Paint your own rainbow!

rainbow33 (paint your own)Sometimes the sky above us is filled with so many dark clouds that the idea of ever being able to find a rainbow seems impossible. We know that one is there. . .somewhere. . .but where oh where? When you were a child and you first saw the film, “The Wizard of Oz,” how did you feel when you heard Judy Garland singing, “Somewhere over the Rainbow”? Didn’t it make you feel happy inside? The mere idea of a rainbow fills most of with joy, perhaps because rainbows are magical jewels of nature, rather than manufactured marvels. Sure, a Hollywood production studio helped provide a rainbow to inspire Judy’s song, but, for us, rainbows are those exquisite jewel-like ribbons of color that appear in the sky after a storm.

Well, I’ll let you in on a little secret when it comes to rainbows. If you want to experience a rainbow in your life and you’re waiting to see one until a thunderstorm clears, you may never have the privilege of enjoying one. For, they don’t just pop up whenever we desire them. In fact, I have come to see that there are times when we actually have to paint them ourselves, out of whatever materials we have on hand. Whether we use crayons or paint or colored pencils or magic markers, we can paint our own rainbow. And we don’t have to be a Pablo Picasso to create a rainbow that is worthy of admiration. Even children paint rainbows. In fact, a child is much more likely to draw or paint a rainbow than an adult is. Why? Because children believe in impossibilities. They haven’t yet been conditioned to have ceilings on their dreams or lids on their fantasies. This is one reason that children are so creative. Oddly enough, scientific studies have shown that between the ages of five and seven, a child’s creativity level decreases at an enormous rate.  The reason for this is thought to stem from the fact that, when a child first attends school, he or she begins learning about all the things that he/she cannot do. . .all the things that are “impossible” or “illogical”. Prior to being told that he or she cannot do something, a child tends to believe that anything is possible. This is probably why Picasso was once quoted as saying, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”

I will never forget hearing actress Jodie Foster’s acceptance speech when she on her second Best Actress Oscar in 2002 for Jonathan Demme’s “The Silence of The Lambs”. Jodie thanked her mother for enabling her to believe that she could make any of her dreams come true—for convincing her that “all her fingerpaintings” were “Picassos”.  And, perhaps, Jodie’s unfailing determination to go after the roles she has wanted, in spite of those who have tried to held her back, has something to do with the seed of self-confidence her mother nourished within her beginning at a very young age. Ironically enough, Jodie wasn’t the first choice for either her role in “The Accused” or “The Silence of the Lambs,” and yet, her performance in each film was impressive enough to garner her an Academy Award.

Although some people would say that thinking “big” is unrealistic, I think that only when we step outside so-called “realism” and dare to have big dreams, can we truly get enthusiastic about life.  David Schwarz in his classic book, The Magic of Thinking Big, promotes the theory that the main thing holding people back in life is actually their “small thoughts”. According to Schwarz, whether or not you dream big dreams or small dreams is actually more of a factor in your ultimate success than talent, education, or connections.

Who says we have to remain strapped in by the seat belts of probability? Who can predict what is possible or impossible? Sure, there will always be well-meaning friends and relatives in our midst to tell us when we are engaging in what they call “wishful thinking”. But we make the choice whether we decide to believe them, or whether we continue to pursue our dreams, no matter how many people tell us we’re being illogical.You see, one of the problems is that the people who tell us that we have to be “logical” are generally people who have chosen to repress their own dreams themselves. Now they may claim they had no choice in the matter, but, the truth is, we all have a choice. Some of us may have to be more patient than others to make our dreams a reality, but all of have the chance to paint that rainbow.

I have spoken before about Jim Carrey at my blog, but what I haven’t mentioned was how Jim Carrey visualized his dream before it  became a reality. He used to imagine himself as a famous actor, and even thought up scenarios in which he was preparing to audition for roles in major films. At one point, he wrote himself a check for several million dollars, writing on the blank side of the check, “For services rendered.” Was this not an example of someone painting his own rainbow? Jim had no sign that he was going to be a major movie stair. If anything, things were pointing in the opposite direction. Yet, he made a choice to see himself as what he wanted to be, and his vision of himself was a self-fulfilling prophecy. “I’ve always believed in magic,” Jim said later. He spoke of how he would go sit on Mulholland Drive and look out at the city, stretching out his arms, telling himself over and over again that he was a “really good actor” and that everybody wanted to work with him.  Jim said these positive affirmations were his way of erasing the negative thought patterns that had been passed down to him from his family.

A self-fulfilling prophecy can be positive or negative. That part is up to you. And, whether you realize it or not, you are actually forming self-fulfilling prophecies in your mind every day. Every time you tell yourself that you can or cannot do something, you are predicting either a positive or negative outcome. To put it another way, you are either painting storm clouds or a rainbow. You may think that you are simply being realistic when you tell yourself that something you dream of doing isn’t going to happen, but what you’re really doing is painting a cloud. And then you find yourself wondering why others don’t see your dreams for you. Well, how can you expect anyone to believe in your dreams, if you don’t wholeheartedly believe in them yourself?

Early on in singer and entertainer Barbra Streisand’s illustrious career, she went to an audition at St. James Theater for “I Can Get It For You Wholesale”. She arrived looking frazzled and unkempt and spilled sheet music all over the floor when she crossed the stage.  It was a situation that most actresses would have been humiliated to find themselves in. But Barbara—or Babs, as her fans like to call her—-has always been one to handle things in stride.  She played up the comedic part of the situation, leading the production staff to wonder if she was a kook or merely a brilliant comedian. In fact, she made such a splash that she was asked back for another audition with the celebrated Broadway producer, David Merrick, who was eventually persuaded into casting Barbra in the part of Miss Masselstein, even though the role was written for an actress in her fifties.

As you see, those who make their dreams a reality are rarely afraid to take chances. That’s because they know that there are times when taking a risk is the only option that will get them anywhere near the results they are after. This is why you must not let yourself be satisfied with painting a rainbow in a few lackluster shades. If you want to make things start happening in your life, paint your rainbow in the boldest colors you can find! Although pastel hues are becoming when it comes to baby shower decor and bridesmaids’ dresses, living a life in pastel colors is only going to make you feel powerless and ineffective. Imagine if every actress who showed up at the Oscars each year wore a gown that was in a pastel shade? After awhile, even if you thought the dresses were pretty, you would begin to be bored by the lack of color.

Well, how can you expect to get excited about a life that is painted in pale hues? If your life was a canvas, what colors of paint would you use to create your picture?? Would you use all the colors of the rainbow, or would your restrict yourself to shades of gray? Would you choose bold, passionate red and bright, vibrant yellow and cool, brilliant blue. . .or, would you water these colors down by adding lots of white? If  you could create a canvas that would represent your ideal life, what would it look like? Who would be part of your ideal life? What career would you be involved with? What city or state would you be living in? Would those people who are closest to you now still be the ones you would turn to? When you stop to answer all these questions, you start gaining clarity about your life. Certain things that haven’t been clear before start to become obvious. Unfortunately, most of us don’t feel the freedom to think in terms of our “ideal lives” because we’re so caught up in our day-to-day existence. In a way, some of us may fear thinking in terms of “the ideal” as it will only make us more aware of how different our lives are from what we would consider the “life of our dreams”.

However, until we fully allow ourselves to embrace the liberating experience of self-awareness, we will never be able to make even one of our dreams a reality, for we’ll never be honest with ourselves about what has to change in order to make our dream come true.  Although it pains me to admit this, there are some people who simply live in what I would call a “state of oblivion”. These people labor under the illusion that somehow, in some miraculous way, their lives are going to turn around for the better even though they’re not making any consistent effort to change them. Sometimes they fantasize about winning the lottery or, perhaps, finding a rich man or woman to marry. Or they imagine that a talent scout will approach them in a supermarket or shopping mall and offer them a movie contract.  Now, I’m not saying that such scenarios are not possible. However, to depend on such fanciful twists of fate is not going to bring a person any closer to his or her dreams.

So, what’s the difference in believing in dreams that others would consider to be impossibilities and fantasizing about winning the lottery? Well, your personal dreams are something that you have control over. You can decide what dream to pursue, and you can begin to back up that which you yearn for with definitive actions. On the other hand, whether or not you win the lottery is something that you have very little control over. And we’ve already examined how important it is to focus on the things that we actually have power over as opposed to the things that are not under our control. Believe me, when you begin to become aware of all the things in your life that you really do have control over, you’ll start to see that not nearly as much is left up to chance—or fate, as some might call it—as you might think. 

As I said at the beginning of this post, you aren’t even dependent on whether or not a rainbow appears in the sky because you can paint your own. Similarly, if you prefer, you can paint a series of dark storm clouds. Do you see how much power you really do wield over your own destiny? I think that more than anything else, what holds people back is fear. And, to a certain extent, I think they are afraid of their own power. They think that once they start making changes, they’ll move outside their comfort zone and nothing will be the same. Well, indeed you will move outside of your comfort zone when you start designing that life you’ve always dreamed of. You see, your mind has been conditioned to accept things as they are, which means that even if what you’re pursuing is what you frantically yearn for, there will be a part of you that tries to sabotage your efforts. The only thing to do is to push past that fear. Sure, that’s easier said than done. But the only alternative is to wait for the fear to go away, and that isn’t going to happen because as long as you try anything new, you will experience fear.

In fact, you’re probably going to experience fear when you start to paint your rainbow. You’ll worry that you aren’t using the right shades of paint. . .or that the canvas you’ve chosen to paint the rainbow on is too big or too small.  Yet, I think you’ll also realize that these fears are perfectly natural, and that the fact  you’re having them shows that you’re doing precisely what you should be doing.  Even though some of you aren’t going to be happy about this, security is going to be something you’ll have to give up if you’re going to make your dreams come true. So, you might as well get used to living on the edge because it’s the only kind of life that’s going to get you to the destination you desire!

In the meantime, what are you waiting for? Don’t wait until tomorrow to start painting your rainbow. Why should you sit looking at a grey sky or a blank canvas for another day?

Until soon.  .  .live with passion and make each moment matter!

Your Success Diva

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This page and all written material at The Success Diva pages is written by Alexis Wingate. All rights are reserved. (C) Copyright by Alexis Wingate. The Success Diva

when you reach a turning point. . .

turningpoint1There are moments in life when something happens that is so unexpected that we really don’t know how to cope with it. Whether it’s finding out that our boyfriend or girlfriend is seeing someone else or whether we just lost our pet dog or cat in a freak accident, there are those times when it’s as if something in our world has gone so wrong that everything else seems to be out of focus. I remember reading about how the actress, Jane Seymour, suffered an injury when she was pursuing a career as a ballerina, and all I could think was how catastrophic this event must have been for her. Of course, watching her in such films as “Somewhere in Time” and “Lassiter”, it’s difficult to imagine her as anything other than an actress. But that’s because she took an incident that could have brought an end to all her ambitions and turned it into something profitable. It reminds me of a passage I came across today from a poem called “Don’t Quit” by an unknown author. The passage was “Success is failure turned inside out.” I don’t know about you, but I’m not sure I’ve ever really thought of success in those terms. I understand that failure and success are directly connected, and that you cannot have one without the other because rarely do we succeed at anything on the very first effort. But what I don’t think I’ve fully comprehended is what a turning point failure can be for us. One of my favorite actresses, Mary Pickford, once said, “If you have made mistakes, there is always another chance for you.  You may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing called ‘failure’ is not the falling down, but the staying down.”  But how often do we really look at our failures in that light? How often do we acknowledge ourselves for picking ourselves back up after we fail?? Don’t we have a  habit of concentrating more on that which we fail at than on that which we succeed at? I know I do. If a relationship or a career doesn’t work out, it can diminish your sense of self-worth to such an extent, that there are moments when you actually feel a sense of overpowering hopelessness.

When I think of someone who has continued to strive in spite of not accomplishing her ultimate objective, the brilliant American figure skater, Michelle Kwan, immediately comes to mind. If you saw Michelle skate at the 1998 Olympic games, you probably remember the look of subtle disappointment on her face when she lost the gold medal to her American rival, Tara Lipinski.  Although a silver medal at the Olympics is scarcely something to feel ashamed of, an athlete with Kwan’s capabilities and work ethic is always somewhat chagrined when he/she doesn’t come in first. However, Michelle handled the situation like a pro. In fact, rather than allowing herself to get discouraged, she decided to bounce back.  At the 2002 Olympic games, she once again tried for that gold model, but again, it eluded her. This time, though, she ended up with the bronze model instead of the silver. The young American skater, Sarah Hughes, took the top prize. Do, did Kwan give up?? No. She made plans to try her luck yet a third time in the 2006 Olympic Games. It wasn’t until Kwan suffered a groin injury in her first practice session in Turin, Italy, that she withdrew from the competition. And Kwan is still talking about the possibility of competing in the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia. Now that’s the kind of attitude all of us should work towards!  “But Michelle Kwan’s persistence hasn’t really paid off,” you may be thinking. “I mean, she never did get that gold medal she wanted so badly.” No, Kwan didn’t get the gold medal. But I think she got something even more important. She got the kind of respect and deep admiration that only those who persist in the quest for their ultimate goal both deserve and receive. Indeed, Michelle Kwan remains a more reliable role model than either Tara Lipinski or Sarah Hughes, the two skaters who won gold medals at the Olympics she competed in. Perhaps, whether or not we win first prize isn’t as important as the attitude we demonstrate during the competition itself. And life is a bit like a competition, isn’t it?

As a diva of success, I would love to tell you that every one of your dreams will definitely come true. However, since I promised I would always be honest with you, I have to remind you that life gives us no guarantees. What it does give us is lessons, learning experiences, and role models. Those of you who know this diva over at Facebook have probably noticed that I’ve begun a photo album dedicated to women whom I consider to be “Icons of Inspiration.” Well, the group of inspirational women is so diverse that there aren’t that many things that many of the women have in common with each other. But there are a few fundamental character traits that they do all share. What are these traits? Well, all of them have or had an invincible belief in themselves and what they could accomplish. Even when they felt their faith in their talents and abilities was slipping, they managed to pull themselves together and move forward. Your success diva will be the first to tell you that sometimes you have to pretend to have more confidence in yourself than you actually feel. In other words, you have to adopt what I call an “as if” mentality. You act as if  you can accomplish that which you dream of achieving. You act as if  you have an optimisic outlook on life, even when you’re actually feeling despondent. You act as if  the man or woman of your dreams is right around the corner, even though a part of you believes that your soul mate must have gotten lost in another dimension. Do you see the point I’m making? To expect yourself to always be on top of the world simply isn’t realistic. There will be times when you feel like you’ve accomplished very few things in life that are of true significance, and you could feel this way even if you were an Oscar-winning actor/actress or a Nobel prize-winning author. Why? Well, it’s simply part of being human. The world we live in is chaotic and full of all sorts of of negative and cruel people, and circumstances are rarely going to be completely ideal. So, since we are human, we naturally react to the obstacles and crises that come into our lives in a way that isn’t always positive. Should we blame ourselves for this? To be honest, I think that doing so only makes things worse. It would be like blaming yourself for depression, when those of us who are well-informed know that there are many instances of depression in which psychiatric therapy and medication are essential. What you must do, though, is understand that the way in which you react to something can actually turn out to have as significant an impact on you as the event itself. “Wait,” you interject, “are you telling me that if a man/woman is raped, his/her reaction to that rape could have as momentous an affect on him/her as the rape itself?” Yes, that’s exactly what I’m saying. . .and, no, I haven’t suddenly lost all my reasoning abilities. Look, I know of women who have allowed an incident of rape to destroy the rest of their lives. There are also many women who have committed suicide after being raped. Does this mean I cannot comprehend their actions? No, it doesn’t mean that at all. In fact, I fully understand how a woman or woman who has been raped might feel like taking his or her own life. At the same time, for a victim of rape to take his or her own life means that the person who victimized him/her ultimately has the last word. On the other hand, for a someone who has survived rape to take that terrible catastrophe and turn it into something that benefits both himself/herself and others by doing volunteer work for groups that help counsel rape victims, for example, would mean that an event that could have been devastating would actually end up having a positive result.

I remember when I first heard the motivational speaker and author, Tony Robbins, talking about how our response to something can be as important as the event. I must admit,  I thought he was being utterly illogical at the time.  “Well, you can tell that nothing that bad has ever happened to Tony,” I found myself muttering. Yet as life has gone on, I have come to see Tony’s point. We truly can make a traumatic event a hundred times worse depending on how we react to it. An experience such as rape will always be horrendous no matter how someone responds to it. However, what should always be remembered is that no matter what someone else does to us it does not in any way diminish our self-worth. We may feel that something that someone tells us or does to us makes us less valuable as a person, but this is just a trick our mind is playing on us. It’s also something that the person who mistreats, abuses, or violates us wants us to feel. Why?? Well, that’s one of those questions that I’m reluctant to answer. I always think that those who hurt us, whether it be through their words or their actions, are hurting within themselves. But I don’t think that explanation justifies anything, which means it is scarcely satisfactory, even though there are times at which it can be a source of comfort. The truth is, we will probably never begin to understand why certain people do certain things. As one of my friends reminded me a couple of hours ago, this is an unjust world we live in. So, all that each of us can do is try to treat others with kindness and fairness, whether they treat us the same way or not.

One reason that I can speak with authority on the subject of turning what seems like a failure into a success is because I’ve had to continue to do this throughout my life. I trained for a concert career on the violin beginning at age three, only to be told at age 17 that such a career was impossible because I had a chronic illness called lupus. Did I have a nervous breakdown? Well, no, but I came pretty close to having one. For a couple of years after I had to give up playing the violin, I couldn’t even listen to any of the recordings I owned of violin music. Unfortunately, my sense of self-worth was entirely connected with the violin, and without it, I felt as if I had no real value as a person. It has only been through my accomplishments in other avenues that I have re-established my self-confidence. Although I am blessed to have a mother who has taught me to believe that who I am as a person is far more important than what I do, it has always been difficult for me to separate my personal value from my achievements. I don’t think the materialistic, career-driven world we live in tends to instill in people the sense that such traits as integrity, honesty, and compassion are far more important than how much money you make each year or what kind of car you drive. And yet, unless we start to understand this ourselves, how will we ever teach those who look up to us—-such as our children, if we have them—-what’s really important in life?? When I mentioned Michelle Kwan earlier, another thing I intended to say about her is that she has never compromised who she is simply to get ahead. Yes, she has won two Olympic medals, but I have always had the sense that she would rather be seen as an icon of grace and elegance of spirit than as merely another Olympic medalist. Audrey Hepburn is another lady who had her priorities in order. In spite of the fact that she could easily have acted in dozens of films throughout the 1960s and 1970s, she chose to devote herself to being the best mother that she could. I guess we don’t have to wonder why her son, Sean Ferrer, speaks with such lavish praise about his mother! And this is why it’s so crucial that we stand back and view our lives from a long-term perspective, rather than being sidetracked and discouraged by the setbacks of the moment. Only those who fail to strengthen their inner spirit allow themselves to see any failure as being permanent. Those who understand that life is a like a corridor, in which some doors open while others close, know that resilience is an integral part of success. I think actress Brooke Shields summed up the philosophy that all of us should adopt when she said, “If one window closes, run to the next window—-or break down a door.” Well, this is what your Success Diva advises you to do, too. The only way that a failure can have any lasting impact on your life is if you let it become permanent. So, no matter what happens, don’t let yourself be defeated. Begin to see each failure as a turning point in your life.  .  .as a mere curve in the road that will eventually lead you to the life of your dreams.

If you haven’t yet joined my mailing list, you can subscribe at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/successdiva  This is an announcement list, which means no participation is necessary. Also, I am always available and eager to help anyone with a specific situation they want my input on. Write me at successdiva7@yahoo.com, and I will respond at my earliest convenience.

Live with passion and enthusiasm. . .and remember, it’s only too late to create the life of your dreams if you believe it is!

Until soon,

Your Success Diva

This page and all writen material at The Success Diva Pages is written by Alexis Wingate. All rights are reserved. (C) Copyright by Alexis Wingate. The Success Diva

Amelia Earhart: Flying High

amelia1There have been few women who have made as much of an impact on history as the legendary aviator and author, Amelia Earhart. She was born Amelia Mary Earhart in Atchison, Kansas, on July 24, 1897. Amelia’s mother, Amy, did not believe in raising either Amelia or Amelia’s sister, Grace Muriel Earhart, to be “nice little girls”. Rather than playing with dolls, both children enjoyed hunting rats, climbing trees, and “rough-and-tumble” play. Growing up, Amelia also exhibited a large interest in reading, recalling later that she spent countless hours in the vast family library. Although Amelia experienced a tremendous amount of unhappiness growing up, she always had a tendency to focus her sights on women who had been successful in their chosen fields. In fact, she kept a scrapbook filled with photos of women who  inspired her. However, in one of her school yearbooks, she was described as “A.E.—the girl who walks in brown alone.”

 

After Amelia visited her sister in 1917, and she saw the wounded soldiers returning from taking part in the disastrous World War I, Amelia Earhart decided to train to be a nurse’s aide for the Red Cross. A year later, she developed health problems resulting from her arduous work at the Spandina Military Hospital during the Spanish Flu Epidemic. In November of 1918, Amelia was hospitalized for pneumonia. At this same time in her life, she also developed maxillary sinusitis, which ended up affecting her immensely in her later years.

Amelia clearly did not perceive what her life’s purpose was until she had explored other avenues. In 1919, she signed up at Columbia University to pursue a course in medical studies. However, destiny intervened. Not long after she returned to California, to live once again with her parents, Amelia and her father visited an airfield where she was given a free ride in a airplane by air racer, Frank Hawkes. Earhart said later, “By the time I was two or three hundred feet off the ground, I knew I had to fly.” Earhart was a plucky lady who possessed the kind of determination that it takes to get to the top of your chosen profession. She was willing to dedicate herself to her career, even though she knew there would be plenty of opposition she would be compelled to face. Earhart cut her hair short, donned a worn leather jacket, and bought her own bright yellow Kinner Airster biplane, which she nicknamed “The Canary”. When she received her pilot license on May 15, 1923, Earhart was only the 16th woman to accomplish this feat. By 1927, she had managed to accumulate over 500 miles of solo flying. One year later, Earhart gained notoriety by becoming the first woman to fly solo across North America and back. In spite of having her share of detractors, Earhart was becoming a celebrity. She was hailed as “The Queen of the Air”, and many magazines and newspapers began referring to her as “Lady Lindy”, noting her resemblance to famed aviator, Charles Lindbergh. She began promoting and endorsing various products, and stores like Macy’s even sold a line of clothing that was supposed to mimic Earhart’s sleek, practical, yet feminine style.

amelia2In keeping with her lack of conformity in other areas of her life, Earhart also had radical ideas about marriage.  Her husband, George P. Putnam, proposed to her six times before she actually agreed to accept him, and, when describing her marriage, Earhart referred to it as a “partnership” with “dual control”. The wedding itself took place on February 7, 1931, and there wasn’t a honeymoon.

Earhart made several solo flights before her planned world flight in 1937. After a failed attempt to make this flight, a second attempt began on June 1 of that year, when Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, left Miami, Florida, finally arriving in Lae, New Guinea, on June 29. It was on July 2, 1937, that Earhart took off from Lae, and, at approximately 8:43 that morning, Earhart transmitted her last known broadcast. There has been an immense amount of speculation as to what happened to Earhart and her plane. An aura of mystery surrounds the event, and, even to this day, Earhart’s disappearance remains one of the most interesting missing person cases.

hilary1Earhart is going to be portrayed by the two-time Oscar-winning actress, Hilary Swank, in a new biopic film about the remarkable aviator. Might Swank garner yet another Oscar for her depiction of this inspirational dame?

To read more about Amelia Earhart, her life, and her adventures, don’t miss checking out this remarkable site paying tribute to her: http://www.ameliaearhart.com/

 

Also, you can watch a portion of a documentary film on Amelia Earhart, entitled “Where’s Amelia Earhart?” by going  here:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rUR8r06EtVE

 

 

 

(photos: Amelia Earhart, a classic headshot of the striking lady; Earhart, looking sassy and self-assured; actress Hilary Swank, who will be portraying Earhart in a new biopic film)

 

This page and all written material at The Success Diva pages is written by Alexis Wingate. All rights are reserved. (C) Copyright by Alexis Wingate. The Success Diva

You are a diamond!

diamond3I’ve continued to emphasis that you should be yourself—that is, that being comfortable in your own skin is essential to achieving ultimate fulfillment and success. I still stand by this statement, but a new concept has come to me during the past week or so that I want to share with you. To be at peace with who you are doesn’t mean that you can’t re-invent yourself. That is, just  because you don’t want to be someone other than you, it doesn’t mean that you can’t work at becoming a completely new and better you. When a diamond is taken out of a mine, does it look anything like the diamonds you see under a glass case at the jewelry store? Of course, it doesn’t. Actually, it looks like a plain, unattractive rock. Well, what if no one had ever decided to polish up one of those rocks? What would have happened? Am I making a point? Every one of us is like that diamond before it gets polished up and put into a necklace, ring, or set of earrings. Usually, we’re fortunate if even half of the polishing has been done by the time we reach middle age. However, if we don’t at least make up our minds to strive towards being that brilliant, faceted diamond, we’re never going to tap into our true potential. Now, are you ready to get rid of those rough edges and begin the process towards becoming a glistening gemstone? I know I am. I will caution you, however. There are going to be a lot of people who will fight you on your way towards turning yourself into a faceted jewel. They’ll try to tell you that, no matter what you do, you’re always going to be a jagged, old rock.  They may even discourage you with stories of their own about changes they tried to make that didn’t turn out the way they were supposed to. . .or the way they hoped they would. Listen, let me tell you something that you need to never forget: change first takes place in the mind. In other words, you need to really ascertain whether or not these people who try to hold you back by offering depressing tales of discouragement and disappointment ever wanted to make changes in their lives in the first place. Isn’t it even remotely possible that they were blocked by fear? Might they not have been afraid of failure or afraid of accepting responsibility for certain aspects of their lives. . .or even (now don’t be too shocked!) afraid of success?? “Afraid of success,” you exclaim. “Now you’ve gone too far, Success Diva! Who in their right mind would be afraid of success?” I know the concept of being fearful of success may sound ludicrous, but it’s actually very real. For one thing, once you start accomplishing some of your goals, certain things about your life are going to change. Just to give one example, friends may start to distance themselves from you. In fact, your spouse or boyfriend/girlfriend may start to feel threatened. Moreover, your family could express resentment, masked as concern for your well-being and/or your future. “We just don’t know if you’ll be able to handle all these new responsibilities,” they may tell you. “You’ve always been sensitive,  you know, and it could be too much for you.” How do you handle such well-meaning advice? Well, thank whoever it is who has given it to you with a smile, and then forget you ever heard it. Remember what I told you about Renoir and how the master teacher asked if he was merely “dabbling in paints” early on in his career? That isn’t the only instance in which a person who went on to achieve magnificent things was discouraged by someone whose advice should have been able to be relied upon. I cannot help but think of actress Jessica Lange, who was told that she would never be pretty enough to be a successful Hollywood leading lady. And look at Bette Davis, who had to fight studios tooth and nail to get good roles. Her fellow actress, Geraldine Fitzgerald, who won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role in the 1930s film adaptation of Emily Bronte’s _Wuthering Heights_ didn’t have Bette’s gumption. She wasn’t willing to do whatever it took to get a big break. I believe I remember Bette saying that she was too ladylike and passive to be the kind of gusty dame that would shake things up to get a part she could really sink her teeth into. Well, what are you going to be? Passive or passionate? Are you going to pursue your goals halfheartedly, or are you going to get fired up about the things you want to achieve in your life?? Which is it going to be?

I can tell you one thing, and even though it may sound like I am exaggerating, I’m not. If you’re waiting for others to crowd around you offering their support and encouragement, you may never get started on your journey of success and self-fulfillment. Although I’ve been fortunate enough to have some marvelous people on my Success Diva team, not everyone is so blessed. Depending on what your goals are and who you’ll be fighting to make them a reality, you must be prepared for detractors and naysayers. There are going to be more people fighting you in the enemy camp than there will ever be on your side. But you know what your aim is—to turn your rough edges into brilliantly polished facets, so that you’ll be a radiant diamond instead of a rough rock. If you ever lose sight of your aim, you will never accomplish your goals. Now I’m not talking about a day every now and then in which you experience moments or even hours of discouragement. No, I’m talking about weeks or months when you allow yourself to take your eyes off your goals and instead let yourself be distracted by people and/or circumstances that are destructive to your ultimate purpose. “My purpose?” you echo. “I never thought about having a purpose. Are you talking about something religious?” Indeed, I’m not talking about anything the least bit religious. To have a purpose in your life is no different than a filmmaker having a purpose in a film he creates. It’s also no different than Angelina Jolie having a purpose in all the philanthropic work she does. Do you think that she simply adopted the children she’s added to her family on a whim?? Of course, she didn’t. You know better than that. It wouldn’t even make sense. Had she done that, it would have been no different than her purchasing a new car or a designer piece of jewelry. No, Angelina Jolie’s purpose in adopting each child was to give that child a life that he/she wouldn’t have experienced otherwise. She is providing both the necessities for each child, in addition to privileges that only a star of her magnitude could offer. Although she doesn’t spoil her children by giving them things they don’t need and/or wouldn’t appreciate, she does give them plenty of love and affection. However, if she hadn’t had a purpose behind all her efforts, she would not be accomplishing all that she is. We can shrug or sigh all we want when words like “purpose” and “goals” are mentioned, but, whether we like it or not, the life of our dreams cannot be created without both goals and a clearly defined purpose. Do you know what it is that you truly want out of life? If you’ve already got a wonderful partner and/or a lovely family, what else would  you need in your life to be completely content? Think about it. And, if you don’t yet have a partner or a family, would you need to have one or both to be fulfilled? These are all things you need to decide for yourself. Your diva can only share her input and ideas with you—it isn’t her responsibility to write down your dreams for you.

Last year, I went through a period of time in which I wrote down 20 or 25 lifetime goals. . .or maybe it was 50 lifetime goals. The journal I wrote these things down in is lost amid a stack of other books somewhere in my bedroom, but I do know that I took the time to at least figure out what most of my goals were. There’s a good chance that a few of these goals will now be different, although I would imagine that most of them are still the same. I know that one of my goals was inspiring and encouraging others, and I also know that I started my first success blog sometime last fall. So, why didn’t I keep it up? Well, I tend to think that there’s a “right” time for everything. I’m not saying that there’s ever a “right” time for some things, such as the crises that all of us experience at one time or another. But I do think that we have to be at a certain point in our lives before we can commit ourselves to specific endeavors. I wasn’t ready to commit myself to being a diva of success last September. The desire was there, but I think the genuine passion and enthusiasm I needed to make things really happen was missing. Have you ever heard of what’s called “movers and shakers”? Do you know what a “mover and shaker” is? No, it’s not someone who dances really well *wink*. Rather, it’s somebody who decides to take an active role in life, rather than a passive role. It’s somebody who makes the choice not to merely sit on the sidelines and let life happen to him/her, but rather, who makes up his/her mind to make life happen. Sure, there are tons of things that we cannot control about the world. But our life is ours, and we do have power over ourselves and over the choices that we make. From the moment we were born, we were always a diamond in the rough. It’s up to us, though, how long we remain that rough diamond. If we decide that we’re tired of having to look in the mirror at a rugged rock, then we will start making definitive changes immediately. In fact, we’ll probably even get to the point where we start to realize which people and/or influences are beneficial to us without having to spend much time considering it. One of my good friends was just telling me about how inclined she is to justify behavior on the part of others that is inconsiderate or unkind. I couldn’t help but relate to her as I think that anyone who has a generous and forgiving heart finds it easy to make excuses for other people. However, if you don’t make the decision to stop justifying other peoples’ mistreatment of you, you aren’t ever going to be happy or fulfilled. Rather, you’ll end up feeling betrayed, rejected, and lonely. You’ll wonder if there is anyone around whom you can turn to and/or anyone whom you can trust. Indeed, in the long run, your forgiving spirit will make you a bit cynical about life. Because you allowed people to remain in your world who continued hurting you, you’ll start putting barriers up whether you intend to or not. And then, when someone comes along who is worthy of your friendship and/or your love, you may not be open to receiving their affection and acceptance. I have spoken more than once about guarding your heart. What I may not have made clear is that it, in addition to it being an essential part of being happy, it is also an essential part of being successful. If you are experiencing emotional pain and turmoil because you are letting yourself be mistreated, you are not going to be able to pursue your own desires with any genuine enthusiasm. Why? Well, what I’ve noticed is that cruel, unkind, and/or critical people steal your joy from you. When they get finished turning your heart inside out and making you feel like most of your opinions and/or ideas are without value or meaning, you aren’t going to even believe that you have it in you to be a success. You’ll probably decide that you simply must content yourself with being a diamond in the rough for the rest of  your life. Or, even better, you’ll look upon yourself as an ugly, old rock, rather than a rock that would even be capable of being transformed into a jewel. I know you may not think you can do it, but you simply must get rid of every person in your life who is preventing you from being happy and from believing in yourself. The only people who cannot be entirely removed from your existence are close family members, such as children, siblings, and parents. But even with them, you can create a psychological barrier. What does this mean? Well, while listening to them tell you what you can or can’t do, rather than really hearing what they’re saying, you will be choosing to focus on the faith you have in yourself instead. Although it often seems like someone can make us feel worthless, the truth is, we have to give them permission to diminish our sense of self-worth. So, next time you hear a person tell you, “You know you’ll never be able to do that,” or “Well,  you haven’t done it yet. What makes you think you’ll ever be able to?”. Negate their words by telling yourself, “I know I can do anything that I commit myself to because I have unlimited potential.” Even if you feel silly telling yourself something like this at first, after awhile you will automatically begin thinking in these terms. And, once you do, you are on your way to becoming that sparkling diamond that you know you can be.

So, make each moment of today count, and pursue your dreams passionately, not passively!

Until soon,

Your Success Diva

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All written material on this page and at The Success Diva pages is written by Alexis Wingate. All rights are reserved. (C) Copyright by Alexis Wingate. The Success Diva

it’s up to you, you know. . .

Okay, yes, I know that frustration is essentially a negative emotion. . .but the Success Diva truly does get frustrated every now and then.  “Really?” you ask, nearly speechless. Yes, really. One of the things that frustrates me most is when someone is unwilling to see for themselves that success and happiness are really possible. You would be surprised at how many people have told the Success Diva, “Well, I see success for you, dear diva. . .but not for me. My life is just too messed up for it to ever get straightened out again. ” Have you ever, by any chance, heard of something called a self-fulfilling prophecy? No, it hasn’t anything to do with mysticism or clairvoyance. . .so, skeptics, don’t start scoffing yet! A self-fulfilling prophecy usually is the sort of thing that has you saying to yourself, when you start having what seems to be the beginning of a quarrel with your spouse or boyfriend/girlfriend, “Hey, this is going to turn into a big argument. I just have a feeling that it is.” Or, let’s say that you’re going to a job interview and you end up telling yourself as you dash out the door fifteen minutes late, “Well, I’ve really blown it this time. Of course, what’s new?” Do you see what you’re doing when you say things like this to yourself? You are already predicting a negative outcome. You’re essentially setting yourself up for defeat and/or disaster. Rather than saying, for instance, “Well, my spouse or boyfriend/girlfriend and I could easily get into an argument here, but I’m going to try to make sure that doesn’t happen” or “Okay, I’m fifteen minutes late leaving, but maybe the traffic won’t be heavy and I’ll still make it to the job interview on time,” you’re already predicting that you will fail. “But Success Diva,” you say, “if you knew the history of my life, you would see that at least 3/4 of the time, I do fail.” First of all, I think you are probably choosing to remember the times you have failed and forgetting about the times when you have succeeded. If so, this is only natural. It’s what I’ve done for most of my life. It’s sort of like being an actress and getting wonderful reviews from all the critics except one, and concentrating on that one critic who wasn’t impressed by your performance instead of the three or four others who said you were absolutely fantastic. Have you ever noticed how much more willing you are to accept someone’s criticism of your appearance or of something you’ve done than you are to accept a compliment? You forget about the person who said that the poem you wrote was magnificent and reminded them of some of Sylvia Plath’s remarkable poetry, and you remember the other person who said that your poetry would never be good enough to get published. If you’re an artist, you don’t remember all the people who have told you that your paintings remind them of Paul Cezanne’s. . .rather you remember that one art teacher you had who smugly asked you what you were bothering to take art lessons for in the first place. Speaking of art, I heard something interesting about Pierre-Auguste Renoir recently. At an early point in the career of the French Impressionist painter, a well-known artist whom he admired said to him:  “I assume, monsieur, that you are merely dabbling in paints to amuse yourself.” What do you think would have happened if Renoir had listened to this man’s negative words? Why none of us would have ever had the opportunity to see one of Renoir’s luminous paintings. Instead, he would have died with nearly all of his potential inside him. Rather than deciding to bring to the world of art a brand new ‘voice’ through his unique and extraordinary style of painting, he would have given up, allowing the words of someone who failed to see the greatness within him discourage him from ever making his personal dreams a reality. I also remember hearing that, when Renoir was old and in a tremendous amount of pain with severe rheumatoid arthritis, he was asked why he continued to paint, even though it caused him such a significant amount of pain. His reply? Renoir said that he continued to paint because the pain would end, but the art he created would endure forever. And here we are, 90 years after his death, still enraptured by his art. Now his life demonstrates the will to survive, doesn’t it? When we think of a man who was determined to prove his critics wrong and not to let any obstacle get in the way of his dreams, we should think of Pierre-Auguste Renoir. I am tempted to remind people of success stories like this one when they tell me that they have reconciled themselves to never accomplishing anything of significance. Don’t get me wrong—if you’re someone who views your life this way or who sees yourself as a permanent failure, it isn’t just your fault. Sure, you ultimately make the choice when it comes to deciding what you are or are not capable of. However, I don’t think I’d be making false assumptions if I suggested that there have been plenty of people throughout your life who have been there to tell you what you could or couldn’t do. And I also think I could safely assume that many of these people seemed to be. . .well, experts in their chosen field. I would imagine that, compared to many of them, you felt relatively insignificant.  Most of them were probably older than you and had a lot more life experience behind them. It’s possible that one of your parents or an older relative has even been there to remind you of what you wouldn’t be capable of doing. I’m not going to say that they meant you any harm by stealing your dreams away from you. In nine cases out of ten, it’s those who “mean well” who are the ones who tell us that we can’t do something. But what frustrates me is how willing many of us are to automatically take the limitations that others place upon us and make them our own. Just because our mother/ father or one of our teachers or even our husband/wife tells us that we don’t have it in is to do something we dream of doing, what makes us assume that he/she is right?? The Russian composer, Mily Balakirev, was told that he had “no talent for composition,” yet he went on to create compositions that have inspired such famous composers as Rimsy-Korsakov and Alexander Borodin. The actress, Jessica Lange, was told, when she wanted to be a successful model at the start of her multi-faceted career, that she was too unattractive for any modeling agency to hire her and there was no way she would ever make it in the movies. Yet where is she today?? Lange, who has been referred to as a “fragile and luminous beauty,” has two Academy Awards and four Golden Globes to her credit, and she has had one of the most impressive and lasting careers of any leading lady in Hollywood history. So, as you see, the people who oft-times make it to the top of their field haven’t necessarily been encouraged and supported by everybody along the way. Actually, I would say that more successful people have had a large share of detractors rather than the other way around. In fact, I would almost be inclined to say that the more hurdles and obstacles life seems to be throwing in your path the greater are your chances of living a life that is successful, happy, and fulfilled.  Okay, I know that may sound ridiculous and unrealistic and a multitude of other things. However. . .I am urging you to think about this for a second. If an emotion such as anger or resentment can be turned around and used positively—if, for example, you can take your fear, flip it over, and use it as energy—then doesn’t it just make sense that having people tell you that you can’t do something could make you decide to prove them wrong?? At one point in my life, I made a list of every single person I could think of who had ever discouraged me or made me feel that I was less than worthwhile in some way. And believe me, I came up with a very long list. All sorts of names were on there—close relatives, good friends, professors, teachers, and even people whom I had only had two or three of conversations with but whom I always remembered because of how deeply their criticism of me had affected me. I remembered the doctor who told me I needed to lose weight because of diffuse swelling I experienced as a result of a drug reaction when I was 11. I also remembered the guy who told me that I would really be pretty if I would just gain some weight when I was 13. I thought about those people who had told me how beautiful and charismatic and enchanting my mother was and hadn’t bothered to pay me any compliments at all. Now I ask you: did any or all of these people mean to permanently influence my self-image and/or my self-esteem? Well, I can’t know for sure, but I am assuming that they didn’t. Yet I would be lying to you if I didn’t tell you that every one of these persons had a destructive impact on my life. Why?? Because I gave them permission to influence me negatively.  I hadn’t yet lived long enough to understand that the only way someone can make you feel that you are less than you are is if you allow them to do so.  I immediately subscribed to the idea that I wasn’t thin enough. . .or that I was too thin. . .or that I would always live in the shadow of my mother. . .or that I was some sort of wallflower who would never make a vivid or memorable impression on anybody. Was it my fault that I viewed everything that such people said to me as if it had been written in stone? No, of course it wasn’t. And if you are allowing the criticism, negative comments, and/or limitations others have put upon you cause you to feel that you are lacking in some, if not many, ways, it isn’t your fault, either. There is nothing to feel guilty of. . .at least, not so far. After all, the Success Diva has just now come into your life. Now, true, you probably had most of the answers within yourself before you met her. However, she is enabling you to dig deeply into yourself to discover that well-spring of knowledge and wisdom that you haven’t been thoroughly tapping into.

So, what is the Success Diva frustrated about? Isn’t that what you want to know? For I did say that I am experiencing a certain amount of frustration. Well, you see, it’s like this: the Success Diva can only come into your world and help you start transforming it if you allow her to do so. You can read her suggestions and listen to her advice. . .but if some part of you is still closing the Success Diva out, then she is only going to be moderately effective. And that is what frustrates her. There isn’t a diva around who doesn’t want to make an impact on the lives of those around her. Now, granted, there are some divas who try to make an impression through how they dress or how they sing. . .or, well, simply by how they enter a room. But this diva is more interested in you than she is in herself. As the Success Diva said in her very first post at her blog, it’s really all about you. Sure, I want to be happy and successful, too, but if you aren’t happy and successful, then I never will be, either. So, don’t keep frustrating your diva by refusing to listen to her when she tells you that you really can create and live the life of your dreams. And don’t try to make her believe that everything in your life is so perfect right now that there’s no room for improvement. Yes, it would please me greatly to hear that. . .however, I haven’t yet known one person who was living a life in which there wasn’t some area that could be improved. Usually, people are fulfilled and/or successful in one or two areas at the expense of one or two others. I’ll speak more about how you can arrange your life in such a way that you experience contentment in every area in the future. And, no, don’t worry—I’m not just going to tell you that you need to be ‘balanced’. I tend to think that a perfectly ‘balanced’ life is far from ideal because such a life tends to suppress a certain amount of passion, enthusiasm, and spontaneity. But, hey, I’d better not talk too much about that right now. You can’t find out all of Success Diva’s secrets in a day, you know! *wink* Besides, Success Diva is still finding out how to achieve fulfillment in every area of her own life. So. . .she’ll be growing wiser, happier, and more successful along with you.

For now, I urge you to live every moment with passion!

Until soon,

Your Success Diva

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Have a personal question for The Success Diva? Do you need her advice on a specific situation or problem in your life? Drop her a line at successdiva7@yahoo.com  Please know that I will answer every e-mail I receive at this account as soon as I possibly can.