Monday, March 31, 2014

Are You Your Greatest Obstacle?

Think about the top ten challenges in your life for a moment.  How long have these obstacles been in your life?  Do you have any idea when you're going to conquer them?  What's stopping you?  If you are having trouble, I know how you feel.  If your really honest with yourself, you may find the number one reason why you're not reaching your goals.  It's you.  Don't get stressed about this.  Once you identify yourself as the main obstacle, you can bust through anything in your way.  Try these ideas:
  1. Stop trying to re-invent the wheel.  There are people all around you who found a way to overcome the same challenges you are dealing with.  All you have to do is follow their example.
  2. Try something new.  Only a fool will do the same thing over and over while expecting different results.  If you want to unfreeze yourself, you need to experiment with new approaches to the same problems.
  3. Focus.  You can't solve all your problems at the same time.  Your brain becomes so overwhelmed that you get stuck.  Forget about how big your to do list is and pick one challenge that you are going to handle.  Keep chipping away until you eliminate the obstacle in front of you.  Don't give up.
  4. Pretend you already found a solution to your problem.  Imagine yourself at some future point on the other side of your obstacle.  Do you see yourself in a new body that is pounds lighter and physically fit?  Take a good look at how happy you are.  Sometimes, just seeing yourself on the other side of the problem is enough to inspire you to achieve your goals. 
  5. Stop telling yourself you can't do it.  Every time your brain hears you say, "I can't do this," your brain gives up and you really can't do it.  Start telling your brain, "I'm smart enough to find a solution and strong enough to keep moving forward until I get past any and all obstacles."  Your brain is listening to everything you say and will oblige.
The good news for you is that you are capable of turning everything around right now.  You have the power to become your greatest ally instead of your greatest obstacle.  Don't forget to share your results with me.  I'm waiting to hear your positive results.  Thanks for visiting today.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Thanks, Mom, For Inspiring Me

Once I made the decision to get married and start a family, I put my head down and went to work on a rock-solid plan to build wealth.  I made all the right moves, including buying commercial property, investing on a regular schedule and keeping my expenses to a minimum.  I ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches every day so I could have more money to buy aggressive growth mutual funds.  Then the economy turned south and so did my investments.  No worries, I thought.  My home has a couple of hundred thousand dollars of net worth. I'll recover.  That's when my wife told me her homesickness was tearing her up on the inside and she wanted to move back home to be closer to her family.  The real estate market completely collapsed in the blink of an eye and my last remaining asset became a liability.  That's when I had my most memorable conversation ever with my mom.  Here's what she said to inspire me:

"Son, when I was fifty, I had no job, no money and no retirement account.  I decided to get busy and recover.  Today, my house is paid off, my retirement account is healthy, I'm healthy and I have everything I need.  I believe you can get through this.  Stay close to your wife and the two of you can get through anything."

"The banks aren't cooperating," I told her.  "My realtor keeps finding buyers but all they do is drag their feet.  Home prices are in a free-fall."

"Don't worry about the banks.  They're in trouble.  Keep your faith.  Feed your family.  Everything will work out.  Just follow my example," mom told me.

My mortgage company threatened to sue me for the deficiency once the short sale was approved four buyers later.  I told them I knew California real estate law and that what they were doing was illegal.  They backed off.  I sold all my remaining possessions and moved out of California.  A junk debt buyer decided to attack our family the first month we arrived in Iowa.  Instead of rolling over and letting them wipe us out, I decided to fight and force them to prove their case.  They falsely believed that because our family couldn't afford an attorney, they could get away with not following the rules of the court.  They chose to ignore our requests for proof they had a right to sue us.  The judge was not happy with their behavior and ordered the junk debt buyers to comply with our requests or face sanctions.  They filed a motion for dismissal and walked away.

I have more respect for my mother than ever.  She kept her cool when her world was unraveling.  She proved to me that when you never give up, good things happen.  Thanks, mom, for inspiring me.  I feel like I'm in one of those Allstate commercials  where they say, "you're in good hands."  Yes, I'm in good hands – God's hands.  And I trust He will guide me just as He guides my mother.  And if you need some encouragement today, take my mother's advice and keep your faith.  She's right – everything will work out.  Just put your head down and do the work.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Goliath Left the Battlefield

Final score:  David 1, Goliath 0

It's over.  Goliath surrendered.  He left the battlefield.  He weighed the high cost of facing sanctions due to his inability to play by the rules of the game and decided it wasn't worth fighting. 

If you are one of my friends who has been following our legal battle, I just want to say thank you for your support and your prayers.  Have a great day.  And don't ever give up no matter how big the giant is who is attacking you.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Do You Need Help Minimizing Your Distractions?

What's going on in your life that's causing you to lose sight of your goals?  These distractions, if they're not dealt with, can deal a serious blow to your long-term plans.  I have first-hand knowledge of this.  In Southern California, my distractions included the beach, the tennis courts, door-to-door solicitors, and numerous televised Padres and Chargers games.  With the exception of the solicitors, my list of distractions is actually loaded with fun stuff.  The problem isn't how fun the distractions are, it's what the distractions do to keep me from my important tasks.  I found a radical way to put an end to all the obstacles – I moved to Iowa.

Changing your location may remove some obstacles, however, unless you develop the necessary discipline to minimize your distractions, you will find yourself distracted even when you're living in the middle of the corn fields.  Here's what you need to do if you're having trouble with distractions in your life:
  1. Write down a list of specific goals.
  2. Prioritize the list.
  3. Focus on the list every morning when you wake up.
  4. At the end of the day, read over the list.  If you missed something, ask yourself why.
  5. Resolve to eliminate whatever distractions are keeping you from achieving your goals when your new day begins tomorrow.
You need to promise yourself you are stronger than your distractions.  Decide today that your goals are worth completing.  Disconnect your TV if it's preventing you from getting your important work done.  Put your cell phone away when you're working on a big project.  You can do this.  Have a great day.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

What Happens When You Share?

The last time I visited my cousin, Mark Mulligan, he invited my family to be guests at a house concert about one hundred miles away from my new hometown.  We chatted during a break and he told me about a book he was writing, The Three Miracles.  It was great to see him so happy up on the stage, doing what he does best – singing and entertaining.  He wouldn't let me pay for the concert.  Mulligans can be stubborn when it comes to picking up the tab.  It's like facing a UFC fighter who refuses to submit.  Instead of getting in a fight about paying for the concert, I found a way to turn it into a win-win situation.  I used my entertainment budget to purchase a Mulligan's Island tee-shirt and a couple of Mark's CD's.  Knowing the shelf life of my shirts, this is a great investment on my end.  And I get to hear Mark's music year-round.

My cousin did it again.  Last week I sent him an email congratulating him about his book and told him I couldn't wait to read it.  Before I could order my personal copy, he emailed me back and told me the book was already on its way.  I walked over to the post office first thing in the morning yesterday to pick up my copy.  The outside temperature was in the teens and the wind was howling.  I didn't care.  All I could think about was spending my day off in front of a warm fireplace reading my cousin's book.  What a joy it was to read his story.  My phone started beeping at me the moment I flipped to page seventy-four.  It was one of Mark's brothers.  He was reading the book at the same time.  What an experience.  I was reading Mark's story and texting with my cousin who was one of the characters in The Three Miracles.  Talk about a 3D reading experience!  Mark was already pushing all my emotional hot buttons as if we were on some sort of rickety roller coaster with no brakes and suddenly my cousin John was sitting next to me just in time for another big plunge.

The ride came to a conclusion shortly after supper.  My wife noticed the excitement on my face and hollered, "Don't share anything, I'm reading the book next."

"You're gonna love this book, honey," I told her, "Mark is sharing from the heart."

That begs the question, "what happens when you share?"

All I can say is that the world changes when you share.  Connectivity happens like some kind of chemical reaction when the right ingredients are mixed together.  Hope rises like an early morning sunrise.  Endorphins are released into your body.  You feel different.  You feel good.

Are you interested in having your own roller coaster experience?  I recommend you click here to visit my cousin's website and order a copy of his new book.  Take a look at his schedule.  When he's in your area, go check him out.  Tell him his crazy caveman cousin sent you.  And please don't get into a fight with him about which of us is crazier.  I own all the rights to this category.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

10 Reasons To Be Happy Today

Would you like some great news?  Yesterday ended.  It's over.  Go ahead and stop thinking about all the things that went wrong in your life yesterday.  I give you permission.  Instead of looking backwards at all your troubles, concentrate on these ten ideas for today:
  1. You have the power to make someone else happy today with your smile, your warm welcome or maybe your phone call or text message.
  2. What you do today can change the world.
  3. You can get through anything if you deal with it one day at a time.  
  4. You have unlimited choices in front of you right now in this moment.  Your happiness comes from making great choices, one at a time, throughout this day.
  5. Once you realize how much potential this day has, you will gain a sense of direction for how you use this day.
  6. Negative people will avoid you.  They are repulsed by happy people who thrive in all circumstances.  This is a great reason to be happy.  Your happiness is like insect repellant.  Spray it on liberally and you will feel like you're on a picnic with no ants to bother you.
  7. Make a list of all the things in your life you're thankful for.  The longer your list, the more happiness you will experience.
  8. Today is your opportunity to make adjustments.  Decide today that you're going to do something better today than you did yesterday.  Don't overwhelm yourself.  Just pick one area of your life you want to improve and watch your self-confidence soar.
  9. The value of today is not measured by how much you take, but how much you give.  Find something to give today – your time, your talent, or your treasure.  Giving is the fastest way to enhance your happiness.
  10. Remember you are a reflection of an all powerful, all loving God.  He created you in His own image.  He loves you perfectly, just the way you are.  If you want to be truly happy, invite Him to share this day with you.
I have a day off from my day job today.  I let our youngest son borrow the car so he could drive to school.  Even though it's only 15º degrees out, I'm planning on a brisk walk to the post office to pick up a book I'm planning on reading today.  My cousin, Mark Mulligan, sent me a copy of his book, The Three Miracles.  I already know I'm going to love reading it because the author is one of the happiest people I know and he's sharing his story of love and faith with the world.  I recommend you order a copy today.  Have a great day.  Be happy.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Nothing Can Stop God's Plans For You

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. ~ Romans 8:38-39

This Bible verse is one of my all-time favorites.  When I find myself under attack from the dark side, I focus on this verse.  I remind myself who wins.  The race has already been decided.  There is absolutely nothing that can keep us from God's love.  Think about that for a moment.

If you're struggling today to discover what God's plans are for you, why not just ask God to show you the way?  He knows all your worries.  He knows your weaknesses.  Turn your troubles over to Him and be confident that He will work everything out.  Have a great day.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Mistakes: To be or not to be?

Sometimes your whole life boils down to one insane move ~ James Francis Cameron

We all know people who are so afraid of making mistakes they don't try new things or venture out into the unknown.  They call themselves perfectionists.  They go to great lengths to avoid anything that may make them look foolish.  If you know someone who is like this, please share this story with them. 

My attitude about mistakes is much different today than it was when I moved out after college.  I promised myself I would never get married.  The failure rate was too high.  Marriage appeared to be too risky.  Then I fell in love.  I completely forgot about my fear of failure and jumped in.  Have I made mistakes as a husband and parent?  Oh yes.  My wife and adult children could write numerous stories about all my mistakes.  They could do standup comedy about their experiences in our household.  But here is the bottom line:  I'm not perfect and I'm not supposed to be perfect.  Neither are you.  You are setting yourself up for failure if you believe you can get through life without making mistakes.  Mistakes are like global positioning satellites that show us when we are off course.  They help us find our way to better solutions.  Mistakes help us become better parents, better spouses, and better members of society.

Here is the question of the day for you about mistakes:  To be or not to be?  I'm curious about your answer.  Please email me or share your answer below in the comment section.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Are Your Dreams Living in the Shadows of Your Fears?

Fears are fences we build to keep us safe from the unknown.  I don't believe in fences.  They are artificial boundaries that hinder our dreams.  They are excuses for not being the best we can be.  I want an unobstructed view of all the possibilities that exist and I certainly don't ever want my dreams to be overshadowed by artificial barriers.

What good is a dream that lives in solitary confinement because someone else told you there is no place for it in the world and you agreed?  You are the gatekeeper.  You are the judge.  You are the person responsible for every dream that lives inside your mind.  Decide today to bust through that fence and venture out at full speed.  Leave your fears behind.  Yes, there is greener grass out there.  You will never find it if you're too afraid to follow your dreams.  Do yourself a favor today and stop living in the shadows of your fears. 

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Be Kind To Yourself

Perhaps it's easy for you to praise others and make them feel good.  You give them encouragement and help them when they're feeling down.  What do you do when the person staring back at you from the mirror is struggling?  Do you find yourself being overly critical or harsh when something doesn't go right?

I seek out people who lift me up when I'm going through a difficult situation.  Their positive energy and willingness to listen makes a difference in my life.  But the one person who has the most influence on my life is me.  If I'm berating myself for my mistakes rather than using some encouraging self-talk, I'm making matters worse.  Here's my advice to myself and you:

Be kind to yourself.  Treat yourself with the same dignity and respect you give your friends.  Avoid putting yourself down.  Try this for thirty days and I bet you will feel much better about yourself.  Let me know if this helps.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Singer-songwriter Releases First Book – The Three Miracles

To know Mark Mulligan is to love him.  And if you haven't listened to his songs or met him in person on his tour across America, you're missing out.  His heart is in the right place and his motives are pure.  How many writers do you know who are willing to donate 100% of their online book sales to feed the hungry?  Here are three reasons you need to order The Three Miracles:
  1. Someone you don't even know who is hungry will eat.
  2. You will feel inspired.
  3. You will never be the same again.
The book doesn't officially launch until tomorrow and I've only read the first seven preview chapters on Amazon, however, I already know I won't be able to put this book down once it's in my hands.  Click here to visit Amazon and take a peek inside.  Yes, Mark Mulligan is my hero.  Way to go, cousin.  I'm really proud of you.

Visit Mulligan's Isle for more details about the book and don't forget to check out Mark's songs. 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

What Happens When You Tap Into Your Strengths?

Odds are that if you find yourself drifting off course you may not be tapping into your strengths.  You were born to do something special with your life.  Maybe you just need a little help discovering what your potential is.  Take the free strengthsfinder test and learn what your top five talent themes are.  This will help you better understand yourself and it could be life-changing.  Want to give it a try?  Click here for the link to the free strengths test.

Would you mind sharing your top result when you're done?  Click the comment button below to share your top strength.  Mine is "Maximizer," which means I really thrive on seeking to change something strong into something superb.  And I can't think of a better way to do this than to help you become superb.  I'm cheering for you.  Have a great day.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

At Your Service

These last two years have been amazing.  I believe I learned something about what it means to serve others.  I'm not talking about the kind of service that you do to get something back.  I'm referring to the acts of kindness you do without expecting anything in return.  I left California because I knew my wife and youngest son would have an opportunity for a better life in Iowa.  I told myself, "Offer it up.  It's time to let go of all the things you love so you can take better care of the ones you love."

The funny thing is I knew people who were making bets about how long it would take before I returned.  They focused on one thing – the weather.  I focused on something else – my family.  Then something really special happened.  Our two older adult children made a decision to move to Iowa and be near us.  They both sought jobs that deal with serving others.  And they found happiness.  Me too.  My joy comes from serving others.

This blog is for you.  I'm sharing my life with you because I want you to have what I have – peace.  No matter where you live, what you do, or what your current situation is, you can have peace.  All it takes is a desire to serve others without expecting something in return.  Peace be with you.  My peace I give you.  Please let me now how I can better serve you in the future.  Thanks for visiting.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

@Socalmulligan Twitter Site Reaches 1,000 Followers on St. Patrick's Day

The greatest hope for a writer is that someone actually takes the time to read his or her work.  Yesterday, twenty people decided to follow me on Twitter – @socalmulligan.  Special thanks to Twistools, Amy Julius, LMG, Skip Prichard, David Quiram, Jason Majoue, Lolly Daskal, ebooks Grow On Trees, Tim Milburn, Vic Robbie, Michael Smith, Gary Hopkins, John Michael, Patrick J Russell, Speaking Volumes, E,  American Revival, Leland Rolling, Michael House, and Sean Wilcock for helping me yesterday.  If I missed your name, I apologize.

Now what?  The next step is for readers to jump into the story.  I'm seeking characters for my book.  This story is interactive.  If you're in a hurry or just want to catch up, here's how you can participate:
  1.  Visit the Cyber-bistro and click on the free chapters link.  Read chapters 1, 2, 37 and 38.  Here's what happened in chapters 3-36...The main character, Thomas Morgan, sold all his possessions, including his home in California.  He and his family packed their bags and headed to Iowa.  His wife and son are convinced their are ghosts in their California home.  They don't know Thomas is seeing his own ghost in the Mirror.  Thomas meets his ghost for the first time in chapter 37.
  2. Come back every Friday for a fresh new chapter.
  3. When you get the urge to participate, email me and share something about your character.  Give me a description, a name, and how you want to interact.   I will take care of the rest.
  4. Keep reading.  Look for your character to appear in a future chapter.
  5. Invite your friends to join the fun.
Chapter 39 is already out of the oven and cooling down.  I will be serving it at the bistro on Friday, March 21 at 8:08 AM, Pacific Time.  Thanks for joining me on the journey.  It's really fun to share this story with you as it unfolds, one chapter at a time.  Have a great day.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Birthday Wishes On St. Patrick's Day

The Mulligan clan is celebrating today.  Today is a big day for my cousin, Patty, and our daughter, Nicole, both born on St. Patrick's Day.  Twenty-one years ago we welcomed our daughter into this world.  Right now she is on the adventure of a lifetime pursuing certification for diving and earning college credit at the same time in Florida while on Spring Break.  Happy birthday to two special Mulligans!

The company I founded with a special group of entrepreneurs is also celebrating a birthday today. is nine years old today.  I'm no longer part of the ownership but I wish everyone at Zoom a Happy Anniversary.  I will never forget how special it was to build a company from scratch.  My time at Zoom shaped me into the person I am today.

My first book launched on St. Patrick's Day, 2011 and I released the first chapter of my virtual novel on this day one year ago.  There is still much work to be done.  I plan to keep writing.  Most writers would never dare share their books in the raw stages of development.  It's like watching a home under construction.  The first thirty-six chapters of my novel were like staring at dirt, waiting for the foundation to be poured so the framing could go up.  Chapter thirty-seven is the framing.  It won't be long until my cyber-novel is complete and I have an Open House at Caveman Reflections Cyber-bistro.  If you haven't visited lately, stop by and check it out.  Every Friday I publish a new chapter for free.  And you are invited to be a part of the book.  Email me if you would like to create a character and perhaps you will see yourself in a future chapter. 

If you have a twitter account, I could use your help today.  My goal is to reach 1,000 followers by the end of the day and I'm only twelve ten short.  Would you mind taking a moment today and clicking here to follow me @socalmulligan?

Have a Happy St. Patrick's Day.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Are You Lucky Enough?

We changed our second pet's name to Lucky after we adopted him.  The name fit him.   He ate up all the cushions in our couches the first week he moved in.  I say he was lucky we didn't return him.   We left him alone for a couple of days while we visited family at the beach.  The place where we stayed didn't allow pets so we decided to leave our back door open for him.  Big mistake.  Rather than stay inside, he spent the entire time outdoors moaning and groaning.  The neighbors called the police.  When we got home we heard all about Lucky's late night antics.  He spent the rest of his life as our constant companion.  Eventually, he stopped eating our cushions.

Some people aren't so lucky.  They don't see the same opportunities that lucky people see.  If you don't feel lucky enough, maybe you need to change your attitude.  Tell yourself, "I'm lucky."  Your brain will follow your command.  Your sense of awareness will increase and you will start seeing new opportunities.  That's all there is.  Your luck will improve.  Try it.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Room Addition at the Cyber-bistro

The Cyber-bistro has expanded.  I added a new section entitled, "Let's Get Personal."  This section answers frequently asked questions posed by new and old friends who want to know more about my life as a writer.

It took me a while to find my sea legs in my quest to publish my first novel.  If you haven't checked in, I think you will find the latest chapters are picking up speed.  At last, I have a clear vision for the rest of the story.  Click here for entry into the kitchen and let's get personal.  Have a great day.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Do You Own a Puke Shield?

You can't see my puke shield.  It's invisible.  I put it on to protect myself from the other person's spew of harsh words.  It works every time.  And since the person on the other side can't see it, they have no clue why I'm able to remain calm during their rants.  In fact, the most difficult thing for me is to keep from laughing because the other person appears more like a stand-up comedian than an adversary.  I can't even hear their negative words.  It's like watching TV without the sound turned on.  Their arms are flailing.  Their muscles on their faces are tightening up.  And vomit is sticking to my puke shield.

Warning!  Do not remove your puke shield until the rants are over.  Make sure the other side gets everything out of their system.  Here are some questions to ask to make sure they're done:
  1. Ask them, "Is there anything else on your mind you would like to discuss?"
  2. Try this, "If I were in your shoes I would be angry too.  Is there anything I can do to help you?"
  3. Say this,  "I'm really glad you came to me so I can listen.  Is there anything else bothering you?"
  4. Ask this, "What kind of solution do you have in mind?"
Whatever you do during the rants, do not laugh.  Remain calm.  Nod your head affirmatively.  Look straight into their eyes.  When it's all over, you may even get a compliment for your superior listening skills.  Just keep the invisible puke shield to yourself and use it as often as necessary.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

How To Know If You're an Influencer

Influencer - one who has the capacity or power to be a compelling force on or produce effects on the actions, behavior, opinions, etc., of others.

Are you an influencer?  Maybe you're shaking your head no as you read this.  Think again about what you do every day.  If you're a teacher, parent or coach, you are definitely an influencer.  And if your behavior or your actions persuade others to make changes in their lives, you are also in this category.

One of my greatest joys is inspiring others to enter the writing arena.  This is my purpose.  It's my calling.  And the One I follow is the greatest influencer of all time.  Here are some examples of His work:
  • He gave sight to the blind.
  • He made the lame walk.
  • He convinced others to follow Him.
  • He never failed to see the potential in every person He met.
There are specific tools to measure your level of influence in the world, such as number of Facebook friends or Twitter followers.  I'm super excited to approach 1,000 Twitter followers, however, it pales in comparison to the joy I have when I reach a reader who wants to learn more about the One I follow.  Jesus is the real deal.  He is the One who gives me the courage to keep writing, even on days when I'm not sure I'm making a difference.

Don't be afraid to use your gifts to help others.  Be thankful when someone says to you, "the reason I'm doing this is because you inspired me by your actions."  Yes, you are an influencer.  The big question is, "how are you going to use your gift?"  You don't need to answer here.  Just go out into the world and do it.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

A New Approach to Managing Your Stress

I watched this TED talk the other day about stress.  The title, "How to make stress your friend," got my attention.  It makes sense.  If you're feeling stressed out these days, you must watch this video.  It won't eliminate your stress.  What it will do is help you calm your nerves and improve your health.  Let me know what you think...

This video appeared at the perfect time in my life.  My stress levels should be off the charts right now but they're in check.  I think these ideas are having a positive influence on my busy life.  I managed to crank out another chapter yesterday and feel really good about how it came together.  You can read chapter 38 on Friday, March 14 at 8:08 AM, Pacific Time.  All I can say without giving the story away is that Thomas is suffering from high stress in his life.  Click here to read about his adventures.  Have a great day.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Sunshine on my Shoulders

Yesterday was fabulous.  No jacket.  No gloves.  And no negative temps.   I fired up my Weber and basked in the sun during an afternoon barbecue before heading off to West Des Moines for some laptop tune-ups.  The photo you see above was shot along the I-80 near the location featured in chapter 37 of The Caveman in the Mirror.  You can check out the story at the Cyber-bistro.

I'm writing Chapter 38 today for release on Friday.  Make sure you visit the bistro on Friday, March 14, for an update.  The two main characters are meeting for the first time.  I can't wait to share more with you.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Are You Out of Your Comfort Zone Yet?

It hasn't been easy for our Mexican Chihuahua to do her business outside these last three months.  In fact, it's never been easy for Roxy.  She grew up on the streets south of the border before we adopted her.  She never had rules.  It took years of coaching to finally teach her where her bathroom is.  Normally, she has a small area about 4 ft x 4 ft outside in our backyard where the snow is cleared away.  Not last night.  The super warm temperatures widened Roxy's comfort zone.  I let her outside without her leash.  Big mistake.  She spotted a bunny and took off, vanishing in an instant.  It was like watching the greyhounds chase the fake bunny around the racetrack.  The two kicked chunks of snow into the air as they rounded the corner of our home and disappeared while I watched through the sliding glass door in my bare feet, unwilling to chase after them.  Our oldest son ran outside and tracked Roxy down.

The late-night episode made me think about our comfort zones.  A six pound Chihuahua sprinted right out of her comfort zone as soon as she spotted something she wanted to go after.  She didn't think about.  She simply went with her instincts.  I did the opposite.  I saw all the hurdles.  I thought about the pain of running barefoot through patches of snow and ice.  How am I ever going to catch the bunny if I don't pursue my own dreams?

There is something scary about writing when you're outside your comfort zone, especially when you never learned the traditional rules.  My training consists of participating in a writers critique group and gleaning information from the Internet.  My gut tells me to keep going, keep chasing the bunny.  Don't worry about anything.  Just write, one chapter at a time.  I'm at a point in my novel where the action is heating up.  My writer's brain is thawing out.  Yes, I'm outside my comfort zone.  It's okay.  This is where I belong.  How about you?  Are you ready to venture outside your comfort zone and discover your passion for life?  Put on your running shoes and start today.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Day 1 of Spring Forward

Bring on the sunshine.  It's Spring forward day.  I'm already dreaming about firing up my Weber barbecue grill.  Things are heating up around these parts.  That extra hour of daylight makes a big difference.

How will you use the extra hour of daylight in your life?  Don't forget to add to the conversation below.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

If You're Gonna Do It, Do it Right

My dad's favorite instructions to us when we were growing up included this Mulliganism: "if you're gonna do it, do it right."  I'm still trying to figure out how that fits into my life as a writer.  Modern technology offers many options.  I think I'm finally figuring it all out.  After months of going through the motions, I think I struck gold with my novel.  The main character is headed for some stage IV rapids and I find my head spinning.

My advice to you is to follow your dreams and stay the course no matter how tough it gets.  Decide today you are gonna do it, and do it right.  If you would like to visit the Cyber-bistro and check out my latest writing project, click here.  This story is finally coming together.  Thanks, dad, for the advice. 

Friday, March 7, 2014

Spring is in the Air – Almost

Even the birds don't know what to do with all these crazy weather patterns we are experiencing in the Midwest.  They are flying around in circles, not sure weather they should be headed north or south.  A bald eagle laid her eggs and then Mother Nature dropped a foot of snow on top of her nest.  It has been one of the wackiest winters of all times.  The good news is in Monday's forecast.  The high is predicted to be 51º.  Yes, Spring is in the air – almost.

I like to consider myself a survivor.  I enjoy a good challenge.  Mother Nature taught me a few lessons during her season of Winter.  I learned I can adapt.  I learned to appreciate every day, no matter how hot or cold it is, or how difficult it may be to navigate on the icy roads.  I learned just how powerful love is.  Love conquers all things.  It thrives on the coldest days of the year.  Yes, I'm thankful for all that I learned during Winter.  Now it's time for a new season.  I'm ready.  How about you?  Do you have big plans for Spring?

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Characters Wanted

Things are getting steamy at the Cyber-bistro.  Tomorrow's chapter is a turning point in my novel, The Caveman in the Mirror.  I'm excited to share this project with you.  There is only one thing missing – you!  This virtual novel is interactive.  This means you may insert yourself into to the story any time you feel like jumping in.  You become part of the book.  Here's how it works:
  1. Decide who you want your character to be.  You can base him or her after yourself or make up a character.
  2. Send me an email with a brief description of your character.  Is he or she a hero or a villain?  How does your character wish to contribute to the novel?
  3. Keep following the story.  Your character will make an appearance in a future chapter.
Thanks for participating.  I hope you join the fun.  The best chapters are ahead because you are about to become a part of the story.  Make sure you check out chapter 37 tomorrow at 8:08 at the Cyber-bistro.  Yes, March Madness is here.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The 40 Day Journey to Easter Sunday

Today marks day one of the 40 day journey to Easter Sunday.  It reminds me of the 40 days Jesus spent in the desert preparing Himself for His ministry on earth.  The Evil One waited until the end to tempt Jesus away from His Father's plan.  Can you imagine spending 40 days away from food, shelter and all the comforts of life?

I plan to use this time period to renew my commitment to read the Bible cover-to-cover.  I know it won't be possible to complete this in 40 days because of my life's obligations, however, I do believe I can lay the foundation and build better habits during this period of time. 

Would you like to join me for 40 days and read the Bible daily?  If so, click here and bookmark the link.  Commit to 40 days.  If you feel this is making a difference in your life, keep going.  One year from today you will achieve something really special.  Have a great day.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

We Have an Iron Man in Our Family

My wife and I attended our youngest son's wrestling banquet last night.  He and ten of his team-mates accepted a special honor, the Iron Man award.  In order to qualify, each wrestler needed to be at every practice and every match from beginning to end.  A one minute tardy or leaving practice one minute early meant disqualification.

All season long, we watched our son push himself to his limits.  He battled injuries.  He fought through pain.  When he couldn't wrestle, he showed up anyway and jumped on the exercise bike.  His coach told the team that never before in school history have so many wrestlers earned this award.  Our son and his team-mates remind me that showing up every day and doing the work separates the men from the boys.  They had an amazing season because they committed to daily practice.

I would like to acknowledge all the hard working coaches who helped shape our son into a fine young man who has an incredible work ethic.  The world needs good mentors who are willing to make sacrifices so that the next generation can excel.  Thank you!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Back in the Writing Zone

My passion for writing is overflowing.  The flash of light finally struck me while driving along Interstate 80 the other day.  The words are gushing like a flash flood.  March Madness is officially here.  I'm using the poor weather to my advantage.  Stay tuned for some exciting chapters ahead at my writer's blog.  Have a great day.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

More Battles With Winter Storm Titan

The third storm in three days is about to strike.  The roads are packed with snow and ice.  And I'm headed outside to clear my driveway so I can go battle the elements.  Day 2 of March Madness continues.  I joyfully await the return of Spring.  Before that happens, I have much to accomplish.  My wife has her honey do list and I have a novel to complete.  The snow shoveling days will be coming to a conclusion soon.

If you have to go outside in challenging weather, please be careful and slow down.  Have a great day.  Don't forget to check in at the Cyber-bistro on Friday for chapter 37.  My writing drought is finally over and my inspiration is on fire.  If at any time you are following the story and you feel the urge to jump into the pages, all you have to do is email me a brief description and your character will make a cameo appearance.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

A Doe, a Deer, and 20+ Friends

I shot this picture on my way home from my day job last evening.  These cute creatures dot the interstate outside Iowa City.  The other day, four deer casually walked in front of me on a side street, stopping traffic.  They are a sight to behold.

One of my writing mentors taught me to refer to photographs while writing about a scene to help pay attention to the details.  I was hoping to capture a shot of a deer on my commute to aid me in developing the next chapter in my novel.  What a surprise it was to see so many all in one place.  I pulled over and shot this picture through the window of my car.  I can't wait to pen the next chapter –  it's a turning point in the story line.  Everything I need is in my head.  Let the March Madness begin.  Make sure you visit my writer's blog on Friday, March 7 to see how this picture fits into "The Caveman in the Mirror."  The pace is picking up now.  No longer do I feel like I'm scratching my nails on a blank chalk board.  I see the light at the end of the tunnel.  I can't wait to cross the finish line and deliver my first virtual novel to the world.  Thank you, Mother Nature, for all your contributions this Winter.