Q&A With CWA President Marci Kladnik

CWA President Marci Kladnik with Barney and Maggie

CWA President Marci Kladnik with Barney and Maggie

If you have not been fortunate enough to meet her, Marci Kladnik may just be a name at the top of the sidebar of the Meow Newsletter emails. Here is her short bio:

Marci Kladnik, her four rescue cats, and one rescue dog live in a small town with no stoplights or mail delivery. A retired graphic designer and technical writer, she turned her talents to championing feral cats in 2007. Involved in TNR and feral rescue, she sat on the Board of Directors of Catalyst for Cats from 2007-2013 and in her spare time, trapped and fostered local feral cats and kittens. Her award-winning bi-weekly cat column ran for seven years in three newspapers, she is an award-winning photographer, winner of the 2015 Kari Winters Rescue and Rehabilitation Award, and President of the Cat Writers’ Association. Past columns appear on www.catalystforcats.org.

Maybe you’ve wondered how Marci worked her way up to being CWA president. To give you an idea of who our president is, we’ve put together a Q&A. Even if you’ve met Marci at a conference or traded emails with her, you will learn a lot about her you didn’t know before… and you’ll learn a little about CWA too.

What came first for you – writing or cats?
Cats and books came at the same time. I was lucky enough to be born into a family who loved cats and reading. My mother read to me every night and when I learned to read, I’d bring armloads of books home from the library. I frequently read with a cat on my lap. Writing began in grade school. In sixth grade I was chosen to be the assistant editor of our school’s first newspaper. I was a shy child and found my voice on paper easier than speaking out loud.

What is your background as a professional writer, and how did you come to write about cats?
My professional experience came from technical writing for medical devices. In 2007 I was asked to sit on the board of Catalyst for Cats (a TNR group in Santa Barbara County) as their Outreach Coordinator. Wearing that hat I approached a local newspaper and asked if I could write a bi-weekly cat column and they went for it! Eventually two other local papers picked the column up and I became known locally as the Cat Lady.

How did you get started working with TNR and how did you first become involved with Catalyst for Cats?
Being off work due to injuries and having just filed for divorce, I fell into TNR’ing after I found myself with time on my hands in a tiny town. Catalyst for Cats had one TNR volunteer locally who was looking for a replacement as she had just moved out of town. I heard myself saying, “How about me? I love cats!” At the time I had no idea where that would lead me. It literally changed my life.

Which writing credits are you proudest of?
Winning several MUSEs and the Kari Winters Rescue and Rehabilitation Award for pieces associated with my work in TNR and feral kitten fostering have brought me the most joy. Although my newspaper column ran for over seven years (before I burned out giving it away for free), being recognized by CWA as being a good writer validated my efforts.

How did you find out about the Cat Writers Association?
In 2010 when my newspaper column was included on the Catalyst for Cats website, Nancy Peterson, CWA past President and (then) with the Humane Society of the United States, contacted me in regards to our barn cat program. In the course of our conversations she mentioned CWA and offered to sponsor me. Holy Catfish, and now I’m the President!

How else were you involved with CWA before becoming president?
From the very beginning I volunteered to judge the annual Communication Contest. Next I volunteered to design and produce the conference and awards banquet programs for two years, followed by two years as Contest Chair. Now I’m in my second term of being President. So basically I have been a volunteer the whole time I’ve been a member.

How were you chosen to take over as president when the previous president, Lorie Huston, passed away?
I don’t know the background of how my name came up or the discussions within the Council, but Dusty, the VP at the time, called me and asked if I would consider the position. I was stunned, honored, and hesitant, but took a step out of my comfort zone and agreed to give it a try. I am very glad I did because, even though it was a steep learning curve the first year, I feel that both CWA and I have grown.

What are some of the duties you have as CWA president?
There are lots of little things to do but the two main duties are these.

The first, of course, is to provide a steady and thoughtful form of leadership. This, at times, has been difficult due to the nature of how I became President at Lorie Huston’s sudden passing and because I’m new at it.

The second, and perhaps the most time-consuming duty, is garnering sponsors. Without the funds from our generous sponsors, CWA could not offer an affordable conference and we would not have those wonderful contest prizes.

How much work would you say it takes to get a sponsor to commit to CWA, on average?
Asking for money is never easy. As part of my ongoing strategy to bring new life into CWA and one reason I also took on the position of Conference Co-Chair this year, I revamped the presentation sent to potential and current sponsors this year in the attempt to be eye-catching. That part plus the template for the cover letters took many hours, but I’m happy to say that it was worth it.

Some sponsors replied to a single email from me, while others took several (4-5) follow-up reminders before I had a response. In regards to garnering new sponsors, that is a whole new dance in itself. One has to both tread lightly and also be able to woo a company by tailoring the cover letter or conversation to their specific mission in regards to cats. Sometimes it works and other times not. It is difficult to put an actual “average time spent” stamp on any sponsorship courtship as each is an individual situation. The whole sponsorship genre is an ongoing, year round effort for the President and the Conference Chair.

What are the hardest and most rewarding aspects of being CWA president?
The most difficult thing for me is dealing with internal discord. Different opinions are always welcome, but public bashings and criticisms based on misunderstandings or speculations are just not seemly and cause a lot of hurt. I look at CWA as a nurturing organization and am always very sad when a hairball bubbles to the top.

The private, “Thanks, you’re doing great!” emails that come in from members on occasion make all the hard work worth it. I am working hard at trying to organize the background aspects of CWA so that when a new volunteer steps into my shoes it won”t be quite as overwhelming as it was for me. There is still much to do, but much progress has been made.

What do you love most about CWA in general?
CWA has meant the world to me and has actually changed my life. The love and support of the members, and the encouragement that is offered freely makes this an incredible organization. I know from personal experience that the reason I have reaped so many benefits from being a member is that I got involved. I didn’t just sit back and wait to see if “it was worth it” but made the most of what was out there by stepping out of my comfort zone of anonymity and volunteering.

What are some ways that CWA members can get involved in the organization?
I cannot stress enough that volunteering for CWA reaps benefits, including opening doors.

  • Start small by offering to be a contest judge.
  • Attend the conference and volunteer to help stuff the swag bags or set up the banquet trappings.
  • Want a voice in the running of CWA? Let the nominating committee know you are interested in being on Council or running for an office.
  • The Contest Chair always needs help with sorting entries and packing them up for shipping, if you happen to live near her. She also needs lots of judges and suggestions for the Special Awards judges who cannot be CWA members.
  • The Conference Chair needs help breaking down, packing up and shipping stuff post conference.

Thank you, Marci! I hope you’ve inspired CWA members to take a bigger part in our organization.

Cat Writers Association President Marci Kladnik Interviews American Association of Feline Practitioners

Cat Writers Association Google Hangout BannerUPDATE! Watch the video REPLAY.

Cat Writers Association president Marci Kladnik explores the American Association of Feline Practitioners in a live GOOGLE HANGOUT interview event broadcast Tuesday April 5, 2016 from 6:30-7:00 pm Eastern Time. The event is available to the public, and also will be recorded and available on YouTube to view and share following the live broadcast.

aafp-logoDr. Elizabeth Colleran, a veterinarian specializing in feline medicine, will answer questions about AAFP and address some of the most pressing issues for cat lovers, including:
 
  • Myth-Busting Common Cat Behaviors
  • Surprising “Secrets” About Cats You Never Knew (you’ll want to write about these!)
  • Why Cats Get Fewer Vet Visits (Ways to Make the Trip Angst-Free)
  • The benefits of a CAT FRIENDLY PRACTICE
 
The CWA hosts this interview in appreciation that the AAFP qualified as an “early bird” sponsor of our conference events and a prestigious contest award, the AAFP CAT FRIENDLY AWARD. Dr. Colleran also will be part of the “FEAR FREE HOT TOPICS FOR PET-CENTRIC WRITERS at the CWA conference events, held in conjunction with the BlogPaws in June

Karen Payne, Editor of Meow, Honored by CWA

Karen Payne2Dear CWA Members,

By now many of you know that Karen Payne has tendered her resignation as Editor of Meow, our long-standing and award-winning CWA newsletter. You also may know that Meow is changing formats.

It was Lorie Huston’s (our sorely missed late President) intention to change the Meow to a totally digital newsletter. As I understand it, she had several conversations with Karen on the subject. I agreed with Lorie’s vision and when I was elected, it was added to my “to do” list for my term in office.

_Muse
Under the direction of Karen Payne, the Meow won a Muse Medallion for Excellence

The usual post conference newsletter did not happen for a number of reasons. As I observed Karen’s struggles to get an issue out in January, it became clear that Council needed to deal with the fate of Meow sooner than later.

And so, on Friday January 30th I brought it before Council for the first time. A majority were in favor of changing the quarterly newsletter to an end-of-the-year “CWA Highlights of 20–” to be posted on the website at the close of each year. (More about this to follow in a separate announcement.)

With the obvious decision in sight so quickly, I emailed Karen late that same afternoon to give her a heads up on what was happening. I did NOT want her to hear from anyone but me, and I also did not want her to spend any more time on the issue she was still trying to pull together.

I then put before Council the request to honor Karen in some way. This idea, too, was unanimously approved and I delayed announcing the change until I had the award pictured above in hand so as to share a photo of it with everyone and publicly honor Karen.

Council, all of CWA and I are all so very appreciative of the six long years of service Karen has selflessly put in as our newsletter Editor. It is an end to an era for sure and, as it often is, there is pain involved. We cannot thank you enough, Karen, but please accept this award, now in the mail to you, as a token.

Many purrs,
Marci Kladnik
President, Cat Writers’ Association

[subscribe2]

Farewell CWA President Dr. Lorie A. Huston

lorie beautiful bestYesterday humanity was diminished by the passing of Dr. Lorie A. Huston, friend, ailurophile, veterinarian, writer, blogger, social media expert and one of the kindest people ever.

I met Lorie at a CWA conference in Westchester, NY, and we visited occasionally at veterinary social media conventions. I was struck by her gentle demeanor, her intelligence and her subtle but quick wit.

When she agreed to take the reins of CWA I was thrilled. And for almost a year she guided our organization through a difficult transitional period. Over the last 11 months Lorie and I became good friends.

loriehustonprofile-1333478613On several occasions I offered to buy her a glass of wine. She always declined. She eventually shared that she had struggled with liver issues her entire life. Earlier this year she had a close call. Despite her more frequent and severe hepatic bouts, she never sought a liver transplant because of the lifelong complications.

Lorie called me two weeks ago to remind me that she was visiting family in Nebraska. She promised she’d be available by cell phone or email if I needed her. She’d be back in a week.

That was our last conversation.

I learned later, the day she left for Nebraska, her skin was orange. She assured coworkers that everything was under control. Apparently it wasn’t.

officersLorie always responded to phone calls. Always. When she failed to return calls or answer emails, I became concerned. Finally, CWA newsletter editor Karen Payne reached her. She told Karen she was in ICU in Nebraska.

I tried calling and emailing many times to check on her, to no avail. On Monday, that little voice of mine told me to hunt down her vet clinic. I spoke to Tia, the receptionist. Fortunately, she knew I was a friend and told me Lorie was on life support. The prognosis was “poor.” Tia was also awaiting the arrival of Lorie’s house keys so she could check on Lorie’s six cats. Since Lorie only expected to be gone a week, she had set out two weeks rations of cat food and water.

I received another call from Tia. I thought the news would be about Lorie’s cats. It wasn’t. Tia struggled to tell me that Lorie had just passed away.

Oh God, no!

At approximately 04:25, September 30, Lorie A. Huston joined her many pets at the Rainbow Bridge. Heaven may be a happier place, but Earth feels empty.

Funeral arrangements are still pending.

Lorie-Huston3-400x300Help Lorie’s Cats

Lorie’s family has asked for help rehoming the cats. The clinic is too small to house them and it’s a hardship on Tia (who is recovering from a serious dog attack) to care for the pets. We are working on obtaining details and photos of the kitties. People have offered donations for shipping and boarding. Let me know if you are willing to adopt, foster, transport, monitor or donate money. I’ll let you know when and if funds are actually needed.

lorie & ZekiThe Real Lorie Huston

Now a little bit about Lorie. She is survived by her six “beautiful” (her words) kitties, her brother Tim, her sister-in-law Karen. I don’t know about her parents. She lived near Providence, Rhode Island. All of her cats were either rescued or had been abandoned at her clinic.

Lorie attended the Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine, graduating in 1986 as a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine. Prior to that, she attended the University of Nebraska, where she received a Bachelor of Science. In 1988, she moved to Rhode Island to work full-time as a veterinarian at the Hoffman Animal Hospital in Providence. Caring for primarily for cats and dogs, she was responsible for most of the surgical procedures, which according to Lorie surgery was her favorite part of the business day. She also cared for sick animals and provided routine preventive health care.

loriehustonSeveral years ago, Lorie saw a need for more accurate online pet care information. As a result, she started writing and blogging including her award-winning personal blog, Pet Health Care Gazette. Lorie’s articles have been widely published both offline and online, and can be found in FIDOFriendly, Pet Sitter’s World, and many others. Her interest in social media and search engine optimization sprang up as a natural extension of her online writing. She was a reporter for National Pet Health Examiner, host of Animal Cafe. She was a certified veterinary journalist and wrote a regular column for PetMD.com and assisted CATalyst Council with their social media outreach to promote the status of cats as pets.

lorie beautiful2In November, 2013 CWA members elected her president. Because of her desire to share accurate information, she freely gave interviews to fellow pet writers.

Recently, when I was working on a very technical article, she sent me links to articles that helped clarify the complicated topic. She even offered to fact check the article before I submitted it to the publisher. Thank you, Lorie. I really appreciated that. So many writers and befitted from her wisdom and her intellectual generosity.

Her Pet Health Care Gazette won the 2012 Petties Award for Best Pet Blog as well as the Winn Feline Foundation prestigious 2014 Media Appreciation Award. She was a 2014 finalist for the Pet Industry Woman of the Year.

Lorie, we miss you. We cat writers will continue your crusade to improve the quality of life for pets and their people. Rest in peace, dear friend.

[subscribe2]

Basic Tips for Creating a Good Backup Plan for Your Computer

cats-and-computerWith spring officially here, many of us look at it as a time of rebirth and rejuvenation – the days are longer, dormant plants bloom again, and people begin a ritual of cleaning – windows are washed, closets get a once over for impending trips to Goodwill, and we flock to the stores for linen sales. As a writer, I like to look at this time as a reminder that our computers also need a good cleaning to be running smoothly – we need to be clearing our cookies and deleting files we don’t need any more, but more importantly, we need a reliable plan in place to back up our files, emails, pictures, videos, and the like that can tragically be lost in the blink of an eye, causing us nothing but heartache and problems.

I wish I could say that I am being overly dramatic, but I am speaking from experience when I say it is not a matter of if you will lose invaluable information from your computer, but when you will. Unlike the days of typing manuscripts by hand and keeping a copy stored in a filing cabinet or taking photographs and displaying them in a photo album, everything we do is based on putting information into a piece of machinery that is suspect to a myriad of problems. We take the technology of today for granted and assume everything will be fine, but if we don’t have a backup plan in place to save our irreplaceable data, the results can be disastrous.

For example, in a matter of 5 short years, I have had an external hard drive filled with thousands of invaluable business and personal photos accidentally knocked to the floor by one of my cats, causing it a near death experience, only to be revived two-weeks and $500.00 later by an IT person who I had to call in desperation to help me. The photos were retrieved, but they came back encrypted with no file names and it took weeks to catalog them all over again.

I have also had a computer that was working fine one day, turn a sickening blue color the next for no reason at all. It stopped working completely and I was forced again to call an IT person to retrieve my files – luckily he was able to save most of them but the computer itself had to be restored to factory settings and I lost all sorts of programs and other information I had stored over the years.

Then there have been the occasional USB sticks that I have used to store information. Thinking I was smart in backing up some of my files on a USB stick, I had no idea that they could just stop working, but they can. Not to mention all the other little things that can happen – you can spill coffee on your keyboard, causing your computer to go haywire. Or your cat can walk across your keyboard, inadvertently causing damage. Power outages can also cause computer problems, as can lightning, floods, fires, and more. My point to all of this, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE take this post seriously and make sure that you have checks and balances in place to back up the data on your computer.

There are several options available and I recommend that you do more than one of them at a time so that you always have as much current information saved as you can. That way if something does happen to your computer, restoring your files will be as painless as possible. One of the easiest recommendations is to purchase an external hard-drive that you connect to your computer with a USB cord to back up your files. They come in a wide range of prices – all you need to figure out is your storage needs and budget (see reviews here of options available from PC Magazine). The backup can be done manually – once a day, once a week, once a month – whatever you are most comfortable with, or you can even set up your computer through your control panel to automatically schedule a backup to the external drive.

Another option is to backup information onto portable USB sticks. I know I said that sometimes they stop working, so I suggest this be an adjunct to other methods you chose. I always save files that I work on frequently in both my computer as well as a USB stick. I then keep that stick with me in my purse in case anything was to ever happen to my computer.

There are also numerous ways to store information on the cloud now. The cloud is a backup system done thought the Internet and unlike buying an external drive, this option requires no extra hardware. Many storage sites offer the service for free and some charge a monthly fee – it all really depends on what features you are looking for, such as privacy encryption, and how much storage space you need. I have found a link that rates the Top 10 Storage Companies that is quite helpful if this is something you would like to look into.

If you have a blog or website through Word Press or other platforms, you should also get into the habit of backing up your site. This is typically done through the C-Panel and I know in my instance, even though I have a hosting company that backs up my blog, I like to manually back it up on my own every now and then just to be safe.

Regardless of what method or methods you chose, doing something is better than doing nothing. I can assure you there are very few people in the Cat Writers’ Association that haven’t experienced an issue with their computer and learned a lesson the hard way…

The 2014 Cat Writers’ Calendar for the Special Days, Weeks, and Months Devoted to Feline Care and Awareness

calendar
There are 365 days in the year and it seems like almost all of them have been claimed for some sort of awareness day, week, or month for one reason or another. A great many of them are related to our beloved feline friends and that got me to thinking of the collective power we have as communicators to speak on their behalf to make the world a better place for them. Whether radio, blogs, columns, websites, magazines, art, photographs, or more, we have the ability to educate and inform growing audiences that might not know otherwise, about important causes and issues that have national recognition.

Even though I am over a month late in relaying the dates (apologies – the idea of sharing them literally just popped into my head) we still have most of the year ahead of us so please use this schedule as a resource and mark your calendars for those events that you feel you might want share with your audience. These events are your time to really shine and make a difference – whether being asked to speak as an expert on a radio show for National Pet First Aid Awareness Month in April or participating in some sort of promotion to help dispel the myths about black cats for National Black Cat Day on November 17th – be creative and do your best to pull out all the talents that you have!

Please be aware as well that this calendar is subject to change – there were some discrepancies in dates and I will revise them if necessary. If I have missed something, or there is something that should be added, please do not hesitate to add a note in the comment section.

JANUARY

January 2: National Pet Travel Safety Day.

January 22: National Answer Your Cat’s Question Day.

January 24: Change a Pet’s Life Day.

FEBRUARY

American Heart Month

National Spay/Neuter Month (HSUS).

National Prevent a Litter Month.

Responsible Animal Guardian Month.

Pet Dental Health Month (AVMA).

Responsible Pet Owners Month.

February 14: Pet Theft Awareness Day (Last Chance for Animals).

February 16 – 22: National Justice for Animals Week.

February 20: Love Your Pet Day.

February 22: Spay Day (Doris Day Animal Foundation).

February 25: World Spay Day (Humane Society International and The Humane Society of the United States – held the last Tuesday of February).

MARCH

Poison Prevention Awareness Month.

March 2 – 8: National Severe Weather Preparedness Week.

March 6 – 12: National Pet Sitters Week.

March 16 – 22: National Poison Prevention Week.

March 16 – 22: National Flood Safety Awareness Week.

APRIL

Animal Cruelty Prevention Month (ASPCA).

National Heartworm Awareness Month (American Heartworm Society)

National Pet Month.

National Pet First Aid Awareness Month  (Created by the American Red Cross to draw attention to the need to know specialized pet first aid).

April 11: National Pet Day. (Animal Miracle Network).

April 6 – 13: National Volunteer Week.

April 13 – 19: National Animal Control Appreciation Week.

April 17 – 23: Animal Cruelty/Human Violence Awareness Week (HSUS)

April 20 – 26: National Pet ID Week.

April 18: Pet Owners Independence Day.

April 25: Hairball Awareness Day.

April 26: World Veterinary Day (World Veterinary Association)

April 26: National Kids & Pets Day (Animal Miracle Network).

MAY

Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month.

Pet Cancer Awareness Month (Sponsored by Pet Cancer Awareness and the Blue Buffalo Foundation for Cancer Research).

Chip Your Pet Month (Home Again Pet ID).

May 3: National Disabled Pets Day.

May 4 – 10: Be Kind to Animals Week (AHA).

May 4-10: National Pet Week (AVMA).

May 10: Animal Disaster Preparedness Day.

May 23: National Heat Awareness Day

May 27: Free Feral Cat Spay Day (Alley Cat Rescue).

JUNE

National Pet Preparedness Month (Timed for the first month of hurricane season).

Adopt-a-Shelter Cat Month (ASPCA).

Adpot-a-Cat Month (AHA).

June 1 – 7: Pet Appreciation Week.

June 4: Hug Your Cat Day.

June 10: World Pet Memorial Day.

June 19 – 25: Animal Rights Awareness Week.

JULY

July 4: While not a feline recognized holiday, please keep in mind that our cats (and all pets) can become highly traumatized during the 4th of July festivities. Keep your pet safely indoors and recognize the fact that they can panic or hide from the sounds that fireworks cause.

July 15: Pet Fire Safety Day.

July 21: National Craft for Your Local Shelters Day.

AUGUST

National Immunization Awareness Month.

Catalyst Council’s Happy Healthy Cat Month.

August 17: National Black Cat Appreciation Day.

August 20: National Homeless Animal Day (International Society for Animal Rights).

August 22: National Take Your Cat to the Vet Day.

August 30: National Holistic Pet Day.

SEPTEMBER

National Disaster Preparedness Month (Led by FEMA’s ReadyCampaign, Citizen Corps and The Advertising Council, this effort encourages individuals, families, businesses and communities to work together and take action to prepare for disaster emergencies).

September 14: National Pet Memorial Day (International Association of Pet Cemeteries).

Last full week in September: Deaf Pet Awareness Week (Petfinder.com).

Sept. 28:World Rabies Day (Global Alliance for Rabies Control).

OCTOBER

National Animal Safety and Protection Month (Emergency Animal Rescue Service).

National Pet Wellness Month.

October 4: World Animal Day.

October 6 – 12: Animal Welfare Week (AVMA).

October 9: National Pet Obesity Day.

October 12 – 18: National Veterinary Technician Week.

October 16: National Feral Cat Day (Alley Cat Allies).

October 29: National Cat Day.

NOVEMBER

National Pet Awareness Month.

Adopt a Senior Pet Month (ASPCA).

Pet Cancer Awareness Month.

Pet Diabetes Month.

November 3 – 9: National Animal Shelter Appreciation Week (HSUS)

November 17: National Black Cat Day

DECEMBER

No recognized awareness days in December, but this is a good time to share information on preventative safety measures for our cats during the holidays because many of the foods, plants, and decorations that are part of our festivities can be dangerous or even lethal to them.

Cats as Muses for the New Year & New Possibilities

DebRolzThere is no doubt with the onset of a New Year that it is an opportunity for new possibilities and personal rejuvenation. As members of the Cat Writers’ Association it gives us time to reflect on new projects that we may finally feel ready to pursue, such as starting a blog that has been an idea in the back of our mind, or perhaps it is an oath to follow through on an old project that got put to the side for whatever reason.

For many of us, last year was difficult and waking up with a renewed attitude can be an easier said than done mindset. Life is far from ideal and the best laid plans or intentions have a tendency to derail along the way. As a result of that, we often allow our fears, failures, insecurities, and current circumstances to hold us back from taking that leap of faith to starting new beginnings. In those instances, we need to take a step back, take a deep breath, and learn from those we love and admire on a daily basis – our cats.

It’s true. How many times have you seen a cat jump to the top of something that seemed impossibly high? Often they do it in one swift, single leap. But if they can’t make it, they either try again, or they find another way to get up there. The point is, they don’t give up and they take the battles and obstacles in front of them as challenges to overcome.

This thought process works across the board for all of us who work for the well-being of cats through whatever communication method and it applies whether you have been a member of the Cat Writers’ Association for years, or have just joined, or are thinking of joining. For all of us, rather than focusing on what we don’t have or what we think we can’t do, insurmountable issues in our mind, if we decided to adapt to circumstances rather than let them define or defeat us, those adaptations become victories, no matter how small or large they may be. In other words, if you allow yourself mental flexibility and break down the rigid constraints of your world, you are more likely to encounter the positive in life rather than the negative because you are open to new possibilities.

The black and white of it – you have to start somewhere. Sometimes that means reinventing yourself, sometimes it is following a dream, and sometimes it is the willingness to venture into areas that are out of your comfort zone. The point is, you have to try or you will never know. If it is a new job you are pursuing, keep your mind open by learning new skills and by applying for positions that you might otherwise pass by. Or if this is the year that you plan on writing a book, then do it. You don’t have to write a best-selling novel, but you at least have to get the ball rolling by starting with the first sentence. If you are looking for a new relationship whether personal or business wise, take the first step and say hello to that person, if you are looking to end one, take that first step in saying goodbye.

Whatever it is for you, no matter how large or small the goal, just be kind to yourself and others. And remember that it is okay to have failures, it is okay to say no, and it is okay to take time for you. Life is fleeting and we don’t get a rewind button so we need to make the most out of each moment we are blessed to have. And sometimes the greatest moments and personal victories we have are those that are the simplest – a good book, a warm cup of coffee, and a cat snuggled on our lap to cleanse the mind and soul…