Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Your Achievements for this Year

If you're like most people, you've been mentally reviewing events of this year; usually it's a mix of things we liked, and things we're not that crazy about. However, I must say that for me, it's been a very good year.

Those of you who are divorced, or who are close to someone who's had that experience, can all appreciate a year without divorce. Or maybe for someone else, it's a year without surgery, a year without chemotherapy, a year without losing a job.

So, a year with no separations, divorce, moves or job changes, made for a very smooth 2008 for my family. However, I know a lot of you facing health challenges,financial anxiety, and even the loss of a loved one. One cannot deny the appearance of sorrowful developments, the question really is how to respond to them.

Fortunately, a dear reader sent me some insight into this very question yesterday morning. She shared with me a different perspective on the word "joy" which she got from a young mother who recently died of cancer. This young woman named Emilie gained rich understanding in reading a passage from Kitchen Table Wisdom, a book of reflections by Rachel Naomi Remen:

Joy seems to be a part of an unconditional will to live, not holding back because life may not meet our preferences and expectations. Joy seems to be a function of the willingness to accept the whole, and to show up to meet with whatever is there. It has a kind of invincibility that attachment to any particular outcome would deny us … the willingness to win or lose moves us out of an adversarial relationship to life and into a powerful kind of openness. From such a position, we can make a greater commitment to life. Not only pleasant life, or comfortable life, or our idea of life, but all life. Joy seems more closely related to aliveness than to happiness.

No matter what you're facing, it's worthwhile to stop and take account of what you have accomplished, given the resources and constraints of your situation.

I just today turned in another chapter of my dissertation, and my first impulse was to get super busy with other things, which I did. But I'm taking time right now to write out my accomplishments for 2008 as part of my preparing for the upcoming year.

I'll share some of mine just to get you thinking about yours:

- Swam at the ECU pool most weeks, usually twice. I'm now up to 80 laps.

- I turned in 4 chapters of my dissertation.

- I invested.

- I gave a birthday party for myself.

- I laughed till my sides ached while playing Scattergories (highly recommended game, btw.)

- I got the oil in my car changed twice, with no emotional breakdown (that was a 2007 event.)

- I started this blog.

- I got a business license, business checking account, and business cards.

- I bought a set of nice sheets.

- I travelled to Venezuela.

- I participated in an e-course called Great Big Dreams, by Christine Kane.

- I gave two academic presentations.

Well, you get the idea. I didn't win any lottery, I didn't finish my dissertation, I haven't bought a house...there are many things I would have liked to have accomplished. But keep in mind it's better to reach for the stars and fall a bit short, than to aim for the fence and hit it.

Take a moment and think, what did you accomplish this year? Write it down and celebrate.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Leverage This Free Energy Booster

You may not be surprised to know that kindness carries power. But you may not know that kindness to self also benefits the world. The commandment goes something like, Love Others As You Love Yourself, not Love Others Instead of Yourself.

Research supports the finding that kindness to others raises your energy level, that of the recipient of your kindness, as well as the energy levels of people who observe the act of kindness.

In other words, if you're kind to others, you benefit them, and yourself.

But...the converse is also true. Be kind to yourself, and you benefit others as well.

How does that work? If you do something to make yourself feel better, your energy level rises, and that is contagious. Everyone who comes into contact with you feels a whiff of your positive attitude.

Here's a true confession: I love to stretch my dollars, and I do mean S T R E T C H. It's another way of saying, I can be cheap, especially on myself. I love to find bargains, shop at thrift shops (when they have sales), and use clothing that is DECADES old, especially if it was given to me. It's fun up to a point, but then sometimes I go too far, and I feel cheap, poor, and inferior. And my kids ask what's wrong with me and I may not even know at first.

Being thrifty is good. Being cheap and frugal brings you down. Abundance is evident in nature and it's here for us to enjoy. However, overspending, getting into consumer debt is likewise your sense of self, and the energy you radiate.

I'm not even sure I can bring myself to pay full retail for something. Almost everything I own has a story. A tale of how the Heroine beat the system and got a deal to make you drool.

Keep in mind though, that treating yourself as the special person you are, is good for you, good for others. How can you make the world a better place today? With an act of kindness to yourself, or someone else.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Make Yourself a High Energy Acrostic

As you are probably well aware, there are some emotions, feelings, actions, and reactions that raise your energy level, and others that do the opposite. As it has been said before, your success in life is not the sum of everything that happens to you, but rather the sum of your reactions and interpretations of everything that happens to you.

There are countless events that you can't avoid (e.g. the current financial climate) but you certainly can choose your reaction and attitude toward it, and other things that happen, some of which you wish would not have come into your life.

Here's a fun and creative little exercise you can do to help train your mind to react with high energy, rather than giving in to a low-energy reaction. Make an encouraging acrostic!

If you don't know what an acrostic is, see the example below. It's something much easier to grasp by looking at, not by explaining. You can make one with your name, the name of a loved one, or any word on which you want to focus these days.

To help you raise your personal energy level, I've included a word bank of high-energy words below the Mixonian acrostic. These words are scientifically proven to raise your level of energy; they're from a list in Power Vs. Force, by David Hawkins, MD, PhD.

Merciful. Choosing the most compassionate interpretations of messages & events.

Inventive, on the lookout for new connections among people, things, and ideas.

eXcellent, but not perfect. Doing the best work possible with the resources at hand.

Optimistic people look for opportunities and choose not to make bad situations worse.

Noble, but not pompous.

Inspired to touch and encourage others.

Appreciative of my own qualities and yours.

Nurturing our potential.

High Energy Word Bank:

attentive, accepting, admitting, aesthetic, agreeable, allowing, appreciative, approving, attractive, authoritative, aware

balanced, beautiful, being, believing, brilliant

candid, carefree, challenged, charitable, cheerful, cherishing, choosing to, civil, concerned, conciliatory, confident, confronting (not harassing), conscious, considerate, constructive, contending, courageous

defending, democratic, detached, determined, devoted, diplomatic, doing

educating, egalitarian, empathetic, encouraging, energetic, enlivening, envisioning, equal, essential, eternal, ethical, excellent, experienced

fair, fertile, flexible, forgiving

generous, gentle, gifted, giving, global, gracious, grateful

harmonious, healing, helpful, holistic, honest, honoring, humble, humorous

impartial, ingenious, inspired, intentional, intuitive, inventive, inviting, involved

joyful, just


leading, liberating, long-term, loyal

merciful, modest

natural, noble, nurturing

observant, open, optimistic, orderly, outgoing

patient, peaceful, polite, powerful, praising, principled, prolific, purposeful

receiving, releasing, reliant, requesting, respectful, responsible

satisfied, selective, serene, serving, sharing, significant, sober, spontaneous, spiritual, steadfast

tender, thoughtful, thrifty, timeless, tolerant, trusting, truthful

unifying, unselfish

valuing, virtuous


There you have plenty of words, work on an acrostic and raise your own energy level. By doing so, you will also raise the level of energy of everyone who interacts with you. We are all interconnected.

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Reality Is, Women Inspire

The woman as muse comes across a bit anachronistic these days, but designer, pirate, astronaut, dandy, boxer, superhero, John Galliano, seems to get women. Galliano is now the designer for the House of Dior.

Here's what Galliano said in an interview from Vivre magazine:

Interviewer: What else inspires you?

JG: Women. I love their contradictions, their spirit, their attitude and individuality. Their strength combined with vulnerability. Their curves and their charm. They are fascinating creatures and it's all the curiosities that add together and enchant me. I'm addicted.

Further into the interview, Galliano articulated the transformative power of the right clothes:

...Clothes can be your armour and your disguise; they can make you confident, sexy, studious, romantic....they are the gauge and you control how high the volume goes. I love to observe how clothes transform people.

It's just another reminder, we control more of our reality than we often think. What we wear is a reflection of what's going on inside our heads. The same goes for the way we communicate, and dressing is a significant part of our communication.

To see beautiful clothes and objects from Vivre, click here.

The photo above is of me and my friend and neighbor, Anne. We are not wearing clothing by Dior, or by any other designer, but we manage to inspire each other in our own outfits.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Mixonian wishes you and yours inner peace, and joy, prosperity, and fabulous style.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Be Smart Look Good

This is a post about looking good. Another post on style is here.

It really is important to look good, without becoming obsessive about it, not for others, but for yourself.

These ideas are from aesthetic consultant, Carrie Mixon, aka my favorite sister.

These three things look classy on everyone, men and women:

1. Jeans with a white shirt.

2. Black turtleneck.

3. Anything charcoal gray.

Now, what looks good on you?

To answer that, you need to know thyself and until thyself be true. Think about these questions:

1. Which silhouettes favor your figure? To get a handle on that one, think about what you were wearing when someone complimented your looks. Once someone asked me if I were my sister's mother, the outfit I wore that day was burned the very same day.

2. Where are your assets? Hair? Sparkling eyes? Great legs? Tiny waist? While most of us get mixed bags of goods, focus on your best features.

One way to understand your own personal style better is to cut out pictures from magazines that you really like. Take these and either keep a file on them, or better yet, paste them in your journal. Over time, you will see your own personal style developing.

The most important style tip is last: Take care of your body! Eat well, rest, exercise. That's the foundation to being smart, looking good.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

3 Keys to Have Tons of Friends and Admirers

Well, I started to title this post, "The Key to Excellent Interpersonal Relationships" because "interpersonal" is a highly popular PhD word for those of us who study communication. But, then I remembered that most people find PhD types obnoxious.

This is sage advice from my grandmother, who is nothing short of charismatic. Everyone, and I mean everyone, loves my grandmother. She also learned from mogulettes like Mary Crowley, founder of Home Interiors, and Mary Kay Ash, founder of the eponymous cosmetics company.
She says that she was so shy when she was young that she would hide whenever guests came to visit their home. But, she realized soon enough that you got to get out of your shell!

In case you didn't know, eponymous means: it has the same name's a cool word. Like "Calvin Klein, president of the eponymous design firm."

Here is incredible advice from a remarkable woman:

1. Find ways to compliment people. It can be someone at the grocery store you've never seen before. It can be someone you don't care for. Show sincere appreciation for something, and you will be appreciated yourself. This is most definitely not the same as sucking up.

People want to be appreciated more than they want money or comfort.

2. Pretend everyone is wearing an invisible sign that says Please make me feel important.
This is even more true for people who act like they already feel important. It's an innate human desire to feel some degree of significance.

3. Ask questions. This advice works on multiple levels, and "working on multiple levels" is something that communication scholars love to talk about. In fact, if you ever want to impress an academic, just say, I can see how that works on multiple levels. Wow.

Asking questions means getting conversation going. You get the other person to talk so you don't have to figure out what to say.

Asking questions means you might learn something unexpectedly helpful, or even lucrative. You never know.

Asking questions means you get involved with the other person, and before you know it, you have another friend, and maybe even an admirer to boot!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Free Wealth-building Affirmations

You may have noticed I'm a fan of financial expert, Chellie Campbell. She taught me two really helpful things: one is to realize that not everyone needs to be on your team, and the other is her explaining why affirmations work, even if you don't believe in them.

Here is what she wrote in From Zero to Zillionaire about it:

Affirmations aren't magic words. They are a tool to help you get dressed, to put better emotions on your face, for the viewing public. They help you focus on what's good instead of worrying about what's bad. Worry puts a frown on your face. Confidence puts a smile on your face. Who do you want to work with, frowning people, or smiling people? (24)

Chellie also wrote about the nocebo effect. You can read the Mixonian post on that here. The nocebo effect is what happens when you have negative really don't want to go there.

If you would like to receive 30 days of inspiring affirmations, click here.

You can receive the first 30 days of Chellie Champbell's page-a-day book “The Wealthy Spirit: Daily Affirmations for Financial Stress Reduction” sent daily to your in-box – just click here:

You can always make your own affirmations. Make them to describe your reality, in advance.

Friday, December 19, 2008

How Reciprocity Helps You

I promise I got this book from the ECU library for my research on Chavez. It's called Influence, by psychologist Robert Cialdini. However, as soon as I got into it, I saw blog post, after blog post, fascinating tidbits to share with Mixonian readers.

Cialdini has a chapter on reciprocation and how we tend to act when someone does something for us. Marketing expert Joe Vitale has written and spoken on the same concept, only he calls it (quite cleverly) karmic marketing.

Read this, it's riveting:

A few years ago, a university professor tried a little experiment. He sent Christmas cards to a sample of perfect strangers. Although he expected some reaction, the response he received was amazing -- holiday cards addressed to him came pouring back from the people who had never met nor heard of him. The great majority of those who returned a card never inquired into the identity of the unknown professor...While small in scope, this study nicely shows the action of one of the most potent of the weapons of influence around us -- the rule for reciprocation (29).

According to the rule for reciprocation, when someone does something nice for us, we automatically feel compelled to repay that person in some way. Just like when you get invited to someone's home for dinner, you would feel weird if you came empty-handed. And then we would want to invite that person over, or reciprocate socially in some way.

This rule for reciprocation also explains why sometimes we avoid accepting a gift from a person or a company -- we don't want to have the corresponding obligation either. This exchange naturally drives much political behavior; you're surely familiar with the you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours action and reaction.

So, if you want to build your business, your network of friends, or run for political office, you've got to get even more generous. That's a fabulous tip for the upcoming year; no need to participate in the recession anymore than you have to.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Laura's On Christine Kane's Blog!

Some of you may be quite surprised to know that I wrote a post on organization. Check it out here.

Do You Have Faith to Achieve?

by Ruben Camacho

On my way back home, while waiting at the airport, I was thinking about the master class I had just given. There was this marvelous young student, who, like many others, had come with a great desire to learn, to improve, and to play very well. Nevertheless, and also like many others do, he carried with him a sense of uncompromising severity with himself, an obsession for not getting one single note wrong, and feeling of being extremely demanding of himself. As I heard him play, he reminded me of myself when I was a young musician. He had clearly assimilated the belief, “No pain, no gain.”

Many people are convinced that achievement only comes through great effort and self-discipline. It’s something we’ve heard all our lives, something we don’t usually question or challenge. But sometimes we find ourselves in a situation in which the tremendous effort we are making doesn’t seem to be enough.

Jesus and Nazareth, Buddha, and other spiritual masters have spoken of the importance of faith in a divine source, and yet it seems we don’t want to listen. Yet, I believe faith is a factor that makes all the difference in our ability to achieve the results we desire.

The importance of faith is also mentioned by great scientists, including William Atkinson, Albert Einstein, and Alexander Bell. In many of their writings, they articulate the idea that one must believe in order to see, not see to believe, as we are usually conditioned.

If you focus on learning or achievement from a perspective of faith, with a clear purpose in mind, the path you need to take becomes shorter and even enjoyable. With faith, you can lose that incredible pressure that being so demanding with yourself generates, and you can achieve wonderful results. Working on any project with faith, and even love, we can achieve more with less wear and tear, and even enjoy the process.

Faith and love can transform your work into joy.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Assertive Person's Bill of Rights

This is an excerpt from Manuel J. Smith's book, When I Say No, I Feel Guilty. Even if you don't think you have a problem being assertive, his list is a good reminder. I especially like #2.

1. You have right to put yourself first sometimes

2. You have a right to make mistakes.

3. You have a right to your own feelings, beliefs, and opinions.

4. You have a right to change y our mind or decide on a different course of action.

5. You have a right to speak up if you feel you've been treated unfairly.

6. You have a right to ask for clarification when you do not understand something.

7. You have a right to ask for help or emotional support.

8. You have a right to ignore the advice of others.

9. You have a right to receive formal recognition for your work and achievements.

10. You have a right to say no.

11. You have a right to be left alone when you want to be alone.

12. You have a right not to have to anticipate others' needs (86).

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

5 Ways to Inspire Fear...of You

If you take a close look at what seems like crazy behavior at times, you can usually find fear lurking in the shadows of the situations. Fear of looking stupid, fear of going broke, losing a job, losing a marriage, and so forth. In fact, studies show that fear of loss is a far stronger motivator than the desire to move forward.

Sometimes our actions and/or attitudes actually inspire fear in other may not even realize that you are causing other people to shake in their boots. If you suspect you're sliding down a slippery slope down to where you don't want to go, there is a solution. Inhale deeply and slowly. Exhale. Repeat five times....or until you feel better.

Here are sure-fire ways we (inadvertently) instill fear of ourselves in others:

1. Shut down all communication if somebody says something "wrong." The effect is even more powerful if you grit your teeth. Simply state, "I have nothing further to say," and turn your back on the person. S/he will know not to speak to you in the future, which is obviously what you want.

You know this isn't what you want. Inhale slowly. Exhale. Tell yourself, there is more to this than I am seeing at this moment.

2. Interrogate the other. See if you can prove that you are right and the other is a moron, or at least misguided, by asking enough probing questions. the trick is to really put the other person on the defensive; that way her brain will probably shut down.

Actually, we don't always realize that our "honest questions" sound like a military interrogation. Inhale slowly. Exhale. Tell yourself, there is more to this situation than I am seeing at this moment.

3. Accuse, criticize, and insinuate. Try to imagine the worst possible motivation in the other person, and them accuse him of....using you, stomping on your feelings, abusing the relationship. Really the possibilities are endless. If that gets too time-consuming, you can always find things to criticize, either explicitly or implicitly.

It's actually better to imagine that there is a viable interpretation of events that you're not seeing right now. Inhale slowly. Exhale. Tell yourself, there is more to this than I am seeing at this moment.

4. Blame others. This is another guaranteed way to show your superiority. You can blame the other for whatever is ailing you, probably catching the other off guard, and in any case possibly making the other feel guilty and/or weak.

Don't be a victim. Have a brief pity-party and get on with a good life.

5. Complain. This is the general-purpose people repulser. You don't need to complain about any specific thing. You can either complain about other people, or situations. This policy brings down every one's energy level, and will probably enable you to achieve your goal of self-alienation.

Complaining only makes a situation worse. If there is truly something wrong, calmly bring the problem to the attention to the person who can fix it.

It's way too easy to quash attempts to build relationships and avoid effective communication. Repressing your anger is not the answer either, at least in some cases. If you're feeling stressed out and prone to negative reactions, take a time out and get your head on straight, once again.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Love is Your Destiny

Last year at a national communication conference, I went to hear a panel speak on the relationship between communication and love. I actually was not that interested in the subject, but a dear friend was presenting a paper and I went to see him. As it turned out, I heard the most innovative definition of the word, love.

One of the panelists talked about the love involved in the relationship between a teacher and a difficult student. That's not just tough love, but tough to love. This definition is what impressed me the most from the entire conference.

Love is seeing destiny in other person.

And this has what to do with communication????

Actually it is a powerful starting point for any relationship, and all communication. To see destiny in another is completely separate from warm and fuzzy feelings you may enjoy, or the lack thereof.

This came to mind after writing about gifts we don't understand. (Now that all my friends are terrified of ever buying me a gift again!) Sometimes we give gifts based on the destiny we see in the other person: we see a budding artist, writer, intellectual, photographer, leader, learner, beautiful person.

If you're not sure what to give as a gift for someone, think about what destiny(ies) you see in him. If you're not sure what to say to someone, think about the destiny(ies) you see in her.

When communication is difficult, going back to a shared destiny may smooth the path. In any case, it's a good way to break unhelpful thought patterns that may be blocking good communication.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Prepare to Receive Good Things

Christmas is a good time for many people to sharpen their receiving skills. Even though it is better to give than to receive, being able to receive things graciously makes life richer.

Many of your friends and family know how to pick out just the right sweater/pen/knicknack that delights you. Others give you gifts that perplex you. And on occasion, you get left out.

Mostly females are better at giving gifts, I think that is because this half of the human population is simply more attuned to nuance. However, one of my all-time favorite gifts was a red Waterman fountain pen Ruben gave me for my birthday. This was before I started writing Mixonian; he saw the writer in me and wanted to encourage me to write beyond what was being required of me in my studies.

Think about different ways to see the gift you receive, but to which you see no connection to yourself. There are several factors to consider:

1. It could be that the giver is not skilled at selecting gifts. Probably this person has other redeeming qualities; you can take this opportunity to remind yourself how this person is wonderful in other ways.

2. It could be that the giver sees something in you that is not evident to yourself. Maybe it's a color you don't wear, but one that actually looks stunning on you. Maybe it's a line of thinking you should explore.

3. It could be that life got really complicated this year for the giver and so fewer resources were devoted to gift selection in general.

4. It's possible that you overestimated the value of your relationship to the other person. Maybe that person is not so much into you as you thought. If you think this is the case, no drama is needed, simply redirect your energy to other relationships and activities.

It's not that you can necessarily know what is going on with that gift you got that you just do not understand. Take the opportunity though, to look past the gift itself, to the giver and how much you appreciate this person.

The way we choose to interpret events in our lives determines much of the effect those same events have on us. There is more leeway than you might think. Be generous this season in your receiving of gifts, just as you are in giving them. It's a season of delight.

Friday, December 12, 2008

When Not to Hit the Send Button

Just because you can send an email message, doesn't mean that's the best option for you. Before you hit the Send button, before you rejoice in marking another task off your 'to do' list, ask yourself the following questions:

1. Are you in your normal 'happy camper' frame of mind? Feeling good about life? If you don't feel right, you might want to 'draft' this message for a few minutes.

2. Is there any controversy involved in this string of messages? Are the people involved clarifying and re-clarifying what they wrote? If so, it's probably better to pick up the phone, or walk to the cubicle next door and talk about it.

3. Are there legal ramifications to this exchange? If so, think very carefully, review after distancing yourself from the message, before sending it.

4. Is the recipient likely to be offended by the content of your message. If so, pick up the phone!

5. Do you sense any email drama in development stages? Prevent a full-blown soap opera segment by picking up the phone, or email a request for a face-to-face meeting.

6. Would you like to build a better relationship with the recipient? Meet with the person for coffee instead of sending email.

7. Are you trying to be persuasive? All other things being equal, spoken messages are more powerful than written ones.

As a general rule of thumb, use email and texting for less important messages. Voice mail is better; there is more context in your voice than in your email. The best communication is actually meeting with the person, with a phone conversation in second place.

Be strategic and choose the best medium for your message; it does matter. That's why Marshall McLuhan became famous for saying, "The medium IS the message."

Thursday, December 11, 2008

What's Really Behind All Communication

Today's post is a shameless plug for the study of communication...or better yet it's full of good reasons to stay friendly with your local communication expert.

Knowing the principles of communication enables you share your meaning effectively. We all communicate, through language and a multitude of nonverbal signals, our thoughts, feelings, and ideas. While good communication does not guarantee a successful relationship with everyone you meet, all good relationships function through effective communication.

And as I love to remind my students, everything that comes to you in this life, comes through other people. It behooves one to communicate well.

You communicate well when other people clearly understand what you are saying. In other words, they get your meaning.

Just to get you started thinking about communication (and why it can be so problematic,) here are some principles that matter:

- You cannot not communicate. Everything you say, the way you say it, the way you look, and everything else in the context....shares meaning of some sort.

- Communication is irreversible. Just like the toothpaste out of the tube, once it's out, you can't pull it back in. That's the origin of the plea, "Earth swallow me."

- Communication takes place on two levels: the relationship and the content. On the relationship side, your communication is doing one of three things: building a better relationship, maintaining the relationship, or weakening the relationship. The content is the information you wish to share.

- Communication is a process. You never really get it all done; it's like your life in that it's a work in process. Messages do not have meaning in isolation. That's why email is so troublesome -- this medium leaves out all those great clues from the context.

- Good communication is not the ultimate solution. You can perfectly understand another, and still disagree. You can disagree with another's perspective, and agree to disagree, or decide not to spend much time with that person. Good communication with your auto mechanic is not a guarantee that he will fix your car's problem.

That's it for today. All the complexities involved in communicating in a multicultural universe provide daily fodder and employment for thousands of communication experts all over the planet. Have a great day!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Language to Handle Rejection

Rejection is part of life. It is actually good for us, shields us from people with whom we need not get involved, and keeps us out of activities we should avoid. Nevertheless, it can hurt when hit happens.

But, if you can accept that nothing is really random and that everything brings an ultimate benefit, then maybe this so-called rejection happened to bring you closer to your goals. If you're like most people, you can quickly recall a "rejection" that turned out to be the best far. I know in my case, not getting a job I applied for last January was wonder-full and I am so glad they did not select me.

Jack Canfield's answer to rejection is this: N E X T.

This excerpt comes from Chellie Campbells' The Wealthy Spirit:

I remember that Jack Nicholson, upon accepting his Academy Award for Best Actor in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, said something like, "I dedicate this to my agent -- who told me ten years ago I had no business being a serious actor."

All successful people have stories like this to tell. Albert Einstein failed math. Winston Churchill failed English. Failure is just another step on the road to success. If you get rejected by someone, they just aren't "your people!" Here are some of the rejection experiences of very famous, successful people:

Alex Haley received 200 rejection notices before Roots became a mega best-seller.

Chicken Soup for the Soul was rejected by thirty-three New York publishers. The best-selling franchise has now sold over 50 million books.

John Grisham's first novel, A Time to Kill, was turned down by more than thirty agents and fifteen publishers. There are no more than sixty million copies of his books in print.

The reviewer of Fred Astaire's first screen test said, "Can't act. Can't sing. Can dance a little."

Go forth and conquer. Don't let negative people stop you.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Trap of False Dichotomies

Dichotomies, or black and white thinking, are of enormous value in life. I think the whole computer world operates on the 1 or 0 dichotomy. However, many times thinking in dichotomies is limiting your choices unnecessarily.

In The Wealthy Spirit, Chellie Campbell writes, "As I work with people to help them reduce their financial stress, I look at the choices they've made that put them in a financial position that isn't viable. One of the problems that seems endemic is the mental habit of considering only two options before making a decision" (138).

For example:

Do I quit my job and pursue my dream, or I do remain a slave to the corporation...or the university?

Well, you could pursue your dream occupation part-time while you continue saving money, making more contacts to support you financially, in the future.

Should I buy generic or brand name?

If what you're buying is really important to you, like maybe coffee, buy the brand you like. If it is not so important, buy generic. And you can always look for branded items on sale, especially these days!

Do we meet at your house or mine for coffee?

We could meet at The Tipsy Teapot instead.

That's why creative thinking is soooooo important. But to come up with the best solutions, you've got to realize that there are plenty of options out there, you just need to invest the time to think them up.

That's where brainstorming is useful. Develop as many possible solutions or alternatives as possible, knowing that most of them are not viable. But you can't get to the right one until you've worked at it for awhile.

I tell my students that their writing is like the faucet at the old house at the beach. You have to let the brown water run out, before you get to the sweet, clear water.

Monday, December 8, 2008

7 Random Things I Learned This Year

One really good thing about life on this planet is that you get to keep learning, and I think the older you get, the more you appreciate the lessons. Was it George Bernard Shaw who said, "Youth is wasted on the young?" He must have had some teaching experience!

Some random lessons from 2008:

1. You absolutely cannot substitute self-rising flour for regular flour when baking a cake. Don't even try, unless you consider oven cleaning a fun activity.

2. Five pounds of meat in one lasagne is overkill, even if one is preparing it for homeless people.

3. You teach people, (not "them people") how you to treat you. These people include students, family members, and customers.

4. Trying to convert other people to see things from your perspective is largely counter-productive. A life that is well-lived is the best example.

5. Creating prosperity in your life is largely a matter of attitude. That's why money comes so easily to some and why others can't hang on to it. That does not mean that you want to emulate everyone who is cash rich.

6. Happiness is now; one way to view your mission is thinking of it as finding things to appreciate at all times.

7. Blogging is great fun. I always wanted to have my own publication and now I do. The lesson within this lesson and that you often get what you want in unexpected ways that are sometimes overlooked.

Thanks to Sally for the great light-house picture. I delight in all the meanings attached to that image. What have you learned this year?

Sunday, December 7, 2008

A Creation Story

As you can see, Sally is a textile artist. The way she puts together her quilts, the way she creates each piece, is its own creation story. This one is particularly interesting.

Sally began quilting three years ago on a whim. She didn't buy a fancy sewing machine, she just got her start by making a pillow, and now is a regular prize winner at quilt shows.

Last winter she was browsing through an news story on commercial Christmas decorations. She was entranced by a Nordstrom's image that looks pretty much like the quilt in the picture. She printed the image from the web site and had it enlarged at Staples.

She then picked out the fabrics to correspond with the colors in the image and sewed them together. She added embellishments through beading, and I think glitter, and voila: a first prize quilt that is unusually charming.

As you can see, it's not your grandmother's quilt. It is meaningful contemporary interpretation of a traditional American craft, one that showcases a national virtue: ingenuity. In a way, quilting is the ultimate recycling art -- making something beautiful and useful out of scraps. Each quilt is also its own story. Creativity in action.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Style is Not Superficial

Well, style can be superficial if that's the only thing that guides you, but if so, you're probably not a Mixonian reader. (BTW, Mixonian attracts many sublime goddesses.) Our tagline could be "Be smart, Look good."

By style we mean putting some effort into the appearance of your person, and of your living and work spaces. Both Puritans and extreme economists delegate everything related style to the trash bin because of their focus on net utility. For really does matter.

These are the first five definitions from

style   /staɪl/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [stahyl] Show IPA Pronunciation ,
noun, verb styled, styl⋅ing.

–noun 1. a particular kind, sort, or type, as with reference to form, appearance, or character: the baroque style; The style of the house was too austere for their liking.

2. a particular, distinctive, or characteristic mode of action or manner of acting: They do these things in a grand style.

3. a mode of living, as with respect to expense or display.

4. an elegant, fashionable, or luxurious mode of living: to live in style.

5. a mode of fashion, as in dress, esp. good or approved fashion; elegance; smartness.

5 Reasons Why Style Matters

1. If you look good, you feel good, and people are attracted to you.

2. The quest for beauty is part of the universal human experience, even for Puritans and economists.

3. It's fun.

4. It's a way to shape your tiny fragment of the universe.

5. People with style, which is not the same as being in style, are more confident.

For absolutely fabulous stylish photos to inspire you, check out the satorialist.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

What You Secretly Wanted to Know About Social Classes

You're probably well aware that having money and having what we call "class" are not synonymous. (The same can be said for having megabucks and exquisite taste.)

At the risk of perpetuating an unfair class structure, I recently read Ginie Sayle's research on rich people. Naturally, Ginie hails from Texas, and is considered an expert on rich people. She's written several books on the subject and she even gets paid to consult other people on how do deal with rich people, or how to find them. It just goes to show there's a market for everything. Well, Ginie spells out what is to be classy, in the following "14 Layers of Class."

1. Wealth. It can be new or old, and old money status comes at the 4th generation of wealth.

2. Lineage. In other words, old money, or in some cases, fresh out of big bucks. Mixonian calls the latter case, nouveau pauvre.

3. the right clubs of course.

4. Education...the great equalizer.

5. Arts: patron, artist, or appreciator.

6. Social Savvy, noblesse oblige.

7. Political Clout. Sayles doesn't refer to political parties, but rather the ability to make things happen.

8. Travel sophistication.

9. Sports. Sport of class include snow skiing, crew, tennis, squash, racquetball, lacrosse, polo, sailing regattas, soccer, rugby, field hockey, and mountain climbs. Also equestrian competition, foxhunting, skeet shooting, gold, badminton, and croquet.

10. Values. The operative value is "people first." That's the value behind the story of the host following the guest's example when he drank the water in the finger bowl.

11. Achievement.

12. Hobbies.

13. Philanthropy.

14. Manners and Self-Care.

Well, this probably confirms what your mother taught you. No matter what your income level is, you can be a class act if you want to.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

What About Another Stream of Income?

The jobs cuts and stock market situation have a lot of people thinking about job security, or the lack thereof. The truth is, you work for yourself, whether you're employed full-time or not. If you do have a full-time job, the company who pays you is your client, and you only have one client, perhaps. But, while it's probably a really good one, you might want to diversify your client base.

If you're like most people, you daydream on occasion about doing your own thing. Selling your art, or marketing organic dog treats. The desire to create is an inherent part of being human, and that's a wonderful thing.

Even if you're far too overwhelmed right now to even think about any other activity, it's a good thing to take inventory of your skills, dreams, and ideas. Here's a list of things you can start jotting down, either in your journal, on a Word document, or anywhere. The point is to write it down.

My Creative Genius List:

1. 20 Things I'm good at, at least I used to be good at....

2. 20 Interesting experiences.

3. 20 Things I know about.

4. 20 Things I enjoy.

5. 20 Challenges I've faced.

That should get you started. And that's how incredible projects get done, one step at a time.

For for information about this exercise, click here.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Your Thinking and Your Finances

You're probably well aware that numerous scientific studies support the relationship between the mind/emotions and physical health. There are studies that support the relationship between prayer and healing. Also, there is the placebo effect, and its opposite, the nocebo effect, in which negative thinking actually makes you more sick! In one study, 2/3 of the participants reported experiencing the side effects they were warned about, yet they were only given sugar tablets. In other words, they reported feeling bad, when there was absolutely no physical reason for them to do so. Here's some information on the nocebo effect.

This is from a brief except from a Washington Post article by Brian Reid:

That study is a classic in the annals of research on the "nocebo" phenomenon, the evil twin of the placebo effect. While the placebo effect refers to health benefits produced by a treatment that should have no effect, patients experiencing the nocebo effect experience the opposite. They presume the worst, health-wise, and that's just what they get.

"They're convinced that something is going to go wrong, and it's a self-fulfilling prophecy," said Arthur Barsky, a psychiatrist at Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital who published an article earlier this year in the Journal of the American Medical Association beseeching his peers to pay closer attention to the nocebo effect. "From a clinical point of view, this is by no means peripheral or irrelevant" (Washington Post, April 30, 2002).

So, your thoughts, negative or positive, have a definite impact on your health. Could not the same be true for your finances? Think about it.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Welcome to December

Today is the first day of the last month of the year. In a way, it's a day, just like any other day. From another point of view, it's a reminder that another year is about to finish, that time waits for no man, or any other creature.

The current so-called financial crisis in an interesting event. Ratings are up for news programs, so that sector of the economy is benefitting. Those whose profits are hit, have the opportunity to re-assess their business, their spending, their relationships.

Mixonian invites you to take some time for your own personal inventory. Consider these 7 questions:

1. For which things am I truly grateful at this moment?

2. What would I like to experience LESS of?

3. What would I like to experience More of?

4. What are my achievements for this year? (Think in terms of quantity, not quality.)

5. With whom would I like to spend MORE time?

6. With whom would I like to spend LESS time?

7. What are 10 tiny changes I would like to experience?

This last item comes from creative master Julia Cameron, and it's a potent tool for shaping your life because you're focusing on highly do-able changes. Frankly, it's empowering. Here are some tiny changes I've made from an assortment of lists this past year:

- Bought nice new sheets

- Bought a trash can with a lid

- Put some stuff in the attic

- Enjoyed a pedicure

- Took a box of things to a consignment shop

- Organized a small pile of papers

- Finished ironing

- Went through some drawers to weed out clothing

- Made cheese-date pastries

Fascinating. Actually the power of this list is that it's stuff that is not urgent, the world won't end if you don't do it, but it helps you uncover the deep desires of your heart. And as Plato wrote, "Knowledge is food for the soul."