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.

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See Yourself Clearly. Mirror, Mirror….


It’s an Estimable Act to See Yourself Clearly.

MirrorThe other day my friend call me upset because her brother called her controlling.  “Who does he think he is?” she said. “He has no right to say that that about me.”

“Is it true? Any you controlling?” I asked.

“I don’t think I am,” she said. “I’m just passionate about things.”

“Why did he call you controlling? What did he say you did?”

“I told him I didn’t like how he is raising his daughter.” 

“Is it possible he could have perceived your words as controlling?” I asked.

“I doubt it, but if he did, it was his fault for interpreting my words that way,” she said.

This could have been a scenario with you and a friend, you and a family member, or you and a co-worker. It’s any scenario where you are seen one way but you perceive yourself differently. Do you know who you are? Do you know how your behavior affects others? We go through life seeing ourselves as we want to be seen not always as we are.

Frequently that means seeing ourselves as the good guy, the wronged, the one taking the high road, the person who is misunderstood. Yet there are times when our attitude, our tone of voice, our body language, and the words we use turn us into the wrongdoer.

Examine Your Behavior.

Having the courage to continuously examine our behavior, our motives, and even our thoughts is an Esteemable Act.  And it’s difficult because were asked to see past our filters and defenses to the truth of who we are in the moment. Our filters protect us. By their very nature, they distort our vision. We tend to see only the good. Its important to acknowledge our assets, but unless we can balance our perception, we aren’t able to see our part in problems that occur.

We then become challenged to understand why people respond to us the way they do. For example, I had a bad habit of interrupting people when they were talking, I’d walk up and jump into an existing conversation without concern for people’s feelings. To me, that wasn’t rude or inconsiderate. It was just the way I was, and most of the time, I had no idea I was doing on. I was oblivious to my behavior and its impact on others until one day someone actually called my attention to what I did. It was a painful realization and one that made me more aware of my behavior.

Self-examination is life transforming, so why don’t more of us do it? We mistakenly believe that if there is need for improvement, we’re defective. So, we walk around thinking we’re prefect while acting imperfect and inflicting casualties along the way.

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.

Machu Picchu. Bucket List.


Bucket List.

Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu

Not sure why it’s taken me so long to publish this post, but it has.  Some might call it lazy, but lazy I’m not.  Some might say, I was too busy to focus on it. But if the truth be known, I was not too busy; I was just a procrastinator. In any event, here we go!

A few months ago, I was watching a segment of Sunday 60 Minutes called, the Children’s Village. I was touched by the humanity of India Howell and her business partner, Peter Leon Massy.  Their love of and desire to help children was heart-touching. It also reminded me of my recent adventure in Peru.

Machu Picchu. Bucket List.

Machu Picchu was never on my bucket list.  No, I was not jumping for joy at the opportunity to travel 12,000 feet above sea level—in hiking boots.  I mean the truth is, I’m a high heel kind of girl—5 inches high, I might add.  Yet, much to my surprise, when given the chance to journey to Peru in July, I was willing and able to show up.  That’s how life works. When we are open to the endless possibilities presented to us, we get so much more than we planned. At least that’s my experience.

12,000 Feet Above Sea Level.

Because I had never ventured to such a high altitude, I was a bit concerned. So, I prepared myself for the journey. I spoke with several friends who had trekked up the mountain, and had a conversation with my doctor about appropriate actions to take.  But the interesting and most telling thing is that I took the suggestions offered to me. What a novel concept. That single action allowed me to avoid the sickness often visited upon high altitude hikers.

First Class Travel, not so shabby!

The actual flight to Peru was delightful. Because I travel a lot, I’m an elite flyer on American Airlines and a lifetime member of the Admirals Club. Being an Executive Platinum has its perks, and there is something to be said for first class accommodations.  It makes a difference. So even though I arrived into Cusco at 5am Sunday morning, I felt rested.

The Bread House.

But the real fun began on Monday, which was our humanitarian day.  We left Cusco at 6am headed for the Azul Wasi Orphanage.  But let me step back. On the way to the orphanage, we stopped by a bread house.  Peru is a relatively poor country, so folks make money in whatever way they can.  Many bake and sell bread in their homes, hence bread house. The bread was so delicious that I took several wheel-shaped loaves home.  Perhaps because I love bread, but also because it was my small way of supporting the economy in this poor village. Three months later, I’m still eating bread.

Azul Wasi Orphanage.

From the time we arrived at the orphanage, I felt like I was steeped into a magical experience.  Nineteen kids greeted my small group with bear hugs and kisses. Wow! What a sweet and pleasant surprise.  They were so happy to see us, and made sure we knew it.  From that moment until we left the orphanage hours later, my heart was cracked wide open. Had I returned to San Francisco after that day, I would have felt fulfilled.  But there was more to come.  It was the start of an affair to remember.

On one hand, being with the kids was joyful. But on the other hand, it was sad. For most of these children, being at this orphanage was a place filled with more love than they have ever known.  Most of them had lived on the streets since they were barely able to walk. Their ages ranged from 3 to 19-years old, yet you could see in their little faces that they were old beyond their years.  Drugs, alcohol, and the streets were all some of them knew.  It was sad to hear their stories, and for the most part, we couldn’t discuss it with them. The memories were too fresh and painful.

I, more than anyone in my group, understood their plight. While not an orphan, my childhood was lost to drugs, alcohol, and a sordid lifestyle.  I lived homeless on the streets of New York at 18 surviving in whatever way I could.  I know all too well what one must do to survive.  Yet, I was granted a reprieve, an opportunity to turn the tide. There were angels in my midst.  So for me, this trip was not just a trip to Peru, but one more opportunity for me to say thank you and give back. And as in my life, there was an angel for these kids, and his name was Alcides.

A police chief for 30-years, he got tired of seeing these street kids come through his station. So he saved and saved and vowed when he retired from the police force, he would buy land and build a place where these kids could come live, grow, get an education, and become productive members of society.  A place where they could feel safe and loved.  Alcides has obviously succeeded, as evidence by the fact that while the kids are free to leave at any time, not one has chosen to do so.  How lucky they are and how blessed I was to get to speak with Alcides.

Sacred Valley. Machu Picchu.

Machu Picchu.

Machu Picchu.

The next day we were off to the Sacred Valley, and then Machu Picchu. What I can say most about the Sacred Valley and then Machu Picchu is how awestruck I was with what the Incas accomplished. We often like to think we are superior to other people and cultures. Yet, when one is able to witness firsthand what these courageous people created, we think twice about our assumption that we are better than most. Like the Romans, the Incas built structures that are still standing.

The most exhilarating part of the Machu Picchu day trip was that I became willing to do something I was afraid to do.  In anticipation of a bumpy upward climb, I gave myself permission not to go to the top. Once there, I allowed myself to take one baby step at a time, and before I knew it, I was on top. Being atop Machu Picchu was wonderful, but being willing to get there was awesome!

Someone asked, what was my favorite part of the trip? My answer was – the entire trip!  From the first day at the orphanage with the kids, to interviewing Alcides, to interviewing two of the children (Alfredo and Dante), to visiting a bread house, to visiting the Sacred Valley, to climbing Machu Picchu, every step of the way was a piece of the puzzle that made for a beautiful picture.  The final piece, bringing the puzzle all together, was the group itself.  I went to Peru, primarily, to support a friend’s charity (Legacies in Motion), engage in humanitarian work, and visit one of the NEW 7 wonders of the world. What I got was so much more. Yes, the actual act of climbing Machu Picchu was awe inspiring, but what impacted me was the fact that I was even willing to go.

A Life Filled With Endless Possibilities.

Today my life is filled with endless possibilities, and I am grateful to be alive and fully present enough to participate in this, my journey.  There was a time when I sat on the sidelines judging those who showed up for life.  People who, even if afraid, had the courage to take risks, go for their dreams, and possibly fail.  I was always afraid to fail, so I made safe choices.  Making safe choices keeps you protected and out of harm’s way, but also keeps you and your life small.

After 37 years of trying new things, I take a stand for those who are courageous enough to show up for their lives, try new things, meet new people, and live a life of limitless expansion. Life is so short; don’t waste it. Before you now it, it’s over.

Here’s to you!   Feel free to subscribe to my newsletter



NBC. TODAY Show. Celebrities.

Reflection. Integrity.

Reflection. Integrity.

Everyone is nice and on their best behavior when there’s a celebrity amidst, especially if the celebrity is one of the anchors of the NBC TODAY Show. But how do the same people behave when the person is not a celebrity and known to them?

This question came up for me as I was watching the Today Show this morning, where Erica was applying for an internship at J. Crew.  When she was accepted, she said, she was shocked they gave her the opportunity. Well of course, she got the opportunity. She is Erica Ruth Hill-Yount from the Today Show.

At the end of the program, Erica talked about how nice and accommodating everyone was towards her. Come on! Did she really expect anything different from people who knew who she was and know the Today Show was involved?

The truth is that in our “I want my 15-minutes of fame” culture, any opportunity to get on TV and get any kind of exposure will change the way many folks act. So of course, when a TV network approaches you to ask for an accommodation, especially if you are Erica or Matt Lauer, the answer will probably be a resounding, “YES!”

But the question is would you do that for someone else of equal or less qualification who is not a celebrity like Erica, for an average person simply looking for that first break? Many people from rough backgrounds with unimpressive resumes would die at the chance for that one life-changing break.

Sure, many of us, including big corporations, talk the talk. The real question is do we consistently walk as we talk? How many of us treat people according to their titles or status in society? How many of us treat people in accordance to what the other person can do for us?

“Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.” – C.S. Lewis

How many people do you know who treat their bosses with over-the-top respect, but treat food servers and store clerks like dirt? Unfortunately, this kind of behavior is all too common in today’s society. Far too many people lose sight of who they really are and where they came from. Far too many of their actions are driven by ego and their desire to get ahead in a dog-eat-dog world.

The good news is that it doesn’t need to be like this. You, yes you, can initiate change through your actions – seemingly small actions. The thing is that there are always people watching, be it you children, spouse, co-workers and even strangers, and believe it, or not, your actions can influence other people – you can lead by example!

When all is said and done, it will not be celebrities who enact change, but everyday people who live as examples to others. So do yourself and the rest of the world a big favor and be conscious of how you treat others, especially those who can’t give you anything. Believe me, you will feel so much better about yourself and the world you live in.

Ruined by the Hiccups!


Baseball Game. National Anthem.

Challenges. Baseball. Hiccups.

Challenges. Baseball. Hiccups.

A 7-year-old boy who sang the Australian National Anthem before a baseball game had his performance “ruined” by the hiccups, or so say, more than a few TV broadcasters, including my very own broadcaster in San Francisco.

Wow! No wonder folks are afraid to make mistakes, because everyone around them makes sure to point out the mistake, and in the process, ruin people. I, on the other hand, thought it was a momentous moment. Why? Because even though he hiccupped all the way through the song, he never stopped singing. He did not miss a beat! How many people would have given up because you believed someone would say that you made a mistake?

On a positive note, the crowd at the baseball game did give the kid, Ethan Hall, a rousing ovation when he finished singing.

Hockey Game. YouTube. 

Back in 2006, a Canadian woman attempted to sing the American National Anthem at an NHL hockey game. She forgot the words and walked off the ice two times to compose herself, and when she came back for a third try she slipped on the ice and fell. She then rushed off the ice for a third time and didn’t return. The video of this unfortunate incident is now on YouTube and has hundreds-of-thousands of views.

We like to see folks triumph over the odds, or so we claim, but we do very little to support them in making that happen.  If success occurs, we love and admire them after the fact because everyone loves a winner. Just take, for example, how many folks hated the Golden State Warriors for years while they were at the bottom of the NBA heap. Now that Stephen Curry and an oh-so-cool young team are in the money, everyone loves them.

Mistakes. Risk.

As we see, it can be difficult when we make mistakes, especially with all the naysayers out there who never even bother to take a chance or risk something, but it only becomes a failure when we give up. People will always love you when you are on top or when you are successful, but it’s the people who believed in you while you were struggling and making mistakes who are the true friends.

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.