Why Settle for Good Enough When You Can Be Awesome?

Do it right, and do your best…

There was a rule in our house when I was growing up: School work and chores had to be done before any play. This included Saturdays.

As a teenager, I began getting in the habit of hurrying through my work in order to leave sooner to hang out with my friends.

There was a certain standard set of what was acceptable and what was not, and my habit of rushing through everything had put my standard in the unacceptable range.

Being the wise mother that she was, my mom decided to teach me the importance of doing your best.

One of my regular Saturday chores was to clean the bathrooms. I didn’t really care for chores in general, but cleaning the bathrooms was my least favorite on the list.

As I hurried through the cleaning, sloshing some soapy water here and there, my mind was on the activity planned with my friends that day, who were already waiting for me outside. I finished the cleaning in record time and retreated to my bedroom to grab my gear.

Just as I was coming out of my room, my mom appeared and said, “Come with me”. I knew I was in trouble as we headed for the hallway bathroom, where she began to point out the streaks on the mirror and the remnants of the dirty ring around the bathtub. She also informed me that there were mistakes made in the other bathroom as well, but didn’t say what specifically.

Again, I hurried to finish, feeling even more impatient to get outside. And I honestly felt that I had done a good enough job to pass inspection. But I was wrong.

On the 2nd inspection, my mom pointed out some streaks on the shower walls and dust on the light bar over the mirror in the hallway bathroom, things she did not point out the first time. And again, she said there were mistakes in the other bathroom.

I cleaned what she had pointed out, but in the 2nd room, I didn’t see anything dirty.

The third time around, I made sure that I got all the streaks and dust, and finally discovered the dirt and hair in the crevices on the side of the toilet in the other bathroom and the dust in the vent cover. (Just minor things, I thought, but it was the only dirt I could find. As it turned out, that was it.)

One thing I didn’t realize was that my mom was keeping track of the time. After doing this same chore thousands of times, she knew exactly how long it should take to do the job well.

By the time I finished the 3rd attempt, I received a “very good job”, along with, “If you would have given your best the 1st time, you would have been done 45 minutes ago. Don’t ever settle for good enough. Always give your best“.

Pay attention to the little details…

Just as the picture above illustrates, the little details are important. If you don’t pay attention to them, it will show in your results, probably in unpleasant or even embarrassing ways.

Even though I never developed a love for cleaning, the lesson I learned that Saturday developed into a habit in everything I do now. Though my mom is no longer here to inspect my cleaning, I still give my best effort when I do it.

Whatever the task is…cleaning toilets, waiting on customers, shoveling manure, or writing, I always set my mind to doing an excellent job.

From an employer or client perspective, the attention to detail and effort says a lot about a person’s character. It shows integrity and a willingness to go above and beyond the normal standards.

Imagine if you were told you needed brain surgery and you had a choice between 2 surgeons. The first one graduated Med School with a “C” average and had an attitude of “I’m just doing it for the money”. The second surgeon graduated with an “A”, with honors, and had the attitude, “I want to do the best I can to help people”. Which one would you choose?

In his book Leading an Inspired Life Jim Rohn says, “Building your character is vital to becoming all you can be”.

Your character not only defines your reputation in your profession, but in your personal daily life as well.

4 key elements of committing yourself to excellence:

  • Do, be, and give more than is expected of you.
  • If you make a mistake: admit it, learn from it, and put your heart into doing better.
  • Be better today than you were yesterday.
  • Don’t settle for good enough. Live and work for awesome.

Every job is a self-portrait of the person who did it. Autograph your work with EXCELLENCE.

No matter what the task is, give your best. As you go through life, continue to learn, practice, and grow. Live each day to be the best you possible.

I’d love to hear your experiences, things that you’ve learned that helped you along the way! So, please…share away in the replies!

Well, I hope to see you awesome folks tomorrow. Until then, have a Terrific Tuesday! – Amber

Remembering the Fallen

In remembrance…

Today is Memorial Day in the U.S., a day of remembering our Fallen Heroes.

While I hate the bloodiness of war and the loss that occurs, I have learned that there are those things that are worth fighting for and dying to defend.

Declaration of Independence: “…We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”…

Constitution: (Preamble) “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America”.

To each soldier that made the ultimate sacrifice, your precious life, I wish I could shake your hand and say “THANK YOU”!

Because of you, I enjoy the right to live in freedom, to work for and pursue the life I choose, as does each citizen of these United States.

To keep, to honor, to guard and protect this FREEDOM…your fight is now over. For others, it is just beginning. May they be so brave.


The price of FREEDOM is very high, indeed. But the cost of losing it is far greater.

Celebrate their sacrifice, and remember. – Amber

Friday Fun #3 – Pretty

Meet Pretty Kitty Little Bits…

(or Pretty for short)

Pretty adopted me in 2009. She showed up in the middle of the night, crying, starving, and terrified. But with a lot of patience and 3 cans of cat food (stolen from Coal’s stash), she finally agreed to come inside to take over Queenship of the cabin.

Timid by nature, Pretty spends a lot of time hiding. But after 3 years, she began to grow in confidence…and around the mid-section too.

She’s not particularly fond of other animals, but usually avoids confrontations by running away or seeking my protection. If cornered, she will growl and hiss, even offer a gentle swat at times, but she is just too sweet to fight.

A little too intelligent…

As with most cats, Pretty is not concerned with following rules. She mainly does as she pleases, but on the rare occasion when she gets in trouble, she gripes at me in her old lady tone, clearing telling me I should mind my own business.

Her disposition is that of a snooty little princess with just enough sweet innocence to get her way, most of the time. Especially when she smiles at me.

She has a knack for opening doors, and loves making nests in my kitchen cabinets. I finally installed latches after she went through all of my boxed goods, taste-testing everything. Apparently, she likes dried egg noodles…a lot! I found 1 bag completely empty, and another one she had been snacking on. But who doesn’t like pasta, right? Although I prefer mine cooked.

Pretty is also very sneaky and has a talent for stealing. At mealtimes (for the humans) when we say grace, we do it with our eyes open or we cover our plates, as Pretty will not hesitate to help herself to whatever she can grab. Like me, she has a sweet tooth and cannot resist chocolate, so we’re both on diets now.

One year at Christmas time, my son Christian and I built a gingerbread train, complete with a little caboose filled with M&M’s. The next morning, I noticed some of the icing had been scraped off. As I was questioning Christian about it, we heard a noise and turned to see Pretty scooping out the M&M’s and eating them. She also had icing stuck all over her whiskers.

She’s also athletic…(sometimes)

Pretty is also a high-minded cat, meaning she loves to climb up the outside walls and get up on the roof. Even though she is a small cat, she still sounds like a buffalo running around up there. Her way of getting down is sliding down the support post on the front porch, like a little fireman, but with claws, so she gets stuck sometimes. The first few times I rescued her, she dug her claws into me from fear. But eventually she learned to trust me, so I’m no longer used as a pin cushion.

As you can see in the video, Pretty likes to play in water. She won’t go outside when it’s raining, but she’ll play in the fountain all day long. She also thought of it as her personal water bowl, and drained it dry a few times. I’ve since moved it, as I wasn’t fond of getting sprinkled as she slapped the water stream.

One of Pretty’s favorite places is on the chair in front of the woodstove, where she waits patiently each morning in the winter. Once the fire is going, she begins rolling around from side to side on the chair, perfectly content and cozy. Unless she sees a squirrel or a bird outside. Then she sits in the window chattering like a chipmunk, with what I suspect is a barrage of threats describing what she would like to do to them.

All in all, Pretty is a sweetheart, liking nothing more than to snuggle up in comfort, while being hand-fed bon-bons. I’m thankful to be included in her clan (enslaved).

Well, Pretty just broke into the office, telling me it’s time to give her a food offering. I’ll be back next week with more of the cat clan.

Until then, enjoy your weekend! – Amber

Pay It Forward Thursday

Pay It Forward Thursday

Helping others through an attitude of gratitude…

Have you ever noticed that the happiest people, are also thankful people? I’m not talking about the kind of temporary happiness that only lasts while everything is going well, but the kind that overflows, even when circumstances aren’t so great.

Feeling a sense of gratitude, even in the little things, goes a long way in lifting up and maintaining a joyful spirit.

I have to work at it sometimes, but I have a few friends with that kind of spirit that seems to pour out of them naturally. Those are the people that I prefer to be around. It’s a little like having your own cheerleaders, helping you to stay charged up and moving forward.

So, I want to take a few moments to share a few things I am thankful for.

First and foremost are God, my family, and my friends. They are the greatest blessings in my life, and I absolutely cherish them.

I am thankful for my home, and the beauty of my surroundings, and the peacefulness I feel here.

I am also grateful for the folks that encouraged me to write so long ago. Without their encouragement, I probably would have never considered becoming an author.

I’m especially thankful for the kindness of other writers that helped me to learn the trade, improve my skills, and even shared my work with others.

Paying it forward…

Many years ago, when I started my first blog, I was blessed in getting to know some pretty awesome folks.

In the world of business, it often seems that competition creates an atmosphere of trying to “out-do” everyone else. Traditionally, it means that you don’t help your rivals succeed.

But I found the opposite to be true in the writing industry, especially with the independent authors. I think it comes from knowing how tough it is to get started in this business, particularly in promoting the work, and most of the authors I’ve met tend to enjoy helping each other.

One such author I met years ago, shared an idea he had that not only helped to grow his audience, but also helped others to grow theirs. He did this by building trust, not only with his readers, but with fellow authors as well. He learned that while self-promotion is a necessary part of an author’s work, if it is over-done it will turn folks off.

Instead of a “look at me, look at me” mindset, he began sharing the work of others, folks that he admired in some way. He devoted one day each week to a list of personal recommendations that he shared with his audience, including links to those books, websites, and resources. He also interacted with folks in a sincere and friendly way, creating a genuine atmosphere of friendship.

There is a spirit of thankfulness when someone gives you praise for your efforts. When someone takes the time to share your work or recommend you to others, it brings a sense of satisfaction and reward that money cannot buy. A connection is established, reputations are built, and friendships are made.

Connecting with others is a major part of why I write.

So, with a pay-it-forward kind of spirit, I’d like to show my thankfulness for some folks whose work and character I admire. Some have inspired me, some have given me valuable advice, others have promoted my work, and others that I may not know personally but I like their work.

Let’s begin with a few authors…  

I’ll start with Pam Thorson. I met Pam through my blog about 7 years ago, when she gave me a “like” on one of my articles and left an encouraging comment. I replied to her comment, and a conversation started. We began following each other’s blogs, did interviews of each other, and promoted each other’s books. Pam’s story inspired me, helping to strengthen my resolve to keep going, even in the toughest situations. Her strong, but kind and caring heart earns her a place of recognition and deep respect from me. Visit her at: http://www.pamthorson.com/

Next, I want to give thanks to Mike Dillard for the knowledge and training in marketing and promotion. I learned the hard way that there are many devious-minded folks that make a fortune from basically scamming people with empty promises of teaching them how to be successful. But Mike proved himself, not only through his successful track record, but also in his desire to actually help others. While he makes available what is referred to as a “high-end package” (a complete step-by-step course with full membership of high value), he also remembered his own humble beginnings, with little money to invest in such a high cost. So, he broke his package down into single guidebooks and references at a more affordable price for those just starting out. He believes in investing in yourself and continuous learning. And each of his products stand alone, allowing you to start off on a smaller scale to begin earning while you’re learning. He even shares a good deal of helpful knowledge and insight for free, his way of paying it forward. You can learn more about what he does at: https://mikedillard.com/

Last, but not least, on the list of authors for today is my friend, Seumas Gallacher. I originally met Seumas through twitter. He’s what I call a “friendly Scottish gentleman”, with a great big heart and wonderful sense of humor. I’ve always had a fondness for Scotland, so I was easily drawn to his writing because he writes with an accent. Every time I read his blog, I hear the words in my head with a Scottish accent, and he makes me laugh. His books are primarily of the crime-thriller genre, though he has also published books on blogging and promotion. Seumas’ referral to himself as “an ol’ Jurassic scribbler” and down to earth friendliness earned him a reputation in my book as a friend. For a peek into his work: https://seumasgallacher.com/

Resources for the writers…

While learning through practicing the craft gives writers a strong foundation, there’s no need to learn everything the hard way. One of the greatest resources I have used in helping to hone my skills is FaithWriters. They promote writing contests, challenges, gentle critique, forums, and opportunities for finding paid work in writing. Through sharing some of my articles and receiving positive feedback on their site, I was encouraged to enter a few contests they were promoting. I won 2nd place in one of those contests, which was a great boost to my self-confidence. Another contest earned me a position as 1 of 40 co-authors in a book published by FaithWriters on Amazon, Trials and Triumphs. Whether you are a beginner, or a seasoned author, if you are a person of faith, I highly recommend this site: https://www.faithwriters.com/

Another invaluable resource for writers that I have used is Writers Digest. The entire site is devoted to helping writers with everything from learning how to write, to promoting their work, finding agents, and getting published (self & traditional). They are considered by many to be one of the go-to leaders in the industry for writers of all levels. I highly recommend starting off with their free advice articles first if you’re just getting started. (I always recommend starting with the free stuff first, to see if it’s a good fit for you, like a try-before-you-buy thing. If you find it useful and can afford to, then by all means, invest in your knowledge and yourself!) For more information, their address is: https://www.writersdigest.com/

This list contains just a few of those I am thankful to. I’ll be sharing more next Thursday, continuing to pay-it-forward.

An invitation…

If you are interested in being added to my weekly pay-it-forward list, or know someone you would like to see promoted, subscribe to my email list here, and receive the newsletter with the information on being added.

I also want to thank everyone that signed up to follow my blog, and for the likes. The writing is a reward in itself, but those little pats-on-the-back always give a boost to my heart.

That’s it for today. I’ll be back tomorrow with more Friday Fun. In the meantime, have a Happy Pay-It-Forward Thursday!  – Amber

Wednesday Wisdom

Your life is your story, so make it a great one…

As a writer, to create a good story takes imagination, ideas, planning, and time. Sometimes it is like a game of connect-the-dots, keeping everything flowing smoothly and in order.

At other times, surprises and obstacles must be thrown into the mix, to make the story interesting and real.

Life is like that too. We write the story of our lives, with each day being a new page.

The trouble is there are events and circumstances that will occur, things that we have no control over. It’s like someone else took control of the pen and added a scene when we weren’t looking.

However, it is still our choice in how we will react to and deal with these things. We can choose to keep a positive attitude and make the best of the day, or allow ourselves to fall apart and be completely miserable.

Focus on the little things…

Not many of us live a life of grandeur, glamour and glitz. We may have our moments of fame, but our days are mostly made up of the little things of life.

It’s those little things, the beauty of a sunrise or sunset, playing a game of fetch with the dog, listening to a good song, bike rides, road trips, having a cup of coffee with a friend, those are the moments that create the daily joy in our heart to keep us going.

Unfortunately, I hear many people say, “I’ll be happy when…”, or “I’ll be happy if…” Why not find something to be happy about right now?

Real joy and happiness comes from inside of us, starting with an attitude of gratitude…just being thankful. Sometimes I have to take a mental inventory of my life and realize, I am blessed! It doesn’t mean I have everything I want, not by a long-shot. But I’ve learned to appreciate my life where it is right now. I’ve set goals for where I want to go and what I want to do, and I’m taking intentional steps to get there. I intend to enjoy the little moments along the way.

Sometimes we just need to re-focus our priorities, to think about what really matters to us. Working on those priorities gives a sense of reward and satisfaction, a joy that comes from deep inside.

I don’t want to get to the end of my life and look back with regret. I want to make each day count for something, to have meaning and purpose. I want my heart to be filled with lots of memories of love, joy, and laughter.

If you knew for sure that today would be the last day of your life, what would you do with it? Go do that! Make today a great story. Then do the same for each day you have.

Well, that’s all for today. Hope to see you again tomorrow! – Amber

Getting Creative

An artistic mind…

I love art in it’s many forms! Even better, I love the creative process of making something new out of something old. When I came across the above picture, it sparked my imagination and the day was filled with landscaping designs for my own yard.

For as long as I can remember, I loved to create pictures. I wasn’t all that great with colors, but I could do an awesome mural with a pencil, although it did land me in hot water once when I was a young teen and I covered a wall in a friend’s bedroom. It was a life size drawing of a warrior on his horse, inspired by a picture on an album cover. Did you know that pencil requires several coats of paint to cover up? I didn’t, and my friend’s parents were not happy about it.

One of my favorite hobbies is handicraft projects. When I moved to Alaska, touring the local shops was a real treat for me, as there were so many items created by hand from the local artists. I was not only inspired to create, but I also felt quite at home in the midst of so many uniquely creative minds.

Most of my creations are one-of-a-kind, and for the most part, not for sale. I often create items with a specific person in mind, to be given as a gift. One such item was a gift I made for my dad. It was inspired by a joke, that “it’s so cold in Alaska that even the fish grow fur”. I made a 10 inch long fish from clay, with bulging eyes and long fangs, then spent 4 months covering it, layer by tedious layer, with dog hair in 3 different colors. I mounted it on a plaque with the title, “Alaskan Fur Fish”, and sent it to my dad for Christmas. He raved about that fish for years!

Stifled creativity…

I enjoy creating things, but I do not like being a salesperson. Looking for ways to make a living in art without having to do any selling led me to an opportunity with a company to produce small craft items at home. I thought I would be “creating” and the company would be doing the selling, a perfect gig for me.

The first project I was given was assembling tiny brooms, about 2 inches long. The company supplied the materials and instructions, which had to be followed precisely. Their objective was in mass production of identical products, so there was no room for creativity. And I ended up hating the job. After completing the first set of 1,000 tiny brooms, I turned in my resignation.

When I was younger, a common phrase among most of my teachers was, “She does not follow instructions very well”. I still don’t like to, though I’ve at least improved enough that I don’t get into as much trouble for it nowadays.

From a creative perspective, one of the major attributes of the artistic mind is originality. But that originality suffers and is stifled when you have to go by someone else’s rules and instructions. And while it may be considered a “flaw” by many, I simply prefer to do things my own way. (This is also a common pattern with most entrepreneurs.)

My mind always seems to be busy creating something new. And this includes new ways of doing old things. To be honest, it doesn’t always work out well and I’ve spent a lot of time in correcting or starting over.

There are, however, times when the ideas do work out well. Those are the successful efforts that keep me going, such as when my stories touch someone’s heart or makes them laugh. While my writing methods may not follow the rules of academia, I’m not writing to please any college professors anyway. As an author, I write primarily to connect with others in a more personal way, to create images shared in the heart.

Even when I’m doing freelance work, while there are certain guidelines that must be followed to satisfy the client, the writing itself is still my own creation. I find that freedom (along with the paycheck) rewarding.

I suppose I could have followed a more traditional path to a writing career, but I don’t think I would have found much joy in it.

Instead, I think of the words of Jim Rohn:

“We all have 2 choices in life… to be all that we can be, or to be less”.

To me, that means being an original, to create from the heart in my own way, even if it means the hard way sometimes.

So, with that thought, I’m off to painting pictures with words (working on my fiction series).

Have a Happy Tuesday, and go create something beautiful! – Amber

Monday Motivation #1

Monday Motivation #1

What motivates you?

Sometimes motivation is unintentional. I’m sure the fella in the picture was quite motivated to peddle as fast as he could to get away from the bear. His motivation was fear, which can propel us into acts of seemingly super-human ability at times, while at other times makes us freeze up and unable to move.

Motivation is simply an incentive or a reason for doing something, and is generated by our thoughts and emotions. For instance, the fella in the picture was probably thinking something like, “I don’t want to be meals on wheels”.

That type of motivation is instinctual, for self-preservation. It is usually a very quick thought process followed by immediate action.

So, what about the more mundane circumstances of life? Do we jump out of bed on Monday morning and get ready for work with the same kind of enthusiasm? For most folks, the answer is probably “no”, unless perhaps we’ve overslept and are going to be late. Still, there are some that wake up ready for action.

It takes my brother-in-law about 20 minutes from the time his alarm clock goes off to get showered, dressed, and in the car leaving for work. And he does it without any coffee!

I, on the other hand, am an early riser, yet it takes a little time (and a few cups of coffee) before I’m ready to swing into action.

That created a problem for me when I became a self-employed freelance writer.

Since I set my own schedule, it was easy in the beginning to procrastinate in getting started for the day. I work from home, so no one cares what I wear, or if I even bother to get dressed at all. I could even skip brushing my hair and teeth if I wanted, however, I do not recommend that.

I could find all sorts of excuses to do anything but work, and no one will yell at me. Unfortunately, the paychecks are determined by actually doing the work, so I had to get myself organized and motivated.

Can we design and create our own motivation on purpose?

The answer is yes. But how?

Did you know there are 12,500,000 results for motivational conferences on google? Seems there are a lot of folks searching for that spark to move them to action. I have attended a few seminars myself over the years for motivational training in particular areas.

One of the main attributes of the speakers at these seminars was their ability to influence a change in thinking, attitude, and behavior in their audience. The reason to change is primarily to stop a bad habit, something that is preventing you from achieving your desire, and replacing it with a good habit that helps you to attain your goal.

I needed to change my habit of procrastination. So, I started by examining how I thought about myself as an employer verses an employee. It didn’t take me long to realize that as an employer, I would quickly fire me as an employee, because I wasn’t doing the work required on time.

I had to create a schedule and a specific deadline, and treat it with the same attitude as if I were on the clock for an employer. I also had to prioritize my activities and alleviate the distractions that consumed too much of my time.

One thing I discovered about myself in doing this is that I tend to create to-do lists that only Wonder Woman could hope to achieve. This makes prioritizing critical for me, especially in writing.

I also needed to be more effective in my time management. Once I get on a roll in working on something, I don’t like to stop until I’m done. I lose track of time, and other important tasks can end up being neglected. I know it sounds silly, but I actually had to set alarms on my phone to remind me of things like letting the dog out, eating occasionally, and when to stop working for the day. Eventually I was able to create a routine that kept the basic necessities covered.

Pursuing a career in writing can often involve a certain amount of frustration, dealing with rejections, lack of income, and the like. It also requires a lot of patience.

When I first started writing, it was more of a hobby, and there wasn’t much pressure with it. But as a career, it does involve pressure, sometimes enough to make me think about quitting.

So, why don’t I quit? Because I’ve learned to keep myself motivated with passion. I remind myself all the time that I’m doing this because I love it! The reward of satisfaction from sharing encouragement and helping others is greater than the petty irritations that may come.

I learned a long time ago that no matter what job I’m doing, there will be things about it that I don’t like. But it still has to be done. So, then I have a choice. I can do it with a miserable attitude, or I can do it with a pleasant attitude. The one I choose determines how I feel about myself at the end of the day. I can become a bitter person, or I can become a better person.

And for those mornings when I’m having a hard time getting started, I created a little resource of quotes, memes, and sayings that give me the boost I need for that passionate spark to take off. (Maybe I’ll share some of those next Monday).

Until then, I’d love to hear what motivates you? What influences your passion or desire enough to create a change? Share your suggestions and experiences of what works for you. It may the key to helping someone else to grow.

Well, that’s it for today. Make it a good Monday, and I’ll see you tomorrow!  -Amber

Friday Fun #2 – Coal

As promised, this week I’ll begin introducing the cat clan.

Meet Kitty Coal…

Also known as Big Ol’ Handsome Boy, or Handsome for short. It doesn’t really matter what he’s called, as he only responds if he feels like it anyway.

As you can see, he is well read and highly intelligent.

Coal is the eldest of the cat clan, taking ownership of the cabin after being rescued in 2007 when he was 5 months old.

Although he is getting older, he is still ruler of the beasts here. In spite of Frodo’s size and weight advantage, even he concedes to Coal when the claws come out in full glory. (He remembers those talons impaling his tongue when he was just a pup.)

Living wild for his first 5 months, Coal never learned how to play gently. His version of playing is like a fight-to-the-death scene from a Bruce Lee movie (and my arms have the scars to prove it). To him, it’s the only way to play, but the other critters always end up running away. There were only 2 exceptions: a little black kitten named Spunky, but he didn’t have a lick of sense anyway; and a wolf named Trocaire who wanted to eat Coal (that is why Coal was at the top of the bookshelves in the picture, to get out of reach of the jaws).

Coal is a large cat, weighing in at 20 pounds, and he walks around with the majesty of a lion full of confidence. His feet make a rhythmic heavy thunking sound on the floor when he walks, so you always know when he enters the room.

One of his favorite activities nowadays is to lay across the top of my chair behind my neck, and smack me in the face with his big fluffy tail. He is as accurate in his strike as Indiana Jones with his whip, sending my glasses flying more than once.

He also likes to pounce into my lap unexpectedly, which feels like having a bowling ball with claws dropped on my gut.

Most of the critters I’ve known over the years have been afraid of vacuums (except a dog I had years ago that would attack them). But not Coal. He actually lays down in front of the vacuum on his back, waiting for the hose to suck his up his fat belly. (I wish the other critters liked being groomed this way.)

As is the nature with most cats, Coal is demanding. He will start with the wide-eyed stare, followed quickly by the squinty-eyed glare. If that does not elicit the desired response, he begins softly poking with the tip of his claws. After 2 or 3 attempts, as a last resort to get his way, he employs the full arsenal of his teeth. This always causes action, though not necessarily the kind he wants.

Another typical cat trait is the love of knocking everything over, and Coal has mastered this ability. It seems to be his favorite way to annoy me when I’m trying to sleep, as he wanders around the house clearing off every horizontal surface he can get to. I watched him once, sitting on the counter, knocking one thing at a time off. After each item hit the floor, he would look me in the eye, almost smiling, and then push something else off. He also lines items up on the edge of the tables and then bombs Frodo with them.

To say that Coal has made my life interesting and filled it with entertainment is an understatement. But he has also filled it with joy and affection. He doesn’t really give kisses, but he drools on me (a lot) as he purrs away in contentment, snuggled up on my shoulder.

I could go on for a lot longer about Coal, but I think I’ll save some for the next book of Crazy Critters.

Next week, I’ll introduce another member of the cat clan, so make sure to come back for a cup of coffee and a few giggles.

Have an awesome weekend, and I’ll see you Monday! – Amber

The Inspiration of Mike Rowe

Inspiration Comes Without Warning…

I actually set out to write a totally different post for today, but through the research, I came across something that altered my direction of thought.

My original idea was about reviewing the success of a few people that I admire, folks that made that long climb up the ladder to the top of their industry. There were 4 names on my list.

As I began the research on their backgrounds, I came across another name, one that I didn’t really know much about. I had seen him on TV, and I remembered seeing something on the internet about a project he was working on that had piqued my interest, but I never got around to checking it out.

Today I looked him up. His name is Mike Rowe, but you may know him as “the dirtiest man on TV” from the show Dirty Jobs.

Aside from the fact that I like his sense of humor and style, there were some things he said regarding work ethics and attitudes that resonated with my beliefs, so I added him to my list of names.

Then, I came across the section involving his scholarship program, which was the project I mentioned earlier.

Part of the application process involves something called “The S.W.E.A.T. Pledge”, which stands for: Skill & Work Ethic Aren’t Taboo. There are 12 parts in this pledge, and he put together a series of short videos giving a brief explanation for each with real-life examples.

I found all 12 videos to be informative, encouraging, and inspirational. But #8 actually brought me to tears. There are no additional words that I could give to add any value, so instead, I’d like to share the video. It’s only about 6 minutes long, and well worth the time.

An Attitude of Gratitude

I was left completely humbled and inspired, so I just want to say thank you to Mike Rowe for his efforts in this worthy cause, and a special thank you to Staff Sgt Travis Mills, thank you for your service and sacrifice, along with your efforts in The Travis Mills Foundation. You are a true hero and role model.

Maybe we all need a reminder from time to time, life can change instantly, in the blink of an eye. Instead of whining and complaining about what’s going wrong, lets try being thankful for what’s going right. An attitude of gratitude does make a difference.

Well, that’s it for today. The cats are calling me (in other words, I can hear them all running around, tearing things up in the other room).

So, until tomorrow, have a Happy Thursday!  – Amber

(Disclaimer: I am not receiving compensation of any kind, and am not affiliated with Mike Rowe or The Travis Mills Foundation. I just like what they do, and thought you might like it too.)

Becoming a Great Leader Starts With This…

In the beginning…

When I write, I can put the jumbled thoughts that are swirling through my mind into written words that can make sense, even if only to me. Because I must focus to move my fingers on the keyboard, I can take my time and just let the words flow in a more selected way, and then change the thoughts into more organized patterns.

The intent is to imagine these patterns as pieces of a puzzle, and then begin putting them together to form the complete picture. That is the magic of writing.

When I write non-fiction, the pictures often represent the emotions in my heart. But they also represent knowledge learned, which came through seeing, hearing, and doing, my life’s experiences.

One of the books I am working on now came from the experiences I’ve endured on my journey to becoming an author, and I’d like to share a brief excerpt here today. (Though my book is being written primarily for authors, much of it applies to any business or industry.)

From the business end of it, you are promoting yourself as an author (not your books, but you as a person).

Another aspect of the business is based on the idea that an author can be thought of as a leader. You are leading the minds of your readers with your words.

The following excerpt is about building your reputation as a leader with integrity:

Building Leadership Skills: 4 Keys to Becoming a Person of Influence

During a recent study group session regarding leadership skills, the question was asked, “Who are your primary influencers & Why and how do they influence you?” Our answers were varied on “who”, but there was a general pattern in the “why and how”.

What makes a leader stand out from the crowd? It is their ability to be effective in their influence on others, in thought or action, combined with integrity.

In any form of leadership, it is important to connect with those you are leading. Otherwise they won’t follow you for very long. Here are 4 keys to becoming a person of influence, and building connections that have a powerful impact.


People will not listen to you if they don’t trust you. Trust is earned when you demonstrate:

  • Honesty – ALWAYS be honest…at home…at work…at play. We build reputations based on what other people see firsthand, and it doesn’t take long for word to get around.
  • Fairness – When we gain a reputation for being fair, people are assured they can rely on us in finding agreeable solutions.
  • Dependability – ALWAYS do what you say you will! If you can’t be counted on to keep your word, people will not trust you.


Let’s face it, there is nothing outstanding or extraordinary about a McDonald’s hamburger. Yet they have become a known and successful fast-food chain. Why? Because they are consistent. People know they can rely on getting the same food item each time they order it, and they get it quickly (usually).

Being consistent means:

  • Doing things in a reliable and predictable manner each time.
  • Getting effective results.
  • Being dependable.

* This ties in with #1 – when you demonstrate consistency, you build on your reputation of being trustworthy.


No one is going to listen to you if you can’t demonstrate a real knowledge of what you’re talking about.

  • Do your research. Study everything you can find on your field or subject.
  • Gain first-hand experience whenever possible.
  • Invest in yourself, invest in your knowledge. Never stop learning.

Remember, nobody likes a “know-it-all”, so be humble. They also don’t like false information, so make sure it’s accurate.

And again, BE HONEST! Don’t be afraid to say that you don’t know the answer or have the information if you don’t. Then offer to research it and share it, and make sure to follow through on it. This reinforces confidence in your ability and wisdom, as well as your honesty.


I’m not talking about some kind of supernatural psychic skills here. To be empathetic means, “to be aware; having knowledge of, and comprehending the needs, feelings, problems, and views of others”.

  • Learn to be a good listener.
  • Make an effort to understand.
  • Don’t judge.
  • Create an atmosphere of unity and sincere concern for others.
  • Ask people what they need or want

The difference between being a “boss” and a “leader” is that a boss is concerned primarily with his own needs and wants, whereas a leader is concerned with the needs and well-being of those he/she is responsible for. No one is going to willingly follow or support someone if they don’t believe that person cares about them.

People want to feel a real connection with their leaders, and they want to know their needs are understood.

Each one of these skills by itself is a good asset to anyone in leadership. But when you combine all 4 together, you become a powerful influencer, and that is the gateway to changing the world.

And don’t forget…lead by example, in life as well as business. Be the kind of person you would want to follow. – end

I’d like to take a moment in closing today to say THANK YOU to all of my followers here! I truly appreciate your support. It is my hope that you will find encouragement, along with useful information, and a little entertainment as well on the site, and perhaps share it with your friends.

One of the most valuable insights I have gained in my years of writing is the AWESOME generosity of independent authors when it comes to promoting each other. This applies to blogs as well as books, articles, and other works.

So, in the spirit of sharing, if you are interested in having your work promoted here, or a suggestion for someone’s work that you admire, please share a link and a brief description in the reply section. (The only requirement is that it must be free from obscenity and vulgarity. Anything of this nature will be deleted.)

Have a Happy Wednesday, and I’ll see you tomorrow! – Amber

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