Create the Life You Want.

A beautiful landscape beyond the wall - freedom and opportunity concept

You create the image and color on the canvas called your life. Are you creating the picture you want? Or does your canvas convey chaos and despair?

Indeed, sometimes we don’t like what we see in our lives. But who is responsible for the likeness reflecting back? Some would say outside forces, such as inadequate parents, poverty, addiction, rotten breaks, racism, homophobia, a disability, incest, and any number of other things.

No doubt, outside forces can and do influence our life canvas. But I invite you to consider that more often than not, we allow outside forces to color and define our lives.

You are the artists; God is your co-creator. Together all things are possible. But when we mistakenly believe that other people control our destiny, we end up feeling bitter and hopeless. In truth, we’re in partnership with a Higher Power, or whatever you choose to call it.

For years this was hard for me to accept. My life was rotten. I had a drug habit and an addition to alcohol, I was selling my body to support my dysfunctional lifestyle, and I was making bad choices that led to more bad choices. And I didn’t think it was my fault. I was not the artist who created the mess. I remember thinking, ‘If only I had a break, if only someone would give me a chance, my life would be different.’  Sadly, when a few kindly folks tried to give me breaks, I blew the opportunities.

How easy it is to believe we have no control over the events of our lives? How easy it is to believe our lives are preordained and that someone has control over the details? Holding on to that belief renders big payoff, because when things go wrong it’s not our fault. And when things go right, it was just God’s will. But never do we play a part, or so we think.

As you read this post, I invite you to consider a different perspective. You’re invited to first see whether you played a part in where you are today. And the best news you can give yourself is to say yes, because if you played even a small part, there is something you can do to change that canvas of your life.

Remember, you are the artist in your life.  So, what action can you take to create your drab canvas into a masterpiece?

Feel free to join my conversation on FacebookFacebook Esteemableacts Fan Page, or my Facebook Law Page, you can also interact with me on my Twitter Esteemable Acts pageTwitter Law Page, or on LinkedIn.

Pre-Judging. Friendship. Open-Minded.

Friendship. Don't Judge a book by it's cover.

Friendship. Don’t Judge a book by it’s cover.

A while back, I was on a flight to Hawaii where I sat next to a man wearing a knit skullcap, sweat suit, sneakers, and dark glasses. As I do whenever someone sits next to me, I said hello. But then, I immediately thought that he must be one of those hip-hoppers. And because if my innate belief about hip-hoppers, I formed an opinion that was negative. I assumed he wasn’t smart, was into drugs, and was denigrating toward women. So, while I was initially courteous, I had nothing more to say.

There was silence between us, except when I expressed the obligatory ‘excuse me’ when I passed him to go to the lavatory. Then ninety minutes into the flight the attendant offered dessert and an after dinner drink. He surveyed his choices: hot fudge, sundae, cheese cake, or amaretto. Laughingly he said, ‘I’ll pass, thanks, I’m on my way to work.’ On his way to work from San Francisco to Hawaii, and no cheesecake or sundae? What could he be doing? Curious as to what he meant, I asked him what he did for a living?

He replied that he was a mariner.

‘What’s that?’ I asked.

For the next thirty minutes I listened to his stories of living at sea for four months at a time. And I actually learned some new things!  As I listened, in the back of my mind I was embarrassed at how I had prejudged him. I thought to myself ‘how often I do that?’ How often do I make assumptions about people based on the way they look, on how they dress, the car they drive, where they live, who they love, where they went to school, their skin color, their familial associations, or their religious beliefs?

As I thought about it, I realized that I do it way too often. Why is it so easy to constantly judge others? Because there is a payoff, and to many people, it is worth it. When you are judging other people, it feeds into an existing belief that you are either better or worse than they are.  Either way, you are the loser.

There is always a price to pay for pre-judging people. Your pool of available friendships is limited. Your client base and your team of business associates are narrowed. Your knowledge is inadequate because your source of information is restricted to only those who think like you. Finally, judgment makes you angry, and anger is unattractive because it eats away at your spirit.

So be honest with yourself.  How often do you rush to judgment? Your intentions may be good and you may sincerely believe that you are open-minded and judge everyone equally. But I invite you to go beyond your defensiveness and rationalizations, and really examine your beliefs, assumptions, and behaviors about people you perceive as being different.

In the next twenty-four hours, I invite you to be aware of how many times you prejudge people you come into contact with. Just pay attention to how often you look at someone and then form a negative opinion about him or her without having all the facts. If you are honest with yourself, the results may be quite shocking.

Now what can you do to be less judgmental? For one thing, you’ll be less likely to rush to judgment if can try to see something in everyone that you can personally relate to. For at least a moment, put yourself in his or her shoes.  That would be a good start.

Don’t forget it’s an esteemable act to not judge a book by its cover.

Feel free to join my conversation on FacebookFacebook Esteemableacts Fan Page, or my Facebook Law Page, you can also interact with me on my Twitter Esteemable Acts pageTwitter Law Page, or on LinkedIn.

 

Living an Amazing Life.

Beautiful Young Woman Outdoors. Enjoy Nature. MeadowUntil  I had the courage to dream of a better life, I wasn’t able to have one. Dreams are what life is made of. They give you a reason to get out of bed in the morning and a reason to go to bed early at night, so you can wake up and start all over again.  But like anything worth having, dreaming takes work, which often requires that you walk through something that you’re afraid of.

You’ll encounter many obstacles along the road to living your dreams.  Some obstacles may be real, while others may be imagined. One of the real obstacles that can definitely stand in the way of living your dreams is negative core beliefs!

We are what we believe. And we create our reality based on what we think. Like it or not, your beliefs influence your attitude and your behavior – and how you behave is what defines you.

When I believed I wasn’t smart enough to go back to school, my actions supported my beliefs. So I didn’t even try. But once I realized that to live the life I wanted I had to honestly confront the things that were holding me back. I knew that I would have to face my fears head on and just walk right through them! And when I started believing I could really do something to change the course of my life, I took actions that supported those beliefs. That’s when I finally enrolled in school.

Despite the negative feelings I often had about myself, I became willing to behave contrary to those feelings. Every time I accomplished something that I didn’t think I could, and got to the other side, I felt great!  Each small step brought me closer to living the life I always dreamed of living.

So ask yourself what your core beliefs are. But you may find that seemingly simple question tougher to answer than you think.

One thing you can immediately do to better understand your beliefs is to listen intently to what you say. The words that come out of your mouth can often reflect what you really believe, as do the thoughts you keep in your mind.

So what do you dream of?

Are the words you are using and things you are saying compatible with your dreams, or do they conflict with them?

What beliefs are you holding that are restricting you from taking positive actions towards living your dreams?

Remember, the more you resonate with your dreams, the more likely you will start to live them.

Feel free to join my conversation on FacebookFacebook Esteemableacts Fan Page, or my Facebook Law Page, you can also interact with me on my Twitter Esteemable Acts pageTwitter Law Page, or on LinkedIn.n.

 

 

Freely Given, Freely Received

Freely. Given.

Imagine you live a long, full life, and now you find yourself at the pearly gates. Upon arrival, the gate keeper doesn’t ask you how many pairs of cute shoes you have, where you went to school, how much money is in your stock portfolio, or how many children you raised.

Instead your asked, “Who did you help? How were you of service to others? How did you use your life to benefit others?” The very idea of one person helping others dates as far back as the beginning of civilization.

Everyone has something to give, regardless of how small or seemingly unimportant the gift may appear. A simple offer of kindness can make someone’s day. Service takes many forms, such as offering a smile when someone feels unlovable, appreciating someone’s efforts, or spending time with a friend who needs to be heard without judgment. It may be sharing your skills or expertise with someone new to your career field, welcoming a neighbor into the community, holding the door for the person behind you, or saying thank you to the one who held the door for you. There are many ways to serve.

Developing a consciousness of giving is hard at first, especially if we’re used to being the taker. But while the process of change is not easy, the formula is simple: willingness
+ time = a shift in our thinking.

Every experience becomes an opportunity for service. Sometimes we give for the sake of giving and sometimes we give because we know that when we succeed as a collective group, we succeed at individuals.

There are many benefits to being of service to others. It’s rewarding to watch a person’s face light up when you help him or her achieve something he or she thinks is impossible. My personal niche area is working with women and mentoring teenage girls. It’s a pleasure when I see them experience the “aha” moment, particularly when I know that in some small way I helped.

Another benefit is that service to others allows us to make amends for past mistakes, particularly if it’s impossible to make a direct amend to the person we harmed. Service to others helps us make new friends. We automatically become connected to a community of like-minded people.

Feel free to join my conversation on FacebookFacebook Esteemableacts Fan Page, or my Facebook Law Page, you can also interact with me on my Twitter Esteemable Acts pageTwitter Law Page, or on LinkedIn.

Learn a New Skill.

A wall calendar with tear-away pages, and words that read Change Your Life Today

Many people get to a point where they are very uncomfortable at the thought of learning something new, while others are outright petrified at the thought. Too many people become trapped in their comfort zones, while at the same time wondering why their lives have become stale and boring, or why they can’t advance in their jobs.

Think back to when you were much younger. Remember how excited you were to learn to ride a bike. Sure, you may have been a little scared of falling, but you did it anyway. Then there was the excitement at learning to drive a car. You may have been a bit nervous, but you really wanted to learn this new skill. Try to remember all of the new skills you learned over the years. Remember the satisfaction when you finally mastered this new skill.

It is easy to let fear and frustration get in the way of learning something new – a new skill. Many give up far too easily, only to regret it years later. Being a public speaker, people seem to think that the skill came naturally for me – it didn’t! I remember freezing in fear at the thought of speaking in front of a large crowd. There were times when I froze. I felt ashamed and embarrassed, but I kept at it until I finally mastered the skill.

Here are a few tips that will help you when learning a new skill:

  • Be teachable: Don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know.” No one knows anything until it is learned.
  • Ask for help: Have the courage to seek out help from those who are already experts at the skill you want to learn.
  • Allow yourself to make mistakes: Making mistakes is a natural part of the learning curve, you don’t have to do it perfectly the very first time, or even the first five times.
  • Practice your new skill: They say “practice make perfect” – I like to say “practice makes better.” Perfection may be unattainable, but the more you practice the better you become.

There are other good reasons to learn a new skill besides professional and personal reasons. Like the muscles in your legs and arms, the brain needs to be “exercised” in order to stay sharp. Remember, use it or lose it. Studies have proved that senior citizens who learn new skills have improved memories and cognitive function in comparison to those who remain mentally stagnant.

NPR reported on a study done by Dr. Denise Park, a neuroscientist at the University of Texas at Dallas. The study randomly assigned 200 older people tasks of learning new skills from digital photography to quilting. These people spent 15 hours per week for three months learning their new skill. At completion, the participants had a significant improvement in memory function in comparison to others in their age group who did not participate in the new skill learning. It was found that the more difficult the new skill (Digital Photography & Photoshop), the greater the improvement. Dr. Park’s research was published in the journal Psychological Science.

Why not make a commitment this month to learn a new skill. Don’t give up, be patient, and I can almost guarantee that you’ll feel a lot better about yourself and all the work will be well worth it.

Join my conversation on FacebookFacebook Esteemableacts Fan Page, or my Facebook Law Page, you can also interact with me on my Twitter Esteemable Acts page, Twitter Law Page, or on LinkedIn. Feel free to subscribe to my newsletter.

 

Authors. Libel. UV-a

Authors beware when writing about people you know.

Old typewriterLast year, a federal jury sitting in Virginia awarded $3 million to Nicole Eramo, a former University of Virginia (UV-a) associate dean. The jury found Rolling Stone magazine had committed libel. The magazine published an article that tarnished Ms. Eramo’s reputation by alleging she was indifferent to allegations of gang rape on UV-a campus.

What’s the message here? Be careful what you write.

Yes, the First Amendment has certain guarantees regarding free speech and freedom of the press, but even the First Amendment has its limits. The Eramo jury found those limits.

So, as authors wanting to write about people that can potentially be recognized, here are a few things to take into consideration:

Understand the concept of libel. It’s a false statement published as a fact, which harms the reputation of a person, business or organization.

  1. Defamatory Statement. In breaking down the definition, know that the alleged libelous content must contain a defamatory statement that harms the reputation of someone.
  2. Easily Recognized. If the party you speak about can be identified, you risk being sued. This applies even if you change the name. It also applies to both fiction and nonfiction works of authorship.
  3. Published to a Third Party. The work must be seen by a third party, not just the author of the work and the person written about.
  4. Must be False. Finally, truth is a defense to libel. For a claim of libel to be successful, the statement must be false.

Until next time, I’m Attorney Francine Ward helping you protect what’s yours. Feel free to join my conversation on my Facebook Fan Page, on my Twitter page, in one of my LinkedIn Groups.

Uber Drivers. Tipping

Uber. Tipping. Taxi.

Uber. Tipping. Taxi. Cab.

I am new to Uber, in fact, I just took my first one last week while in Orlando at a conference.

Mostly it worked out well. Most drivers showed up when they said they would or at all, two did not.  And most were pleasant enough.  Being new, I assume a tip was included in the cost.  However, that being said, when a driver was exceptionally nice, helpful, flexible, or even just friendly, I just gave him an extra tip.  I personally have mixed views about Uber and the concept of hitchhiking with strangers.  I did that in Junior High and High School, but was on drugs so I did many things I would not do now.
 
The idea of tipping an Uber driver, if the tip is included then that’s one thing. If you want to give extra for doing extra, then we as customers are always free to do that.  Not sure why there is an issue here.

It goes back to what I believe, and that is, tips are for good service. Whether you drive a Yellow Cab or an Uber, if the service is poor then while there may be some folks who are afraid not to tip, others of us are not. I don’t tip for poor service, and if I do, it is the bare minimum.
 
Until next time, I’m Attorney Francine Ward helping you protect what’s yours. Feel free to join my conversation on my Facebook Fan Page, on my Twitter page, in one of my LinkedIn Groups.

Disney. Inside Out. The Moodsters.

Copyright Infringement.

copyrightHave you ever considered pitching a story idea to a big movie producer? If you have, you also have to think about ensuring that your concept doesn’t get stolen. Many times, an idea gets pitched, rejected and then later the producer uses a similar storyline.

Childhood development expert, Denise Daniels, co-founded the National Childhood Grief Institute which counsels children after tragedies such as Hurricane Katrina and 9/11.

In addition to National Childhood Grief Institute, Daniels created a children’s program called The Moodsters to help kids better manage their emotions. She pitched this idea to Disney-owned Pixar many times between the years of 2005 and 2009. Daniels states that there was an understanding that she and her team would be compensated in the event that the idea was used.

Fast forward to 2015, Disney launched the “Inside Out” animated program to explore children’s emotions through various characters representing different moods by using colors.

Daniels filed a lawsuit against Disney stating that her idea was used and she was not given credit or compensation.

Story Ideas.

According to Daniels’ attorney, Michael Geibelson, who writes that in The Moodsters “Each character is an animated, anthropomorphized figure representing a single emotion with a corresponding color, and specifically happiness (yellow), anger (red), sadness (blue), fear (green) and love (pink).”

In a statement to the press, a Disney spokesman said: “Inside Out was an original Pixar creation, and we look forward to vigorously defending against this lawsuit in court.”

A similar case was brought to court in March by Esplanade Pictures who claims that their writer, Gary L. Goldman, pitched Zootopia to Disney in 2000 and 2009, and was not compensated.

So, my advice to you is that if you are ready to pitch your idea to a producer, its best to hire an expert entertainment attorney to assist you before you have that first all-important meeting.

Until next time, I’m Attorney Francine Ward helping you protect what’s yours. Feel free to join my conversation on my Facebook Fan Page, on my Twitter page, in one of my LinkedIn Groups.

Starting a Non-Profit? Important Steps To Take.

Are YOU:

  • Contemplating forming a nonprofit organization or a not for profit foundation?
  • Considering qualifying as a 501(c)3 charity? 501 (c)4? 501(c)5? 501(c)6? 501(c)7? Other 501(c)?
  • Not sure about the requirements?

Thinking woman in front of blackboard with question marksLet’s explore a few steps you need to take and a few resources that you may find useful. Depending on the exact nature of your non-profit and the state, in which it is formed, some things may or may not apply to you. This post primarily addresses California entities, however, you can research the corresponding agency in your state. For example, every state has a Secretary of State Business Portal. That might be your first stop.

A few documents you can obtain and even prepare on your own, and others, you may want to consider hiring a lawyer to help with. Regardless of whether you do it yourself or seek guidance, please know that legal documents should be prepared VERY carefully. They are not always as simple as they appear.

One thing you should know, if you are forming a not-for-profit in California, there are rules and regulations from four (4) governmental agencies, which you MUST comply with, as well as the operational business entity requirements. The government agencies are: California Franchise Tax BoardAttorney GeneralSecretary of State, and the Internal Revenue Service.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself, regarding your non profit:

  • What is the purpose of your non-profit?
  • What type of business entity will you have? Pure non-profit? Charity? Trade Association? Advocacy group? If in California, will it be a low-profit limited liability company (L3C)? or a hybrid social enterprise (e.g., Benefit Corporation, Flexible Purpose)
  • Regardless of the type of entity, you will need corporate documents. The following is a short list of things you will need:
    • Articles of incorporation or association
    • Bylaws or Operating Agreement if it is an LLC or L3C
    • If a corporation, Action of Sole Incorporator
    • Board of Directors
    • Minutes and Consents

Until next time, I’m Attorney Francine Ward helping you protect what’s yours. Join my conversation on FacebookTwitter, or in one of my LinkedIn groupsGoogle+ Circles. Feel free to subscribe to my newsletter.

Stop & Smell the Roses

picture of smiling woman smelling flower

Smell the Roses. 

We’ve all heard the popular quote “stop and smell the roses.”  Well this also applies to things like your daily readings and meditations. It is one thing to do these things and just going through the motions, but how much do you really take in and absorb, and how much do you really get out of it?

For years, I faithfully read my daily meditations. They became a part of my daily routine. After my morning readings, I would sit quietly and digest the material, allowing it to sink into my consciousness. This was a great way to start my day and proceed with a clear mind on what I wanted out of life.

But…

Over the years, I somehow began to get careless. I rushed through my reading and mediations without really absorbing them, without fully taking in the meanings and lessons they offered. As a result, I missed the essence of what keeps me grounded.

Do you read, meditate or perhaps do yoga? If you do, are you just going through the motions and thinking about what you have to do next, or are you there in the moment learning and benefiting as much as you can? So many of us have such hectic lives that we don’t even know how to relax anymore. We don’t allow ourselves to chill out for even a short period of time and quiet ourselves – we don’t take time to see the roses, much less smell them!

There is great power in your readings and mediations, power that can change your day, power that can make sense of what is currently happening in your life, power to let go of anger and see things through a different light. However, if we simply go through the motions and never really process what we read, how can it really help us?

So please remember that you will get out of your inspirational readings and meditations exactly what you put into them. The more you practice absorbing the material and quieting your mind, the easier it will become, and the greater the benefits will be.

Feel free to join my conversation on FacebookFacebook Esteemableacts Fan Page, or my Facebook Law Page, you can also interact with me on my Twitter Esteemable Acts pageTwitter Law Page, or on LinkedIn.