Friday, November 28, 2008

Gratitude Power

It's that time of year when gratitude is on everyone's mind. Sadly, it may just be the only time of year for some people to stop and take stock of their blessings. If they only knew the impact that gratitude has on their life! 

Throughout history the great philosophers have always celebrated gratitude and extolled its virtues. All of the world's religions practice gratitude as a morally beneficial emotional state.
 But did you know that researchers have been subjecting gratitude to scientific study? 

Among their findings is that gratitude plays a significant role in a person's sense of well-being. After conducting the Research Project on Gratitude and Thanksgiving, Dr. Michael McCollough, of Southern Methodist University and Dr. Robert Emmons, of the University of California at Davis, concluded that daily gratitude exercises resulted in higher reported levels of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, optimism and energy. Also, the gratitude group experienced less depression and stress.

In light of his research, McCollough suggests that anyone can increase their sense of well-being and create positive social effects just from counting their blessings. The reason for this, in part, is that there is a close relationship between people who are grateful and the positive emotions of joy, love and happiness.
Scientific literature reveals that not only does happiness yield numerous rewards, but it is actually seen to promote positive outcomes. What this means is that happiness actually makes good things happen. Additional benefits include higher incomes, superior work outcomes, better physical health and even longer life.

Dr. Emmons goes on to say that happiness can add as much as nine years to one's life expectancy. In a longitudinal study of college students, it was found that happiness levels in college predicted income 16 years later. The most cheerful students earned $25,000 more per year than their most dour classmates.

So for the sake of your health, wealth and happiness, try a little experiment with yourself and begin to keep track of the things you have to be grateful for - - every day. And then watch and see what happens!!

"When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around." - - Willie Nelson

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The heARTmatters Children's Project

Back in 2005, I came up with an idea that I decided to call The heARTmatters Children's Project. The purpose was to be able to donate my book, God is Color, to hospitalized children thru sponsorship/ donation.

As the result of the generosity of some very special people, I was able to donate several hundred books to the Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital in Hollywood, Florida, and to children all over the world through the IAM Foundation.

"Susan does a colorfully brilliant job at illustrating God as well as affirming the love and diversity of all children on earth in her beautiful book God is Color."
--Steve Vigione, children's author, founder and CEO of The IAM Foundation

Since my move to Georgia in 2006, I have established a relationship with Children's Healthcare of Atlanta and so far have been able to donate in excess of 100 books. What's more, I have been allowed to visit the Family Library there, personally sign the books and put them directly into the hands of the children. 

What a thrill - - To bring a smile to those darling faces is a feeling that is hard to describe - - 

"WOW! Thank you so much for your generous donation to the Max Brown Family Library. They (God is Color) are absolutely the favorite book of many patients. They love all the color..."
--Patsy Rann, Family Library Coordinator, Children's Healthcare of Atlanta

We all know that times are tough, but no matter what we may be facing, hospitalized children are facing much greater trials. So, since we’re in the month of gratitude and heading towards the month of giving and celebration, I invite you to look deep within your hearts and help me to help others by creating some smiles, raising some spirits, and giving to those who are facing such monumental challenges.

If you have your own favorite group or organization to donate to, I will ship the books directly, otherwise I can donate to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta in your name.

For your convenience, you can go directly to where you can review the different Sponsorship categories. You can then select your level of participation and make your payment using my secure shopping cart. If you have any questions or would like to speak with me directly, I can be reached at 770-578-9393 or 954-812-9268 cell.

With warmth and gratitude,
Susan Schanerman

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Dawning of New Life

In celebration of the arrival of my first grandchild, Jaylynn Rose Schanerman on Sunday, October 19, 2008 I've decided to post this article which I wrote back in 1996.

Yesterday my friend Susie gave birth to her first child ... a 6 lb. 7 oz. beautiful, baby girl. I just had a long conversation with her getting all the details of the labor, birth, etc ... and as I got off the phone, I began “musing” about the wonder of it all.

Is there any experience we know of or could even imagine that comes close to the mystery, awe and wonder of birth? I can’t think of one.

From the conception ... the merging of male and female energies ... to gestation ... growth ... maturation ... to labor ... and finally, birth. Nothing less than an out-and-out miracle.

The act of creation is and always has been. PERIOD. From beginning to end ... the process has its own timing ... its own “knowing” ... Just like Susie was saying about when it was time for her to push ... it was just time for her to push ... she just knew ...

Somehow these thoughts about a new birth and the incredible wonder of it all led my mind to contemplate the similarities with the process of creativity, in general. Conceiving of an idea ... allowing it time to gestate ... mature ... going through a labor period and then voila ... giving birth ... and seeing the idea in its physical form. A thrilling experience for me, without a doubt.

But what I am coming to understand is that any act of creativity, like creation itself, has its own timing, wisdom, “knowing” ... and for me, I am coming to realize that the more I allow myself to “go with the flow” of the process ... to trust it ... the more creative I actually become.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Shadow Dance

"Dark Days" by Susan Schanerman

I've been studying human nature for the better part of my life. I guess I have the kind of mind with an insatiable need to understand ... how and why we do what we do ... internal and external influences and how they play a part ...

I received an e-mail yesterday or the day before, from my friend and shamanic counselor Michele Lessirard. While she is an astrologer and likes to explain things from that perspective, she is also a very wise woman and has great insights about all aspects of life. For her, astrology is a tool to understand the cycles of life, both personal 
 and collective. It offers guidance as to how to live proactively, rather than reactively.

She says that cycles spiral in four stages - a time of hope, a time of growth, a time of completion and a time of standstill. As she sees it, we are currently in a time of standstill. What that suggests is that we are being forced to deal with the death of the old structures. It is also a time when the “shadow aspect” of ourselves wants to be acknowledged. 

"Too often we discount the richest part of the journey... the death of the old ways, the death of the old self. The moments of standstill...” – Michelle Lessirard

Carl Jung, perhaps the greatest proponent of the shadow or “shadow aspect” of our personalities, wrote that "everyone carries a shadow." He considered it a part of the unconscious mind that holds our shortcomings, repressed weaknesses and instincts. The shadow is prone to project, and without recognition or acknowledgment, it will form "an ever thicker fog of illusion between the ego and the real world." - - Carl Jung

What I found to be particularly interesting was that Jung believed "in spite of its function as a reservoir for human darkness--or be perhaps because of this--the shadow is the seat of creativity."

We spend inestimable time and energy in this society suppressing what we deem to be our undesirable qualities (our shadow.) In so doing however, we are actually denying our humanity.

Author Jill Badonsky suggests that "the phrase 'I cannot afford the luxury of a negative thought' and the book/movie The Secret [actually] go against our inherent make-up as people." She goes on to say "...You see what a waste of energy it is to try and stop negative thoughts especially when both the energy we use and the thoughts themselves have so much potential for creativity."

Obviously, we don't want to identify ourselves or act out of our shadow. But observing and acknowledging it non-judgmentally, allows us to embrace our humanity. We've all seen examples of the fine line between madness and creativity. Our shadow can be transformed and even exalted by giving it creative expression.

Giving ourselves permission to be the totality of who we really are is what gives the magic and passion to our lives. You know what the silliest thing is? Each and everyone of us has a shadow aspect - - and yet most people spend the better part of their lives trying to hide, deny or suppress it.

"This it is, after all, the dab of grit that seeps into an oyster's shell that makes the pearl, not pearl-making seminars with other oysters."--Stephen King

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Creative Life

I've recently gotten into the habit of listening to Bob Edwards’ Weekend on public radio every Sunday from 12 - 2 pm. Typically, he interviews authors for the first hour and various other creative types in the second hour. Two weeks ago, his guest was Paul from Peter, Paul and Mary and today it was Joan Baez.

The point was made that Baez is celebrating her 5th decade as a singer. That reminded me of something that I have thought about for long time. It has always struck me as particularly curious that people who spend their lives in the entertainment business or any other creative field seem to continue to do what they do ... express what they have to express ... until they leave this world.

So different from the masses who work until they can retire. Or amass enough money to NOT have to work.

Not so with artists, actors, musicians - - Maybe it has something to do with Soul Satisfaction? When we express and live as the creative SELF we truly are, our Souls are full-filled, joyous and at One with All-That-Is. And isn’t that what it’s all about anyway?

Saturday, August 30, 2008

In Pursuit of Bliss

Back in June, I found a woman online who talked about creating Bliss Books. What they are is a type of scrapbook where you put all kinds of things that represent your joys, hopes, wishes, accomplishments, acknowledgements ... in other words ... your Bliss!

More than just a creative expression, these books serve another purpose, as well. At those times when self-esteem gets shakey or your energy is off, you can pull out your Bliss Book and be reminded of just how wonderful you are!

All of a sudden, it dawned on me that without realizing it, I had made several of these kinds of books over the past few years. I just never had a name for them.

For me, they included my writing, drawing and coloring, quotes, photos, collage, keepsakes, and more. When I go back and flip through them (as I did just the other day) a sense of pride and accomplishment comes over me.

So I bought a new scrapbook and began collecting things I want to include. It took until just last Sunday for me to begin designing and pasting - - and I now have about 6 completed pages and 5 or 6 more that are ready to be glued down.

Why not give one a try? There's no doubt in my mind that you'll have a lot of fun creating it and a real sense of satisfaction when it's complete. Keep me posted!

Celebrate Your Magic!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Sounds of Silence

Image from

I just learned something quite fascinating. In the country of Bali, on the first day of the Hindu new year, no one talks, travels or works. It's a day of silence, prayer and reflection that enables the Balinese to start the New Year with spirits renewed.

And here's something else that's not only fascinating, but mind-boggling. The American eco-activist John Francis spent the years from 1973 to 1990 in incomplete silence. It is said that once he experienced the beauty of keeping his mouth shut, he didn't open it again for 17 years with one exception: to tell his parents how much he loved them.

According to Francis, "silence is not just not talking. It's a void. It's a place where all things come from. All voices, all creation comes out of this silence. So when you're standing on the edge of silence, you hear things you've never heard before, and you hear things in ways you've never heard that before."

The Italian psychiatrist Piero Ferrucci has said, "Our culture is suffering from an overdose of action and a shortage of contemplation. I consider contemplation a basic need--- you even see it in animals." It's their way (and our way) of recharging the batteries. Sadly, for most people, this basic physiological need is completely overlooked, ignored and/or denied.

One might go so far as to say that modern people seem to do whatever they can to chase away the silence. They actually fear it. As French philosopher Blaise Pascal said "Eternal silence of those infinite spaces fills me with dread." An American-born Buddhist monk put it this way: "Silence is confrontational to the unstable mind. It won't allow you to escape from all the voices in your head."

The ultimate byproduct of the unwillingness or inability to become silent, is that one is unable to make contact with their deeper core, higher self, pure soul or what ever you want to call it - - and so become detached from their essence, their truth, their God.

"To hear the voice of God, you must be silent." Why? "Because God whispers."

Monday, August 11, 2008

Success and Failure

Like most words, success and failure carry with them a wildly diverse assortment of meanings. For many, success is only seen as Olympic gold, Best Sellers' Lists or Awards for Outstanding Achievement. In the western world, success is equated with big homes, fancy cars, stock portfolios, etc., ergo, the phrase Status Symbols.

Conversely, failure is most often construed as the antithesis of the former. Not only, does it reflect NOT achieving a goal, but more than likely would also include evidence of lack and limitation. It’s as though you took a 180° shift and simply added the word NOT to the earlier achievements.

When I first came up with the idea for my company CreativeSuccessWorks, several years ago, one of the things that became clear to me was that as far as creativity goes, success or the lack thereof, was a matter of personal viewpoint. Now, I’m broadening my perspective to include the idea of success in any arena.

Think about this for a moment - - What if success were looked at as merely any movement in the direction of a goal and "failure" (if there even in such a thing) were merely a stumble, a wrinkle or a temporary backslide. Paulo Coelho, author of the highly-acclaimed book, The Alchemist, says that "success is falling seven times and getting up eight."

This theme also brings to mind Thomas Edison's response when asked what he had to say about his 9999 failed attempts to invent the lightbulb. Edison's reply was something like "Those weren't failures, I just learned 9999 ways NOT to make a lightbulb."

Abraham Lincoln is another great example. Neither bankruptcy, mental illness or numerous failed attempts at achieving public office, thwarted Lincoln. He just kept moving forward. The result, of course, was a certainly an outstanding one.

Like most people, I have had my own fair share of experiences of success and failure. On one occasion, I had a scheduled book signing at Borders on one particular Saturday afternoon. I set up my table, greeted incoming customers and handed out my promotional postcards. Some people smiled and thanked me, some people read the postcards and nodded, but only a handful even came over to the table to look at my books. At the end of the afternoon, I had not sold one book.

Now despite the fact that I had had a huge success only a few weeks earlier, in which I sold 100 books to a local nonprofit organization, this "failure" really knocked me for a loop. Self- doubt and negative thoughts engulfed me and I began a downward spiral into misery and despair.

But the episode drove me to examine these two concepts from the viewpoint of those who have come before me. I began to look up quotations on failure and in every case, I discovered that the ONLY true failure is to never have tried or to have given up. Thomas J. Watson, founder of IBM, summed it up by saying:

"Would you like me to give you a formula for success? It's quite simple, really. Double your rate of failure. You are thinking of failure as the enemy of success. But it isn't that at all. You can be discouraged by failure -- or you can learn from it. So go ahead and make mistakes. Make all you can. Because, remember, that's where you will find success."

Curiously enough, the next thing I knew, my mood had lifted and the blues were gone. What I concluded was that the “success or failure” of our lives is quite simply determined by our point of view.

So, in closing, I'll leave you with my personal recommendation for a life filled with success - - "Fail On!"

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Journal Power

I discovered the power of journaling in 1996. With only a few interruptions, I have been journaling daily ever since. Journaling serves many purposes and has numerous beneficial aspects. First and foremost, it provides the opportunity for personal and private self-expression. Whatever is placed upon the page is between the individual and the page. There are no outside opinions or judgements or criticism to have to contend with.

Journaling can be a ‘dumping ground’ for anger, worries, and fears. It can also be a ‘blank slate’ for declaring hopes, wishes and dreams. The simple act of putting thoughts and ideas on paper, in and of itself, provides clarity and a new perspective.

Over time, journaling becomes the conduit between the individual and their Higher Self - - between the self and the Self - - and as such, can be seen as a form of meditation. Creative ideas, answers to questions and inspiration often accompany the process of journaling.

Bottom line, the mere act of getting feelings out of ourselves and onto paper is a healing act. When the notebook or papers are then shut and put aside, we gain a certain distance from those troublesome feelings and their power to negatively impact our lives is minimized.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Physician Heal Thyself

(“The phrase alludes to the readiness and ability of physicians to heal sickness in others while sometimes not being able or willing to heal themselves,” also to “Attend to one's own faults, in preference to pointing out the faults of others.”) - - Google

This phrase came to mind this morning as I was journaling. It was followed by “Walk the Walk – Don’t Just Talk the Talk.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I must admit that following my own guidance or “Walking the Walk” as they say, can often be extremely challenging for me. I think it primarily has to do with discipline and bad habits more than anything else.

Case in point: My creative flow has been sluggish recently. And that makes me feel extremely embarrassed since I consider myself to be an expert in matters pertaining to all things creative.

And then I heard the phrase “Physician Heal Thyself” and I realized that if I were coaching someone else in this situation, I would point out that at times like these ... when the well has run dry ... the stream has been over-fished .... it needs to be re-stocked.

There are many ways to accomplish this but the important thing to realize is that we cannot just fish - fish - fish or create - create - create or work - work - work without allowing the time necessary to restock ... restore ... regenerate.

And that could look like going on an adventure ... or exploring someplace where you’ve never been ... or doing something to stimulate the senses ... the list is really endless.

Bottom line, as always, as I stopped trying to force the issue and began to relax into and accept the moment ... Voila` ... the words began to flow and here’s the result!

How about you?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

More Wonder of Wonder

This is a piece I wrote back in January 2005, but it ties in so perfectly with a Discussion Topic I began yesterday on my Facebook group, I decided to reprint it. I was living in Ft. Lauderdale at the time.

I don't know about you, but whenever I see a rainbow, I break into a smile. This past Sunday was a perfect case in point ... it had been gray and overcast all day with intermittent bouts of rain and a cold front that had caused at least a 20+ degree drop in temperature.

I was sitting at my desk and just happened to look out the window ... and there before my very eyes was a huge rainbow ... with a smaller one by its side ... and I couldn't help but smile. What is it about rainbows?

And for that matter, what is it about all of the incredible examples of nature's magic and mystery that strike such chords of wonder? I certainly can't explain it but I do know I feel it ... How about you?

I think the whole point here is that if we do our best to remember to be as open and aware as possible ... as much of the time as possible ... we increase the likelihood of witnessing so much of the magnificence of everyday life ... that is just waiting for our recognition ...

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Are You Listening?

I recently watched the movie August Rush (twice actually) and I was blown away ...  I was profoundly moved ... I was inspired. Movies do that for me ... all the time.

When the movie opens you hear a voice saying, "Listen ... Can you hear? The Music ... in the wind ... in the air ... in the light? I can hear it everywhere. It's all around us ... All you have to do is open yourself up. All you have to do ... is ... Listen ... "

Without going into the details, the movie basically tells the story of a young boy who knows with every fiber of his being that he will one day find his parents. He doesn't wish or hope or believe he will find them ... he KNOWS he will.

The movie feeds that part of us that wants to believe in the magic of life. It uplifts the spirit and feeds the soul. From a creative standpoint it truly encapsulates the premise of heARTmatters!

If you haven't seen it ... Please do your SELF, your Spirit and your Soul a big favor ... And then let me know what you think.

The film ends with August questioning the character called the Wizard, "So only some of us can hear it?" And the Wizard answers, "Only some of us are listening!"

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Another Facebook Friend

I'd like to introduce you to another of my new Facebook friends, MarkDavidGerson. He's an inspirational speaker, artist, life/spiritual mentor, writing coach and editorial consultant. He contacted me recently and suggested that since our ideas and work are so closely aligned, we should exchange blog links.

Mark David is the author of The Voice of the Muse: Answering the Call to Write and The MoonQuest: A True Fantasy and creator of The Voice of the Muse Companion, a 2-CD set of guided meditations for writers.

He writes several blogs and has a passion for inspiring others, as I do! The link for The Voice of Your Muse will be permantly posted on my sidebar.

(If you visit him, tell him I sent you:)

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Courage to Create

A number of years ago I was struck by a comment made by Carole King, the great sixties songwriter. I can't remember it exactly, but it was something along the lines of "to be an artist one has to allow themselves to be vulnerable ... they must be willing to reveal their insides for the world to see."

There seems to be no end to the ways in which an artist/creative can be described. But one thing is certain, the truly creative spirit who is living their life from that vantage point, must be willing to be considered eccentric, daring, outlandish, odd, etc.

Einstein said, "If at first and idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it." Philosopher Bertrand Russell offered this advice: "Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric." And might I add, those "once eccentric" ideas include the wheel, cars, planes, democracy, computers, the list goes on and on.

It takes great courage to express original ideas. Those who dare to be daring are certain to meet with opposition and criticism. The German philosopher Schopenhauer wrote, "All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as self-evident."

Artists go where others fear to tread. "It's the artists who find ways to express what the rest of us feel but cannot say or even imagine. If you ever wondered what artists are good for, this is it: they make us fuller and better human beings ... Art answers a basic need to find meaning in our lives ... Words, images and music can move the soul, and when souls are stirred mighty things can happen ... Art speaks of freedom, risk and the triumph of the individual."

- - Matt Schudel, Arts Writer, Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel

Sunday, June 15, 2008

heARTmatters - - The Group

Back on May 9, I wrote a post that I entitled The Artist Within. In it, I mentioned a woman I had recently connected with on Facebook. Her name is Sheryl Brown and she is an artist and marriage and family therapist. Anyway, as the result of our connection, I displayed my artwork for the first time ... to the whole entire world. 

Well, now Sheryl has been kind enough to blog about me in her most recent post that she entitled heARTmatters. You can read that post at Sheryl was also one of the first people to sign up to my new group on Facebook that I have also entitled (what else?) heARTmatters - - Reclaim Your Creative Power.

I created the group only 1 week ago ... last Saturday night to be exact and get this ... we now have 131 members!!! I am absolutely blown away by the response. I'm getting incredibly positive feedback on the idea and energy.

One member, Steven Zimmerman, posted 3 of his photographs and that gave me the idea to invite all of the members to post their work ... To create a heART gallery. Now, only a week later we have a total of 13 pieces in our gallery. One of our members, Karen Gabel posted 3 pieces to the gallery. She shared that she had gotten away from doing her art and now was feeling "inspired by all of you to get back to it!"

I want to share one more thing that I thought was really funny ... in response to something Steven Zimmerman had said about not being a poet or artist ... I responded with the statement that there is alot more hidden within us that doesn't always reach the light of day. Steven's response that that was, "As to creativity, yes there is a lot that doesn't see the light, or sadly, 'till its too late ... But being from Jersey (he didn't even realize that I was from NJ) ... You know that's why God made Jesus a carpenter ... to build the closets we hide our true feelings in."

I don't know if you have to be from New Jersey, but I thought that was hilarious!! Anyway, that's where things are at the moment - - Check out the heARTmatters group You don't have to be signed up with Facebook to visit - - only if you want to join!!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Making Your HeART Sing

My friend and shamanic practitioner, Michele Lessirard, used to always say "What makes your Heart Sing?" I don't know about you, but I find the question extremely thought-provoking. What is a Singing Heart anyway?

Close your eyes for a moment and visualize a "Singing Heart." What do you see? Someone on American Idol dressed up in a Heart costume? (That’s supposed to be funny ! ! )

I see a heart, vibrant with life, surrounded by dancing musical notes. How about you?

As I was journaling yesterday morning, and pondering this idea of Singing Hearts, I thought about the word heARTmatters and the next thing that popped into my mind was "An idea whose time has come." (Now where did that come from? And what did it mean?)

The word heARTmatters first dawned on me four or five years ago. (You can read that entire story on the Welcome to My World tab above) I just loved the way the words looked and what they conveyed to me. It seemed like the perfect word to describe my basic philosophy: We are all Creative ... We each have something unique to share ... Since no two of us are alike, whatever we create is one-of-a-kind and has its own distinct value ... It matters ... We matter!

I used heARTmatters in my work with children a few years ago and they really could relate to the idea that There’s ART in Every heART - - Every one has a heART - - So every heART matters! (See heARTmatters tab)

In her best-selling classic, If You Want to Write, renowned teacher and writer, Brenda Ueland states, “Everybody is Talented, Original and Has Something Important to Say.” As humans, we all have something to express ... We NEED to express. Think about this ... Try NOT expressing yourself for 24 hours and see what happens ... You might just explode~!

So what’s the big deal, you may think. What’s so important about putting our creative power to use? Again to quote Ueland:

”Because there is nothing that makes people so generous, joyful, lively, bold and compassionate, so indifferent to fighting and the accumulation of objects and money. Because the best way to know the Truth or Beauty is to try to express it. And what is the purpose of existence Here or Yonder but to discover truth and beauty and express it, ie. share it with others?”

What's your take on the subject?

Monday, May 26, 2008

Lions for Lambs

I wonder how many of you have seen the movie Lions for Lambs? It was the first delivery I received from my new Blockbuster account. What a treat to receive a movie in the mail!

The film is directed by Robert Redford and stars Meryl Streep, Tom Cruise and Redford. At first it seems as though you are watching three totally disconnected mini-movies. But as the movie progresses, the pattern woven between these three stories becomes clear.

I don't know about anyone else, but I can often be powerfully impacted by a movie. This was one of those times. I think more than anything else, the film left me with many questions that are extremely thought-provoking and challenging to answer.

If only one theme were extracted from the stories, it would have to be the issue of Personal Responsibility. But within that, would have to be the question of where we each see ourselves on the continuum between Apathy and Engagement. 

Behind the scenes, Redford commented that one of his primary intentions was to address the lack of involvement, apathy and cynicism that speak to the times in which we are living. In his role as the college professor, at one point, Redford says to his student, "Rome is burning and the problem is Us ... all of Us who do nothing."'

I wonder how many of us are ever truly faced with the question of Who am I as a Person? Am I Willing to Take a Stand? Where do I stand? What will I stand for? What will I fight for? What would I be willing to die for?

I am most anxious to hear your comments on this one!

Friday, May 23, 2008

The Twenty-One Commandments

Just received this from a new FB friend. (Thank you Carrie)

You've probably have seen it before (as I have) but how many do you regularly follow? So simple but not always so easy.

Blessings to you all on this Holiday Weekend!!


ONE. Give people more than they expect and do it cheerfully.

TWO. Marry a man/woman you love to talk to. As you get older, their conversational skills will be as important as any other.

THREE. Don't believe all you hear, spend all you have or sleep all you want.

FOUR. When you say, 'I love you,' mean it.

FIVE. When you say, 'I'm sorry,' look the person in the eye.

SIX. Be engaged at least six months before you get married.

SEVEN. Believe in love at first sight.

EIGHT. Never laugh at anyone's dreams. People who don't have dreams don't have much.

NINE. Love deeply and passionately. You might get hurt but it's the only way to live life completely.

TEN.. In disagreements, fight fairly. No name calling.

ELEVEN. Don't judge people by their relatives.

TWELVE. Talk slowly but think quickly.

THIRTEEN. When someone asks you a question you don't want to answer, smile and ask, 'Why do you want to know?'

FOURTEEN. Remember that great love and great achievements involve great risk.

FIFTEEN. Say 'bless you' when you hear someone sneeze.

SIXTEEN. When you lose, don't lose the lesson.

SEVENTEEN. Remember the three R's: Respect for self; Respect for others; and Responsibility for all your actions.

EIGHTEEN. Don't let a little dispute injure a great friendship.

NINETEEN. When you realize you've made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.

TWENTY. Smile when picking up the phone. The caller will hear it in your voice.

TWENTY- ONE. Spend some time alone.

To all of my friends - - old and new!!

A true friend is someone who reaches for your hand and touches your heart. Please share.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Invoking the Muse

"When that time comes, I try to be alone and silent for several hours; I need a lot of time to rid my mind of the noise outside and to cleanse my memory of life's confusion.

I light candles to summon the muses and guardian spirits. I place flowers on my desk to intimidate tedium and the complete works of Pablo Neruda beneath the computer with the hope they will inspire me by osmosis.

 If computers can be infected with a virus there's no reason why they shouldn't be refreshed by a breath of poetry. In a secret ceremony I prepare my mind and soul to receive the first sentence in a trance, so the door may open slightly and allow me to peer through and perceive the hazy outlines of the story waiting for me." - - - Isobel Allende

How do you Invoke the Muse??

"The Tao of Life"by Susan Schanerman                            

Friday, May 9, 2008

The Artist Within

"Sunset heARTs"by Susan Schanerman
I just made a new friend on Facebook, Sheryl Brown. In addition to being a Marriage & Family therapist, she is also an artist. And when I saw some of her artwork posted on her blog, I said to myself "I want to post my art, too!"

I actually tried to upload or post or whatever you call it, to my Facebook profile about a week ago, but technologically-challenged as I am, I wasn't able to do it. So then I decided that I'd try to add the art to my blog. Sheryl suggested changing the format of my blog, (which I did, yea, me!!) and uploading my drawing was actually pretty easy.

So here I am, revealing and displaying to the whole, wide world, for the very first time, the art that comes out of my heART. (Please note: The play on the word heart/heART is not accidental.)

Back in 2002 or 2003, I clearly remember the day I was driving on US 1 in North Miami in a torrential rainstorm, and the word heARTmatters popped into my head. It was followed by There's ART in Every heART.

The phrase kept repeating itself over and over until I reached home, at which point I pulled out some colored markers and started drawing/coloring.

In the months that followed, I created a number of pictures that were my way of expressing the ART that had been hiding for so long, within my heART. Now, it feels like the perfect time, to begin to share some of those creative expressions with you all!
This picture is entitled "Sunset HeARTS."

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Current Status

Just a quick post to announce that today is Day 21 of my Facebook journey and I'm at 196 friends!!

Found an old notebook earlier today and it had a bunch of entries from March 2005 and then again later in the year in October. The March entries all had to do with the up-coming release of my book Play or Pay. Lots of thoughts and ideas around branding and marketing.

The later entries had to do with the Law of Attraction, and that was way before The Secret came out! I had made a number of lists. What I wanted to see in my life, What I wanted to be eliminated from my life, Long-term goals, Short-term goals, Ideal Client, etc.

The one thing I find most interesting that the #1 item on the Long-term goals list was that I would move back to New Jersey (my home state) by June 1, 2006. As it turned out the date was on-the-money but the state was not. I arrived in Georgia on June 1, 2006?!? Go figure?

Truth be told, most of the other Long-term goals are still in progress - - but what I can clearly see right now is that the one item that I made specific with a date - - came to pass on that exact date. And believe me when I tell you, when I made that declaration about moving on October 23, 2005, it was no more a reality to me than walking on the moon.

Just goes to show the creative power that all of us truly possess. I think I'm going to turn my Long-term goals into Short-term goals - - or at the very least speed up my time frame. I will keep you posted on my successes!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Movie Musings

Have any of you seen the movie, V for Vendetta? I just watched it for the second time last night and I must say it made some very interesting observations about life, society, the nature of man, etc. I actually sat with pen and paper and jotted down some points that particularly moved me.

A fantasy of sorts, the story takes place some time in the future in a totalitarian England. Personal freedoms had basically been removed. The main character, known only as “V,” has basically one thing in mind.

Having been used a “lab rat” and being scarred from head to toe so that he must wear a mask at all times, he is consumed with a passion for vengeance. But interestingly, his need for vengeance is accompanied by the need for a return to truth, justice, freedom … and a reawakening in the minds of the people that the ability to reclaim their power is within their reach.

These are some of the ideas that made the greatest impact on me:

“Fairness, Justice and Freedom – are more than mere words – rather they are perspectives…”

“Artists use lies to tell the truth …Politicians use them to cover it up.”

“You wear a mask for so long --- you forget who you were beneath it.”

 “A revolution without dancing, is a revolution not worth having.”

I’d really love to hear what you have to say!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Out or In

"You're only given a little spark of madness. You mustn't lose it." - - Robin Williams

Are you an outsider or an insider? What I mean by that is do you typically feel like you fit in with the crowd or do you always seem to be on the outside looking in?

Truth be told, I have always seen myself in the latter category. And depending on whether one is a half-full or half-empty kind of person, seeing oneself as "different" can be a blessing or a curse.

Cheryl Richardson, one of my favorite teachers, says, "...those who are most successful at living true and meaningful lives generally come from backgrounds where they don't fit in." Being different requires courage and personal strength. Originality runs counter to society's aim of compliance. I wish I would have known that a long time ago. It would have saved me from a lot of misery.

Have you ever noticed that every person who has ever achieved greatness, made an outstanding discovery, changed society in any way, went "against the grain" of common practices?

One thing I'm realizing is that one can be a true original, and still retain a feeling of being part of something greater. Just last week I discovered Facebook and I'm having a ball expanding my world.

For those of you unfamiliar, you can check it out at the link above. For the rest of you, let's have some fun together.

Sunday, April 20, 2008


I've been searching through some thoughts, ideas, and articles I have been collecting over the years and just came upon this little item that I wanted to share.

It has to do with the word "Kaizen." It's a Japanese term that has been in vogue in business circles for the last 20 years.

The word refers to the art and science of continuous, ongoing improvement. Kaizen is the magic of taking a good process and making it great. 
It's no great secret, nothing we haven't heard before. It's simply refers to making small, steady, incremental improvements. 
It's only too common for people to become overwhelmed ... intimidated by the idea of making changes ... and especially BIG changes. Take the prospect, for example, of taking your business and trying to improve it by any significant amount 25% - 50% - 100% - 200%.

It's no different than eating an elephant.

So how do you eat an elephant?

Answer: One small bite at a time.

How do you double your sales?

Answer: By improving your process in pieces - very small pieces.

One piece at a time. One bite at a time. One day at a time.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Work at Play

"Work at learning to have fun..." - - Melody Beattie

Is it me or that not the most oxymoronic statement you've ever read? Work at learning to have fun?? Oxymoronic or not, I'm very sad to say that for many of us, it's definitely rings true!

I can remember back in the days when I was teaching and leading Artist's Way groups, participants often seemed to have a much harder time with their Artist's Dates (solo adventures purely for FUN) than they did with their Morning Pages (daily writing of 3 free-flow pages.) Interesting, huh?

So interesting in fact, that it motivated me to create a guidebook of ways to have more creative, Play-filled Life. The result: Play or Pay: 77 Ways to Have FUN or Suffer the Consequences and End Up Paying the Price. 

We've all heard the phrase "Guilty Pleasures." Another oxymoron? Or are we just ingrained to feel guilty about doing those very things that actually are good for us??

For too many people, martyrdom trumps self-care. 'Doing unto others' has been taken to it's extreme. And the Self (or is it the Soul?) gets left by the wayside ... neglected ... Starving, if you will.

I've read that as a culture we are "spiritually starved." What do you think? Beattie suggests that, "Nurtured, nourished people, who love themselves and care for themselves are the delight of the Universe." Your comments are appreciated.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

She's BA-A-ACK !!

I heard a lot of talk yesterday about blogging and decided that perhaps it was time for me to begin to blog again. I was actually able to find my old blog and was shocked to see that my last entry was made in July 2006. Time sure flies--whether you're having any fun or not! And I notice that as the chronological years pile up, the time seems to speed up accordingly.

When I first began the blog back in 2006, it was to compliment my radio show The Empower Hour. I guess when the show ended, so did the blog. Now, I'm feeling called to resurrect my blogging, as I recently did with my newsletter. Unlike the first blog that was primarily focused on the radio show and its guests, this new blog will be more general and will offer you the opportunity to explore new perspectives, new ideas, new behaviors.

heARTmatters is a concept that has always stirred up my passions ... and inspired me to want to share. Maybe, yet another reason, to begin blogging again?

I received an email this morning that made me stop and ponder what the writer had to say. Then, of course, I wanted to share what was on my mind.

It began with a quote by British novelist, Iris Murdoch, "One of the secrets to a happy life is continuous small treats." The author went on to emphasize the importance of those small acts of pleasure we give to ourselves, that can add so much to our everyday lives.

(I know this is definitely NOT what she had in mind but I just couldn't pass this one up!)

Often costing little or no money, these seemingly simple and/or funny actions, can soothe the heart, calm the mind and add joy to your day. Remember ... Pleasure is good for the soul!

When was the last time you remembered to take care of your soul? And I'm not talking about religion here, so going to church doesn't count. What I am talking about here is real Soul-Care ...

See if you can make a list of your favorite joys and pleasures. If you have trouble thinking of things, it only means that it's been way too long since you last gave yourself any Soul Food. More next time . . .