leaving a legacy, self improvement, The Inspired Life

As a very small child, whenever I would get discouraged, I would plop myself down on the floor like a doll made of rags and let out a hopeless wail. “I Can’t…..” would be my pitiful cry. “I don’t know how, it’s too hard, I’m too tired.”

My mother would turn on a dime, narrow her dark Italian eyes, laser beam them into me and say in a voice as commanding as any Military General ever born, ” You CAN and you WILL. HOW does not matter. THAT  we can figure out. Now GET UP!”

Ladies and gentlemen, let me assure you, that  was the end of my temper tantrum.

Quitting has never been an option in our family of scrappy little fighters. Raised by my Mother, a woman who raised three children on her own after waking up one day to find her husband had made other plans for his life, she had learned to take surprises and situations and  wrestle them into the life that SHE wanted for us. SHE expected to rise to challenges and goals and she expected no less from us. There were no acceptable excuses. She had an answer for everything. Being tired? Everyone gets tired. So what, learn to rest, balance and push through. Being scared doesn’t cut it. Only fools are stupid enough to not be scared. Not having all the answers is not a reason not to start.  Only the truly stupid think they are wise, the wise know there is always more yet to learn. In my mother’s world, If you want something you have to go for it. If it is right for you and the people you love, then there is no excuse for not doing it. You CAN and you WILL. And she does.

Then why is it not that simple for the rest of us? Not so black and white? The simple determination to march into battle for your noble cause day after day…why does it again and again reduce us to whining, sniveling, crying children?

It took me a long time to learn the third part of my mother’s power.  She had had it all along. It was a mysterious strength that gave her indomitable spirit. That kept her strong and unflinching when she left her secure job, the only thing that put food on the table for her and her three small children and took her measly $3000 and invested every dime she had to start her own business. She could have FAILED. We could have lost everything. She had one thing in her back pocket that was so powerful that it propelled her forward and would not let her down. She had something that most people didn’t have.

She knew that the only way to get from a life that had a steady-but a measly paycheck where she had to work double shifts in a factory and leave her small children home alone was to take a chance. She knew that although the risk was great, that we wouldn’t have insurance at first, that we would have less money to begin with, that we would have no reliable income AT ALL to begin with, that she could make it on her own elbow grease. That something to look forward to with hope was better than a lifetime of looking at what she would have if she changed nothing.

I didn’t understand what that something was at such an early age. She was just my Mom. Maybe I thought that all moms were fierce warriors who went out each day to take on the world.

Later in life, I went into sales. Real Estate sales specifically, although I dabbled my way up to that in other types of sales jobs before that. Sales is HARD. Being rejected is hard. Initiating contacts, talking to strangers, making cold calls, learning contract negotiations, managing files, hand holding nervous and temperamental clients is all hard and very stressful. The overwhelming majority of Real Estate agents quit within 3-6 months of getting their license. They say anyone can become a Realtor. It takes a good one to stay one. I decided to stack my odds. I hired the industry’s best Real Estate coach in the business to coach me and teach me the tools I needed to succeed. All that I learned in the six years of being one of the top agents in our company is more than a blog could hold.  But one of the major things that I paid good money to learn had been right there at home all my life.


Beverly Buffini is the wife of Brian Buffini, Brian being the head of Buffini & Company, the coaching company I was just referring to. Beverly Buffini worked with him and toured with him and spoke at the seminars because frankly she was so inspiring that everywhere she went the crowd went nuts. Beverly grew up to be an All-American volleyball player at the University of Tennessee where she was inducted into the Tennessee Hall of Fame in the first class of women ever to achieve that honor. She went on to become a member of the US National Volleyball Team that participated in the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, Korea. She now uses her skills of discipline, determination, and focus to juggle raising six kids, and writing, and touring as a motivational speaker. Listening to her speak was one of my greatest inspired moments.

Beverly brought home for me the third part of the ingredients for success in her book, I CAN, I WILL, I BELIEVE. For each of the areas that she wrote about, and spoke about, Beverly outlined her viewpoints on the power behind each of those words. Summarizing, she wrote about:

CAN: to be able mentally or spiritually. She attributes the childhood story The Little Engine That Could with the basis for CAN. Perhaps not too coincidently, that story was one that my mom read to us almost every night. The basis of pushing away negative fears and focusing on the positive is the foundation for any dream to come true. In Beverly’s words, ” Particuarly in my athletic endeavors, I learned to be patient, that success only comes when and if the I CAN attitude endures over time. Giving up was not an option when things got tough. I had to persist if I wanted to make my hopes and dreams a reality. With that mindset, I could achieve my specific goals.”

WILL: is the reinforcement of purpose, drive and discipline necessary to spring CAN into life. WILL is the Action word that makes it happen. Webster’s defines WILL as a concious choice and a strong, fixed purpose. She spoke about the choices and priority shifting that it takes to keep the WILL going. She talks about sacrifice and risk. She states, “What was the principle lesson I learned from this? That in order to achieve and find fullfillment and enjoyment in achieving, I had to step beyond the familiar and accept personal risk. I learned that even condemnation or ridicule were possibilities if my choices did not coincide with someone else’s expectations.

BELIEVE: to take as true or real, to have confidence in something or someone; to have faith, especially religious faith (Webster). For some of us, myself included, Faith of a higher power would be moved up to the front of that defination, and for Beverly she says, “For me, I believe has a significance far beyond simply believing that I can and will do what I set out to do. I believe that we are inspired and helped by God and that we have a responsibilty to do our best to live up to that inspiration. I also get a sense of being assisted and directed by a Force beyond myself, and I desire that feeling.”

I Can, I Will, I Believe. I came out of that motivational seminar on fire. I bought the book. Heck. I bought the T-shirt. Honest, I really did. It’s royal blue with big bold white letters going right across my chest and anytime I need a little extra power pumped in to my self esteem I put it on and strut around.  All because she made my mother’s CAN & WILL tangible.

They say you can’t be a prophet in your own backyard. I guess I had to go far away and pay good money to hear what Mom had been saying all along.  I had to hear it from someone else to understand that the secret ingredient that made my mother stand so hard and fast is her faith. Belief in a higher power (God), Belief that she is doing what is right for her family, belief that if you believe in it, work hard for it, visualize it then you CAN make it happen.

By the way, that’s a far cry from stick it on a poster board, stare at it every day and sit back and wait for it to arrive. That would never be my mother’s style. While those that wait-are busy waiting, my mother and her clan are busy doing the WILL part and BELIEVING that with those two together…..why yes…yes you CAN.


The Magical Word

leaving a legacy, self improvement, The creative urge, The Inspired Life, Writing

Man Builds No Structure Which Outlives a Book

Eugene Ware

The Written word. The stunning, awesome power of the written word. All of our history, all of our collective ideas and creativity, all of our stories and our folklore are recorded and kept alive within the magic of the written word.

You and I are a part of that magic. Those of us, who dare to put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, those of us who open our minds day after day to see what lies within, and doing so, summon the courage to transcribe it for the scrutiny of others; we, by the very action of writing, create magic.

As a very small child, walking into libraries, I was acutely aware of the magical presence that books held. I have had a love affair with books since I can remember. There was a reverence in my heart that most people reserved for the House of God, but to me, I was quite sure, God lived in Libraries. I would walk up and down every isle, running my little fingers slowly on the backing of all of the adult books, inhaling the fragrance of leather and old books, long past their prime, mingled with the exciting freshness of the new arrivals waiting to be opened.

I could be found curled up in little corners, stacks of books piled high, pouring through classics, poetry, new works of fiction, absorbing the words, lost in new worlds.

Reading was my life. I was a shy, withdrawn girl, with imagination for a best friend. We moved every few years and books were friends you could pack in a box and take with you.

It wasn’t long before reading expanded into writing as well. I discovered that I had the power to not only read about new worlds, but to create my own and bring them to life on paper. I could create new people, find new friends, have adventures. I had the power to invent any world I wanted to live in. I was still a child, yet I understood a lesson that would stay with me all of my life.

 There is amazing power in the written word.

It has the power to comfort me and listen when I flee to the privacy of my journal and tell it secrets that I could share with no human being. Sometimes secrets that I haven’t even yet figured out for myself.

It has the power to counsel me, as I brainstorm a difficult situation, working out solutions and ideas with word associations and free-flowing thoughts. The combination of my subconscious and the written word can form a bond that can answer many difficult questions.

It has the power to entertain me. To whisk me away to tropical places in the middle off frozen winters. To relieve my stress with a new adventure, to make me laugh, to make me cry, to make me feel alive again when the world has become dull.

It has the power to educate me. Between libraries, bookstores and the Internet, the entire world’s knowledge awaits me if I will take to time to read it. I have an infinite ability to grow and expand my world, on a whim, for work or just to keep my brain young.

It has the power to share my thoughts with others and touch their lives.  Share my intimate, authentic truth with candor and heart. I can send a note of sympathy,  share a moment of gratitude, or remind a dear one how much they are loved. In this impersonal age, a written note can sometimes be the only true personal moment in someone’s day. With words, we can make a difference.

It has the power to meet new friends.  The written word sent out to others, especially in our Internet age, brings people together with like-minded thoughts and interests who may never have met each other before. It builds connections and bonds that create communities. With communities, change can happen. With change, anything is possible.

It has the power to evoke the deepest emotions. It is not a magic power to be taken lightly. Written words sent out can never be taken back. Words written in love, words written in hate have made marriages, ruined friendships, started wars. A writer must understand the weapon of the pen in their hand.

It has the power to change the world. I have often wondered if the writers of the Constitution had any idea what the ramifications of their pens truly would be. Do they look down upon us now and wish they had changed their words just slightly, were perhaps a little more clear, wrote a few more paragraphs? Are they happy with their document? Once out there, it has set the course of not just one nation, but all others affected by it.

There are debates and more debates about who is the most qualified to call themselves a writer.

You are a writer only if you are published…

Or…only if you are paid. Or if you cross the threshold of making “this” much. Or only if you are paid by this type of person or in this format, or this genre or if “that” audience deems you worthy.

In my mind, these are Star-Bellied Sneetch arguments.

A writer is a writer if they write. There is no test to pass that allows you the privilege of picking up a pen and putting your hopes, dreams, thoughts, ideas and imagination on paper. The only way to be a better writer is to write. Write and write often, fail and keep writing and improve. Do it some more and do it from your heart. Don’t ever let anyone tell you not to write.

One of the magical things about words is that they belong to all of us.