You are the Captain!

Sometimes I look around and wonder: where is honesty and where is truth? I think all of us probably put on a mask to face the world with, whether it is thick or paper thin, sturdy or flimsy. If we think that the face we show to everyone else is the face that we see when we dare to really look inside ourselves. . .well, I think we’re lying to ourselves. And that never gets you anywhere, does it? Was it not John Keats, the poet, who said the oft-repeated phrase, “Beauty is truth, truth beauty–that is all/Ye know on earth, all ye need to know.” Yet T. S. Eliot felt these simple yet profound words detracted from the rest of Keats’ Ode on a Grecian Urn.  You don’t have to have lived very long on this planet to understand that you need to know a lot more than this in order to survive. The world can be a brutal place and people can be ruthless. Were I to tell you otherwise, I would be simply giving you the false impression that the world is a warm and loving place. Yes, it can be. But is it? And if it isn’t, why is it not? Why aren’t more people living fulfilled lives? Where are the people who are living richly, fully, happily, and successfully? Why aren’t there more of them?

Well, have you ever heard of the fight or flight response?? Sure you have. In fact, I would imagine that you have chosen to react to at least one situation in your life in the past year by either fighting it or running away from it? Am I right? If not, think back to a time when you did, in fact, try to fight back at someone or something? Why did you do it? Underneath all that anger and resentment and, yes, even hate, was there possibly. . .if I’m wrong, don’t get upset. . .but could there not have been just a tiny bit of fear? In other words, did you use anger to mask the fact that you were actually apprehensive, that you really felt afraid? When you were a child and your mother or father didn’t buy you a toy that you wanted, for example, and you got angry at them, couldn’t you have also been afraid that them not giving you something you really wanted meant that they didn’t love you as much as they should? Think about it. And later on, when that girl or guy whom you wanted to go out with in high school never seemed to reciprocate your attention, what made you decide to start avoiding them? Wasn’t it fear? Weren’t you afraid of being hurt?

Well, you’re probably not in high school right now. . .and, if you are, I applaud you for being willing to start making the changes that will enable you to create the life of your dreams at such a young age. But whether you are in high school or it’s been several decades since you finished high school, the insight your Success Diva is giving you will always be applicable. That same anger that you felt when you were a child. . . and that same fear (and maybe anger, too) that you felt when you were a teenager. . .well, these are two emotions that are still ruling your world, to a large extent. “What?” you say, “Success Diva is saying I’m driven by anger and fear! Well, she’s going too far this time!” No, I’m not going far enough. This is just the tip of the iceberg that hit the Titanic as far as these two emotions are concerned. I will be talking about them more and more as I continue becoming more and more a part of your life. You see, The Success Diva has been driven by anger and fear, too, along with other things such as hate, resentment, contempt, vindictiveness, and other negative emotions.  There was a time when the only way I knew to react to being hurt or mistreated by someone was to get angry. There were times when I would get comments such as “Well, you’ve got a temper to match the color of your hair,” and I knew those comments were valid, although I dislike redheads being automatically labelled as “short-tempered.” The thing about it is, my hair is still red. However, I rarely get angry anymore, and, when I do, I find ways to eliminate it before it injures me or someone else. I know you’re probably thinking that I’m making it sound awfully easy to stop letting a destructive emotion control your actions.  “You just don’t know the sorts of people I’ve had to deal with,” you might want to tell me. Well, The Success Diva has encountered all sorts of people in her life. . .and, let me assure you, at least half of them have not had a positive or healthy influence on me. In fact, I have known people that would very nearly make an angel throw away her halo and buy a pitchfork and a pair of devil’s horns instead. Not that this would do an angel any good, of course—merely buying a costume won’t change a person’s behavior. And this brings me back to what I said about all of us wearing masks in the beginning of this post. Just because we wear a mask of  happiness or joy or love or peace or compassion or strength—well, if we don’t actually feel any of those emotions inside, our behavior will not consistently reflect those feelings. Many people say that you have to love and accept yourself before you can give love to anyone else. And you know what? I think they’re right. This is probably why so many women say that becoming a mother is the most extraordinary and important experience of their lives. In learning to love the child growing within themselves, they begin to have a certain love and respect for themselves as women. Then, when they finally give birth to that child, their hearts are overflowing with a love that may well have been there all the time, but has never had a viable outlet before. I’m not saying that every woman who becomes a mother starts loving herself. What I am saying is that a woman often considers that she has finally accomplished something worthwhile when she brings new life into the world. And this new feeling of self-worth brings with it a certain amount of self-love.  But if you love yourself does this mean that you don’t get angry or that you suddenly don’t experience any negative emotions?? Of course not. What it can mean, however, is that you begin to understand that those destructive emotions that you thought were just hurting other people are really hurting you. “It’s worth hurting myself, though, if I can get back at so-and-so,” you say. Whoa. Wait a minute. What did you just say? You’re telling me that it’s worth depriving yourself of joy, happiness, peace, and love just so that you can prove something to someone else? You’re saying that if you can just pay him/her/ them back for whatever he/she/them said or to you, it’s worth becoming a toxic person for a little while? You see, toxic people are toxic to themselves, first and foremost. They don’t usually realize this fully enough, but when a toxic person loses his/her temper and says or does things that are cruel, hurtful, or abusive, what he/she is really doing is demonstrating how little control they have over themselves and their own behavior. This is something I have come to realize in recent years and especially during the past several months. If I get angry at someone who mistreats me, what I’m really doing is allowing them to control  me. So, not only have they attempted to victimize me with their mistreatment. . .but I am continuing to play the role of ‘the victim’ by letting myself be driven by negative emotions that they evoked. So, I’ve given up my power and I’m basically a chess piece in someone else’s game. Is this what you want to be? I know it can’t possibly be, or you wouldn’t be reading the Success Diva’s blog. I fully believe that you want to be the one steering your own ship—and I also think that you’re willing to buy, borrow or find the necessary equipment to build that ship. Hey, it’s the ship of your dreams, after all. It will take you anywhere you choose to go. It can take you away from the life of your dreams. . .or it can steer you towards it. You are the Captain. I’m just there to encourage and inspire you.

I have been asked before by people who are curious about why their lives are not going the way they want them to, which emotion I feel is the most inhibiting of any that a person can feel. In other words, if I had to name just one thing that is standing between a person and the life he/she desires, what would it be?? The answer is simple yet people are often surprised when they hear it. It’s fear. Fear is what makes a person feel that they have to hold onto the life they’ve got, the job they’ve got, the spouse they’re married to, the boyfriend/girlfriend they’re with, or the career they’ve spent so many years pursuing but never really have liked. Fear is what makes a person not get on an airplane, even when deep within themselves they’d love to travel around the world. Fear is what prevents you from grabbing half the opportunties that come your way. It’s both insidious and deadly, and until you find a way to move beyond it, you will never have any lasting happiness or success in your life.  “But don’t I need to get rid of the fear?,” you ask. “Can just moving beyond it be enough?” Well, the truth is, fear is something you will always feel no matter how badly you want to never experience it again. Why? Because life is full of new experiences, and there are bound to be some experiences that will challenge you and overwhelm you if you are going to create the life of your dreams. If, for example, one of your dreams is to go sky-diving, do you really think you won’t experience any fear if you decide to make this dream a reality?? Of course you’ll experience fear. The situation is, when your passion for something—whether it be a career, a job, or a person whom you are madly in love with—becomes more powerful than your fear, you will automatically move past it and embrace whatever it is you really desire. Now generally, in life, the sort of passion that is able to conquer fear isn’t something that you feel on a regular basis. It’s something that you feel every now and then, when you ask your girlfriend to marry you or when you go on a rollercoaster ride at your local amusement park. It isn’t something you are accustomed to feeling every single day. And this is one reason you aren’t living the life of your dreams. You are living with fear, whether you realize it or not. You’re afraid that you’ll fail. You’re afraid that you don’t have what it takes to succeed, whether it be in your career or in an important personal relationship. You think to yourself, “How could someone like me ever make a go of this?” or “Why would he/she ever seriously be interested in me?” Well, what you have to do is understand that there are some opportunities that will only come your way once. . .and if you don’t snatch them now, they may never show up again. You have to be willing to grab happiness or success or love sometimes. You have to believe that it will ultimately make you feel more worthwhile if you should go for it, even if you don’t get it. “But I’m really not a very worthy person,” you say, “I mean, I don’t really deserve happiness or success or love or all these great things you’re talking about, Success Diva.” Really? Who says? Have you been keeping company with toxic people who think they have the right to tell you what you are or are not capable of? Or have you been saying such things to yourself for so long that you have actually started to believe them? Which is it? I can safely assume that when you were a child of five or six you weren’t under the impression that you weren’t “worthy” or “deserving” enough to be happy or feel loved. You know your Success Diva is right about this. When you were a kid, there were moments when you probably think that nearly anything was possible. At the very least, I’m sure that you would have thought that you deserved a happy, rich, joyful, and successful life.

So, what happened?? Well, you see, when you are a kid the world didn’t seem like a cruel, brutal, dark, and cold place to you. You looked at birds and butterflies with your eyes wide open. . .you noticed the sun rising and setting and you loved the feeling of rain against your skin. You weren’t worried that you weren’t carrying around an umbrella! And you didn’t even think about sun-screen (don’t get me wrong—sun-screen is essential to protect against sun damage and skin cancer). Also, when your mother or  grandmother made a batch of fresh chocolate chip cookies you weren’t thinking, “I wonder how many calories each cookie has in it.” No, you were enjoying every morsel of those cookies. But somewhere between then and now you’ve come to see the world in an entirely different light. You generally feel guilty if you eat too many cookies now, and you no longer really think about when the sun sets or when it rises. Around some hour of the morning it gets light outside. . .and around some hour of the evening it gets dark. As for rain? Well, it’s something that creates problems when you’re trying to get somewhere in a rush. It causes more traffic. Plus, your hair might start frizzing. . .and, my goodness, what about that new pair of shoes you’re wearing? See what I mean?  There are lots of things that you actually feel fear about without being aware of it. Yet I would wager that you do drive in the rain and that you do eat too many cookies every now and then. I would also say that some of you have ruined more than one pair of shoes, either by walking in rain, mud, or snow. I know I have. I ruined a pair of shoes by picking persimmons of a tree a few years ago. I didn’t realize that there was so much mud around those trees. . and, well, I had been to a symphony concert earlier that night and I was all dressed up. But do you know what’s interesting? I no longer think much about those shoes I ruined. However, I will always have the memory of picking persimmons off persimmon trees with my mother one late night in October. And life becomes more meaningful when you have moments that are memorable. If you simply exist, never taking any risks and never accepting any opportunity that comes your way unless it seems “safe,” then you are always going to exist. You will never be fulfilled. . .and you will never live the life of your dreams. Never?? That’s right—never.

So, take that fear and use it. To feel fearful all the time takes a whole lot of energy. But you can take that same energy and use it in a different way. You can use it to feel passion and enthusiasm and determination. Instead of being afraid to do something, choose to be adventurous. Even if there’s still some fear deep inside you, choose to see it as a tool rather than as a hindrance. It can actually help you, believe it or not. It can force you to be a stronger person—it can make you more determined. And, when you see that there was really nothing to be afraid about all along, you’ll become less and less fearful. Now as I said previously, you will never completely obliterate all fear from your life.  However, with enough practice and enough advice from your Success Diva, you will not only work around it, but you will also find a way to channel it effectively.

Well, it’s way after midnight here in Atlanta, and even though the Success Diva is a self-proclaimed ‘night owl,’ she’s going to have to wait for another post to say more. But she does encourage you to start implementing the suggestions she’s giving you in this post—namely, to start using your fear in a positive way and to start responding in a mature, effective, and productive way to those toxic people, rather than reacting with emotions that are destructive to you, such as hate, anger, contempt, and resentment.

Until later. . .live each moment of your life with passion and enthusiasm!

Your Success Diva

successdiva7@yahoo.com

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How badly do you want it?

Have you ever noticed how some people seem to get all the lucky breaks? Have you noticed how opportunities come their way that you honestly don’t think they deserve? Do you ever feel almost humiliated by seeing others succeed where you have failed, even though you know that they aren’t nearly as smart, savvy, and gifted as you are? And do you feel guilty because you are envious of their success? I know I’ve been in this sort of situation before, and I can tell you, it’s not a scenario you want to see happening in your life again and again. At least, I assume it isn’t. . .or you wouldn’t be here, at Success Diva’s blog.

So. . .why do you think this is? That is, why are people who don’t have even half of your potential getting the opportunties that you would like? Why is your best friend with the woman or man that you would like to be dating, living with, or married to?? Is it because they’re just blessed by the gods, by some unseen deity that has magically given them all their heart’s desires, like Cinderella, whose path from rags to riches was aided by the help of a benevolent fairy godmother? No. You and I both know that ‘luck’ is a word that we use when we haven’t spent a lot of time analyzing why good fortune befalls someone else. . .or even, for that matter, befalls us. It is a bit of a catch-all word, and it’s probably not beneficial to use it too often because true luck is much rarer than you might think. What luck usually is just happens to be. . .and even if this sounds unbelievable, think about it and I suspect you’ll come to see I’m right. . .what we call luck is usually preparation that meets opportunity.  Now the classic film actress, Lana Turner, supposedly was discovered in a drug store—while she was sipping an ice cream soda, I believe. But guess what? It just so happens that, in spite of being thought by many as simply a “sex symbol” and “a dumb blonde,” Lana Turner was a very wise and calculating business woman, who managed her career in a way that few female movie stars of her time were able to match. She may have been initially thought of as merely a “Sweater Girl,” but she went on to have a career that lasted through the 1960s, and when you look at her unforgettable performances in such movies as the stunning film adaptation of James Cain’s  novella, The Postman Always Rings Twice, it’s easy to see why Lana Turner was not only a legend in her own time. . .but in our time, as well.  There are always things to be learned from those who are at the top of their chosen field, and I would advise making sure that you know at least one or two persons who are extremely successful in whatever career you are either pursuing or are currently sustaining. Do not be shy about asking Mr. or Ms. Top-of-Their-Field about how they achieved all that they have accomplished. Shyness can be very charming in personal relationships, particularly in relationships with the opposite sex (or, if you are gay, then with the same sex, but on a romantic level). However, when it comes to your career, banish shyness as if it were lethal! This doesn’t mean you are supposed to come across as a steamroller. You are never going to be able to get people to be interested in giving you their time or attention if you pursue them like a bee going after a pot of honey. Subtlety is very useful as well as tact. Also, no matter how unsuccessful you feel you are, there is no point in lavishing the person you admire with too much praise. For example, if you are an aspiring novelist and you manage to strike up an acqaintanceship (or friendship) with a successfully published author, do not treat him or her as if they were superhuman. I assure you that he/she is a mere mortal, just as you and I and everyone else is. During my career as a stage actress, I was always meeting directors and other actors that people I knew seemed to be intimidated by. I was even told, at one point, “You mustn’t let so-and-so intimidate you,” even though I gave no indication of being intimidated by the person in question. People will simply assume that if you haven’t reached the pinnacle of success in your field that someone else has, you will be intimidated or in awe of that immensely accomplished person. But here’s a bit of advice that you must store in your memory bank: Never be in awe of anyone or anything. The minute you start feeling yourself inclined to be in awe of a person or a thing, you will immediately diminish your own power. You will begin to behave awkwardly and/or nervously, and you will probably end up making some unneccessary blunders. When you meet someone famous or widely recognized, treat them just as if they were anyone else. If you are accustomed to smiling and introducing yourself, do so. If you usually extend your hand when you meet an ‘ordinary’ person, extend your hand to the Mr. or Ms. Top-of-Their Field. Look, I don’t care if you’re a film actress who has only gotten bit parts thus far and you end up in a conversation with Julia Roberts, act nonchalant . Be courteous, compliment the person on something they’ve accomplished (and be as specific as you can, since this will lend an aura of sincerity to your compliment), but do not tremble, giggle anxiously, shift your weight from one foot to the other, or demonstrate any body language that would indicate you were in some way overwhelmed.

The sitatuation is, whether you think this is true or not, the main reason that person has gotten where you want to go but haven’t yet gotten to is because that is how badly they wanted whatever it is they got. What?, you ask, shaking your head with incredulity. Do you mean to say that Success Diva is saying that I can write as well as Salman Rushdie even though I haven’t yet even managed to have one of my short stories published? Of course that’s not what I’m saying. Success Diva isn’t irrational—and she isn’t going to feed you any lies, even if you would like her to. When I say that Mr. or Ms. Top-of-Their Field got where they wanted to go because of how badly they wanted to get there, I mean several different things, and I will go through them one by one. It may take more than one blog post for me to address this issue, and if it does, I don’t mind because this is one of the most important lessons your Success Diva can teach you. To want something badly enough to get it means you will do almost anything to get it. Am I making sense? And, no, I’m not suggesting that you make a pact with the devil. This blog isn’t going to give you any. . .well, spiritual advice (*wink*).

What I am saying is that to make your dreams come true and accomplish the goals that are important to you, you are going to have to decide what the thing you want so much is worth to you. What sacrifices would you have to make in your life to get the career you would like to have, find your ideal job, or marry or be in a committed relationship with the man/woman of your dreams? What would you  have to be willing to give up? Do you know? Would you have to stop drinking so much? If alcohol is an addiction, would you have to be willing to give it  up? Would you have to stop letting distractions prevent you from focusing on the novel you’re trying to write? Would you have to turn off your TV for at least 22 hours out of every 24-hour day? Or would you have to turn off the TV entirely? Would you have to stop eating anything you like and start making wiser and more nourishing dietary choices? Might you need to join a gym or a health club? Or, looking at things from a more serious perspective, might you have to give up a job you have now but realize has no future, even if you’re out of work for awhile? If you have an active social life, might you have to start staying at home more? If you’re in a relationship that isn’t healthy or happy at the moment, will you have to break it off if you ever want to be with someone whom you are truly compatible with?? These would all be tough choices to have to make. . .but, hey, you’re reading Success Diva’s blog. So, I’m assuming you are willing to make the changes that will give you the successful and fulfilled life that you both want and deserve.

Now I can predict what some of you are probably thinking. You’re thinking that I’m telling you different things than you’re hearing from your friends and family. They say that you should abandon that novel and put your energy into your job because you’ll probably never find any publisher who will accept it anyway. They tell you that you might as well marry the boyfriend or girlfriend you’re with right now because. . .well, he/she is probably the best you can do. They tell you that you’ll just end up spending money to purchase a membership at a health club or gym, when you most likely won’t stick with it, even if you do make it through a couple of aerobics classes and go lift a few weights every now and then. They say that you should put those dreamy ideas about fame, success, and fortune right of your head and “get back into the real world.”

And what should you say to them? Thank them for their input but forget you ever heard it. Ah, but that’s easier said than done, isn’t it?? Look, even if these ‘well-meaning’ people think they have your best interests at heart, ask yourself this: why aren’t they willing to encourage you and support you even if they believe you’re being unrealistic?? No, your Success Diva isn’t saying they’re jealous. . .although that is a possibility you should consider, in certain circumstances. What I am saying is that ‘they’—whoever ‘they’ may be (whether a close friend, spouse, parent, child, sibling, etc.)–are refusing to see your dream for you, most likely because their dreams haven’t come true for them. Have you ever noticed that more often than not, those who are at the top of their field seem to be more encouraging and optimistic in regard to your endeavors than those who are stranded in the desert of mediocrity? If so, why do you think this is? Because they haven’t anything to lose if  you succeed, too. They understand that there’s enough success to go around for everyone. . . .not just them. They don’t have to worry, either, that if you succeed, you’ll end up leaving them behind. In other words, if you’re friends right now with someone who is well-known in his/her field, if  you should also succeed in the same field, he/she won’t be worrying that you’ll suddenly think that he/she isn’t ‘important’ enough for you to be friends with. On the other hand, even your closest family members and/or your spouse may worry that, if you should go out there and really make a splash in your chosen career, that, even if  you don’t mean to,  you’ll end up leaving them, getting tired of them, or neglecting them. Is this understandable? Absolutely. If they feel this way does this mean that they (or he/she) doesn’t love you?? Absolutely not. You are simply threatening their innate sense of security. And if security is very important to them, they really will continue to fear that you’ll abandon them no matter how many times you assure them otherwise. However, all you can do is let them know that you will never change, even if you become one of the most famous persons in your respective field. In other words, if you are married or in a relationship with a man or woman whom you deeply love and want to remain with for the rest of your life, make sure they understand that no matter how much success you achieve, you will never want anyone but them by your side. “Yes, Success Diva,” you say, “but what if my husband/wife or my mother/father or my boyfriend/girlfriend actually goes out of his/her way to sabotage my efforts to succeed?” 

Well, this is where Success Diva’s slightly harsh advice comes into the picture. If  the person (s) closest to refuse to support your goals and dreams, at some point you’re going to have decide whether that person or persons and your relationship with him/her (or them, as the case may be) is more important to you. . .or whether you are more important to you. It boils down once again to this question: How badly do you want the desires of your heart? Would you be happy if your life continued exactly the way it is right now until the day you die? An issue that a couple of my favorite fans brought up was whether or not you can ever really go after what you want and pursue happiness strictly for yourself, when you have a long list of obligations that you feel have to come first. I’m truly pleased that this subject was brought to my mind because it’s something I’ve had to struggle with myself. And I’ll address it in a forthcoming blog post. . .either my next update or another one sometime during the next few days.

For now, I just have a few words of. . .well, if not wisdom, at least suggestions that I hope will be of some assistance. First of all, on a daily basis, you need to decide which tasks on your to-do-list (even if you don’t have an ‘official’ to-do-list written down because you dislike making lists, I’m sure you have a ‘mental’ list of the things you need to do each day) are essential. In other words, which tasks must be done today. Once you decide what those must-do taskes are, separate them from the other to-dos and complete them first. Let’s say you have a list of 20 things that you feel you need to do in a day. Well, how many things are really urgent? Do you really have to take that suit to the dry cleaners today or can you wait until tomorrow? Do you really have to prepare your husband’s favorite meal for dinner simply because he’s had a rough day at work? Does your wife have to have that loaf of bread from the store? Do your kids really need for you to go with them to pick out a new puppy? Or can your girlfriend or wife go with them instead? Delegate tasks, too. If you have kids who are old enough to successfully complete chores around the house, let your son (yes, boys should be taught to do housework, too) or daughter wash and dry the dinner dishes.  If you’re one of those persons who is always having people ask him/her to do things for them, start saying ‘no’ more often, even if you’re worried about displeasing them. Look, if someone’s love, acceptance, or approval of you is based on what you do for them, then it has strings attached. Don’t ever let yourself  be so caught up in meeting the needs of others—even if your spouse and/or children are the ‘others’ concerned—that you forget about the most important person: you.

Until soon,

Your Success Diva

It really is all about you . . .

It’s now a little past midnight on June 28th where I live, and the world is still mourning the passing of the man who was quite possibly the greatest superstar in music history, Michael Jackson. I haven’t any idea how many new blogs might have been created honoring this pop star. But the only reason Michael will be mentioned at SuccessDiva’s blog is to point out where focusing on your goals and being willing to work as hard as you have to in order to make your dreams and objectives a reality will get you.

Without following a master “game plan”,  Michael Jackson would never have become the beloved icon that he is. Some celebrities are worshipped and loved more for their image and for the aura that surrounds them than for their talent and/or what they have contributed to their respective field. But Michael Jackson can be remembered for his amazing work ethic, whether you like his music or  not.

This brings to mind a phrase I heard from one of the many motivational speakers whose CDs and books I devour on a nearly daily basis. Namely, that what human beings can do is extraordinary and nearly limitless—whereas what they will do (i.e., what they are willing to do) is another matter entirely. 

Let’s face it. There are very few people who are unhealthy enough not to be able to follow some sort of exercise program. I’m not talking about going to the  gym every day and lifting weights (groan!) or signing up for an aerobics class at the nearby fitness center. No, that isn’t what I would even recommend.

Rather, I think that for nearly anyone, taking a walk or jogging at least 5 days a week, preferably in the fresh air, is the healthiest and most beneficial way to achieve optimal health, not only from a physical standpoint, but from a psychological and emotional standpoint as well. In today’s world, so many of us are sitting all the time, mostly indoors and often at our computers. I say it’s time to get out of the house and find a place where you can walk,  jog, or run (note: alternating these activities can also be beneficial as it is a bit like “cross-training”).  At the very least, take a relaxing walk 5-7 days a week and try to connect in some way with nature and your surroundings.

I feel incredibly empowered after taking a 30-minute walk, whether I take it outside or at a gym. Even when I’m exhausted, I find that it helps me. For one thing, it enables me to sleep more deeply. For another, I’m less likely to reach for cookies and more likely to polish off an apple. So often, a person mistakenly thinks that to follow a healthy eating plan or to watch what he/she eats means that he/she is in some way giving in to the standards that society tries to impose upon all of us—namely, that you must be “fit” or thin or in so-called “perfect” shape. It simply isn’t so.

If you are in touch with your body the way you should be, you soon discover that there are certain foods that give you energy and increase your mental clarity and others that diminish both. Foods that are “alive” such as fresh fruit, vegetables, sprouted grains (look for sprouted bread at your  grocery store or simply let a grain you frequently eat, such as rice, soak for a couple of days in water before cooking it),  and raw nuts are going to automatically make you feel better. It requires less stress on your body to digest these foods as well.

I am certainly not promoting a certain type of lifestyle where food and/or exercise are/is concerned. This blog is about success, not being physically healthy. At the same time, I don’t truly think that a person can achieve success in any area of his/her life, when tired, in pain, or having a low energy level. You simply don’t feel like going after the things you want when you wake up nearly as tired as you were when you went to bed.

How can you be enthusiastic about life when you have to drink ten cups of coffee to start thinking clearly? Well, the answer is, you can’t. I enjoy ice cream as much as the next person. But I notice that if I eat ice cream, cookies, or candy first thing in the day, I tend to have a burst of energy that lasts less than an hour, followed by a feeling of lethargy. Even if you aren’t accustomed to eating breakfast, having a piece of fresh fruit, such as an apple,  banana, or orange will make you feel better throughout the day.

Last autumn, I began a blog at another location, and it was oriented towards success, too. But, rather than expressing my thoughts and opinions, I came from a place where I was more interested in sharing the thoughts of those who have written books and created tape and CD programs on success. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course. And I tend to think I was doing the best I could at that time of my life. But this is not only a brand-new season but also a new year.

That was 2008, and this is summer of 2009. A lot has happened in my life between autumn of 2008 and June of 2009. I feel as if at least five years have passed in many ways, even though it was really less than a year. I have become aware of the fact that I possess a lot of the answers as to how to achieve ultimate success myself, whether I have been using them or not.

So many people think that they need to change other people or change society to make their dreams a reality. But you know what? The only way to really end up living the “life of your dreams” is to change who you are. This is one time when it really is all about you. Every single day you are making the choices that will determine where you are 6 months from now, 1 year from now, 5 years from now, and even 25 years from now. If  you look at your life and feel that much, if  not most of it, is not the way you want it to be, the truth is, you are the one who made the choices that have brought your life to the level it’s at.

Yes, there have been people who have discouraged you. Yes, you have probably been through an ordeal or two,  or maybe even several. Yet, as easy as it is to blame circumstances and other people, in the end, it’s your life. And until you can actually accept full responsibility for it being the way it is right now, you’re not going to be able to change it.

Even though it may be hard and even painful to acknowledge that you’ve made lots of poor choices, the only way to avoid more pain and more disappointment is to be really clear about the role that you played in creating the life you are now living. If you aren’t the one who has most of the power over your own life,  that means that other people have the ability to continue preventing you from making your dreams and goals come to pass.

Do you really want to continue giving away that kind of power? Do you want to be merely a chess piece in someone else’s chess game? Do you want to be at the mercy of some mysterious “fate”? Do you want to live your life according to someone else’s agenda? No, of course you don’t. Or, at least, I sincerely hope you don’t. I know that isn’t how I want to live my life nor is it how I’m going to live my life.

But, as you and I both know, taking charge of  your life and every single decision that you make isn’t as easy at it sounds. It takes practice, just like everything else. First,  you have to take a really objective look at where you’re at right now. Then you have to figure out where you want to be. And what’s in-between? Actually, I’m sure you already know the answer to that.

If you weren’t smart and interested in being successful, you wouldn’t be at this blog in the first place. So, let’s imagine that the life you are living now is on one side of the ocean, and the life of your dreams is on the other side. This would mean the ocean is what’s in-between. But what is that ocean like exactly? How deep is it? How wide is it? How turbulent is it? Well, only you can really answer these questions with any degree of validity.

Since I don’t know you personally, and, even if I did, you probably wouldn’t have shared every detail of your present life with me, I would say, making a rough (i.e., tentative) guess, that the ocean represents all the obstacles that you and other people have put between you and your “ideal” life. It also represents all the things you’ll have to do to transform your life from where it’s at right now to where you want it to be.

The bad news is that I can’t help you get across the ocean. I can only give you instructions on how to build the boat that will take you to the other side. You are going to have to be the one who builds that boat and the one who steers it to the other side. I would try to steer it for you. But, if I did that, I would be the one in power—not you. And as I said, it really is all about you . . . because it’s your life we’re talking about.

Unless you are still not ready to build that boat that will take you to the side of the ocean where your “dream life” is, you may be wondering what you can do right now to start building it. Well, I think the first and most important thing you can do is make a mental list of all the ways in which your life is not the way you want it to be. Don’t feel you have to start writing things down. This isn’t some structured exercise that I’m suggesting.

But I would assume two things: a) you are not living your dream life right now (I assume this mainly because you’re reading my blog) and/or b) you have at least a vague idea of the ways in which your life is not the life you desire. That being said, I think it’s only reasonable to start being honest—and, in fact, brutally honest, if necessary—about how your life is not that way you want it to be. Another way to do this is by imagining what your “ideal” life would be like. Then compare that with the life you’re living right now.

How do the two scenarios match up? Do you have the job or career of your dreams? If not, how can you get the job or career of your dreams? Are you fulfilled? If not, in what way are you not fulfilled? And what would you have to do to feel fulfilled? What have you always wanted to do or be? What has prevented you from doing the things you’ve always wanted to do and/or or pursuing your “dream” career? Are you in a deep, meaningful relationship with someone whom you love and who loves you? Is that what you would like to be in? If so, what is preventing you from it?

Take off the cloudy glasses that you’ve been peering through at your life through and put on a new pair of clear and highly polished glasses that will force you to truly analyze and examine your life in a way that is objective and honest. If you need to put certain aspects of your life under a microscope, do so. Yes, you’ll have to be brave to do this. It would be much easier to keep on pretending that your life is better than it is and to keep living under the delusion that, by some miraculous turn of events, it’s going to get better. But even though it’s important to have dreams, you can’t live within a dream. You only have one life to live, and you don’t want to get to the end of it realizing that you never really gave yourself permission to take full control of  it.  After all, you are you.  And there are things only you can contribute to the world and to the lives of other people. There are books only you can write. . .poems only you can create. . .flowers only you can plant. . .pictures that only you can paint. . .photos that only you can take. . .children that only you can bring into the world. . .lives only you can touch and/or influence. . . people only you can reach out to, maybe because you know them better than anyone else or understand them better than anyone else ever has. . .or maybe just because you’re you and therefore different than any other person on this planet.

Here’s to life, love, happiness. . .and, most of all, success!

Until soon,

Your Success Diva