Book Review: The Author Training Manual

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So you saw that I decided to give up excuses for Lent and write my book! Turns that is great advice and a huge part of the Author Training Manual by Nina Amir.

Thanks to amazon, anyone can publish a book nowadays. But how many of those published authors actually make money with those published books?

That’s where this book comes in!! This books helps authors develop marketable ideas, craft books that sell, become the author that publishers want, and self publish effectively!!

Whether you want to see your book published by a traditional publishing company or plan to self publish, this book will help you reach your dreams.

I love to read and have read lots of books about writing and publishing. Some are awesome ( On Writing by Stephen King and Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott) and some are horrible. Most are outdated and don’t mention self publishing. The Author Training Manual is awesome!!

Most writing books don’t actually give you ways to improve yourself. This book does. It has steps to follow and things to think about to make sure you are at your best.

You always hear authors say Read a lot and write a lot. But Amir actually explains why you need to. (Make sure to check out her guest post about tenacity!!)

All of the things I struggle with as a writer were addressed and solutions to overcome them was given!!

The NYT says that 81% of the country wants to write a book. Well if that includes you, you NEED to read the book to ensure you are one of the successful authors!!

Guest Post: Authors need Tenacity

4 Reasons Tenacity Is #1 Quality Authors Need for Success

When you think about the fact that only two percent of all the people who say they want to write a book–81 percent of the U.S. population–ever become authors, you begin to realize it’s not so easy to actually sit down and knock out a manuscript let alone publish a book. Those who actually achieve this goal have a special quality, and it has nothing to do creativity or writing skill. They possess tenacity.

Why Do You Need Tenacity?

A tenacious person is described as one who isn’t easily stopped, who is stubborn or persistent, and who holds or grasps firmly to things. This is an important quality to have if you want to write a book. Let me tell you four reasons why this is true:

1. You must write even when you don’t want to or feel you can’t. If you only write when you feel like it, when inspiration hits or when you feel you can, you won’t ever get that manuscript done. But if you are a tenacious writer. You write on a regular schedule and make yourself write. (Yes, you can do that…) No matter what, you get your writing done—sometimes even when you are sick! I’ve known writers to sit in hospital beds with their computers, and I was at mine just a day after my daughter was born.

2. You must write even when you don’t think you have time. Lack of time is the most-often cited excuse for not writing. You can always find time for the things you want to do. If you are a tenacious writer, you will find a way to write…no matter what. You might stay up later or get up earlier. You might hire a baby sitter, record your favorite TV shows and only watch them on the weekend (or stopping watching TV altogether), write on your lunch break, or devote two weekends a month to writing. You don’t let go of your dream because of a busy schedule. You fit writing into your life because it is a priority.

3. You must do things you don’t want to do. . You may not want to give up lunch with the girls or your favorite TV show, but if you really want to write that book, you’ll do it—if you have tenacity. You’ll also sit your butt in the chair after a long day of work or at 4:30 in the morning and you’ll keep it there until you finish an hour of writing or 5 pages. That’s what tenacious writers do, and that’s how they finish their manuscripts.

4. You must overcome obstacles. The road to becoming an author has many obstacles, and you must overcome all of them. Only someone tenacious can consistently tackle rejection, criticism (constructive or not), the need to take on jobs you don’t like (such as promotion and project management), rewrites, self-doubt, and fear. Every day you must tell yourself, “I can do this! I will do this!” And, again, you must find a way. It’s Tough But Worthwhile

Sound like a tough road to hoe? It is. But when your tenacity helps you produce a completed manuscript, and then a published book, you’ll reap the reward. The moment when you hold that book in your hands, or when a reader writes to say your book changed his or her life, you’ll feel glad you placed yourself in the two percent that finishes the book they said they wanted to write.

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About the Author
Nina Amir, author of How to Blog a Book: Write, Publish, and Promote Your Work One Post at a Time and The Author Training Manual: Develop Marketable Ideas, Craft Books That Sell, Become the Author Publishers Want, and Self-Publish Effectively, transforms writers into inspired, successful authors, authorpreneurs and blogpreneurs. Known as the Inspiration to Creation Coach, she moves her clients from ideas to finished books as well as to careers as authors by helping them combine their passion and purpose so they create products that positively and meaningfully impact the world. A sought-after author, book, blog-to-book, and results coach, some of Nina’s clients have sold 300,000+ copies of their books, landed deals with major publishing houses and created thriving businesses around their books. She writes four blogs, self-published 12 books and founded National Nonfiction Writing Month, aka the Write Nonfiction in November Challenge.

Create beauty project: Karen

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Karen M. Winkelman
Intuitive, Spiritual Teacher, Speaker, Author, Mentor

Karen skillfully blends intuition, wisdom and metaphysical and spiritual teachings with practical guidance, compassion and a wickedly playful sense of humor. She empowers healers, holistic practitioners, creatives and heart-centered professionals to get unstuck, take back their power, own their gifts and craft the life that their heart desires. And learn to love, accept and appreciate themselves!

Come visit Karen at www.TheLifeCraftingGuide.com
And connect with her on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/karen.m.winkelman
Karen@LifeCraftingGuide.com

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There is an old saying that goes “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” I disagree. I know in my heart that beauty is in every one of us and in everything around us. True beauty comes from our core essence, our Spirit, our Soul, our Heart. It reflects out from us in a look, a smile, a touch, an act of kindness, a joyful display, and an expression of love. It is squashed by guilt, shame, resentment, judgment, comparison, and hate, among other things.

True beauty defies definition or labels. It simply is. Although every culture creates definitions and guidelines for beauty, they are only someone’s opinion. And even though all these made up rules for beauty may exist, they are often conflicting. What is beautiful for one time and place in history is shunned in another.

Unfortunately, the masses succumb to the definition of beauty alive during their lifetime and promoted by the media, and people measure themselves against an impossible, unattainable and faulty ideal. The end result — self-esteem wilts and diminishes. In extreme cases self-loathing sets in, sending you into a downward spiral.

For me this showed up in body image around my size and weight. As a kid I was called chubby and big-boned. I loved to eat and had a hearty appetite, which family members joked about. From the time I was a toddler I also loved to perform: dance, sing, act, you name it. My parents thought I was going to be 6 feet tall, since I reached my 5 foot 6 inch height by the time I was 12. That added more self-consciousness because I was taller than all the other girls and most of the boys in my class. Then my dance teacher added the heartbreak. She told me I could never be a ballet dancer, I was just too big. No male dancer would ever be able to lift me. I was crushed.

My body became the enemy in a way. I started judging myself by all the petite girls around me who looked adorable, stylish and had boyfriends. Plus, the models at the time were skinny. Magazines like Cosmo and Entertainment didn’t help my self-image. I was curvy and muscular. My mom was gorgeous and voluptuous like Sophia Loren, until she quit smoking and gained 50 pounds. My grandmother was heavy. But curvy and heavyset and muscular didn’t make you popular when I was growing up.

Being feisty (yeah, the red hair does it!) and a rebel, I adopted an “I don’t care what you think of me attitude” while inside I was screaming for people to like and accept me. This burning desire to be loved and accepted led to some pretty self-destructive behaviors. I started smoking to stunt my growth and tried all kinds of crazy diets. I could get lean (I think I got down to a size 6 for a few months), but was hungry all the time, and my body-type just doesn’t do skinny!

Throughout my teens I continued to dance and perform, just not ballet. And while in college I kept weight down with drugs and cigarettes. Not very healthy. I misidentified offers of affection and sex for love. That resulted in doomed encounters and relationships with guys because I desperately craved love, affection and acceptance. My self-esteem was in sad shape during my teens and twenties and into my early thirties. There was a high cost to my self-destructive behavior.

As I got older a new reaction happened in my body. When I was in a happy relationship, my weight stayed in the “normal range.” But if I was unhappy in the relationship I’d put on weight – 20, 30 even 40 pounds. Once I’d end the relationship the weight would fall off. My body was responding to the toxic relationships by adding layers of weight to protect me. In my forties, this effect also happened in toxic jobs. I began to realize that weight gain was a signal from my body to let me know just how unhappy I really was with the situation or relationship I was in… or even with myself. Now I understand that emotional eating helped put weight on me as well. The food became a substitute for love.

My weight affected my wardrobe as well. When I was in thin mode, I wore form fitting clothes that hugged my curves. When over-weight, I wore baggy, shapeless tops to try and hide it. Shopping for clothing was depressing and I’d avoid it. It felt humiliating to try on item after item of pretty tops and pants that looked better on a hanger than they looked on me. And finding something to wear in my closet could be challenging if I was in one of my “fat moods.” A fat mood for me is when I felt fat although I might not look any heavier in reality, looking in a mirror, I’d see a distorted image of myself. A friend of mine once said that he thought the mirrors in my house were defective because clearly I didn’t see the same thing he saw when he looked at me.

There were always parts of my body that I loved and thought beautiful: my dark eyes, my red-blonde hair, my smile, my hands, my voice, my laugh and my killer legs (thanks to dancing and genetics!). The rest was judged not good enough. It took me a few decades and serious inner work to make total peace with my body and to learn to love and accept myself “as is.” Mirror work was one of the things that helped me. I’d stand in front of the mirror and look at myself. Really look. This was hard. I had no problem looking at my face in the mirror, but looking at my full body and all its perceived flaws made me feel yucky. I would look at myself in the eyes and say “I love you,” “I love and accept you.” I started out doing this clothed and slowly graduated to naked. At first I had a hard time saying “I love you” and changed it to “I am willing to love you.” After a while, I could say “I love you” to my face and mean it. I start every day this way now. It feels so good!

Right now I am comfortable in my body. I weigh more than I did in my teens, 20s and 30s, and you know what, that’s OK. I feel good about me and who I am. It’s funny when I look back at pictures of myself back then. What the hell was I thinking? Look how thin I was!

I’m a hippy at heart; free-spirited, a bit of a gypsy, playful, wise, wicked sense of humor and hearty laugh. I’m not a girly-girl. Although I wore makeup on stage and at work (which was really like playing a part for me as it was not my true calling), I don’t wear make-up every day. I might put lipstick on if I’m going out of the house or seeing clients. I will put some make-up on when I’m shooting videos or speaking at events. My hair drip dries and I wear it long. It is easier that way.

The last act of society-imposed image that I inflicted upon myself was getting my hair cut short, because “older women” did that. Boy was that a pain in the butt and so much work to maintain. It looked stylish and professional and not me at all! Screw it. I decided to let my freak flag fly and let my hair grow long again. The other change, while I may exhibit the same “take me or leave me” attitude of my younger days, it’s no longer a defense mechanism. Now I own it and embody it.

What an interesting, often painful journey this has been to reach a point of self-love and self-acceptance. And I love my body. It has carried me all these years and helped me to do some pretty amazing things.  I’m happily married to my soul mate and I left my corporate job in 2008 to start my own business. It isn’t always easy, but my body gives me excellent guidance (along with my intuition) and helps me make wise choices aligned with my Spirit. And one of the coolest things is my husband loves me and my body just the way I am… and prefers a curvy woman. It amuses me because his mom and sisters are all thin… and the really crazy thing is they complain they’re getting fat! Perception is everything.

Thank you for reading about my journey. I hope this helps you embrace your beauty and your body. Whatever you look like, you are, indeed, beautiful. That is the truth. I can see your beauty. My wish for you is that you allow yourself to see and appreciate the beautiful miracle that is you.

Create Beauty project: Carrie

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Carrie Maggard, 37
Interior Painter by day and Tomboy Tools Independent Consultant to Inspire. Educate.  Empower.  She has a degree in Business Management from East Tennessee State University and have been an interior painter for over 13 years.  Inspiring women and girls with my Tomboy Tool since 2009 and I am Tomboy of the Year this year.  I have been in a few local Community Theater shows, the Southern Belle Shooting Society, and enjoy just having fun with my hubby and little dog Duke
www.tomboytools.info/carrie
www.facebook.com/TNpinklady

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I define beauty as being something that comes from the inside out.  It should shine through you without you even knowing.

I would describe myself as determined, original, and fun.  If you needed to spot me in a crowd, it is not too hard due to me being 5’10”.  I have blue eyes, straight blonde hair (with some gray highlights), medium build, late thirties and generally in relaxed clothing with a smile on my face and most likely talking.

As a child I felt fairly awkward about my body once I got into my early teens.  My grandmother owned a Merle Norman store and wanted me to do some modeling with her.  Any girls dream, right?!  Well, I soon found out that I was all really just a big show and that was not what, or who people really were.  It also made me hate makeup.  So here I am plain Jane, so to speak, and fine with it.  I knew I was never the most pretty girl, but I also knew that I was fun and when I wanted I could really bring out my inner beauty and feel much better about myself.  I was tall and flat chested and just a bit awkward.  Ok very clumsy would be the best way to describe it.

My dad always told me, “Honey, when you need it, It will all come together, just don’t rush it.”  He was right, about 18 or so my body finally caught up with my height.  As I get older I realize how much taking care of yourself at a younger age really does help you.  Since I quite modeling as a child I never wore makeup or used hair products, except on special occasions.  To this day I still do not wear makeup but do use some lotion with SPF and frizz control to help manage my hair a bit.  I get the most compliments on how young I look and how nice and healthy my hair is.  I love it!  Being 37 and people thinking I am barely over 30 is just great.

I do still like to get dressed up on special occasions but then spend a week remembering why I don’t wear the stuff.  I am an interior painter so I get pretty good exercise at work, but do try and supplement with extra activities when I am able to.  I notice I am generally happier and stay healthier when I am working out and eating better so I do strive to do that but it is always a daily struggle with schedules.

Growing up I let my body image really affect how I saw myself.  I think if I had been a bit more confidence in me then I would have really given myself more opportunities.  I am now very confident in myself and how I look.  It really has taken many years and lots of hearing my older friends talking about Botox, lip treatments, etc. that I am so grateful I never gave in just to be like all the other girls.

Media unfortunately is not a positive source for girls.  Everyone is so airbrushed and photo-shopped now it is impossible to know what someone really looks like any more.  I do wish there were more positive role models for girls showing that natural is beautiful and much more beautiful than being made up into someone you are not.  I do not read popular fashion magazines due to how unreal they are.  Not one true photo and lot of high dollar products that most of us could never really afford, or shouldn’t in for that matter.  We should start a magazine called All Natural and distribute it to young girls so they can see the natural beauty of being different!  My new definition of beauty would be that true beauty is being who you are and loving yourself for it!

Create Beauty project: Judith

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Judith is  44 years old and lives in the Netherlands with her “husband” of 20 years and her four children (three girls and one son). She’s a certified translator and a certified ACT and Mindfulness trainer and co-writer of child-rearing and developmental psychology trainings.

She hosts an ACT e-course and blog on www.growblossomflow.com

You can follow her on twitter at twitter.com/J_is_hier   and on Instagram at @jotje69

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At the age of 15, being a terribly insecure teenager, I fell for the diet trap. Although I was raised by a mother who has never followed a diet in her life and who has a super positive attitude towards her body, the pull of girl’s magazines seemed stronger. I thought  I had to be thin to be accepted, to get noticed and to be popular.

Thing is, I was already slim when I started the vicious cycle. I just never learned to adapt to the fact that puberty came with bodily changes such as curves.

Once I started dieting (secretly, because especially my father was strongly opposed to diets), it messed up both my relationship with food and my attitude towards my body. I started binge-eating, then dieting, then binging …. Well, most of you (sadly) know what I’m talking about.

When I was about 17 years old I “discovered” self-induced vomiting. To cut the story short, I suffered from bulimia until I was about 23 years old. Lately I found a photo I had taken when I was about 20 because I wanted to be able to track my weight loose progress. I remember how I felt when I looked at the photo for the first time, back then: I was disgusted, there was fat everywhere, fat thighs, a huuuuuge bottom, super wide hips. I needed to loose at least 10 more pounds …

I now look at the picture and see an underfed young woman, way too bony. In fact, my body protested by stopping to menstruate at that time, for 18 months, because I was too skinny.

Until today, I find it amazing that our thoughts hold so much power of our feelings and even what we see at all!

In the end, it took me about 2.5 years of therapy to establish a healthy relationship towards food and to learn to not only accept but love my body again.

According to the infamous cliché beauty lies in the eye of the beholder. I think this is true. Beauty lies way beyond your outward appearance. It’s your wisdom, your personality, the way you stand in life that make you beautiful! Not a perfect outfit, cute haircut and make-up. And not that super slim body.

If I had to describe myself in three words it would be optimistic, social, creative and a woman. I have learned to fully embrace my womanhood and I’m so happy that I was born a woman!

I’m now a mother of four children. Pregnancy and birth brought me  a total mind-shift. My body went through the pregnancies with the usual little typicality’s, but nothing major physically (the emotional changes are a totally other story … ;-) ). All four of my kids were born at home (as it is practice in Holland) without any meds. The birth of my first baby was horrible and amazing at the same time. I had no idea that it would be possible to endure so much pain. I was not able to give myself to the labor pains. And I was in awe afterwards. There was a baby! She was absolutely perfect, and so beautiful. And I just held her and couldn’t believe that “I” had “made” her, that my body had been able to grow and nourish this little human being. My body, which I had hated for so many years, had created a miracle! This experience was very liberating. I breastfed my children, and that also contributed to a better understanding and admiration of my body.

Lucky for me, the births of my next three children were very easy. There was no panic like the first time; just complete confidence in my body.  The only people present were my hubby and the midwife. But I didn’t really “need” their presence. I was in another world, where there was only me, my body and the baby. And the three of us knew exactly what we were doing and what was happening…

Back to everyday life: most of the times I wear a bit of makeup (mascara, beige eyeshadow, brown eyebrow pencil and some lipstick). I have started coloring my hair a few years ago. I don’t do anything else with my hair. I have natural curls and they have a life of their own and are not bothered in the least bit by any hair products I might use.  They just spring and dance the way they like, and I’m okay with it ;-) As I grow older, my body changes yet again. Wrinkles, saggy skin, all is a bit softer and more loose. I’m fine with it. No, I love it even. I think my face now reveals so much more about who I am, than it did when I was 20.

My daily outfit is jeans, shirt and usually a fleece vest, because I get cold quite easily. I’m also always wearing a scarf, because I can’t stand drought on my neck or shoulders.

I wish the media didn’t promote such an unrealistic body image to young girls. The message they are sending out is that women are not supposed to enjoy their bodies. Food is joy, moving just for fun is joy, having curves is joy. Being hungry all the time, exercising obsessively and being your own worst critic – not so much fun!

As my own daughters are approaching puberty, I’m faced with a huge challenge to guide them through all this outside nonsense …

My definition of beauty? Self-love. It’s impossible to be ugly as long as you truly love yourself with all that is part of who YOU are.

Polka Dot Painting

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I just love how this block of painting came out.  Since I didn’t know how awesome it would be while I was painting it, I didn’t keep track of steps and pictures of all the steps, but I liked it so much I decided to paint my One Little Word: CREATE the same way.  First I sketched the letters and then traced them with Sharpie.  Then I took ____ blue paint and painted in all the letters and made some random dots with ______ pink paint.

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Then I took my Sharpie again and drew larger circles around the pink dots.

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Then I added ______ yellow paint inside half of each of the Sharpie circles. (In the chunk that I did originally, some of the circles had half of 2 colors (red and orange) and the others had 2 different colors (green and yellow).  Here I did all the circles half yellow and then half  red.  I like the first way better!)

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Then I added red to the other half of the circles.

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Then I added some blue dots cause I felt like it was missing something. Like I said earlier, I think it’s because I like having half the circles red and orange and the other half yellow and green.

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Then I took a white paint pen and made messy circles around the Sharpie circles. I love the little bit of highlight it gives them and how it makes them pop!

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Vision Board

Our prompt for March is to make a vision board that goes with our one little word and that inspires us for the year ahead. I found a 4 pack of 16 X 20 canvases at WalMart on clearance for $7, so I used one to make my board.

I started by Mod Podging on some scrapbook papers, book pages and a map I liked.  (I forgot to take a picture so you can see the 2 spots I painted.  LOL).  After the Mod Podge dried, I random started painting on the canvas and over some of the paper.

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This is what it looked like when I was done painting. While I waited for the paint to dry, I looked through some old magazines and cut out words and phrases that I liked.

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Here is a close up of the spotted chunk.  It is my FAVORITE part (I’ll post a tutorial on how I did that tomorrow!).  It was super easy to do and the results are gorgeous!!

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And here is my finished vision board.  I plan to hang it next to my desk so I can look up at it whenever I need inspiration!

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Create Beauty project: Lorraine

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Lorraine’s a veterinairan who built a successful career in the corporate world as an expert in Regulatory Affairs. Now an independent consultant, Lorraine’s is building her dream business, HorsePower International, so that people and businesses can harness the power of interactions with horses to help them be the best they can be. Her websites are www.lorrainetilbury.com and www.globalregcom.com.

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My first thought when trying to describe “beauty” in a person would be to say that it’s someone who is pleasing to the eye – but in fact, beauty requires more than just physical attractiveness. The inner beauty, the “light” that shines out from inside a person is a major contributor to the beauty of that person. Basically, if you don’t think you look (and feel!) great, then no one else will.

My Mom is French and, in her younger days, had that inimitable French “je-ne-sais-quoi” style – effortless chic and elegance. When I was little, living in the USA in the 1960s, she would sew her own clothes from patterns she mail-ordered from France, because “ze Ameuricane clozes are soo heugly!” My sister and I thought that she was BEAUTIFUL – and she was indeed. Her physique is dramatically different from mine – she was a true redhead, with thick curly hair and a curvy hourglass body, while I have mousehair-fine, short, light brown straight hair and a body profile that is more like a flat board than an hourglass!  so in my younger years I assumed that there was no way I could possibly be considered beautiful, because I didn’t look like her at all. I looked like my Dad – who was quite handsome, in a more masculine way. My mom had wished for a boy during her pregnancy – she even explained to me when I was little that I was going to be named “Mark”. So, unsurprisingly, I was a real “tomboy” as a child. She kept my hair very short and dressed me in blue for so long that after leaving home to study abroad, I didn’t wear anything blue for more than 10 years.

Perhaps that’s why my physique isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when someone asks me to describe myself…except for mentioning that I wear glasses, being extremely nearsighted from a very young age. I’m very (very!) smart – pair that characteristic with thick glasses and I was branded as the “brainy nerd” in school, in other words, a “nobody”. How could I possibly be fun to hang out with? I must be spending all my time studying, to get such good grades, right? (nope!) And my looks didn’t even come close to meeting what seemed to be the expected beauty standards of the time in an American school: blonde, buxom, with beautiful long hair, and no glasses of course!

My body image improved dramatically when I hit adolescence, primarily for 2 reasons:
1. I got contact lenses
2. I switched from the American school to a French high school, where kids considered it natural that one could be smart and fun to hang out with at the same time.

Suddenly, I “fit in” and became interesting to other people – in part because I was the only American in my class (we were living in Greece at the time) and because the mentality in the French school seemed much more compatible with my upbringing. After all, I was being raised by a French mother! And, last but not least, in French school, you didn’t get sidelined because you were smart. Suddenly, I was “cool” because I was American! and my “differentness” made me attractive to them. Hurray! I basked in the new attention that reassured me – yes I could be liked, admired, even loved! In spite of a deep well of self-loathing that I have only just recently understood, and come to terms with. For years, the “inner message” to myself was “if people knew what you’re REALLY like, no one would love you – you’re fundamentally flawed, and you don’t deserve to be loved”. Guided meditation, pscyhotherapy, and interactions with horses in personal development sessions have helped me realize that this “message” was not the “real me”, but a judgement inflicted upon me at a very young age that my mind was repeating to me on a daily basis.

I’m fascinated by how much a clothing style can influence the impression I make on people. While I love schlepping at home in “hippy gear”: pj’s, sweats, comfy stockings, baggy sweaters…for work I like to “play” with the perceptions people get from what you wear – “power-dressing” as it’s sometimes called. I feel like a kid playing “dress-up” when I choose a business outfit that will be stylish yet “fit for purpose” for a particular business environment, to maximise the impression I want to make. It’s fun! Because I know that “IRL” (In Real Life) I would NEVER wear that kind of thing every day.

As a true child of the “all-natural” 70s, I see makeup as a “necessary evil” – at home I NEVER wear makeup, but because I have noted that appearances really do make a difference in the first impression I make on people, I consider makeup to be another element of “power-dressing”. And, let’s face it, it really DOES help 50-somethings like me look good, if we know how to use it! What I don’t like about it is the fact that it really MUST be removed at night in order to maintain healthy skin.

I skim through a few fashion blogs online regularly to check the trends in shapes and colors – after all, I do live in France! I don’t read any of the “mainstream” women magazines. I think that media sends an incredibly distorted and narrow-minded message to women: be thin and sexy and you’ll “succeed”.

Beauty is when you radiate outward your love for your authentic inner self, and connect with the inner beauty of those you interact with. Recognizing the beauty of others around you will lead them to see the beauty in you as well.

Of course, using a few “tips and tricks” for clothing/makeup can be extremely helpful when you want to make a lasting impression professionally. But “looking the part” isn’t enough – it’s your own attitude towards yourself, and who you interact with, that makes ALL the difference.

Create Beauty project: Desi

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Desiree is a SAHM with a rambunctious toddler to chase, a large dog to care for and a house to run. She is the middle child of 3 with 9 nephews and nieces. She has her BA in liberal studies and an MA in business administration. She is a proud Navy Chief wife, who worked full time until the military moved us overseas. Growing up, she always wanted to be a teacher and a mother. Being a SAHM is the most rewarding job in the world and she is truly blessed to have such a supportive husband and best friend. Live, laugh, love.

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I would define beauty as feeling good about yourself, imperfections and all.  I would describe myself as committed, reliable, trustworthy.If I was to describe myself to someone who hadn’t seen me I would say, thin, blonde, average height, curvy, and confident.  I was very confident and felt good as a child, until I reached puberty. I was quite flat chested and a bit self conscious about it but because I was athletically built it was not a big deal until adulthood.  I remember my mom always being thin and comfortable in her own skin. She showed and taught us self-confidence.

I feel more confident and more in control of my self image as I have gotten older. I have learned to love me, no matter what… Flaws and all!  Having my son made me more aware of my body and the lack of shape I was in. However, it motivated me to get back into shape and now I am almost 15lbs less than when I got pregnant and my clothes fit better than ever. I also have more energy and motivation than pre-baby. My skin changed drastically when I had my son also and unfortunately I am not comfortable leaving my house without my powder concealer, not because of what others would think but because of how I feel about my bare skin. I feel more confident and put together with my concealer.  I wear powder concealer, mascara and a touch of blush daily. On special occasions I add eye shadow.

I generally chase a toddler daily so it is jeans and a cute top or a maxi dress/ skirt, comfy and cute! When going out I love wearing a cute summer dress or pencil skirt and heels, I love my heels! A woman carries herself differently in a sexy pair of heels!  I try to exercise daily because I feel, look and sleep better when I do.  My body image affects me in how I carry myself. When I feel good, I look good. I exude confidence and happiness when feeling good. We all have our “pretty” days. Now when “aunt flow” comes to visit, let’s face it, we all feel like crap.

I honestly could care less about the media or “stars”. I dress how I feel best and the same goes for my hair and makeup. What matters is how I feel daily and not what others think. I do my hair and makeup for me.  I don’t read any popular or fashion magazines.  Media tells people how thin they should be, what to wear, how to cut/color/style your hair and even how to carry yourself. Or some of us see it as what not to do when we catch a glimpse of what is going on.

My definition of beauty is “Beauty is a state of being. It is feeling confident, content and in control of yourself in every aspect, every moment of everyday!”

M&M Cupcakes

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These cupcakes are fun and festive. Plus super easy to make!! You can doll up box mix and ready made frosting or make it from scratch.

I’ll post my recipe for vanilla cake and chocolate frosting.

But first box mix! Grab a vanilla box mix and make it according to directions. Then before you scoop it, add crushed up M&M’s. Then scoop and bake.

After they are cool, frost with chocolate frosting and top with more M&M’s.

Now for the recipe.  This is my recipe for vanilla cupcakes.  We only make it with vanilla beans but you can use extract if that is all you have.  This batter makes enough for about 18 cupcakes.

Vanilla Cupcakes

•   1 stick butter
•   1 cup sugar
•   2 egg whites and 1 whole egg
•   1 ½ cups flour
•   ¼ teaspoon salt
•   ½ teaspoon baking soda
•   1 teaspoon baking powder (Mix dry ingredients and set aside)
•   ½ cup milk
•   2 teaspoons vanilla extract (add to milk) {or ½ vanilla bean}

Cream the butter until light and fluffy.  About 30 seconds.
Add sugar and mix for 1 minute.

TIP:  A way to check if you mixed enough, is to scrape the bowl with a spatula and if the butter and sugar form a ball, you are good to go on.

Slowly add in the eggs whites first and then when fluffy add yolk.
Add ½ the flour mixture and mix until just combined.
Add milk & vanilla mixture.  Mix.
Add the other ½ of flour mixture.  Mix very lightly until there is no flour visible.

Line cupcake pans with paper liners and fill 2/3 of the way full with batter and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.  They are done when the top springs back gently when touched with a fingertip.   Remove from pan and allow to cool on cooling rack. When completely cool (at least 30 minutes) frost with your choice of frosting.

Here is my chocolate frosting.   Makes enough frosting to pipe 12 cupcakes.

Chocolate Frosting

•     2 sticks butter
•      3 cups powdered sugar
•      1 ½ cups melted chocolate
•      3-4 tablespoons milk

Beat butter until light and creamy, about 30-45 seconds.
Slowly add half of the sugar.  Mix until smooth and it looks like frosting.
Add the rest of the sugar, melted chocolate, and milk if needed. Start with 2 tablespoons and add more if needed to get a light, smooth consistency.

And you just add the M&M’s like you were making the box mix ones.

If you like these recipes you can get them and more in my cookbook, The Crazy Cupcake, Baking Basics.  It is available in print and for your kindle on amazon.com  ENJOY!!!