Make Minor Adjustments in Your Life to Create a Major Impact



Start with a Vacation

Every time I return home from a vacation, I have an urge to make some adjustments—something small to change things up in my life. The down-time away from home allows me to think about what’s happening to me and around me.

A Change in My Routine

In 2010, my mother checked into the hospital for a surgery. What was supposed to be a one-week stay turned into a five-month nightmare. While I had been driving to work for many years, commuting 35 kilometres each way every day, I found myself driving even more. I detoured to the hospital almost daily and also drove there on the weekends. Then when I took my first trip to China around the time my mother finally went home, I spent two weeks almost worry-free. After lots of naval-gazing, I decided that when I returned home, I would stop driving to work. I began to ride the train instead, and I used the commute time to read, write or chat. I’ll bet these rides now provide more therapeutic relief than any psycho-analytic couch.

A Significant Step

During the past few years, I had been toying with the idea of winding down from the corporate world to spend more time doing what I love. After much soul searching and number crunching, and after another vacation late last year, I decided to drop one day from my full-time job in March. I’m now writing another book…make that two. I started writing the sequel to Picture Bride a few months ago, and I’m one quarter of the way into an e-book that I will give away on my website. I might even write a series of Kindle books…maybe I need another vacation to give me the impetus to take that on.

A Word of Advice if I May

Use your vacation time to relax and let your mind take you in any and every direction. When you let yourself go, you just never know where you’ll end up. I highly recommend bringing home one little tweak to your routine to spice things up a bit. You don’t need to shift gears as much as I did in my examples above. I’ve tried to adopt a minor change each time I came home from a holiday. Some lasted and some got lost in the sea of tasks that greeted me as soon as I stepped inside the office. Just add or subtract something that makes you feel good.

And Finally…

The key is to aim for those little adjustments; they might accumulate into a big and rewarding lifestyle shift.

Only as Good as Your Word – Susan Shapiro

Only as Good as Your Word: Writing Lessons from My Favorite Literary GurusOnly as Good as Your Word: Writing Lessons from My Favorite Literary Gurus by Susan Shapiro

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The best thing about Susan Shapiro’s memoir is that she’s brutally honest. She hooked me at the Introduction and then she kept reeling me in.

Shapiro recounts her relationships with seven mentors who helped her in her quest to a becoming a professional writer. I believe she gave as much, or more than she received from them. She adored and celebrated them.

Jack Zucker, Shapiro’s high school English teacher, stoked her love for poetry. Then Howard Fast, her best-selling author cousin challenged her to “Write a whole book already!” As a self-confessed psychoanalytical fiend, she was more interested in writing poetries and personal essays during her early career. Now she has eight books to her credit.

The other mentors, both men and women, are from her various literary circles. She regards them as friends even while she acknowledges their roles in helping shape her professionally. Her candid accounts of her relationships with these people are witty and humorous.

Ms. Shapiro’s generosity and kindness shine through her book. I, a total stranger, had the pleasure of being on the receiving end when I met her at a conference. She is genuine and sincere; her memoir reflects that too.

This book is a keeper.

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Three Things I Learned From How to Market a Book by Joanna Penn

Why do we buy self-help books?

I don’t know about you, but I buy them when I’m itching to learn something new or to fill a void, perceived or otherwise, that I’m feeling. Then when I read a book that teaches me a useful tool or two, I can’t shut up. My friends and colleagues will hear about it and my family too. So why not write about it too?

Joanna Penn, the author of How to Market a Book has a prolific web presence. Find her on She’s a credible teacher in the niche she’s chosen: helping writers publish and market their books.

What I learned from the book:

  1. When you’re marketing yourself, you can’t be self- conscious.

Joanna Penn says that we write because we either want to help people and make them think or to entertain them. Thus the end product is for the customer. If marketing is about the customer, then feeling self-conscious means I’m focusing on myself. So I’m learning to get over this troublesome and inhibiting naval-gazing.

  1. What is social karma?

Social karma is all about giving and sharing on the internet. Don’t hold back your compliments if you like something you saw or read. Be a giver, not a taker—that’s also my life philosophy. Good karma goes around when you generate positive vibes. Joanna Penn’s generosity comes across as genuine; it permeates her book. She provides many useful links and resources that I’ve clicked. I’ve even bookmarked some of them for future reference.

  1. The Importance of public speaking as an author.

Authors need to learn to be good public speakers. I get that. But, “Being a professional speaker makes you stand out in the crowded marketplace of authors.” This caught my attention. Yikes! I worry about bringing attention to myself. Do I have what it takes to stand in front of an audience and keep them engaged? I’ve chaired many meetings at work—that’s different because I know those people. I’ve even presented at a conference once, but my knees wouldn’t stop shaking. If I want to be a speaking author, then I’d have to tame the trembling inside pretty quick. Luckily, the internet provides lots of resources to help you learn any skill. Joanna Penn shared this link about introverts.

In closing, the book is well-written, readable, and the tips provided can be easily implemented if you wish to do so. Two thumbs up for How to Market a Book.