Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Ready For The Stage! Can you believe it?!

Hi Everyone,

Oh my dear blog....I've missed you so. As a matter of fact, I've missed ALL of my blogs!!! Ladies and gents, the book manuscript is in final editing...and just when I thought I was going to take a breather (yeah, like I take breathers)...


Okay, I totally auditioned for a national public speaking contest called "Ready For the Stage". It's taking place in Washington D.C. this week at an event called SEVEN. I am so lucky to be here learning from the best in entrepreneurial everything, and how to use speaking and events to launch more of what I love to do best: help women, write about women, make women superstars! Just think of how I will be able to promote my book "Off the Couch, Back to Business"-- A Woman's Guide to Success After Setback, as well as all of the awesome and important topics I love to write about, like cool mom stuff, women's rights, bringing positive energy and optimism into your life, orgaizations doing right by women and children and exposing the ones who aren't, and totally hot sports for chicks!


I am one of the semi-finalists! If I make it to the top four, I'll be competing on stage Thursday night from 7:30-9:30 PM Eastern. And...you can watch if you like! Here is the link to opt in, or just "like" Ready For The Stage on Facebook.

And finally, if you are so inclined...you can place a pre-order for my book. Just click http://offthecouch.eventbrite.com/ and order a "ticket", as soon as it becomes available you"ll get it right off the press! Planned release is for first quarter 2011.

I've missed blogging so much! I'll be back in Michigan before I know it and will be sure to get my bloggin' on! Until then, I hope you'll tune in Thursday night and vote!

Thanks readers! You are all awesome!

april S.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

What a Night! A meeting with Congressman Mark Schauer

I realize I am supposed to be on hiatus to meet my book deadline, and I am so thankful for your patience in doing so, but some things are too good to skip out on writing about.  What a night I've had!  I'd like to tell you about it...

I attended the 2010 Saline Area Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year Awards.  This is always a great event, but tonight was fantastic.  Of course, I was thrilled to be there to support award honoree Jill Hartman, of Hartman Insurance, who is a smart and savvy business woman and super involved member of our community.  I was also pleased to see Leibherr Aerospace and Gear Technology win the award for a larger business.  Saline really is fortunate to have both of these businesses in our city.  Kudos also to A2YP.TV for filming this event.

I was so happy to be there tonight, you'd think I was the one receiving the award. I may not have brought home a plaque or trophy, but I brought home a memory of an evening I won't soon forget.  The company at my table couldn't be beat.  Let me introduce you to my table-mates.

I was so pleased to dine with Congressman Mark Schauer, Saline City Councilman Brian Marl, Senior District Representative Fran Brennan, Mayor of Saline Gretchen Driskell, City Manager Todd Campbell and savvy business owner of DesignHub in Saline, Karen Ragland.  I couldn't have dreamed this up any better!

An evening like tonight is a perfect way for me to remind all of my readers to vote this November.  Now it's obvious from this post who I am voting for, and I've got some great reasons for doing so. (The only other candidate I wish had been there was David Rhoads, Saline City Council).I hope you'll consider doing the same.

It is so important to exercise your right to vote, especially YOU, ladies.  The reason I say that is we must remember how many women in so many other countries will never have the freedom to fill out a ballot and have a voice.  We are so fortunate here in the U. S.  We may not have a woman in the Oval Office yet, but she's coming...ahem...Hillary.  

Thanks to all for such a wonderful evening, to Mayor Driskell, Todd Campbell and Brian Marl (and David Rhoads who we missed) for taking such good care of our Saline citizens.  Thank you Congressman Mark Schauer and your camp for looking out for so many people.  I wish you all nothing but success this November!

(photos top right, me and Congressman Schauer, bottom left me and City Councilman Brian Marl)

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Happy Hiatus, Be back Soon!

Hey readers! Just a quick note...I am so happy to announce I have a publisher for my first book...A Women's Guide To Business Success After Setback. With it, however, comes a looming deadline. This means I'm going to be out of the blogosphere for awhile because all of my time and attention will be on getting this book published and promoted.  I will be back as soon as I possibly can!

I appreciate your understanding and support, and look forward to writing and hearing back from you again soon. I will keep you posted as to my progress! It is because of the encouragement and feedback from readers like each of you, that I have felt confident enough to pursue my dream of becoming an author. Thank you so much and I'll be in touch!

April Scarlett

Monday, September 13, 2010

Me and my walrus: Turning negative to positive when it's least expected

I'm going to tell you a story about how something very hurtful turned into a powerful badge of honor.  What does Oprah call it?  An "aha" moment?  It was something I had mostly forgotten about, and then one day, like so many other past experiences that show up unexpectedly...there it was right in my face.

I was 18 and in my senior year of high school.  I was "seeing" a guy, we'll call him Peach (that's my positive spin on "jerk").  I say "seeing" because he wasn't really my boyfriend, and I know I was way more into him than he was into me, but I chose to go out with him anyway, too young to see how bad he was for me at the time.  One afternoon we were hanging out together, and he burst into laughter.  He said, "I've finally figured it out!  All this time I knew you reminded me of someone or something, but I couldn't put my finger on it!"  Well, of course I was smiling and anxious to hear of my lovely likeness?  It had to be complimentary, right?  After all, this guy did ask me to the "big dance".  He went on, "you look like a walrus!"

I wasn't laughing.  When he saw the smile disappear from my face, he tried to back track, "I didn't mean it in a bad way, really.  It's just your face..." and then he burst into laughter again.  Just my face. Imagine what that did to the self esteem of a teenage girl.  I was mortified, shocked someone could be so cruel.  He went on to explain in detail the similarities between my face and that of a walrus. Can you believe that I was so insecure in high school that I eventually accepted his apology and still went to the dance with him?  Ugh.

Every so often, I have thought of that day.  Of course I am extremely sure, strong and proud of myself and my success now, but I never really forgot about the possibility of my apparent walrus-ness.

Fast forward two decades.  I'm sitting with my son and eight of his pals in a movie theatre for his eighth birthday.  We watched Disney's "Oceans", a documentary of sea life, the ocean and how important it is to conserve both.  Imagine the emotion that came out of nowhere when the documentary film zeroed in on a mother walrus and her pup.  It was such a moving scene, the way this mother creature, ever so gracefully, cradled her baby in her flippers, balanced him on her belly, played with him, taught him and was unmistakeably in awe of him, adoring him, nurturing him.  It was such a moving scene, even the eight year olds were quiet.  It was emotional for some just because of the sheer beauty of this beast and the respect given her, but me even more so as I discovered the truth about my walrus-ness.

What once was something shameful and embarrassing, within minutes became pride and strength.  I was that walrus with her pup.  I am a mother to two fine boys who are the greatest accomplishment of my life.  This walrus was everything graceful, beautiful, maternal and protective.  I embraced what I saw, and took it to heart.  Never again would I think of those hurtful words when I was a teenager.  I now wear any kind of walrus-ness like a badge of honor.  I even have a plush walrus on my shelf  in my office, to remind me of how good it feels to take something which once caused pain, and turn it into triumph.  In the eyes of my stuffed walrus, I see my success, my positive outlook, my wonderful life!

Who is laughing now, Peach?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Negative breeds negative, so think positive, positive, positive!

I know better.  I know obsessing over negative thoughts or constantly being distracted by fear are two ways to absulutely end up with exactly what I was trying to avoid in the first place.

Whether or not you beleive in the law of attraction, yin & yang, fate, faith, energy...whatever, the truth is in the experience, and I shouldn't be at all surprised at my experiences this week.

I used to be a worrier--I mean ridiculously so.  I've worked really hard to change gears and I feel confident in saying, "I am no longer a worry wart."  However, if I was to worry about anything, of course it would be my kids.

Both of my boys are in dangerous sports.  They've both begun their new seasons and I have been distracted--downright prepared for-- injuries.  I even blogged about it last week in the Parenting section of the newspaper, "How do parents cope?", What if kids get hurt?", "It's so hot and humid for practice, will they stay hydrated?" and "Will the coach know what he's doing?"

And do you know what happened?  I sent out so many negative "worry" vibes, they multiplied and came right back to me in the form of a chest injury for my gymnast and a concussion for my football player.

Do I believe I am solely to blame for my kids' injuries?  Of course not.  But I guarantee they sensed my unease.  I'm certain, whether they realized it or not, my worry chipped away at their confidence/focus, even if just a little.

It is so important to understand the energy you radiate multiplies around you, unto you, unto others. Stop worrying!  Be confident in your own abilities to handle any situation.

You are strong, smart and capable.  When a positive attitude exudes from you, those around you will feel strong, smart and capable too.

Optimism and a positive outlook are completely contageous!  Don't be afraid to spread them to the masses.

Don't be afraid at all.  Embrace experiences, don't fear them.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Taking my own advice...getting down to the business of looking up

It is tough sometimes to practice what you preach...I mean, for me to practice what I preach.  One of my favorite April's Upwords is "it is impossible to feel down when you are being grateful".  Well, I'd better get to gettin'.  The past week, after pumping things up to not seem so bad, I've let the energy slump, which makes a new adjustment all the more difficult.  The act of writing this blog is a step in the right direction, I just need to spell things out and make the choice to let things beat us...or not.  I choose not.

We just moved into a new place, as a result of a downsizing brought about by the loss of my business a year and a half ago.  When I say downsizing, I mean DOWNSIZING. I've been pretty open about the move, trying to put 3000 square feet of stuff into an 1100 foot condo, which we rent.  We had to leave an acre of woods and privacy to land in a shared backyard and shared common wall throughout the house.

Tonight when I attempted to prepare a meal in the new "micro kitchen", I just lost it.  It was like, "how in the hell am I supposed to cook for my family in this kitchen? Without adequate counter space, no island, no working vent above the stove, trips to the garage to get cookware that won't fit in cupboards for Pete's sake? How am I going to cook meal after meal in this mouse hole?"  I served my family and then ran off to cry in the micro bathroom so they couldn't see. But this is where it gets better...

You see, I don't like to feel so sad that I cry (who does?) And I know...absolutely know...that when I feel this negative, I am only inviting more negativity.  If I'm down, those around me will be down and suddenly the rosy picture I've painted for my children gets flushed in a downward spiral, the energy in the house depleted and depressed.

Well, if you know me (and many of you do), you know there is no way I am going to let that happen. So the tearfest in the bathroom became a pep-talk, and I got down to the business of looking up.

  • First of all, I am thankful this rental is in our school district, that my kids will return to familiar faces and hallways in September.  
  •  It may be small, but we all have our own bedrooms, our own spaces to just "be".  Could have had to put the "third grader" stuff with the "teenager" stuff...didn't have to (which means I didn't have to deal with the attitudes either). 
  • My office may be in the basement along with the washer and dryer, but I can already feel my glutes hardening and my heart rate conditioning as I climb and descend countless stairs (each load of laundry is 26 stairs up and 26 back down..and I do a LOT of laundry).  Who needs a Nautilus?
  •  We are within walking distance of almost everything in town, especially downtown activities and festivals.  We are close to parks, neighbors and local hangouts. I feel safer close to the Police and Fire Depts. This is something we never had while living out in the sticks.
And there are countless other things...better water pressure, sidewalks for kid's bike rides, pizza delivery service...lol.

More than anything are the things we don't see.  How lucky are we that we are still a happy family? Imagine how many people are downsizing because their families broke apart. How lucky are we that we all get along?  Imagine living in a small space with people you don't like.

And my crummy kitchen?  At least I have one and I have food to cook in it.  Way too many people don't.

There is no doubt that I will have more moments when I feel like I'm scraping the barrel.  It will be those times that I will reach for my keyboard.  Read my own words and express new ones.  Look at my kids who are smiling in their own bedrooms.  Take a deep breath as I walk to a nearby park.  Kiss my husband when he walks in the door.  And know that it is only going to get better.

For all of these things, and for what is to come I am grateful.  You see how that works?  I feel better already.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Love is ongoing....

Tomorrow is my husband's (James) birthday.  Coincidentally, as I was clearing off some book cases, I came across a journal I had made for him for his birthday seven years ago.  It has a photo on the front cover of the Colloseum in Rome, the "Colossea ed Arco di Constantino" in Italy, a place we still plan to see together.  My husband was turning 53 then, we had been married four years at the time and had a one year old child together, along with my then six year old son. I should point out there is a 21 year age difference between James and I.  Keep in mind, all fabulous relationships don't have to fit the mold of what other people think is the norm.

So, back to the journal...

The book was filled with 53 reasons I loved him, one reason per page.  I filled it with photos and all kinds of personal memories sincere, simple and silly. Some personal things I knew only he would get or laugh at, as well as more general observations of how he spent time with the family. Each page was a demonstration of something he does to make my life richer.

So anyway...

As I read through the pages, now seven years later, I found myself saying, "he still does that one" and yep, "that one too."  As a matter of fact, he still is and does everything today that he did back then that makes me so happy.  It made me think of all of the "experts" and countless others who say marriages fizzle out, honeymoons end and bliss is only in the beginning.  Don't believe it.

Marriage and relationships are what you make them, what both of you make them.  Just like I am always telling people to live their dreams, that they can achieve anything with hard work and gratitude, such is the same with the people we surround ourselves with.  Value yourself and do not settle for a relationship that does not feed you, that you do not want to feed.

My husband is my hot "60" tomorrow and is still my Prince Charming.  Just the other morning, as he kissed me goodbye before he left for work, my head still drowsy on the pillow, he reached over to lower the blind it's last quarter inch, so the morning sun wouldn't disturb what was left of my morning slumber. He whispered, "there's fresh coffee, call me later, I love you."  It's the little things.  That morning is worthy of two more pages....

So remember to appreciate the one you love, celebrate the little things, and if you are not there yet, be confident that someone will be there for you too, if you want them to be.  Before long, you too could have someone lowering the blinds for you...

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Use artificial inspiration if you can't muster it up yourself

I remember a time, back before I opened up my business, when I was very discouraged.  I had been working on my business plan, researching demographics and market and demand and you-name-it, trying to start a business of my own.  Everytime I thought I was all set to get financing for my vision, something would slow down the progress.  I was frustrated and beginning to doubt whether or not I would ever get the chance to make my vision a reality.

Over and over again in my mind I pictured myself giving notice to my awful boss, doing the unthinkable at my company and leaving after sixteen years.  Nobody left with that much time on the clock, close to twenty years, and hell, by the time you got to twenty, retirement would be right around the corner so why keep that 401K from getting nice and fat?

The thought of one more week in my current work environment, let alone 9 to 14 more years, was enough to bring me to tears.  The tears brought me down, let those negative thoughts creep in and fueled self- doubt and a downward spiral.  I was so wrapped up in what I was doing wrong, combing over every single detail, and worried about what the next bank would say.  I knew that when I felt overwhelmed, I was supposed to take a break, step back.  I found myself so obsessed with my plans, however, that I was unable to do that willingly.

So one evening, after everyone had gone to bed, I stayed up, hanging out on the couch in the living room obsessing and unable to sleep.  I felt the lowest I had felt since the idea for my business first popped into my head.  I was mindlessly surfing through cable channels and I came upon a movie about an ice skater.  She was young and smart and ice skating went against every expectation she had had placed upon her. She didn't have the money it took to compete, she didn't have support from family or friends, but she loved it more than anything else.  So of course the movie shows her working to get the money, rising early to train, keeping up her academics, all behind the backs of her family, and she was exhausted but determined.  Of course, she found a way, competed and won.  It was a very inspirational and uplifting movie.

Not only did it make me feel better physically, but more importantly, it inspired me emotionally.  It made me feel like I could reach my goal too, with hard work and determination.  It forced me to take a break and not think about what was going wrong, and reminded me how important it was to keep my attitude in can-do mode.  As cheesy or predictable as it might've been, it served me well.

Don't be afraid to take a break and do something uplifting.  Watch a feel-good movie, read a romance novel, crank up your favorite rock band and head bang in your living room while re-living that very concert you went to back in high school.  All of these things are good for your body, your attitude, your all around energy.  Before you know it you'll be right back on track to reaching your goal.

It was shortly after that when I received a call that my financing had been approved and I could give my awful boss two weeks notice.  No matter what has happened since then (my biz didn't survive the recession), my life has been in a solid upward spiral ever since, with one opportunity leading to another.  And when I'm having a rough day, when things don't seem as sparkly as usual, I don't hesitate to throw in my favorite feel-good film.

Monday, June 7, 2010

April's Upwords: When the present brings you down, act on the future...works everytime!

When the present brings you down, act on the future...works everytime. 

 I'll be the first to admit that it is not always easy being on the sunny side of every situation.  Truth is, I get dragged down just like everyone else (today was trying to say the least!).  It is because I am such an optimist, however, that I am able to take a difficult situation and only let it affect me for minutes or hours versus days. So how am I able to do that?

Three things break up the dark clouds for me:

1.)  Perspective.  I have to keep perspective, things could be a lot worse.  Is my problem really worth the distress I am feeling?  I often think back to right after my business (Beanstalks) went under.  Obviously, I was devastated and not sure what was next for me or my family.  During that time, as now, the news was filled with the wars going on in Iraq and Afghanistan.  I was watching the nightly news one evening and it showed a video of a woman in an open market, holding onto the hand of her son who looked to be about six years old.  She was running away from an exploding building behind her, and the fear in her eyes for her child is an image that has yet to leave me.  No matter what I am going through personally, financially, whatever...I am not going through what she is, and I bet she would give anything to feel the safety that I get to feel everyday. Makes my problem not so big.

2.)  Gratitude.  Another of my April's Upwords is "It is impossible to feel down when you are being grateful" (a whole other blog!).  I always have something, many things to be thankful for.  It is so important to think about what you have and truly appreciate that you have it.  My family is healthy, my marriage is terrific...I'm here, I'm breathing and I am building a future.  If today is a downer, think about what you get to do tomorrow. Did your car break down?  Well, be thankful you even have a car and make a plan to  get a better one.  Really believe in what comes next and how you deserve to receive it.  Open yourself to gratitude and open the possibilities to a brighter future. Make a plan for what you want,  take that first step to get there, and then be grateful for the ability to make that plan.

3.)  Go with what you know.  Knowledge is power.  I will say it so many times on this blog you will be sick of reading it.  Know the decisions you are making for yourself are beneficial.  If they aren't, than know it is time to change them.  Learn. Know. Do.  If you are having a lousy time of it, you must know that you will get out of it. If you aren't yet sure of a solution, you must know you will do what it takes to find it. Don't forget how smart you are, how capable you are.  Look for resources.  Find a way.  Be empowered by knowing.

If today is a drag, act on tomorrow.  Perspective. Gratitude. Knowledge.  This is how I clear my dark clouds...and if I can, I throw in a latte and a litle dark chocolate...



Tuesday, June 1, 2010

April's Upwords: Go! Be that person you've always wanted to be...

Go! Be that person you've always wanted to be.

What are you waiting for?  The truth is, you will never reach the goal, the idea, the LIFE you are dying to get to if you don't act on it today.  Today.  Even if you don't know exactly what it is you are seeking, at the very least, start thinking about it. Thinking is an action and one action leads to another and another.

Get out a piece of paper and start writing stuff down.  Do you want a different job?  Better relationships?  A more profitable or fulfilling day to day existence? A healthier lifestyle?  What do you want your life to be like?
Write down everything that pops into your head.  Don't judge yourself, just write.  You want to be rich?  Write it down.  You want to be popular?  Write it. You want to start a non-profit to save baby seals?  Write it down.

Once you see ideas on paper, they will talk back to you.  Something will stir as you look over them again and again and the choice will become clear.  It is amazing how you will start to be drawn to one particular idea.  If your goal is vague, start thinking about it more specifically. What EXACTLY are you looking for at the heart of your ambition?  It may take a few days of looking at that paper.  Keep looking, keep thinking.

Once you have a goal, figure out the steps you need to take to reach it.  Even if they are baby steps, the important thing is to stay in action, keep moving yourself forward.  For example:  Let's say you want to be a brain surgeon, but you haven't even gone to college, you have a house full of kids and a meager income(there will be plenty of naysayers who say you "can't", don't listen to them!).  Your first step might be to get your hands on a catalog from a community college near you.  Catalogs and handbooks are usually less than five dollars, or available at your local library.  Look up counselor info, child care info, financial aid info.  Start thinking about yourself enrolled in a program.  Begin to see yourself succeeding in a classroom, snuggled up on your couch at home after the kids go to bed, doing homework.  See yourself as a surgeon from day 1.  Step two, make the call to schedule an appointment with a counselor and let them walk you through it.

Baby steps.  A catalog.  A phone call.  An appointment.  A brain surgeon in the making.

Don't be afraid to go after what you want.  You have a brain, you are smart, you can do or be anything.  Go!  Be that person you've always wanted to be.  What are you waiting for?

Note:  I would love to give credit to the artist of the above image, but can't find any info online...it is beautiful!