The Path to Well-Being . . . Yes you can get there from here!

“The ultimate end of all revolutionary social change is to establish the sanctity of human life, the dignity of man, the right of every human being to liberty and well-being.”
– Emma Goldman
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What do you want? No honestly, what do you really truly want in your one wild and precious life? to mis-quote Mary Oliver. Most studies show that happiness and well-being are at the top of this list. But that is often immediately followed by but I don’t know what to do to get there. The good news is that there is a path to well-being, and you can start travelling this path today.

 

Well-being is actually a skill that can be learned and practiced and improved. Well-being can be achieved by focusing on four main keys. One of my heroes that I’ve written about is Dr. Richard Davidson. Dr. Davidson is the founder of the Center for Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and he has studied and discovered the four science-based keys to well-being.

Davidson explains that well-being is a skill and it boils down to four main attributes:

Resilience, Outlook, Attention and Generosity.

From his research, he and his colleagues have learned that:

Each of these four is rooted in neural circuits, and each of these neural circuits exhibits plasticity—so we know that if we exercise these circuits, they will strengthen. Practicing these four skills can provide the substrate for enduring change, which can help to promote higher levels of well-being in our lives.

1. Resilience

Yes it’s true ‘Shit Happens.’ It happens to all of us and we can’t always stop it or avoid it, but we can change the way we react to it. Davidson explains that:

Resilience is the rapidity with which we recover from adversity; some people recover slowly and other people recover more quickly. We know that individuals who show a more rapid recovery in certain key neural circuits have higher levels of well-being. They are protected in many ways from the adverse consequences of life’s slings and arrows.

Recent research that Davidson conducted at UW Madison asked whether resilience could be improved and if so, how. The good news is that answer is yes; resilience can be improved by regular practice of mindfulness meditation. … The bad news is that it takes thousands of hours of practice before you see real change. But hey, it can be done.

2. Outlook

The second key to well-being is one’s outlook on life. Davidson explains:

Outlook refers to the ability to see the positive in others, the ability to savor positive experiences, the ability to see another human being as a human being who has innate basic goodness.

The good news regarding outlook is that unlike resilience, research indicates that simple practices of lovingkindness and / or compassion meditation may alter this circuitry quite quickly.
There was a study done in 2013 where individuals who had never meditated before were randomly assigned to one of two groups.

One group received a secular form of compassion training and the other received cognitive reappraisal training, an emotion-regulation strategy that comes from cognitive therapy. We scanned people’s brains before and after two weeks of training, and we found that in the compassion group, brain circuits that are important for this positive outlook were strengthened. After just seven hours—30 minutes of practice a day for two weeks—we not only saw changes in the brain, but these changes also predicted kind and helpful behavior.

3. Attention

The third key to well-being is paying attention. Research has shown that most people do not pay close attention to what they’re doing about forty-seven percent of the time. The quality of attention that you pay to what you are doing is vital.

William James in The Principals of Psychology explains that:

The ability to voluntarily bring back a wandering attention over and over again is the very root of judgment, character, and will. An education that sharpens attention would be education par excellence.

Davidson explains that educating attention can be done through a contemplative practice.

4. Generosity

It is well known now that when individuals engage in generous and altruistic behavior, they actually activate circuits in the brain that are key to fostering well-being. Davidson believes that:

Human beings come into the world with innate, basic goodness. When we engage in practices that are designed to cultivate kindness and compassion, we’re not actually creating something de novo—we’re not actually creating something that didn’t already exist. What we’re doing is recognizing, strengthening, and nurturing a quality that was there from the outset.

In addition to the four keys that Davidson outlines, science has also shown that gratitude hugely increases our feelings of well-being. Gratitude allows us to celebrate the present. It magnifies positive emotions. With gratitude, we become greater participants in our lives as opposed to spectators. You can become more responsible for creating more well-being in your life by the simple act of being grateful for what you are experiencing in this present moment.

By practicing gratitude and focusing on these four keys, Davidson assures us that:

Our brains are constantly being shaped wittingly or unwittingly—most of the time unwittingly. Through the intentional shaping of our minds, we can shape our brains in ways that would enable these four fundamental constituents of well-being to be strengthened. In that way, we can take responsibility for our own minds.

If you are interested in learning more about this topic, no one explains it better than Dr. Richie Davidson himself!

I’d love to know if you have found that a meditation practice impacts your well-being.
And as always, thank you for taking the time to visit. I appreciate it.

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October Newsletter and Events

“Altruism raises your mood because it raises your self-esteem, which increases happiness. Plus, giving to others gets you outside of yourself and distracts you from your problems.”
~ Karen Salmansohn
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In case you missed it, here’s a copy of This Way Up’s October Newsletter and Upcoming Events.

Welcome to This Way Up!

Thank you for being part of this community! Keep reading for more information about why altruism is really good for you; news about the upcoming This Way Up Online Interactive Workshop starting this month; and information about two exciting upcoming events that you’re invited to join. You can always find me at ThisWayUpBook.com.

Altruism … Why It’s So Good to Do Good

“Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.”
~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

It’s true that we are hard-wired toward negativity, that we have a “built-in negativity bias.” Rick Hanson explains that as we evolved over millions of years, dodging sticks and chasing carrots, it was a lot more important to notice, react to, and remember sticks than it was to do the same for carrots. That’s because — in the tough environments in which our ancestors lived — if they missed out on a carrot, they usually had a shot at another one later on. But if they failed to avoid a stick — a predator, a natural hazard, or aggression from others of their species — then there may have been no more chances to pass on their genes.

However, studies have also shown that we are hard-wired for empathy and altruism as well. This is because cooperative behaviour worked in our favor and helped our ancestors to survive under harsh conditions. So we reap psychological and physiological benefits when we practice altruism, when we do good things for others. In other words, doing good is good for you.

What exactly is altruism? It is defined as, a voluntary, sometimes costly behaviour motivated by the desire to help another individual; a selfless act intended to benefit only the other.

So why would we do something that is of no benefit to ourselves?

I examined this phenomenon in my recent article in Thrive.

To learn more about the benefits of altruism and watch a great TED Talk on the subject, check out my latest blog post.

This Way Up Online Interactive Live Workshops!

The next This Way Up Interactive Live Workshop is starting this month.
The six-week series begins on Tuesday 23 October at 5pm PDT and runs for six weeks: Tuesday 23 October – Tuesday 27 November.

Check out this video to learn more about the workshop.

During the last workshop in May, there were ten women from 4 different countries taking part and it was amazing, exhilarating and uplifting! We explored many of the topics I write about in my book. But with the unity of sharing our common experience, it was so much richer than doing it alone.

Here’s what a few of the women said about the workshop:

“I really liked getting to know all the lovely ladies and the fact that we were all over the globe! And finding that other women have the same doubts and concerns about themselves that I do. It was fabulous! Keep me posted on next workshop, I want to share this.”
– Kathleen

“Thank you so much for the course. I really enjoyed it, as well as getting to know you and the group.”
– Shellan

“I enjoyed it all, but I think I enjoyed the interactive format the most. It was nice to feel the support and genuine caring from both you and the other participants. It was a very safe and supportive environment. It was very helpful to be guided through the visualizations directly, by someone I had built trust in. It was also helpful to hear the other participants’ experiences. It gave me hope, that doing the hard work and learning the tools will be worth it. I also enjoyed that we received helpful links after the session which enabled me to dive deeper into areas I wanted to work on. Your help was invaluable.”
– Stacy

If you want more information about the workshops, or you are interested in signing up for the next series of workshops, you can sign up here!

Sign Up for the Next Workshop!

Upcoming Summits

You’re invited to this wonderful series:

Finding Yourself Master Class Series with the uplifting Clarissa Findlay

This event is now live!

It’s a crazy, busy world out there, where we often find ourselves trying to perform and change ourselves to gain acceptance and belonging. Sometimes we can get so caught up with keeping in step that we don’t remember to seek out our own stride, and embrace our own self-worth. It’s time to think about what you really want with your one beautiful life!

I’m excited to share an event that may just change the way you think about this powerful and exciting journey we are all on. The Finding Yourself Masterclass Series is a free, online interview series with leading lifestyle, wellness, and mind-set experts who want to help you expand your capacity to love yourself, own your story, and walk your own true path. I’m so pleased to be among this incredible line-up of psychologists, authors, coaches, mind-body experts, and much more.

From unearthing the neuroscience behind our feelings of self-worth to building an action plan that will help eliminate self-doubt and build confidence in your true identity and purpose, the Finding Yourself Masterclass is a necessary tool for everyone!

You can sign up for this transformative Master Class here.

You are also invited to this fabulous summit:

The Unstoppable Artist Formula:
How to Claim Your Full Power as an Artist, Make Great Money, and Attract Your Perfect Audience
Hosted by the Incomparable Nikól Peterman

The Unstoppable Artist Formula launches October 29 and will run through November 8.

Are you struggling to get clarity about your work and/or attention for the work you are doing?

My friend Nikól Peterman, Artist Success Coach and owner of the artist development company ZenRedNYC, has gathered more than 25 of the best mentors to give you the top industry secrets for free. Due to her 20 years as a working professional artist, she definitely understands where you are now and shares my mission to empower you.

I’m excited to be part of this event because it’s not just talk … Every training will give you the most cutting edge tools and strategies, proven to work, which you can implement right away.

At this event you’ll learn:
How to stand out from the crowd
How to attract a large audience
How to feel amazing and confident in front of your raving fans and eagerly paying customers
How to increase your income as an artist and finally get paid what you deserve
How to quiet the inner critic keeping you stuck
And a lot more!

By the end of this event, you’ll no longer question how to end your low sales and low following. You will know what to do to be an Unstoppable Artist.

So, grab your free front row seat to this online event here!

The Unstoppable Artist Formula launches Oct 29 and will run through Nov. 8th.

It’s Here! This Way Up Is Now Available as an Audio Book!

This Way Up audiobook is now available for purchase! You can find it on Audible and Amazon and on iTunes. You can hear all about it here, along with a special invitation to get it for free!

Please let me know your thoughts if you listen to it. I’d love to hear from you.
Buy the Book!

“Author Patti Clark is a cross between Elizabeth Gilbert and Julia Cameron.”

This Way Up is a story of healing for women who yearn to lead a fuller life, accompanied by a workbook to help readers work through personal challenges, discover new inspiration, and harness their creative power. . .

Women spend so much of life nurturing and giving to others that when they find themselves alone—because of an empty nest, the end of a marriage, or the death of a partner—they often struggle with feeling purposeless. This Way Up provides a step-by-step way out of this sense of loss and into a life filled with enthusiasm, creativity, and joy.
Buy Online

THIS WAY UP is Now Available on Audible!

“You cannot open a book without learning something.”

— Confucius

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And if I can be so bold as to amend a quote by Confucius, “You cannot listen to a book without learning something.”

As I mentioned in my last post, THIS WAY UP is now available on Audible!  And I want to voice my gratitude one more time to the wonderful narrator, Janice Kent!  She did such an amazing job.  I was so lucky to get her to work on my book!  Check out her website and you’ll see what I mean.

Thank you to all of you that weighed in on the graphic we should use.  I also had feedback on my Author Page on Facebook.

After looking over the suggestions, and tweaking the graphic a bit, we decided on this one:

 

Hope you all like it.  Let me know your thoughts.

And remember, You can get This Way Up on Audiobook FREE if you try Audible for 30 days.  You can try Audible for free for 30 days, and if you don’t like it, you can cancel your subscription, but keep the book for Free.  Try it!

As Hemingway says:

“There is no friend as loyal as a book.”

So let my book be your new friend!

This Way Up is now an Audiobook!

“Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.” 

— Groucho Marx

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Such exciting news!  My book, THIS WAY UP is now an Audiobook available on Audible!

It’s been quite a long process, one that certainly required patience!  But I’m so excited that it is finally out there and available.  I’m grateful beyond measure to the phenomenal narrator, Janice Kent.  She did such a stellar job.  She was able to bring the voices that I heard in my head when I was writing the book to life. No easy feat I assure you.

Now I would love some help in the form of feedback from you my readers.  I have created a few images to use as a campaign to get the audio book out there.  I created 6 images on Canva.  I’d love to hear your thoughts, which one do you like best and why?  They are all somewhat similar, just some changes in color and placement.  Let me know your thoughts.  I appreciate it!

 

 

You can get This Way Up on Audiobook FREE if you try Audible for 30 days.  You can try Audible for free for 30 days, and if you don’t like it, you can cancel, but keep the book for Free.  Try it!

As Frank Zappa so famously said . . .

“So many books, so little time” 

So you might as well listen when you don’t have the opportunity to read!

 

What Makes You Happy?

“Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life.”
– Omar Khayyam 

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What makes you happy?  Simple question, but one that is worth thinking about.  What makes you happy in this moment, for as Omar Khayyam declares, this moment is your life.  At the moment I am smiling and feeling happy.  The sun is shining, the view from my window where I sit writing is beautiful, and I love to write. So it’s easy to be happy in this moment.
What makes me happy in that larger sense, well that’s pretty easy for me too.  My sons.  I only have to think of my two sons, and a smile spreads across my face.  They are on the other side of the Earth from me at the moment, and that tugs at my heart and tempers my happiness a bit.  But nothing can take away the joy that those two amazing young men bring.  They make my heart sing . . .  in loud operatic ways!
Professionally I have a lot to make me happy.  Today I saw people who like books by Julia Cameron, Brené Brown and Anne Lamott also like my book, This Way Up.  That makes me really happy. What an affirmation!
This gives me a real feeling of accomplishment and achievement, which is one of the places happiness sits.
“Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort.”
– Franklin D Roosevelt
It was my great pleasure to be interviewed on the topic of happiness recently by Sarah Jordan.

We talked about an array of topics but really focused on happiness..what it is, the benefits, and how we tend to block it.
I’ll close this post with a wonderful Ted Talk that has been around for awhile. Cognitive researcher Nancy Etcoff looks at happiness — the ways we try to achieve and increase it, the way it’s untethered to our real circumstances, and its surprising effect on our bodies. It’s interesting and informative and well worth the watch.

I’d love to hear what makes you happy.  What are you happy for in this moment? What brings you happiness in your life?
And as always, thank you for taking the time to visit.  I appreciate it.

Books on the Subway

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

– Dr. Seuss 

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Such gratitude to Books on The Subway! They are an amazing organization:

It’s like a public library, but on the New York Subway.

We go out and leave some of our favorite books on the New York subway. There are new books every day, and they’re there to be taken, read, shared, and most importantly, enjoyed! We want everyone to get involved and fall in love with reading again and we want to make the subway a more friendly and enjoyable experience.

So, if you find a book from us on the subway, feel free to pick it up and take it home with you, but when you’re done, be sure to put it back on the subway for someone else to enjoy.

Thank you for featuring This Way Up this month! I love the image in my mind of women on the subway reading my book.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Sometimes, the only way forward is up! Women spend so much of life nurturing & giving to others that when they find themselves alone they often struggle with feeling purposeless.  is a way out of this sense of loss & into a life filled w enthusiasm, creativity, and joy!”

Books on the Subway supports authors and readers by distributing donated books to people who ride the subway. And they support authors by putting the books on Twitter and Instagram.

It doesn’t matter if you read for success, like these ‘Ultra Successful People’ . . .

Here are just a few top business leaders and entrepreneurs who make reading a major part of their daily lifestyle:

. . . or if you are reading to unwind . . . we all know about the importance of reading.  So if you happen to be riding the NYC subway in the near future, pick up a book distributed by Books on the Subway.  And if it happens to be This Way Up –  please snap a pic and send it to me.  I’d love that!

Fittingly, I’d like to close this post with a short video entitled: The Importance of Reading. 

What books are you reading right now? And if you live in New York,  please do let me know if you see This Way Up on the subway!
And as always, thank you for taking the time to visit.  I appreciate it.

 

 

Finding Purpose

“The purpose of human life is to serve, and to show compassion and the will to help others.”

― Albert Schweitzer

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Almost 60 years old, and most of my friends and I still talk about finding our calling, finding life’s purpose. What are we truly meant to do?

Dave Isay, founder of StoryCorps explains:

“Finding your calling — it’s not passive. When people have found their calling, they’ve made tough decisions and sacrifices in order to do the work they were meant to do.  In other words, you don’t just “find” your calling — you have to fight for it. And it’s worth the fight. People who’ve found their calling have a fire about them,”

Isay has listened to thousands of people tell their story and describe fighting to find their purpose.  He describes his amazing work with StoryCorps in this great TED Talk – Everyone Around You Has a Story the World Needs to Hear:

 

A wonderful article in Daily Good elaborates on Isay’s findings by outlining the 7 lessons Isay describes in his new book:  “Callings: The Purpose and Passion of Work.”

I love this first Lesson:

1. Your calling is at the intersection of a Venn diagram of three things: doing something you’re good at, feeling appreciated, and believing your work is making people’s lives better.

 

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That diagram shows the ‘sweet spot’ – intersecting three things: Doing something you are good at; intersecting with the knowledge that you are making people’s lives better – service; and feeling appreciated for this work.  This idea mirrors Albert Schweitzer’s quote:

“The purpose of human life is to serve, and to show compassion and the will to help others.”

Your calling takes courage and doesn’t always pay well. But we know it when we are doing it.  We get in the flow; we feel good about ourselves and our work; time flies; and although the pay check may not be great, we keep doing it because we know it is right for us.

So I think it’s quite fitting to close with this video entitled: How to Know Your Life’s Purpose in 5 Minutes!  After all, at almost 60 many of us are running out of time!

I’d love to hear if you’ve found your life’s purpose and how you found it.  And as always, thank you for taking the time to visit.  I appreciate it.

Using Creativity to Externalize the Internal Process

“The urge to destroy is also a creative urge.”
― Pablo Picasso

My dear friend and business partner, Deb Brock, is such a creative being.  I love being around her when she is in Flow.  in the zone, just creating. Being able to get into that place, that zone, I think is key to connecting to that deepest sense of self. And when we connect to that deepest sense of self, that is where we find our answers.

Join Deb and I as we talk about Creativity and Externalizing the Internal Process.

 

 

 

I’d love to hear about your process, how do you get into flow, into the zone?  And as always, thanks for stopping by, I appreciat it!

Double Empty Nest? Triple Empty Nest!

“All alone! Whether you like it or not, alone is something you’ll be quite a lot!”
― Dr. Seuss


It is Thursday, April 28th 2016 and I am here to coin a new phrase that I haven’t heard talked about much online, but seems to be a very real phenomenon among 50 – 65 year old women. Triple Empty Nest

We were known as the Sandwich Generation – taking care of teens as well as taking care of our elderly parents.  Then most of us Baby Boomer women started experiencing Empty Nest in a big way as our children went off to college or out to work or travel.  But many of us still had elderly parents that we were caring for, people are living longer, and we were there to take care of our parents.  Now most of “The Greatest Generation” are dead or dying.  Many women in the workshops I run speak with sadness of being hit twice – once as their children leave home, then again as their aging parents die. The Sandwich Generation has become Un-Sandwiched.

But now, many women are hit with “Triple Empty Nest” as I am calling it. This triple hit is a result of children leaving home, parents dying and then experiencing what has become known as “The Gray Divorce Revolution.”  In the last few years, there has been an enormous increase in the divorce rate among the 50 – 65 year-old set. So many couples over 50 are ending marriages that the media have coined the term – The Gray Divorce Revolution.

In the U.S., one-quarter of all divorces now involve people over 50. And there is a similar trend in Canada, the UK, across Europe,  Japan, Australia and New Zealand. It’s important to note that the overall divorce rate is actually going down, but it is spiking in the 50 and older set.

This phenomenon seems to be most problematic for women; one reason for this seems to be because the timing of Empty-Nest is a common point of marital breakdown. After years of looking after loved ones, of being a ‘good wife and mother’ and constantly focusing outside themselves, women lose touch with their own desires and needs, and they often struggle with feeling purposeless and directionless. It is very easy to fall into a sense of listlessness and ‘stuck-ness’ when a woman suddenly finds herself divorced and alone in an empty nest. And this is compounded by feelings of insecurity and a loss of self-esteem when the cause of this empty nest is divorce in middle age.

If you are experiencing Empty Nest, Double Empty Nest or Triple Empty Nest – I would love to hear from you.  You can contact me via my website:  www.thiswayupbook.com

It’s a very real phenomenon, and I’d love to help.

I look forward to hearing from you.

I’d like to close with a You Tube Video I’ve done about this very topic.

 

 

I’d love to hear about your experience with Empty Nest or Double or even Triple Empty Nest and how you are coping with it. And as always thanks for stopping by, I appreciate it.

 

 

 

It’s here at last – Publication Day!

“Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don’t give up.”
– Anne Lamott

Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope …

My book is published today, April 26th 2016!  My book, This Way Up: Seven Tools for Unleashing Your Creative Self and Transforming Your Life, my very own book!  This Way Up took ten years to write, 10 years.  There were plenty of times when I was in the dark and all I had left of this dream of publication was stubborn hope.  It was not an easy journey.  I began the book because my son Lukas, at age 12 challenged me to.  I felt backed into a corner, I knew I had to put my money where my mouth was or I would feel like everything I had been saying to my sons for years was a lie.  So I started writing.

I started writing and deleting; and feeling not good enough to write a book and feeling like a fraud.  When I finally finished my first draft about 5 years later, I started looking for an agent.  Oh my God – talk about sitting in the dark with nothing but hope! I had months and months of rejection letters, too many to count, the darkness got darker, the hope fainter.

Then finally I found an agent in London, I signed a contract and I was over the moon!  Now, I thought, now the hard work is over, I have someone else to do my work and get my book out there. It took over a year, lots of frustration and more darkness, but finally my agent was able to land a publication deal with a small publisher in London.  I was thrilled. I celebrated and believed the time had come.

About a year later, after jumping through hoops, working with an editor and inching closer, my agent decided he didn’t want to be an agent anymore, that the publishing landscape had changed too much and was not working for him anymore, so I lost my agent and lost the deal with the publishing company that he had handled.  I was back to square one, and decided I couldn’t do it anymore.

Then about two weeks later I heard a small, still voice in my head while I was meditating; the voice instructed me to ask an old college friend who lived in LA for help.  I wasn’t that close to her, and had not been in close contact with her for years.  But we were friends on Facebook, and I have learned to trust that small voice, it rarely leads me astray.  So I messaged her and she messaged back the next day.  She recommended She Writes Press.  I had never heard of them, but when I read about them, my pulse quickened.  They sounded perfect –  the website describes SWP as: A publisher of books – for, by and about women!  I contacted Brooke Warner, one of the founders of SWP, and we scheduled a Skype.  She said my book sounded like a good fit for SWP.  I signed a contract and I started working with the amazing women at She Writes.

I still had a steep climb though, luckily the climb was accompanied by some truly magnificent women:  Brooke Warner, a power house and visionary; Annie Tucker, editor extraordinaire; and a host of truly talented authors.  The fellowship of authors at SWP is fantastic, they are generous of spirit, freely give advice and tips and we cheer each other on every step of the way.  I am grateful beyond measure that I ended up with such a wonderful publishing house.

And now, today April 26, 2016, my book is here.  It is truly a labor of love; and an extreme act of faith that kept me going.  I believed that if I just kept showing up and kept moving in the direction of my dream that the dawn would come. And it did. So I am here to tell all of you – Don’t give up!  Keep moving in the direction of your dreams, whatever they are.

I’d like to close with a video that is very close to my heart. My very first video that I’ve ever uploaded on to You Tube.  It continues to be a steep learning curve!

 

I’d love to hear about your dreams and what helps you to keep moving forward.  And as always thanks for stopping by, I appreciate it.