Category Archives: If I weren’t afraid

Personal Goals – How to Birth Your Dream

“I made the chickpea and tomato recipe from your blog.  I loved it.”  Being first generation Italian, I love Mediterranean cooking and Yvonne; being part Italian, never disappoints me with her new recipes at  We had just left the organic farmers market in Lincoln Park and we were having a cup of coffee.

“It was so easy and tasty. So, where are you with your cookbook?”  I asked.

“I’ve been busy….” She said.

Yvonne is an accomplished food writer, recipe developer, culinary instructor and consultant. She’s published a book on organic cleaning and was recently featured in a half page spread in the Chicago Tribune about her cooking and work. BUT…what her heart wants is to publish her cookbook.  It’s almost done.  As a matter of fact she has drafts and outlines for three different cookbooks.  She has the expertise to succeed with this project along with a great platform for promoting her book.

Eventually she admitted that she hadn’t picked up the manuscript in over a year.  Like many of us, she needs to ask herself…………..WHY?

Why is it that deep down we know what we want to be doing, but we don’t do it?  Why do we let life distract us?  Is it fear, family demands, lack of clarity, old stuff we haven’t let go of?  The reasons dreams are left to dwindle and become fallow is endless.

How about you? Is your dream withering?  The first step is to really look at your dream and decide is this really what my heart wants or is it my ego saying I should want this.  Once you’re clear about what’s bursting inside you and you’re willing to move past fear, a few actions steps can catapult you to success.

  1. Dedicate a certain amount of time to the project each week.  Structure it any way that works for you.  Set the intention and keep it.  Start small.  Some people will carve out a block of time once a week; for someone else it might be getting up 15 minutes earlier each day to dedicate to their dream.
  1. Visually plot your dream into your life.  Either through words or pictures, identify all your responsibilities and desires.  Life requires a certain balance so dream big but be sure to take care of your basic responsibilities.  If you want to visually plot your dream on the computer try one of the free mind mapping programs.  This is a great way to re-evaluate and prioritize what you’re doing.
  1. Break your dream down into manageable action steps.  Each small step completed is an accomplishment.  The more you feel accomplished the faster you’ll move.
  1. Find a working buddy.  A friend of mine was struggling to finish her thesis.  Even scrubbing floors was more inviting than her paper.  I also had a few projects that needed renewed attention.   We decided to meet every Tuesday morning for coffee with our laptops.  We visit for about 15 minutes then both hunker down to work for three hours. It’s much harder to say ‘I don’t have time today’ when you’ve made a promise to someone else.

If you are really stuck and need jumper cables to ignite your dream consider hiring  a mentor or coach.  People often hire personal trainers for their expertise in order to formulate a program—and of course to get their butt kicked.  It’s the same with a life coach or mentor. Hiring a mentor is a commitment to change, a commitment to oneself, and ultimately a commitment to birthing your dream.  There’s no better time than the present to recreate your life.

Oh, and keep your eyes open for a great cookbook.  I have it on the best authority that it’s busting out soon.

This Week:  Incorporate one of the above dream actions steps into your life.


Overcoming Procrastination with Bookends

“If and When were planted, and Nothing grew.” ~Proverb

Procrastination………….who me? I know how to get things done; I also know how to procrastinate. Sometimes procrastination has to do with not feeling good enough, other times it’s about a task I hate or one that is just overwhelming like U.S. INCOME TAXES. For years I applied for not one extension on my taxes, but two. I don’t prepare my own taxes; I just have to pull the information together to get to my accountant. Yet, somehow I didn’t find the time until a few days before the last extension.

Now I apply bookends to finish a task I dread like taxes.   When I decide when I’m going to work on it, I plan a pre and post project incentive. It’s my bookends. I treat myself or do something I enjoy prior to starting the project and again when I finish. Sometimes, it’s something small like a trip to Starbucks before sorting through my papers, other times it’s a day at the zoo or the art institute. Why do bookends work? I think because the first bookend marks it’s time to start and then the last bookend acknowledges the accomplishment. Sometimes the bookend at the end is something that I’m really dying to do or is time sensitive. This gives me the added push to slug through until I’m finished. So if you find yourself procrastinating, try bookends.

This week: Identify something you’ve been putting off and give it some bookends.

Gallery 200 Featured Artist Christopher Guglielmo — A Lesson in Action

“There was never any fear for me, no fear of failure. If I miss a shot, so what?”—Michael Jordan

Last weekend, I went to the opening reception for my nephew Christopher Guglielmo’s art exhibition.  This was his first gallery opening.  He is the featured artist for the month of March at Gallery 200 in West Chicago. With over 25 works of art on exhibit it was an impressive collection.  As I roamed the gallery, I thought about how someone goes from painting to putting their work out there for the world to see. I asked Chris how this exhibition came about.  He said someone told him about the gallery about a year ago, he checked it out and the rest is now history.

Putting together an exhibition opens the creative projects you’ve birthed to be viewed and critiqued by strangers. That can be a frightening thought!   It requires a vision and a belief in oneself;  as well as the willingness to take action.  How many people have missed opportunities because they were blocked by their own self-doubt and fear?

If fear is stopping you, think about what’s the worse thing that could happen if you put your work out there.  Usually ones fears are much worse than the reality.  If your work receives a negative critique, don’t worry, you’re in good company.  Walt Witman, Dr. Suess and J.K. Rowhling’s  manuscripts were turned down multiple times.  Are there critics that don’t understand your work?  Claude Monet and other impressionist painters were initially ridiculed by the public and art critics. If you are afraid, find one manageable step to take in the direction of your dream.  It might be posting some of your art work on the web for sale, sending a manuscript to a publisher, or accepting a speaking engagement about your craft.  With each small step, you’ll notice fear slipping away, and if you miss the shot, just keep shooting.

At the opening, Christopher didn’t talk about fear.  He talked about inspiration, creative mediums, and the paintings he’s working on.  His creative passion is evident in all his works.  I personally love the color in his work and know which painting I want for my hallway.  If you live in the Chicagoland area, stop by the Gallery 200 before the end of March.

Congratulations Chris!

This week:  Breathe through your fear and take one small step towards your dream.

Peace and Blessings,

Mary Jo

The Flames of Fear or the Audacity of Hope

Consult not your fears but your hopes and your dreams…Pope John XXIII

The weeks before this historic election, the one thing that supporters of John McCain and Barack Obama had in common was passion. Listening to talk radio or TV commentators, I observed these feelings and their resulting rhetoric intensify. On the daytime TV show, the View, the hosts’ passion often resulted in intense arguing. Passions were so strong that the panel seemed unable to appreciate each others’ viewpoint.

It seems that there were two very distinct emotions driving the passion seen in this election season—one was fear the other was hope. Fear is an emotional response to an external threat. What were these threats? Potential loss of jobs, money, and homes fueled the fear. Anxiety over terrorism, the war in Iraq and loss of our freedoms stoked the flame of fear.

The flip side of the fear was hope. Hope is a belief in the potential for a positive outcome. What fueled hope? The same issues that triggered fear also sparked hope. Hope was ignited by the belief that jobs and the economy could improve or the war could end.

As we go forward in our life we have a choice to choose fear and anxiety or hope. If we choose hope, we also need to choose action. Just as President-elect Obama must act to implement change to realize the dreams and hopes of the American people; we need to act in our own life. What are the things we desire, what are the positive outcomes we’re hoping for? It’s time to take action, embrace our passion and move forward…for change…for hope…for our future.

This week: If you’re anxious or fearful, speak it out loud and breathe. Then flip the emotional coin, grab on to hope and take the next best step.