Sunday, December 28, 2008

Happy Holidays

I had a wonderful Christmas and hope all of you did as well. I didn't have any big ticket items on my list--in fact, my list was very short this year. A sure sign of contentment. What I wanted was my family close, my friends near, and a lot of love. And being one of the luckiest women in the world, I got it. Christmas Eve day was spent with my husband and daughters. As we've done every year since they were little, we went to the movies and saw Yes, Man. It was very funny and the perfect movie for the perfect day. We started this tradition because when we first moved to Arizona, we had no family or friends to spend the holidays with and Christmas Eve always seemed to last forever, just waiting for the festivities to begin.

After the movie, we raced home, prepared some snacks, wrapped those last minute presents and then the doorbell began to ring. Christmas Eve was spent with the family I have in town (and wishes for the family I don't have near to be here) and a few of our closest friends. We gathered, played games and had a wonderful evening. Christmas morning everyone came back for an enormous breakfast of bacon, eggs and waffles (until my waffle finally gave up the ghost). Then everyone went home to lounge on a rainy day in front of their fires and enjoy some down time, just doing whatever. I have so much to be thankful for and I took the time to count blessings.

Hope you all had as fun a day as I did.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Sucks in Success

Just kidding. There is no sucks in success even though sometimes it may feel that way. What do I mean? Well, for example, having a writing career means I don't have Saturday and Sunday mornings to lounge around and watch the news and read the paper. Am I sad about that? Absolutely not. My relationship with writing has been one of the most rewarding in my life. It challenges me daily, forces me to grow and takes me to a place I've never been before. Some days I love it. Some days I hate it. Some days I'm even ambivalent. But in the end, I've proven time and again, it's not something I'll ever give up.

Writing has taught me not to let outside judgement penetrate my skin. This was a huge lesson for me because I'd always been open to criticism and taken it all to heart. Through the agonizing business of trying to get published, I've learned that opinion is just that--opinion. It's a simple lesson, but for those of us who have been ruled by the need to please everyone, learning that not only can it not be done, but that it's not even necessary was a life changing experience. I am stronger person because of my willingness to let others like or dislike me. And I wouldn't have reached this point if I hadn't endured the countless rejection letters from agents and editors which all came to mean nothing when I finally hit the yes and my books began to sell and readers began to write to tell me they loved my stories.

I can only be what I can be. And no that's not a marine, (I'm a wee bit old for that). But it's a better person.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Giving back this season

My computer has been at the doctor and it's been really hard surviving without it. But now it's back (yay) and I'm back in business. Are you all as stunned that it's already December as I am? Not only is it December, but Monday marks the half way point. I know they say the older you get the faster time goes, but geez. Stop the bus!

Even though life is busy, I am filled with the spirit of giving. I haven't done much of my shopping but I have dropped a dollar in every Salvation Army bell-ringers basket I pass. And I thought it was time to reflect on the year and what I've done that really makes a difference.

This year I was part of a very cool program at work. Intel (do-do-do-doo--that was their little trademark jingle in case you were wondering) launched a program this year which challenged all their employees to volunteer one MILLION hours world wide. Guess what? We did it. And not only did all those non-profits and schools get volunteer hours, but Intel is also paying them for the hours the employees worked. It's a beautiful thing that really made me proud of my contributions to this trend setting company. I may complain a lot about how it's sucking the life out of me--and I still feel like it is sometimes--but when I look at this major accomplishment I am proud.

I hope what Intel did challenges other major corporations to look at their commitment to social responsibility and start giving back as well. I know not every company can afford to dish out the money to pay for volunteers, but there's not a company in the world that couldn't give 4 hours a quarter, bi-annually or even once a year to have their employees do some volunteer event. The rewards are tremendous. Employees want to feel good about where they work and teaming up to help the local Y, or the under-funded school down the street, or clean up a park so kids don't have to play in a trashy place--these small gestures really fill the heart.

On top of the volunteering I do on my own, my business group within my company also adopts a under privileged school and we mentor, help upgrade their PCs, and assist in other ways. And every holiday season we do a toy drive and deliver presents to each and every student in the school. I get choked up just thinking about it. If you've never done something like this, I'm here to tell you, it will change your life.

So this holiday season, I hope you'll find the spirit within yourself. It may be too late to organize a holiday event for your team at work, but there are still a lot of organizations that need your help. You don't have to spend Christmas day at the soup kitchen (although that's a great thing to do) but just reach out. You'll be surprise at how many hands you'll find reaching back. And think about next year. What can you do in your company to make a difference in the community where you work. Start the ball rolling and get others involved to help keep it moving. If you don't know where to start, get in touch with me and I'll help. It's truly a beautiful thing.