes me a 2nd Generation Werewolf.
  • They may also be werewolves, but they usually won’t show until they are teenagers. They would only be half werewolf because their mother doesn’t like this werewolf business. That would make them 3rd Generation Werewolves.
  • They may show signs early. I instructed them to check their feet when they woke up after a full moon. If their feet were dirty, then they were out howling at the moon.

At this point, the reader should expect a story about frightened children who could not sleep; afraid of the werewolf dad prowling around in the dark. My lie had the opposite effect: it stopped the bad dreams, monsters in the closet, and moving shadows on the wall. I hadn’t made the connection until I overheard the boys playing. My oldest, speaking as the elder statesman of the two, wished the boogyman would break into our house so I could transform into a werewolf and scare him away. My youngest speculated I would only need to show the boogyman my claws and roar, and the boogyman would never scare another kid again.

My double life as a werewolf has been the answer to numerous prepubescent concerns. Vampires? Werewolves and vampires don’t bite each other’s children because we are equally strong. A vampire attacking a werewolf’s pups would be inviting an attack on their children. Peace is maintained through equal power; the Cold War with fangs. Zombies? Werewolves don’t taste good to zombies so they stay away from us. Of course, no self-respecting werewolf would ever eat a zombie. That’s just disgusting.

My oldest is now at the stage where he’s excessively fascinated with guns, war, and all about my military experience. Enter the werewolf; I fought in the Great Werewolf-Zombie War. Werewolves and Vampires rounded up all of the zombies and locked them into underground bunkers (because you can’t kill zombies. Duh!). You try to explain the U.S.’s foreign policy in the 21st century to a four year old. There are people running for president who can’t explain why we’re in Afghanistan.

Now, at this point, you are probably thinking: Noah, lying to children isn’t hard. And you are correct. I lie to adults too.

Many years ago, I was teaching an oceanography class to some young men and women who were working for the U.S. government. This particular portion of the lecture covered topics such as plate tectonics and Mohorovičić Discontinuity (In scientific terms, Mohorovičić Discontinuity is the surfboard the land rides over the mantle). Because I wasn’t as familiar with the subject matter as I needed to be, as well as the students’ insistence on asking too many damn questions, I convinced them the reason the earth’s core was liquid was because of the ‘Half-Baked Brownie Effect.’ Never heard of the ‘Half-Baked Brownie Effect’? Well, I’ll explain it to you. The reason the earth’s core is liquid is because the earth is too far from the sun to bake all of the way through. Space is cold, right? So as the earth rotates around the sun, the dark side of the earth cools off, which causes the center to never fully bake. As far as I know, there are about thirty people working for our government who believe this to be true. The next time you hear of the government pushing another head-scratching policy; just remember this story. You’re welcome.

On a road trip with my wife-at-the-time, we drove from New York into Pennsylvania. We passed a sign along the highway welcoming us to Pennsylvania, and about a half mile down the road we pass the back of the ‘Welcome to New York’ sign. My then-wife turned to me and asked why there was such a large distance between the two signs. I explained to my soon-to-be-ex-wife that the ink on maps which demarcate the boundaries between states occupies physical space on the earth. That narrow ink line on the map was about a half of a mile wide on the earth. This is where the term ‘No Man’s Land’ comes from. My ex-bride-to-be pointed out there was houses in the space between the two state borders. I explained those houses belonged to whatever state was closest to the house’s master bedroom. Houses on the north side of the street were New York. Houses on the south side were Pennsylvania. If your bedroom faced east or west, then you flipped a coin to decide what state you paid taxes to.

As far as I know, she still believes this to be true.

Before I was married, I owned a dog. After getting married, it was decided by my future-ex-Mrs. Me that I should be the one to bathe the dog. Which meant the dog usually needed a bath. One day, apparently sick and tired of sharing a house with a filthy dog, my no-longer-wife called me at work to ask me how to bath the dog. I explained everything she needed to know about washing dogs, which consisted of: “You know what you do to your hair in the shower? Do that to the dog.” I did add one itty-bitty, teensy-weensy, little fib to the end of my instruction. I told her she had to squeeze the dog’s anal glands. All she had to do was squeeze each side of his little doggy butthole until everything that was going to come out was done coming out. She responded that she didn’t want to express the dog’s anal glands. I went on to assure her I did it all of the time. The truth is: I’ve never done it once; the dog follows me around enough as it is.

If you want to write believable fiction, you need to learn to tell an outrageous lie. Lying teaches you to create plausible falsehoods to support your bs. In Jurassic Park, Michael Crichton didn’t write, “I don’t know what happened, honey. I turned on the lights and there were a bunch of dinosaurs everywhere!” He explained, in detail, how fossilized dinosaur DNA, when fused to amphibian DNA, could be used to clone dinosaurs. It was a huge lie and we loved every bologna-scented second of it. As you create your fictional world, learn to fabricate the rationale which allows your fictional world to exist. The more plausible your fiction is, the more realistic it will feel to your reader. Trust me. I wouldn’t lie to you. Now get out there and lie to someone.

There really isn’t a point to the dog story except I laugh myself silly every time I think about it. I would like to tell you I called my ex-wife back before she molested the dog. I would like you to believe that I am not the kind of person who would think my bride-at-the-time had better things to do than milk the dog’s anus. Let’s just say that isn’t the reason she left, but it was on the list.

“Carlyle said ‘a lie cannot live.’ It shows that he did not know how to tell them.”

-  Mark Twain’s Autobiography; Mark Twain in Eruption

“’Tis immoral to lie except for practice.”

- Mark Twain; Reported in the Washington Times.


Guest Blogger: 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Glorify Each Day by John Banks

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Glorify Each Day

 By John Banks

  1. A few small parts of the novel are my own little tribute to the television show Lost.  I became pretty well obsessed with the show (although I must admit that I was very disappointed with the story arc during its final season – but that would be another blog post!).  Although nothing in Glorify Each Day has anything to do with time travel, desert islands or smoke monsters, I started writing it as the show was winding down and I thought it would be fun to insert at least a little bit of the show into the novel.  I’ll leave it up to the readers to spot some of the references, but I will say that two of the important characters’ names come indirectly from the show.
  2. Another (very minor) tribute in the novel is to Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace.  I had just finished reading it before starting Glorify.  There is a character in Infinite Jest named John Wayne, and, of course, anyone reading it will understand the reference to the All-American cowboy hero (never mind the fact that Wallace’s John Wayne is Canadian!).  I thought it would be funny to insert my own ultra-conservative take-no-prisoners cowboy-type character name into my novel, so I named one of my characters Oliver North – certainly not as well-known and archetypal as John Wayne, but just a little doff of the chapeau to the late, great Wallace.
  3. My family had a Chihuahua when I was a boy, but I was always very nice to the little critter!
  4. The reason I wrote a “dirty” version of Abbott and Costello’s “Who’s On First” bit is that I was amazed that it apparently had never been done before.  When I first got the idea, I went to the internet and assumed I would find information on the Smothers Brothers or Cheech and Chong or someone I had never heard of doing some raunchy version of that famous comedy routine.  It seemed like such an obvious thing to do, given the skit’s fame, and I still assume that someone, somewhere, has done something similar to what I do with Teach and his dad and their little skit.  But I had to do it within the context of the larger story I was telling, so I used it as a way of bridging the gap between Teach and his dad, of Teach expressing his forgiveness of his dad the only way he knew how to do it.
  5. I also wanted to do a send-up of the popular late-night talk shows, which are, in my opinion, slow-paced to the point of being boring.  I attribute that to the pressures of having to do five shows a week – I’m sure it’s enormously difficult to come up with quality material for that much airtime, so it’s natural to want to slow things down and stretch the humor out as thinly as possible.  I decided to pick on David Letterman, though all these shows are guilty of the same crime.
  6. I have no idea how Tyroniko Huy’s name is pronounced.  But then again, you probably wouldn’t find out from him, either!  I do, however, know how to pronounce “Toxononomonee.”
  7. Since researching this book, I now know more about opossums than I really want to.
  8. The hardest part of the novel for me to write was probably all the little jokes that Tommy and Cait scribble to each other in college.  It wasn’t easy thinking up all of those jokes.  As actors always say, anyone can do drama – it’s comedy that’s hard.
  9. The first page I wrote for the novel was the very last part of the scene with Tommy and Charles at the river.  It provided the emotional framework for the whole story, of how it is possible for someone to do something so dreadful that it haunts the rest of his life.  Everything else followed from that.  And the first parts of that scene were written long after the last part.  I knew how the scene was going to end long before I knew how it was going to begin!
  10. The last thing I wrote for the novel (not counting the numerous edits and rewrites) was the painful break-up scene between Tommy and Cait.  I procrastinated writing that scene for as long as I could, for the simple fact that I hated the idea of breaking up such a wonderful love affair, but I knew it had to be done!

John Banks was born in Asheville, NC.  His storytelling is very much in the Southern tradition, with a special affinity for humorists such as Mark Twain and the Old Southwest school of writers.  Though entirely imaginary, much of the material in Glorify Each Day must have come from his many years as a teacher in the public schools and community colleges of his native state and from the three years he spent as an a community college administrator.

Visit his website at www.819publishing.com or his Facebook Fan Page here.