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I was a Bully.....but now I've stopped!

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I was a Bully.....but now I've stopped!

Stop being a Bully! 

We set up foundations to stop bullying; we admonish others who bully.....and yet, we are a Bullies too.

One of the first signs you are a victim of this specific form of bullying is when you feel as though you aren't good enough. Who told you this?....more than likely, it's YOU who is saying this to yourself. In your past, someone else may have told you this but it is YOU who continues the abuse. Please, apologize to yourself.

Put your foot down NOW and stop the bullying IMMEDIATELY!

I gain clarity and take control of my Bully by asking a few questions. Once I gain this clarity I'm free to stand strong and see right through the negative strike. The first question I ask myself is, "Are the expectations  you're putting on yourself real? or...should they be adjusted?"  The next question is, "Should you raise your self-esteem and stand more tall and sturdy?"  More often than not the answer to these questions is, "Yes!"

When a negative thought comes into play I'll first ask my self the question, "Annamarie, are you comparing yourself to someone else?" When it comes to comparing ourselves to others, the quote by the great Zig Ziglar comes to mind. "You do not determine your success by comparing yourself to others. rather you determine your success by comparing your accomplishments to your capabilities." 

The best way for us to improve our capabilities is not to measure our life against the life of someone else, but rather learn from others and share what we know "with" them. This process will benefit us two-fold. When we learn something new and improve on our capabilities, our self-esteem is increased; we grow strong. 

Case in point. I read the writings of published authors and say to myself, "They are so good! As a writer I'm so far out of my element. I'm a speaker; I'm not a writer." I'm bullying myself with each comparison I make between myself and someone else. Instead I'll say, "I'm a speaker; I'm learning to become a writer." I look at "my own" capabilities and acknowledge my accomplishments. "I" can learn to improve and work with my capabilities.

What works for you?.... How do you stop the Bully?


 "Comparison is the thief of joy."  -   Theodore Roosevelt



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Learning To Ride!


Learning To Ride!

"You Can't Teach a Kid to Ride a Bike at a Seminar." This is a book title from the Sandler Sales Institute. I like the title because it's a great analogy for life. You can only learn so much from books, classes and other people; there comes a time when you just have to get on and ride.

 A similar point can be made when we are trying to obtain our Learner’s Permit to drive a car. First we have the formal classroom to learn about the traffic codes, laws and vehicle operation. The fun part comes when we actually sit behind the wheel and apply what we’ve learned from the books and instructor. When we actually drive, we are in control of where we want to go and what we want to see and experience. “Truly” living isn’t much different than learning to drive a car or riding a bike. We learn from others as they share their personal experiences; this is similar to the instructor and it’s educational but not experiential.  “Truly” enjoying life and learning from it comes from getting out there and just doing it.

One of the beautiful things about “living” is that we continue to learn and grow. Life is full of lessons and most of them come at the most unexpected and inopportune times. I use the word “inopportune” because we frequently say, “Now? Why did this have to happen now?”

I had the pleasure of meeting a beautiful young woman last week who is in the middle of a rough patch in life. While being only in her early teens, her father passed away last year and she is having some challenging days with his absence. We had a great conversation about whether or not “everything” happens for a reason. We also questioned whether or not “everything” has a lesson to it. It’s my opinion that lessons and learnings don’t always come in the way of enlightenment and joy; some come in the way of struggles and sorrow. Some of them have been clear and obvious while others have been obscure and hidden. For me, the most challenging lessons are the ones that don't come with answers the moment I seek them....I "want" an immediate understanding. One day I realized that the delay I was experiencing in learning a lesson was also a lesson in and of itself. While waiting years to gain understanding on "why" certain things were happening, I realized that this “was” my lesson. I was learning patience. I had to come to terms with the fact that not everything happens for a reason. At least it didn't happen for a reason that I was supposed to understand. I simply had to have "faith" that it was part of a bigger plan for me; it was all part of my journey. I had to have "faith" that God knows what was better for me than what I think is best for myself. But...but...but this is "MY" life!  Shouldn't I have a say so in what happens in "MY" life? Then I realized that I DO. I have 100% control on my attitude and how "I" was going to respond to the experiences that occur in "MY" life. Similar to the saying, “You can’t help the cards you’ve been dealt; only the cards you play.”

We can choose our attitude as easily as we can choose to get on the bike or behind the wheel. We can choose to play it safe and only read about travel; finding a new career; moving on to a new location or moving outside of our typical comfort zone. We can play it safe and not reach out to feel love again after we have been hurt, or we can get on the bike and ride. We can choose to live in fear and anticipate every negative card and experience in life that will probably be dealt to us; or we can learn from the lessons and continue on our journey with optimism and appreciation.

Me… I’m opting to get on the bike and ride. Life can’t be lived in a seminar or through an instruction manual, but it most certainly can be enjoyed through the ride. Care to join me?


Changing of Seasons


Changing of Seasons

Slumber parties rekindled!

          I usually write to you from my home in the Napa hills of California, but this week is much different; I’m in the beautiful state of Oklahoma. I am surrounded by tall, mature trees that are revealing their brilliant colors of autumn; it’s breathtaking. It’s time for the trees to change their appearance and move through the seasons of their life. It’s a joy to witness their transition from summer to fall. My usual scenery of the vineyards below has been exchanged for an incredible view of a pristine lake; my typical view of hummingbirds has been replaced with swarms of pelicans and cormorants. More important than the view which surrounds me is the company I am blessed to have on this visit. I am staying in the home of my childhood friend Nina and her husband Ted. Nina and I have been friends from the budding age of five where we shared graham crackers and milk in kindergarten. I haven’t had milk on this visit but the wine has been wonderful.  

          Friendships develop from so many different circles and cycles in our lives. I have friendships that developed from my work and friends that are couple connections for me and my husband. I have independent social friendships and connections made through social media. Each of these relationships stands alone and impacts me on different levels. However, it is the friends from my childhood that have a unique connection to my soul; this conduit can never be replaced. We know each other’s family; we know the struggles and joys we had as children; we slept over each other’s homes where we often returned back to our own home in the middle of the night because we became frightened. We know the names of each other’s pets and recall the tears of their passing. We have been shaped by these details and sharing these memories is done on an intimate level. It doesn’t matter if we became disconnected or lost contact for more than a decade or two, we are brought back together the moment we reconnect. It is as if the time apart never existed and we are again warmed by the affection.

          Remembering how hungry we were to turn sixteen and get our driver’s license makes me laugh. It seemed as if we couldn’t age fast enough; now we are ageing too fast. We didn’t know back then that becoming an adult would bring with it, the strains of commitment, debt and responsibility. Reuniting with these friends of my childhood unites the sweet childlike innocence with the mature responsible adult. Why must life be such a tug of war? The child in us wants to age faster and the aging adult wants to hold tightly to our youth. This tug of war makes me realize that it is much easier to simply enjoy where I am at this very moment. The conflict of young and old makes me more appreciative of my current age. Regardless, reuniting with old friends who have been with us through the awkward and growing years is beautiful. Appreciating the memories we shared while we each developed the core that holds us strong today with the added weight of responsibility is priceless.

          It is only appropriate that I sit among these changing colors and witness the changing of the seasons. Like me, as the seasons of life change, the colors become more vibrant with age.


Thank you Nina & Ted for a wonderful visit.


You are the "Bomb!"


You are the "Bomb!"

It couldn’t have been easy having a Mom who was a Motivational Speaker…..and was sometimes seen as being “kind of out there”.

I tried my best to exercise self-restraint while attending the sporting events of our son Austin. For almost two decades, I tried everything within my power to sit still. I even tried sitting on my hands to see if that would help. Gathered around me on the bleachers were other Moms who were poised, in control and non-emotional. On my part, this lack of exuberance only lasted about ten minutes. It burst out of control when “our” Little League Coach used foul language toward “our” boys. “Catch the damn ball”, he cried out to one boy. Next he shouted to another boy, “What the hell is wrong with you?”…… I was never a cheerleader and unless I was on stage speaking at a convention or conducting a training workshop, I quietly participated in activities. However, in this case, I didn’t care. I’ll always respect the call of an Umpire and the leadership style of a Coach, but there was no excuse for bad or negative language toward anyone; especially not eight year old boys. As I leaped off the bleachers and ran onto the field to address the Coach, I knew I was never going to be a “bench warming Mom”. The Coach tried to tell me that he didn’t use the word, “Damn” and he insisted he used the word, “Tham”. Really? He expected us to believe that “Tham” is a word. I knew I had the attention of the parents when I told the coach, “If you want us to believe this, then you’re really YUCKED-UP.” That was the day I revealed my deeper “Mom” spirit.

Regardless of being the only mother who applauded with exuberance; complimented the other team when they were exceptional; and always inspired our team, I knew it had to make our son uncomfortable. He never said a word to me about wishing I’d hold back or wanting me to be more reserved like the robot Moms who sat beside me. I tried with all my might to bite my tongue and not regularly offer words of encouragement. Then one day, our team was way behind in the score. It was the eighth inning and I heard shouts coming from the dugout of our team. The boys were yelling, “Go get Austin’s Mom….she can help us win”.

As Austin grew older and much larger, baseball turned into football and the crowds on the bleachers grew larger too. The parents and cheerleaders were supportive when the team was winning; not when they were behind. It was a major playoff game and our team was behind. The parents were quiet and I stood up and shouted out to the crowd, “This is when our team needs us the most. Stand up!” No one did.  This is the moment when MY power shifted. I spotted Austin on the field and I yelled out to him. “Austin! Austin!” Quite a few seconds pass and he didn’t move. I wasn’t sure if he was purposefully trying to ignore me or if he truly didn’t hear me. Suddenly, he turned around and looked up at me in the stands. Among all the other parents who had slumped into a sea of disappointment on the bleachers, I was the only one standing up. Again I shouted, “Austin, you know you have what it takes to turn these guys around. Get in there and do what you know you can do. They believe in you…like we do.” As he turned away from me, he pulled off his helmet and dropped it on the field. My heart sunk as I thought I had embarrassed him beyond repair. Slowly he turned around to face his team-mates. He turned his palms up toward the sky and reached out to his sides. He ran out to the rest of the players and clapped his hand up and down over his head. He motivated them to get the applause going and shift the energy up. He shouted words of encouragement and a few of the parents stood up and joined me in the bleachers. The energy and excitement was infectious and exhilarating. I’d love to tell you that they went on to win that game; but they didn’t. What they did win was a lot more than a game; they won their pride and discovered a unified spirit through their personal power.

Austin is twenty-nine years old and is a successful businessman. Last night he was home for dinner and I had a beautiful conversation with him. It was his response to my apology that melted my heart.  I said, “Austin, it must have been difficult for you as a young boy, to have a Mom who was so out-there and shouting words of encouragement to everyone, regardless of the team they were on. I know I certainly felt the stares and looks from some of the other parents who sat properly on the benches. Some of them were careful to not sit too close. I guess they feared I was contagious. I am sorry if I ever embarrassed you; will you forgive me?” He reached across the table and extended me a fist pump and said, “I know exactly what you gave up for me Mom; I even knew back then. You need to know that according to me and all the other kids, you are always the bomb.”

Standing out in the crowd isn’t always easy. Being the positive voice in an office of negative comments or in a family that is full of doubt, can be a challenge. Sometimes you have to be the powerful yet polite voice for those who can’t speak up for themselves. Please stick with it…..believe in your heart that what you’re doing is coming from a place of optimism, encouragement and love.

And always, always trust that “You are the bomb”.




                         Spilled Milk!                  "Worry, Regret's & Guilt"


Spilled Milk! "Worry, Regret's & Guilt"

Please don’t tell me how to “feel”.

Have you ever shared your feelings of guilt with someone else? Have you ever been told, "Don't feel that way"? How about when you tell someone that you’re "worried", and again they say, “Don’t worry”.  My feelings are my feelings. Telling me “not” to have them or "don't feel them", isn’t going to work. Now, it’s a completely different story if we discuss “how” these negative feelings aren’t doing me any good. An even better idea is for us to talk about the different ways I can move forward and eliminate these feelings. I’m willing to listen; but telling me “not to feel” isn’t going to work.

Today’s blog topic has been created at the request of a few of you readers. Your requests inspire and fuel me to research, ponder on,….. and write. I enjoy it when you request a blog topic; it’s a great compliment. Your request tells me you’re interested in my thoughts and they help me to learn. You have given me a great gift. Thank you.

Let me begin by saying that I worry; I have regrets; and I have feelings of guilt for some of the pain I have caused others by my actions. However, I do my best not to allow these feelings take away my enjoyment of life today or my dreams for tomorrow. I say that “I do my best” because it’s a constant work in progress. I am forever learning, growing and evolving. To tell myself or someone else, “Don’t feel that way”, isn’t going to help. Please note that I refer to worry, regret and guilt as “feelings” and not “emotions”. A newborn baby isn't capable of experiencing the feelings of worry, regret or guilt. Through my research, I’ve enjoyed the references of emotions differently than feelings. I can take ownership of my feelings; I’m responsible. When I’m responsible, I can change and evolve.

When left unattended, worry, regret and guilt are absolutely useless feelings; yet, we allow them to bind us up in psychological and emotional knots. These knots block joy, love and laughter from entering our life while they increase stress and “dis-ease”. From “dis-ease” come diseases. Blood pressure will rise, digestion will cease to work property and a host of ailments will develop. When we take worry and do something about it….ahhhhh, that’s another story. With a clearer understanding of its negative impact, worry can be reduced to a feeling of “concern”. Worry is an endless loop of negative thoughts; a hamster wheel of “dis-ease”. When you have a worry, write it down on a piece of paper. When you write it down, it can’t grow or keep spinning out of control. Looking at what you’ve written down, ask yourself this question. “Can I, and am I willing to do what it takes to change this situation?” If not, then agree that it is of no use to you and throw the paper away. If you can do something, then take the steps to do it. Write down what some of these steps are and you'll have a plan. Suddenly, your worry will be appropriately reduced to a “concern”. Concerns are manageable; worry is useless.

I utilize many props in my seminars and a tall glass of water comes in handy for my next demonstration. I replicate a story from another lecturer on the subject of stress management; it perfectly applies to the subject of worry, regret and guilt. Holding up a glass of milk that is half-full, I ask a question. Being an inspirational speaker, my audience suspects I’m going to ask if the glass is half-empty or half-full. Instead I surprise them by asking, “How heavy is this glass of milk?” Some people call out to me and say, “Half a pound to a pound.” They are surprised when I say, “The absolute weight of the glass doesn’t matter. The truth is, it depends on how long you try to hold it.” My audience listens attentively as I continue on to say, “If I hold the glass for about a minute, it’s not a problem. If I hold it for thirty minutes to an hour, my arm will begin to ache and my muscles will burn from the discomfort.” It is when everyone is most attentive that I continue on to say, “This is the same way with stress, worry, regret and guilt. The longer we hold on to them, the heavier they become. Put them down.” 

Wallowing in feelings of guilt and regret weigh us down and prevent us from making changes to move forward. Guilt, like jealousy, will eat you from the inside out. Its purpose is to get our attention to make a change. Not all guilt is rational but the negative feelings we give it are always destructive. Make amends for your behaviors and the actions that caused you to feel guilty in the first place; then put it down.

I have this story to share about regret. The day I made the “elective” decision to remove my entire pancreas; spleen; duodenum; section of intestine; ½ stomach; gallbladder and too many other organs to mention in my digestive and endocrine system, was the day I vowed to never live with regrets of any kind. The pre-malignant tumor hadn’t turned malignant “yet”. I knew there was a possibility that it wouldn’t spread and yet, maybe it would. I had already lost eight family members to cancer of the pancreas and digestive systems. Knowing full well the life before me, that was laid out by the doctors, would be filled with complications and challenges, I focused on the word “life”. Regrets have no place in my life. Initially I was burdened by the statements of "What if". Most of these "what if" statements were presented to me by others. "But what if it never spreads?; What if you have the surgery and didn't need to be so radical?; What if you get in there and discover you're too late?" When making a change in my life, I've learned to do as much due diligence as I possibly can. Search my intellect and most importantly, search my heart. Make decisions and always live without regret.  

 Life, like time, can only go forwards. Join me and live with purpose, love and laughter! Wasting the precious days of life by worrying over and regretting the days of the past while you feel guilty, is like "Crying over spilled milk". Wipe it up and move forward.





Are you "Fascinated" or "Frustrated"?


Are you "Fascinated" or "Frustrated"?

The power of words has always intrigued me; especially the words we tell ourselves. Now, as a case in point, let me tell you about some words I told myself for many years.  With the start of each year I was inspired, motivated, and focused to get healthy. Without fail, I was successful in losing weight; only to gain it right back. Contributing to my lack of permanent success was my vocabulary. I was telling people, “I lost the weight”. When I think about it, I’ve never been happy to “lose” anything. When I was a young girl, I “lost” an Olympic commemorative coin. I made it my mission to find that coin; and I did, along with extra stuff. It made sense to me that when I tell people I “lost” my weight, my sub-conscious will help me find it; and it did, along with extra weight . Conversely, when I cleaned out a cluttered closet or a cabinet in the garage, the stuff remained GONE. I realized that I was telling people, I “got rid” of the junk. When I changed the words I was using, I was in more control and the weight stayed away. Yes, I “got rid” of the weight. I will continue to “get rid” of additional weight, and my attitude will always be lighter because of my vocabulary.  

With the very first awareness of their vocabulary, the participants in my seminars improve their attitudes.  Participants feel a powerful change in their outlook when they replace the word “frustrates” with “fascinates”. You may not be attending one of my workshops right now, but try it. Instead of being impacted negatively by the actions of someone else or the situation, you’ll be "curious" to find a solution. Changing from “frustrated” to “fascinated”, you have a desire to better understand. Have you ever said, “It really frustrates me how you think!” Instead you’ll say, “It really fascinates me…” At the very least, you’ll smile and not continue to fuel your frustration.

Try this exercise with something that currently “frustrates” you. Write it down.

 “It really frustrates me how………………….…”.

Can you think of solutions to this frustration?

Do you even feel the desire to come up with a possible solution?

Now, write that same situation down by saying,

“It really fascinates me how…………..….”.

Before you start to write down all the possible solutions to this situation, focus on your attitude. Notice your willingness to move in a positive direction. Recognize your new willingness to take the steps to improve the circumstance.

Now, write down the possible solutions to alleviate this situation. 

Look at the powerful change that comes from using the word “get” instead of “have”.

You’re sending a powerful message to your children when you tell them they “get” to do their homework, instead of “have” to do their homework. This little change also helps to teach gratitude and fuel a more appreciative attitude.

We “get” to go to work.  We “get” to go to the gym and get fit. We "get" to clean the house. We "get" to work in the yard. 

Do you ever feel “overwhelmed”? Simply saying the word “overwhelmed” will make you feel overwhelmed. Whenever I use the word "overwhelmed", I'm told that I run my hands run through my hair; spiking it up from root to tip. This gesture conveys to everyone how stressed I’m feeling. I've learned to change the word “overwhelmed” to “in demand”. Pause here for a moment and think about it. Feel the smile on your face when instead of saying, “I’m really overwhelmed lately” you'll say, “I’m really in demand lately”. Feeling "in demand" means we're wanted; we're needed; we're IN DEMAND. When we are “in demand” we are in control of ourselves. That is an extreme way for me to prove my point; but I did. You smiled. 


Bumps, Ruts and Lush Patches.....

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Bumps, Ruts and Lush Patches.....

Do you remember playing with Silly Putty? Similar to clay, you can roll it in your hand and press it on a comic strip to copy the print. You can do this over and over again and reshape the putty to all sorts of shapes and designs. It doesn’t necessarily have to be Silly Putty; it can be any type of soft clay. When you roll a soft ball of clay down a path, it’s marked by everything it crosses. It may not be visible to the naked eye but every rock, thistle or blade of grass makes an impression on the ball. The path itself and the angle it provides will influence the shape as it travels along. Some of the impacts mar the clay and leave undesirable scars or designs you may not prefer. None the less, as the ball progresses, the clay will continue to take on new forms. In many respects, we are no different than the clay. Experiences and contacts with each other will influence our shape as we travel down our path in life.

I attended my fortieth high school reunion this past weekend and visited with people I hadn't seen for decades. Thank goodness the old yearbooks were available for us to open up and look at the photos. I was having a great conversation with one guy who said, "I don't remember you." When we opened the yearbook to look at my old photo he said, "I remember her." I busted out laughing and said, “That is ME!.... I'm HER!" He replied with, “You’re really fun and interesting; I wish I had known you back then.” I replied, “I wasn’t anything like this back then, I was still very soft clay.”

For a variety of reasons, I wasn’t terribly excited about going to the reunion. Through my website and blog, I have openly shared many of the private “gouges and mars” I’ve received in my journey in life. Although I am proud of the way I have reshaped these negative and painful experiences, I was still “feeling” fragile. Disclosing and openly discussing my experience of rape in the military made me “feel” vulnerable to old acquaintances. I was pleasantly surprised that there were no cliques and it made no difference if you were a jock, cheerleader, scholar, or clown. We acknowledged and admired each other for the forms we have taken to this point. We only knew that at one point in our lives we had traveled down the same path. Even if we didn’t have specific memories of time spent together, somehow we had made a mark on each other’s lives…..visible or not. We had walked the same corridors and awkwardly participated in the same proms, pranks and pomp and circumstance.  It was a good opportunity to review the road we’ve traveled in the last forty years and acknowledge our trials and triumphs. It is the ability to look at our past without regrets that we can look to our future with excitement and hope. Regrets of the past and worry about the future serve no purpose. We’re not finished being shaped or molded. Regardless of how well we plan out our future adventure in life, it will contain bumps, ruts and lush patches. Each mark that is made on our life is what makes us unique, special and beautiful.

Leave a good impression on the clay and lives of others….stay soft and open to enjoy the journey ahead.

Thank you for your support, encouragement and sharing of my blog.


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Cutting the Ropes Around YOUR Ankles


Cutting the Ropes Around YOUR Ankles

It starts with a small elephant and a big rope. You know the story, it's how humans control an animal that is greater than us in both size and strength. When a young elephant is being trained, a thick and heavy rope binds it to a spike in the ground. It may struggle for a while but eventually it gives up the fight. The baby elephant learns to live within the limits and confines of the rope. It can only reach out as far as the length of the rope will allow. Obviously, humans can't overpower a large elephant; but when the baby elephant has been trained in this manner, physical strength has no bearing. The elephant is controlled by his own limiting thoughts. It has convinced himself that the pulling of the rope and the resistance is stronger than his own strength. It gives up in defeat. Now, as a mature and large elephant, a simple string around his leg will provide all the control necessary to keep it restrained, restricted and mentally imprisoned. 

I'm sitting here looking at my ankles and I don't see any strings, yet I know I'm bound by some limiting thoughts. There aren't a lot of them but still, I know they exist. Many of these thoughts have been self-imposed and others have been unintentionally placed by influential people who have crossed my path in life. These limiting thoughts are more apparent when I look at my dreams and desires. When I take one of these dreams and go through the steps to turn them into a goal, SNAP-- there goes the jerk and  pull from the rope of doubt and insecurity. Now, as a case in point, let's look at this very blog. I continued to tell myself that "I'm not a writer, I'm a speaker." For over five years I wanted to write a book but the tug of the limiting thought kept me from achieving my dream. I discovered the weakness in the rope that bound me by asking, "Who told you that you aren't a writer Annamarie? What was the motive for telling you this?" Imagine my surprise to discover that It was actually me who told myself that I wasn't a writer. I discovered that it was my own personal motivation to inspire myself as a speaker and not to limit myself as a writer. I didn't intend to bind myself up; and yet I did. Little unobtrusive thoughts constantly cross our minds. Consciously we give them little regard but our sub-conscious is listening loud and clear. 

Take a look at your dreams and listen closely to hear the sound from old ropes that tug, bind and limit you. Some of the limiting thoughts may sound like, "You're too old for that." "You tried that once and it didn't work out then." "It's not worth it." "Why bother." "You'll never be able to....." Cut those ties and replace them with positive and constructive comments that free you to reach out past the length of your ropes. Take a look at "why" the rope was put there in the first place and free yourself. Be aware of the comments you tell yourself and what you recklessly say to others; especially children. You are an influential person in the lives of others and what you say can bind them or set them free to reach incredible heights. Your positive words are the fuel to strengthen and encourage a young personality. Speak with intention and thoughtfulness.

I am a writer; a storyteller; and a speaker of words. I may not be on the stage right now but I'm having fun between performances. When on stage, one of my greatest rewards is to see the look on someones face when we connect and share "a moment" of oneness. Your comments and questions are now my connection. 

Look at your dreams and cut anything that binds and prevents you from flying. Free yourself up to move toward your dreams; establish a goal; and achieve success. The thoughts that limit you...they aren't real.  Fly!



The Rear View Mirror and the lessons from a $500. Speeding Ticket!

I’ve decided to stay in the same theme as my last blog about my car and driving fast.

When I’m speeding, I’m careful to look closely in my rear view mirror and watch for police. I continuously look back on the on-ramps to double check that there is no highway patrol waiting to catch speeders. I closely watch the distance between me and the traffic behind me. I know that if they suddenly slow down, it’s a good sign that there might be a highway patrol behind me. When they slow down, I know they must know something I don’t. I’m quite familiar with the roof line and the appearance of the patrol cars to spot their lights “before” they are flashing and pulling me over.

With all these practices in place, how did I manage to get the speeding ticket?

Several years ago, I was spending so much time looking in my rear view mirror to look out for the highway patrol that I drove right up on the guy and I passed him. Yes, I was driving too fast. He didn’t even have to turn on his lights. When I passed him, he looked over at me and made eye contact. The next thing he did was to simply hold up his hand and signal for me to pull over……YES, I got the ticket.

In addition to discovering the best traffic schools in the area to have my ticket removed from my driving record, I received many other lessons. When you spend so much time looking in the rear view mirror of your life, you miss the opportunities coming before you. “Looking” at the past is great for reviewing lessons; examining successes; and evaluating the objectives that weren’t achieved. It’s also great to look at the past to review fond memories and relive the joys of happy times. All too often we stay focused on the past and with disappointment, we compare the “good old days” with our lives of today. We long for the “way things were.”

With the changes in business, I’ll often hear people say, “I wish we could go back to the way it was. It was so much better back then.” For starters, we can never go backward in life.  Secondly, did you forget about how much you complained about the situation back then? There are many situations in life where we can reverse some of the decisions and changes we’ve made. For some situations, there is truth in the statement that, “You can change the situation and try it for a while. If you don’t like it, you can always go back.”   Even if you go back and reverse some of the choices you’ve made, you’ll always have the experience of the change. We still have the experience of the change.

As a society, technology has changed us in so many ways. Some good….some bad. Some people say that texting and email have caused us to lose human connection. In the “good old days,” we had more voice to voice and person to person conversation. In the “good old days,” times were slower. All of these comments about the “good old days,” are true; but, the ability to talk together still exists… wasn’t eliminated. We can still have those face to face meetings; we can still pick up the phone and talk; we can still have those walks, long talks and dinner parties. Slower days and quality time is still available. For every negative thought you have for a situation, take a moment to write down two or more positives that have come about “because” of this change or circumstance.

What are the positives that have come about because of technology?

1.       Cell phones allow us to be more safe and connected.

2.       The internet allows us to connect with more information to expand our knowledge.

3.       Technology has allowed us to discover more cures in medicine.

4.       We can alert people in the event of natural disasters and often predict danger.

5.       We discovered the importance of quiet time and the need to go inward. (You never really appreciate something until it’s gone.)…… what else are we not appreciating fully?

6.       On..and on..and on.

This technique of listing the positives of ANY situation helps me to train my attitude to see the best in life while “using” the lessons of the past. “Using” the lessons of the past and not “living” in the past will help you to enjoy the moments of today. Life doesn’t happen in the future either. It only happens now.

Live in the moment with a realistic balance of the past with hope and goals for the future. The more hopeful I am for the future, the more creative and enthusiastic I am in life.

Believe it or not, I’m grateful for the ticket. The ticket was expensive, about $500., but the value of the experience is priceless.

Please share this blog and share your thoughts and comments with me….

Thank you,


Note: The next blog will be addressing “worry & stress”…..





What does a RAPIST steal from you? - a question from a reader.

What does a rapist steal from you? …..Thanks for asking this question of me; you have prompted me to take an interesting journey into my deeper thoughts.

There are many ways that I can answer this question; but for now, I’ll go in just one direction. When I was nineteen, my response to this question would be much different than what I’m about to say. Aside from the physical damage caused by a rapist, I always believed that one of the first things a rapist steals from you is your self-confidence. I believed they also take away your confidence in others; in life; in systems; and anything you once believed was stable and solid. When police officers enter a crime scene, they look around to quickly assess what’s missing. Following my rape, when I was alone and opened my eyes for the first time, I made this same assessment into my spirit.  I immediately discovered it was my confidence that was gone. Various edges of my core had been wounded; but, it was most noticeable that only a pattern of dust remained where my confidence had once stood. I searched everywhere for it but it couldn’t be found. I tried to find it in other people so that I could claim it as my own; but it wasn’t there. I searched for it in superficial activities and light conversation over a glass of wine; but it wasn’t there either. I couldn’t find it in shopping centers, jewelry stores or fancy resorts. The more I searched to find it in my physical appearance or in the affections of other men, the more apparent it became that I had lost it for good. I mastered the smile. I discovered that the more I smiled, the more comfortable others were in watching me live my life. It was important for other people to see me pushing through the experience. My family and friends needed to see me smile and I needed to see them happy. I tried the practice of “Fake it until you make it,” but it was only good on my exterior. It was helpful for creating good habits, but it didn’t help me for the long haul. It was the “fake it” part of the practice that wasn’t reliable and just didn’t fit me. I tried to master the art of applying a fake mask of “acceptance.” I put on the mask as if it was sheer make-up from Cover-girl.  All the while, deep down in my core, I believed my true confidence was lost. I was the queen at living vicariously through the achievements of others. I’m now certain this is why I became an inspirational speaker. It was glorious to lead others down the path to great success. I flourished while giving others the tools they needed to be strong and confident.

Then one day, I stumbled upon a piece of my own confidence and I thought…”There you are! That’s where I put you.”  It hit home when I repeated the words “That’s where I put you.” When we know a storm is approaching, we take our valuables and put them somewhere safe. When a thief is about to steal our belongings, we quickly hide them out of sight. We protect what we see as valuable and to me, my confidence was very valuable.  I know that when I have to move quickly, sometimes I’ll outsmart myself. I’ll put something in a special spot and think, “Annamarie, you’ll remember where you put this.” When I’m hurried or stressed, I forget the secret spot all together and in time I’ll consider it gone forever.  

Today, at the age of 57, I have a different opinion. I know the man who raped me AND the military justice system that didn’t protect me….didn’t take my confidence. I’ve had it along. I believe that in the moment of crisis, I reacted quickly to protect who I am….my spirit. My confidence was only shattered and not stolen. I had quickly tucked it into safe places in my soul. It was never lost; I had only forgotten where I had placed the precious pieces. Once I realized that I had all the pieces inside of myself, I became a master confidence hunter. I have learned to search within myself to pull all the pieces together. While teaching others to be confident and successful, I discovered how I could pull the once fragmented pieces of confidence into the completely whole woman I am today.  Sure, now and then I’ll still stumble on chips of broken confidence; but now it’s easier to recognize them and put the confidence right back where it belongs.

It’s a long answer but I felt it needed explaining. I believe that my rapist stole nothing. I am whole.

My suggestion is: If you believe that someone; something; or some experience, has taken something from you….look deeper. Seek out counselors and professional resources to lead you to the best hunting spots within yourself. You’ll find that your confidence is still there. No one took it from you. Like me, you may have put it away for safe keeping. It’s in you.

Thank you for submitting your questions and it will be my honor, to communicate in future blogs, some of the best places to hunt and capture that confidence you have within yourself.  





There is a "Right" way and a "Wrong" way...but don't forget about the Fun Way!

There is a "Right" way and a "Wrong" way.....but don't forget about the Fun Way!

Warmer weather is right around the corner and if you're like me, I bet you're looking forward to eating ice cream. It's when I eat ice cream that  I'm reminded of who gave me a little rebel spirit. I can blame it directly on my Mom.

When it's a really hot day and the ice cream begins to melt faster than you can eat it; why wrap the bottom of the cone with napkins? It's so much fun to bite off the bottom of the cone and suck the ice cream down from the top. Enjoy it from the bottom up! My Grandmother prohibited my Mom from sucking the drips or biting off the end of the cone. This "rule" prompted my Mom to make herself a promise. "When I have my own children, they can eat ice cream any way they want. " In fact, she taught me that the best way to eat a cone was from the bottom up. While the other kids ate their Drumstix Ice Cream cone with the chopped nuts on top by licking the vanilla ice cream from the top down; I bit off the bottom. I pushed the cream down the a funnel. It makes good sense.  Sure, I noticed the other kids eating it "up-side-down," but I liked my way too. It wasn't "Right" or "Wrong:" It was just fun.Yes, yes, yes...I understood that in public, there was a "proper" way; but it's fun to live dangerously and do it the fun way.

I had to laugh at a story I heard the other day from a friend who went to the Frozen Yogurt Shop for dessert. The store weighed the bowl of Frozen Yogurt before they paid. The server said, "This will be $2.65." My friend picked up the bowl and while eating bites of the yogurt he said, "Oh no, that's just too much." He put the bowl back on the scale and it came down to $2.25. Picking up the bowl again and taking a few more bites, he put the bowl back on the scale and the price went down to $2.00.  He said, "Now that is better. I'll pay $2.00." Now that's just "Wrong." Funny as heck and I wish I could have seen the look on the face of the server at the Yogurt Store....but it's just funny. Yes, yes, yes....he paid the $2.65 and was just playing with the server. 

Please....when you catch yourself making judgments about what is "Right" or "Wrong," take a moment to see if it's really that "serious" of an issue or maybe it's time to loosen up and have  some fun.





Let's get the "Just" out and be an "I am...!"

Let’s get the “Just” out and be an "I am...!"

“Is she holding a pair of Aces; a Royal Flush; or is she bluffing?” Look at my face and I’ll tell you everything you want to know. Put sunglasses on my face or put a hood over my head; it won’t matter. Regardless of what you put on my head or eyes, my expressions are more than likely going to tell you exactly what you need to know. It’s precisely because of these expressions that I don’t play poker. It’s through my smile; my touch; and the combination of my words that I best connect and communicate. I wish there was an app to allow me to touch your hand while we chat. I would certainly prefer to sit beside each one of you to connect; but, for now I’ll use this medium to convey my thoughts. Words are wonderful tools capable of caressing; expressing; cutting; and conveying our thoughts and feelings but they are severely limited. Sadly, some words have dual meanings that confuse and complicate our communication. The list of homonyms in our language is endless. The constant chatter in our own private thoughts is also endless. On a conscious and sub-conscious level we are capable of building ourselves up and tearing ourselves right back down. This tear down happens in one quick and virtually unnoticeable thought we say to ourselves. 

Have you noticed how some people start out telling you about their occupation or hobby with the words, “I’m just….?”  When they begin their statement with the word “just,” I feel them shrink. So often I hear people say, “I’m “just” a secretary;” “I’m “just” a nurse;” or, “This is “just” a hobby of mine.” The word “just,” is one of those homonyms that can mean equitable and fair. It can also mean blameless and aloof.

When we share information about ourselves, let’s not take away our confidence by leading off with “Just.”  When we are speaking about ourselves or someone’s title or circumstance, let’s get the “just” out of our vocabulary. The same holds true with the word, “only.” We aren't “only” this….or “only” that. Let’s be who we are without any limitations; reductions or apologies. Let’s be confident and have pride in the person we are becoming. I prefer to build myself up and not limit who I am or what I love. This also holds true to a situation where we are trying to communicate our feelings or circumstances. Even when asked about a scrape on our leg we say, “I’m fine, it was “just” a scrape.”

Let’s get the “just” out and be an "I am...!"




Happy Mother's Day - Taking Time to Reflect

Happy Mother’s Day!

I recently attended a baby shower and was amazed with all the new toys and tools available to young mothers. Geeze, there were so many gifts I had never heard of… I found myself saying, “I wish I had that when my son was a baby.” Strollers that turn into carriers then suddenly spread out and become cribs or toy trucks. It’s as if Transformers the movie merged with Little Bo Peep and Mary’s Little Lamb. The young Mother demonstrated how to push a button and suddenly it morphs into a carrying bag; pull this rod over here and now it’s a Jonny Jumper…but wait, it’s also a picnic table and bath towel filled with scents to induce sleep. When I was a young mother, I couldn’t pull the table out on the high-chair without getting pinched. I can’t imagine myself trying to figure out the complexities of these new “necessities.” I was simply excited when our son was happy with the box a gift came wrapped in….ta-da….two gifts in one! What kind of Mother would I be with the accessories of today? Confused, that’s for certain.

I know some of you have heard this story, but on this special day when we honor Mothers, it wants to be shared from my heart. This takes place when our son, Austin, was around five years old. We were remodeling our home and the family room was decorated with hammers, screw drivers and drills. I was hurrying to rush out of the house and get to work. I was begging Austin to, “Please hurry up and get out into the car” when my skirt catches the edge of a hammer and it spins around and hits me on the ankle. Dang….the only spot on my body that doesn’t have sixteen layers of fat! I get out to the car and I’m waiting and waiting….becoming more irritated with each throb I feel in my ankle. Finally, I go into the house to see what this little guy is doing that is taking so long. He is down on his knees and rummaging through the trash. “Finally,” he says. In his hand is a piece of plastic that wraps around the cheese slices that I give him for lunch. In his other hand he has an ice-cube. He wants to wrap the ice in the plastic to stop the swelling of Mommy’s ankle. I feel horrible. There I was, annoyed at the time it was taking him to get into the car, all the while he was trying to take care of me. I kicked myself over and over again for being a lousy Mother, when suddenly it hits me…. “Who taught him to put the ice in plastic?” I did.

I look at the new toys and trinkets that I wish I had when I was a young Mother, and I think of the things I could have done better... I forget to think of all the things I did “RIGHT.” Today is a good day to focus on the positives. Remember that the empty box the gift came in was the best “transformer” of imagination; Remember the times you sat with them to color on that box and turned it into whatever they wanted it to be; remember the long walks in nature that contribute to their love of life; the unlimited times we tried to answer “Why?” to the endless questions about anything and everything we experienced…

Love yourself on Mother’s Day! We dun good!


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Everybody likes parfaits.....

Everybody Likes Parfaits!

Even the Donkey on Shrek knows that everybody likes parfaits. Parfaits comes in layers and everybody likes to dip down into the layers to discover all the unique flavors. Onions come in layers too! Onions generally taste the same through all the layers but the inside seems to be more tender….or is that tenderer? When I cook dinner and only need half an onion, I don’t peel off the outer layer on the half I’m not going to use. This way, the tender parts are protected until I’m ready to reveal them. As a professional speaker I reveal certain parts about my life and my character  to let you get to know me better. This knowledge helps you gain insight into my thought processes and relate to my inspirational techniques. But, just like my cooking I kept a large chunk of myself protected…..until two years ago. This is when I uncovered a tender spot in my life and revealed the particulars of the rape I endured while in the Air Force in 1977. Boy do I wish I had done this earlier in my life. Not only would I have helped thousands of others like me, I would have shared more of the unique flavors I offer the world as a person. Focusing on the positive; I’m grateful that I did it now! If you’re hiding a wounded spot or facing a challenge, please focus on the benefit you and others will receive because of your courage and revealing. Wounds don't heal well in the dark.   

This is my first blog to all of you and you can expect to see more of the onion; more of the flavorful layers that lie in my parfait. It’s my hope assist you in the discovery of the beautiful flavors that are layered within you too. I’m excited to share with you the beauty I've discovered through many challenges that have come to me in many forms. Through future posts, we will dip into the layers of optimism; enthusiasm; appreciation of life and more. I look forward to your comments, suggestions and discussions in the areas of rape in the military; cancer and other health challenges. I foresee great dialogue on techniques to improve attitude, action & accountability in our personal and professional life. I am excited to collaborate on techniques to improve our skills in business and communicating positively. So, let’s take out our spoons and dig deep into the incredible flavors of life. Because…..Everybody likes Parfaits!


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