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Friday, March 30, 2012

Today's Guest Blog by Melanie Bowen;"Journaling to a Happier Life"

Today's guest blog post encompasses the idea and importance of inspiration and self-motivation. Every illness has its limitations, goals and positivity go hand in hand on an individual’s path to healing and quality of life. This article is tailored  to encompass those ideas.

For more information - see the: Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance blog [

To Health and Making a Difference!

Journaling to a Happier Life

As children, many people kept a journal; mostly girls. Girls are notorious for keeping a journal so they can write down their crush’s name, doodle their name with their crush’s last name and imagine their future together. It’s a great way for young girls to let out their emotions when the cool girl is mean to her at school or when her crush looks her way and makes eye contact during a math lesson. Over time, many young girls use their journals and diaries less frequently, until they eventually become adults and forget they ever kept one. Then one day, a woman may find the journal she kept as a young girl and find herself smiling as she re-reads her youthful words and relives her youthful emotions. She will instantly feel lighter, better and wish for a time when life was less complicated and less emotional.

As adults, few people actually keep a journal. However, much like it helped when people were younger, keeping a journal as an adult is a great way for men and women to relieve their emotions during times of extreme happiness and extreme sadness, such as when they are diagnosed with a form of cancer called mesothelioma. Their prognosis depends on their acceptance of treatment and their ability to handle this difficult and stressful situation. Doctors are firm believers that keeping a journal throughout the process of a cancer diagnosis is a great way for patients to relieve their stress and let go of their emotions in a healthy, proactive manner. Each day, cancer patients should write down a few words about their day. They can simply write that it was a good day or that it was a bad day and they can write down how they felt about that. They don’t need to write pages and pages of their feelings. Even just writing down that the day was really good because they bought a new pair of shoes will help them to feel good about themselves. Additionally, writing that it was a bad day will help them to let go of what was angering them and move on from there.

Something else that is helpful to cancer patients is to make a list of their goals and write it in their journal. This list of goals that they wish to accomplish in their life will serve as a constant, tangible reminder that they have things to do when they are diagnosed as cancer free after their treatments. This list is a great way for them to motivate themselves on particularly rough days; it serves as a reminder that maybe this day wasn’t a good one, but that life is going to be full of great days. Seeing their goals on paper will help them to picture themselves accomplishing them and will provide them with the motivation they need to do so. There is life after cancer; and it is a good one. Cancer will teach people to embrace the good, let go of the bad and to live.

Healthy Candy? (pinch me - I'm dreaming)

I just had the most amazing experience with Cheri from Howard Dental Center! She had given me some samples a while back of candy that was actually good for my kids (I didn't tell them that, of course), and today she took the time to explain even more to me. I couldn't possibly do it justice, so I'll share with you a link to the Howard Dental site: and to the site that invented and markets the healthy candy:

So...dark chocolate is good for me, coffee is good for me, and NOW candy too! pinch me, I'm dreaming!!!

May your paths be abundantly filled with lemons, healthy candy, sugar, and sunshine!!!


Tempered With a Bit of Rain

Today's Quote on the Relax Consulting website ( is: "I'd rather be wistful and poetic than sleek or gorgeous any day!" ~Crystal Here's where this quote came from, and for those of you are wistful, poetic, sleek, AND gorgeous...WOW! (I hope you're nice too) You've really got it going on! For the rest of us, it would seem that society prefer us to be sleek and gorgeous instead of wistful and poetic. If you disagree, let me know the last time Oprah or Maya Angelou appeared on the cover of Payboy, Cosmopolitan, or Vogue.

Here's why I chose wistful - it means to be thoughtful and wishful with a touch of sorrow. The touch of sorrow is important - how you can you be joyful if you don't know sorrow? We couldn't have Easter morning without Good Friday, could we? (and for those of you who follow the universe - you couldn't have Earth and the lovely planets/stars without the explosion that cause it...if I understand all that correctly...could you?) To be joyful all the time would be ignorant - I like the thought of being wistful instead. You are motivated, joyful, with just a touch of thoughtful sorrow. have words that flow, words that are carefully chosen, and words that are a melody to the ears and souls of others...yup, that's what I want!

Maybe it's because I'm not sleek and gorgeous - or maybe it's because I've been to too many nursing homes and funerals and I know that sleek turns into sag and gorgeous turns into gray hair and honestly, isn't beauty in the eye of the beholder?

Poetic words will touch ones soul and live on forever - looks will fade - and with that...

I wish for you dear friends that your paths are abundantly filled with lemons, sugar, and sunshine...but tempered with a bit of rain to make the flowers grow!


Thursday, March 29, 2012

Win a Copy of: Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua

Don't forget to comment on the blog post titled: Are You Can't-Ing Yourself to Failure for a chance to win the fabulous book by Amy Chua: Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother (contest ends at midnight Saturday - central time)

pictures of shopping local

the proof is in the pudding as they say...but in this case it's in the picture.
See all the great finds - Fun Spring shoes from Schroeder's, a delightfully yummy candle and art work from the Honey Pot, and a purse from Molly's Closet.

And all this for less than $100 - I love shopping when it doesn't break the bank!

If you like to shop and love a good deal!

I've been asked several times during the last few days about where I shop - this girl is flattered and humbled, and happy to share the wealth. I like to shop and love a good deal, and I hardly ever go out of town and yet my closets and drawers are filled with great finds. I'll tell you some of my favorite shops and a story about each.

The Honey Pot (Candles, Gifts, Books, Decorations & More) - This is a happy store with great customer service and fabulously happy merchandise. I just stopped for an hour and they serve coffee which is heavenly, but I also bought artwork for my office and a Yankee candle. A bag full of happiness for around $50 - AND the staff is fabulous! You'll find the lovely owner, Cindy, right there brewing coffee, stocking shelves, and helping customers. They even have a selection of chocolate and a room filled with high quality children's toys and baby shower gifts.

Schroeder's Department Store - Coffee and Clothing all under one roof - Check out Schroeder's Department store and Red Bank Coffee shop ( You'll find me here most mornings enjoying a latte', a bagel, and some great local company. I've also found some amazing Keen shoes, scarves, jewelry, blouses, and outfits - they have fabulous men's and women's clothing!

Molly's Closet - Tracy Ruether owns a shop in downtown Two Rivers called Molly's Closet. You can stop there and find D&B bags with the tags on, a lovely floral Kate Spade bag, jewelry, clothes and more! She had clothes for slender bodies and clothes for curvy bodies. I leave there with 3-4 bags each trip and spend no more than $100. Last time I found jewelry, a swimsuit, shoes, and some fun spring tops. If you prefer cleaning out your closet to shopping, this is also the place for you as you can bring in items to sell on consignment. Here's the scoop on her business: 1810 Washington St. Two Rivers, WI 54241 920-793-1415.

These are three of my most favorite local stores - if you'd like additional information about shopping local, let me know. I could write a separate blog about Door County and the fabulous culture and opportunities that area offers to shoppers too!

May your paths be abundantly filled with lemons, sugar, and sunshine!


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

No Rules Here?

Today's blog post is inspired by the Susan Howatch quote: "One wonders what would happen in a society in which there were no rules to break. Doubtless everyone would quickly die of boredom."

Your children likely think you have too many rules, sometimes you think that the government has too many rules, and from time to time the thought crosses your mind about the rules in the workplace too. Society itself didn't start with rules. In fact, there were people roaming the Earth before the Ten Commandments even came into play. And if you're the religious sort, you know the only rule for Adam and Eve was not to eat the apple off that tree...and that single rule was apparently one to many as the story goes. Needless to say, we aren't the first people to think there are too many rules.

If we threw away all the rules, Howatch thinks we would be bored...but my concern is we would lose our creativity. Bending the rules helps us think outside the box. Challenging authority is how many new ideas came about and it is how we grow and develop. It's only 10:30 in the morning my time and I'm doing a quick review of the rules I've already followed:

-Make your bed before leaving the house
-Brush your teeth
-Eat breakfast
-Take your vitamins
-Buckle up those kids
-Drop Carmen off at school by 8:15
-Don't drive faster than 25 mph
-Stop and pay taxes before they're late
-Get your business permit
-Stop at the stop sign
-Yield for the yellow light
-Say please and thank you at the coffee shop
-Hold the door for the nice lady

And the list goes on and on...some of these rules are sillier than others. We all understand the importance of wearing a seat belt but others may think it a waste of time to make the bed before leaving the house. Regardless, these are rules that I follow either out of courtesy, tradition, law, or just for good measure or safety.

Think about the rules you follow or enforce each day; especially if you are a manager, leader, or if you own a company. How did the rule come about? Was the rule made years ago because you had an employee or teammate who had an issue or problem and now it is being enforced out of tradition or habit? Do you have too many rules? Too few rules? Rules that aren't pertinent anymore? Rules that encourage people to break them (ie: silly rules)? If all of your rules are fabulous, wonderful, and necessary...does everyone on the team know about the rules and have they been explained in a way that makes sense to the majority? This is the key to successful rule following.

If you have a rule about eating at a company work station, have you explained to the team the benefit of following the rule? Ie: We do not allow eating at your work station because of the potential for a mess, and since you are on the phone all day, we wouldn't want customers hearing any chomping or chewing since it's unprofessional. If you are going to drink at your desk, please use a covered container to avoid spills that would ruin the company equipment and technology. This explanation helps the team to know what the rule is, why the rule is important, but there's something's the cause and effect factor. Let your team know what happens if the rule is broken. If we find someone drinking without a cover, they would be required to ____________ for the first offense and after the 2nd offense, the punishment would be: _________.

As humans we like to challenge authority and rules, it helps to know what the consequences of our actions will be. Then we can weigh the consequences with our desire to break the rule. The best example of this is the traffic law - the speed limit. I know the speed limit, because it's clearly shown on signs around town. I also know that following the speed limit is important for my safety and the safety of others. However, today I was running late - so my mind quickly analyzed the situation and here's the conversation that took place in a few seconds in my head: If you drive 32 MPH instead of 25, you'll be able to get there on time, and chances are you won't get pulled over...but if you do, the ticket wouldn't be too bad and you haven't had one in a while, so the points shouldn't be an issue, and your insurance company probably wouldn't drop you, but it might be easier to apologize for being late than to pay all the penalties, and if you get pulled over you'll be even later, and it's a small town so you'd be embarrassed and get a bad reputation with the police. You better just go 25 MPH and hope for the best.

In the scenario above, had I not known about points, the balance in my bank account, or the insurance cost I might have chosen to this is a great example of why consequences play a key part in rule making and enforcing. Take a look at the rules you have in your home and see if you could be doing a better job explaining the importance of the rule, the consequences, etc... and you might even find that you have too many or too few rules. The number of rules doesn't matter, but they should be meaningful whether in your home or work environment.

May your paths be abundantly filled with lemons, sugar, and sunshine (and a few rules sprinkled in here and there for good measure)!


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Go Fly a Yellow Kite

Go Fly a Yellow Kite!

Of course a yellow kite, the color of lemons, the color of change and opportunity! Go fly your yellow kite while wearing your yellow jacket and yellow cap.

In the words of Lauren Bacall: "Imagination is the highest kite one can fly." So yes - go fly that kite and let your imagination soar, let your dreams be your guide and don't let anything stand in your way!

If you never fly that kite, you'll never know what might have been and you'll find yourself wondering who you might be if you had only taken a chance.

Sounds like a great idea in theory, right? If you aren't quite sure where to begin, start by letting your imagination run wild. Some of these sentence starters may help if your imagination hasn't been tapped for a while:

-If I had all the money in the world, I would:______________________________ (ie: travel to Africa to help the poor)

-If I could have any job, I would want to work for:_______________ doing:___________________ (ie: Starbucks in the marketing department)

-I dream of living in:__________________________________ (ie: Switzerland, a 3,500 square foot bungalo, etc...)

Now, you probably have a better idea of where your imagination would like you to be. It's time to do your homework. Let's use the travel to Africa idea...

You may not have enough money to quit your job, sell your home, and move to Africa, but you certainly can travel to Africa and do your part to help. Sit down at your computer or go to your local library and found out about all the not for profit organizations that are active in Africa. Find out what sorts of assistance they need. You may be in a position to donate a small amount each month to help a child, or you could help at the local level accepting donations and putting together care packages, and then next year you could volunteer as a missionary to go to Africa for a week, then the next year, two weeks, etc...

If your dream house is in Switzerland, find out how much a modest home is and start saving. You'll find it easier to save if you have a vision of what is to come. You may find yourself visiting Switzerland each year building relationships with the folks in the village you wish to retire in, and once you've retired, you will have hopefully saved up enough to move there or spend at least part of the year living your dream.

It's way to easy to say: "it can't be done"...know what you want, learn what you need to do to accomplish your dreams, and then go for it! Falling down half-way through the race is a lot better than not even showing up on race day.

Now get out there with those lemons, sugar, and sunshine and let your imagination run wild!


Are You Can't-ing Yourself to Failure?

Are You Can’t-ing Yourself to Failure?
Are you can’t-ing yourself into failure? We all have those moments. I was looking at area job listings this morning and saw a position that would be fun and challenging. I moved the mouse to apply, and a little voice inside my head said – “you can’t apply, you don’t meet all the qualification”. The little voice was right; I listened, and moved on down the list…

I let the little voice win, and now it’s a self-fulfilling prophesy…I can’t get that job…because I wouldn’t put myself out there and even try. Why didn’t I try? Why didn’t I let the employer make the decision that I was under qualified? Why did I force myself to fail? Don’t I know better than that? After all, I’m the one who wrote the blog about rehabilitation for killer phrases ( ) and here I am Can’t-ing myself into failure. What’s worse, here it is hours later and I’m still upset with myself.

It’s not always easy to follow your own instructions – and sometimes our fear of failure holds us back. Instead of telling myself I cannot do something, I should be telling myself that this is an opportunity to really put myself out there, stretch my limits, and see what happens. The worst thing that can happen is I don’t get the phone call for an interview, right? That’s not going to kill me…

Take a moment to comment and tell us about a chance you didn’t take or an opportunity you missed because you were too busy can’t-ing yourself. One comment will win a hard cover copy of the book: ”Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother” by Amy Chua. (a fabulous book about being humbled)

Monday, March 26, 2012

A Different Sort of List

We have lists for grocery shopping, bucket lists, to do lists, and probably lists of things that we never intend on doing...maybe not on paper, but you probably have an idea in your mind of about 5-10 things you would never attempt doing. The "I would rather have a tonsilectomy than do that" list...Consider making a different sort of list. Name it something inspirational, and write down at least five things you love to do that don't cost much money and you can do within a 10-20 mile radius of your home or office.

I have a list and I call it 'Ignition'. This list contains the things that ignite a fire within me. They are things I can do on those days that I'm just not feeling it. I keep Ignition in the drawer next to the bed, so on days that I  would be happy just rolling over or cuddling up with a good book - I can look at my list and light a first under my hinder. For me, the list includes:

-Thrift Shopping/Consignment Shopping
-Trip to LaDe Da Books & Beans (
-Walk on the Beach at Neshotah Park
-Trip to the Flying Pig (
-Bake Chocolate Chip Cookies

you get the point...there should be nothing on this list that costs more than $25 and it should not include anything you don't enjoy doing 110%. It's a great list to pull out on those days when you just aren't feeling motivated. Once you're feeling yourself again, then you can pull out those other lists and go grocery shopping, clean the house, weed the garden, etc... but if you just aren't feeling like your heart is in it, don't do it. It's important to know yourself well enough to say, I need to take time for myself - I need to regroup, refocus, and be the authentically happy person I know I can be. You do no one any good if you are just going through the motions of life but not truly enjoying the experience. Get engaged - Get ignited - and Get happy!

May your paths be abundantly filled with lemons, sugar, and sunshine!


Sunday, March 25, 2012

Redemption for the Wretched

Redemption for the Wretched
Section A Seat B-10 … score! I was up close and personal with the high school stars of my favorite theatre musicals: Les Miserables, by Victor Hugo. For those who are not familiar, Les Miserables is French and loosely translates to The Wretched Poor or The Victims. The main character is anything but a victim as the story unfolds, our hero goes from being a convict on the run to a successful business man, nurturing step-father, war hero, and ultimately the story takes us to his final breaths shortly after the marriage of his beloved Cosette to Marius, her beloved. The production was done expertly and the music was right on. As a pianist myself, I’m a tough sell when it comes to the arrangements, and they were excellent! I highly recommend reading the book or experiencing the musical theatre adaptation for yourself – you will not be disappointed.
As I experienced Les Miserables again this weekend I could not help but think about the lessons or parables being told throughout the story and the concept of being forgiven and then forgiving others and merciful to them. The unearned, unexpected, unrequested mercy of a stranger doesn’t have to be anything huge. In the story, the convict stole gold and silver candle holders from a priest who told authorities he had given them to him as a gift and he then told the convict to use this gift to get right with God and become an honest man. Though it is unlikely that something like that would happen to any of us tomorrow, it is likely that a stranger may let us go in front of them in line at the grocery store, may wave us forward from a four-way stop, might tell us to keep the change when purchasing coffee, or the vehicle in front of us at Starbucks may cover our bill as well as their own.
We are all wretched in one way or another. We’ve said something we shouldn’t have, done something we regret, treated someone unfairly, not taken the time to be patient, etc…and yet we are shown redemption every day. Maybe not in the spiritual sense of being rescued from evil, but in the sense of being rescued from something. Instead of being late to drop your children off at school, the nice person who let you go at the four way stop saved you from being frustrated and late. Instead of being short the $4.32 your spouse needs for the paper delivery person (because you spent it at Starbucks), you still have it in your purse because of the courtesy of a stranger.
These are small things and small examples, but it just got me to thinking that we don’t have to look for something big. I’m not waiting for someone to rescue me from a burning building, and sometimes just a smile from a stranger feels even better. You can’t put a price tag on that feeling. When you know that you don’t deserve anything, kindness feels like a million dollars. I’m going to remember this as I venture out this week. I want to be more patient, kind, and I want to remember that a smile is priceless.
May your paths be filled with an abundance of lemons, sugar, and sunshine!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Fountain of Youth

Today's Quote at Relax Consulting comes from the lovely Sophia Loren. If you haven't visited our site ( ) to catch the quote of the day, here it is: "There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will have truly defeated age."

Tomorrow marks the 18 year anniversary of when my father passed away. March 24, 1994 was one of the most painful days of my life and at the age of 16, it was the most painful event I had to endure to date in my lifetime. This quote reminds me of my father's life, which makes it easier to acknowledge the day of his death. Andre Casavant was an amazing man in my eyes, and many who knew him would agree. I wouldn't go so far as to say that he was perfect, although at 16, I sure thought so. He really did find the illusive fountain of youth, because of the things that he left behind. His mind, his talents, and his creativity - the way he touched the lives of is these things, his legacy, that transcends all space and time.

Andre was a man who was born into poverty to a family of hard working immigrants. He was one of six children being raised during the heart of the great depression. Neither of his parents were educated or spoke much English at all. His family struggled with illness from the moment Andre was born. He was always sickly and much of the family's resources (when they had them) were spent trying to keep little Andre alive. By the time he was in high school, his father and two of his siblings had passed away. His mother died shortly thereafter. The two oldest sons went off to fight in WWII leaving Andre and his little sister to fend for themselves.

Andre and his sister were determined to make the best of a touch situation. They each had a job (sometimes two of them) and they managed to afford modest housing and both continued in school and made it to graduation. After graduation, Andre secured himself a job at a local factory where he worked tireless until a few weeks before he died. He worked overtime when it was available, was laid off with the rest of the union at times, and he called in sick only a handful of times in his very lengthy career. This was particularly unusual considering that he was chronically ill with a lung condition (1/2 of each of his lungs were removed - and NO, he never smokes) and was diagnosed with cancer in the late 80's.

Andre's body has been gone from this earth for far too long, but his legacy lives on. He never had it easy, but he always smiled and one would have thought that he had millions in the bank. He looked forward to every morning, every bird at the bird feeder, and every star in the evening sky. He was a man who took nothing for granted. He said "the world owes you nothing punkin, it's your job to work hard". He talked about the importance of a good work ethic, but he also led by example and showed me that no matter how tough you feel, you get out of bed and get to work - "there are people counting on me" is what he would say as he grabbed his lunchbox and his coffee and headed out the door before the sun had even come up each day.

He taught me to love unconditionally and how to trust people. He said "the world may think trust is earned, but I trust people until they give me a reason not to". He also taught me to never go to bed mad, and I grew up in a home where you respected people, possessions, and nature. A kiss and a hug were mandatory before leaving the house and every time you come home, you better be ready to show your family how much you love them with your words, your body language, and your smile. Andre was also the kind of man who made sure the bird feeders were full and that even the smallest most fragile animals were nurtured. He was patient and kind and would sit for hours rattling a peanut in hopes of attracting a chipmunk or squirrel to the back porch. He was kind to strangers and little children and had a twinkle in his eye that caused an immediate smile - even from strangers.

My Father has never had a chance to meet my children, but they know exactly who he was and what he stood for. They've heard every story about how he loved his family above all else. They can show you the tree at the beach that he sat beneath when he took me swimming as a youngster, they say "love you grandpa" as we pass the cemetery where he is buried (beside his own loving mother). My son says "I miss Grandpa Andre" even though he has never met him. His legacy lives on because of the amazing way he lived his life. He wasn't exceptionally smart or talented, but he knew how to love with all his heart and he knew how to trust people and find the good in others. Andre Casavant really did find the fountain of youth that so many have sought for so long. It's really not as far away as people think - we each have a fountain of youth within us, tap into that and you too can defeat age.

And as for me - my paths are abundantly filled with lemons, sugar, and sunshine - because I know I do not walk those paths alone, I walk them hand in hand with my loving father who promised me that he would always be there when I needed him and that I could talk to him any time - he knew that his love and his legacy would transcend all space and time. I only hope mine can do the same - those are some big shoes to fill.


Thursday, March 22, 2012

I'll Be Anais Nin

I’ll Be Anais Nin
My first introduction to Anais Nin came with the debut of Jewel’s album ‘Pieces of You’ in 1995. I was graduating that year and the songs played on popular radio stations seemed more important than anything else and still bring me back to a different place and time. On Jewel’s debut album was a song titled ‘Morning Song’ which included the lyrics: You can be Henry Miller and I’ll be Anais Nin. I didn’t know who they were, but the song was catchy and it was obvious that they were lovers. I was still only seventeen the year I graduated and lonely, so the thought of having a lover or boyfriend truly appealed to me.

I researched who Henry Miller and Anais Nin were and was shocked to find out that they were writers who carried on a literary love affair for nearly twenty years. I kept reading, and learned that their passionate love letters led way to a physical love affair in the 30’s and a love triangle that included Henry’s second wife, June Miller. This love triangle was the basis for the 1992 film ‘Henry & June’. Who would have thought that these type of scandals preceded MTV and cable television? My mother had it all wrong… The love letters between Henry and Anais can also be found in the published work titled: A Literate Passion.

Anais Nin was born in 1903 just outside of Paris. He mother was French-Danish and her father was a Spanish composer who abandoned his family when Anais was just 11. Her mother took Anais and her two brothers and sailed for America (New York to be specific). Anais was known for more than her affair with Henry Miller, she is best known for her diaries, but also wrote novels, poetry, and erotic short stories. Her powerful imagery set her apart from other authors of her time. Her writing began during the journey to America and most of her works were not published until after her death in 1977.

Anais married Hugo Guiler in 1923 and a year later moved to 1924; his career in international banking provided them a comfortable lifestyle and Anais had an opportunity to live on a houseboat on the Seine for a time while they lived in Paris. They moved back to New York right before the outbreak of World War II.
Anais was truly a woman before her time and a cult figure of the early feminist movement. Her writings are poetic, positive, and her words taste smooth, like a buttery chardonnay, well-aged and a flavor that lingers. If you haven’t already headed to the bookstore, here is an irresistible taste of her writings taken from A Literate Passion - I love when you say all that happens is good, it is good. I say all that happens is wonderful. For me it is all symphonic, and I am so aroused by living - God, Henry, in you alone I have found the same swelling of enthusiasm, the same quick rising of the blood, the fullness…

Preserving Lemons

This blog is about a lemons to lemonade success story about losing focus and finding a dream. Today's post came purely by accident and for those of you truly interested in learning more about preserving actual lemons, this article may help you:

For me, preserving lemons is a way of respecting and learning from those moments where you thought you had failed or times you had to change course. You've heard the age old saying "forgive and forget" or "don't sweat the small stuff" right? Well...your lemony moment is the moment that brings about change and like it or not, it happened. I don't think you should forget about it and I do think you should sweat even the small stuff. This is not about carrying a grudge or having a pity party. It's about going through life with your eyes wide open. Having a great positive attitude and turning a lemon into lemonade is fabulous...but trying to forget that you have the lemon will never provide you with the lemonade...get it? Even when you've got the lemonade in hand, there's still some part of the lemon laying behind on the counter.

To become successful is fabulous, but to remember your humble beginnings by preserving lemons is important for being your authentic self. If you forget where you came from and don't admit to those lemony moments, those traits that others find so appealing about you (your humility, your courage, your empathy) will also fall by the wayside. You may find new friends, you may continue to enjoy overflowing glasses of lemonade, but there's always the chance that the next time you go to the grocery store, they'll be out of lemons. It sure would be nice to have some preserved and waiting for you in the fridge.

In other words - remember those moments when you were at your worst. Respect them, learn from them, (and of course I recommend a few journal entries about them), and look back on them often. They'll help you stay on course for a bright future filled with an abundance of lemonade and success!

May your path be abundant with lemons, sugar, and sunshine!


Are You Happy?

At Relax Consulting (, we choose a motivation quote each morning and it's the mantra for the day. We post it to our website and share it with friends and associates via our social networks and keep I keep it on a post it note on the side of my monitor so it is the focus for the day. Today's quote comes from Anne Frank - "Whoever is happy will make others happy too." Pretty optimistic for someone who was fighting for her life and hiding from the Nazi's during the Second World War. Cooped up in the Annex and hiding but yet thinking about the happiness of others. Putting things into perspective that way makes it a little easier to smile at the person who cut you off in traffic, stole your parking spot, etc...

If it makes them happy, it makes me happy, and happiness is...PRICELESS!

May your path be abundantly filled with lemons, sugar, and sunshine!


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Feeling Respected At Work

Stan Slap is one of my favorite authors (not to mention a really great guy!)

He was looking for stories about different work scenarios, situations, environments, etc...and if you submitted a 200+ word story, you could win an autographed copy of his book, etc...

There were several different categories you could choose to write about and the category I chose was about a time you were either respected or disrespected at work. Here is the story I shared:

Feeling respected by your co-workers is important, feeling respected by your boss is critical to your success and longevity with a company. I was fortunate enough to spend a decade of my professional career working for a company that really "got" the importance of respect. Their Mission statement included a statement about helping employees learn and grow so they would be successful and respected. The owner of the company introduced his staff (at all levels) as teammates. A stranger would never have known that he was the owner and the rest of us were beneath him on the corporate hierarchical ladder. My favorite example was a time when the owner I've described above, was on his way home from work and he passed a lemonade stand. He knew the lemonade stand was in front of one of his employee's homes and that her eight year old daughter was expressing her entrepreneurial tendencies. He pulled over, purchased a cup of lemonade for himself and his two daughters. While he was paying, he asked the young girl if her mother was Angela who worked at Americollect. The girl said yes, that's my mommy - to which he gracefully responded: oh, I work with her, she's a nice lady and you're lucky to have such a good mommy. The young girl thanked him and he drove off. Now that's a classy man!

If your company believes in a team concept and your managers do not rule by fear, you need to have mutual respect at all levels. That really comes from the top and trickles down. You cannot tell teammates to respect one another, openly accept feedback, and help one another grow and then walk around the office like (pardon my French) your crap doesn’t stink! The company I worked for encouraged even the newest employee to give feedback to anyone within the organization – including the owner. Training sessions were provided to instruct the team how to give feedback – and to make sure that it was well intended (otherwise it’s not feedback, it’s just bad manners).

I am now starting a company of my own and I feel truly fortunate to have had the experience I did. It makes me a better person, and when I’m ready for staff of my own, I am confident that I will be an amazing leader…and if I’m half the leader my previous boss was, I’ll consider myself a success!

What's a Prezi?

You know who you are and this blog is for you!

I was chatting with a friend over lunch today (sushi if you must know…I had a craving). This particular friend is also a small business owner and she is helping one of her clients with a PowerPoint presentation. I mentioned that a Prezi might be a better option in some situations…not all…my dear friend had never heard of a Prezi and I thought some of my readers may be in the same boat. So for her and for all of you, here’s what I have to say about the difference between a PowerPoint and a Prezi.

·         *Prezi is web-based, so even if you don’t have the latest and greatest version of Microsoft products, you can still access Prezi

·         *A Prezi can be helpful if you are presenting at a location where you have WIFI but do not have your own computer (no compatibility problems between how you wrote the powerpoint and the type of software on the presentation machine)

·        * A Prezi can be saved to be available offline or on a portable storage device

·        * Both Prezi and Powerpoint are IPAD friendly

·         *PowerPoint has more transition effects and options

·         *PowerPoint has presenter notes and Prezi does not

·         *Prezi can sometimes move a little fast…I get the ‘riding in a bus’ feeling going on

·         *You can insert a PDF into a Prezi but cannot in a Powerpoint

To play around with Prezi, create an account on their website: (you can even sign up with Facebook if you’d like) – even before you sign up, you can view Prezi’s that are sthetically pleasing (bottom of the first page of the site), this will give you an idea of what you can accomplish with this type of technology.
The best news is, you can start with a free account. Discussion forums and help on Twitter are also readily available.


May your paths be filled with an abundance of lemons, sugar, and sunshine!


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Why a Lemonade Attitude is a Must Have

First, I suppose we should talk about a Lemonade attitude and exactly what that is...I have to make you read back to the beginning and I assume only a small portion of you can read my mind. So, here's the scoop. I was raised by old fashioned parents who had a great work ethic, and who among other things wanted me to have a positive attitude. When I would complain, they would remind me that God gives me lemons so I can turn them into lemonade. 

I referred to myself as a lemon because when I started this blog I felt like I had I needed to find some sugar and sunshine and try to make myself into lemonade. Now I understand there was something even larger at work inside of me - the lemon isn't a symbol for failure, it really is a catalyst for change (cat·a·lyst/╦łkatl-ist/ Noun: A person or thing that precipitates an event.).  See now, why I say: bring on lemons? 

Today’s title is: Why a Lemonade Attitude is a Must Have, and I define a lemonade attitude as the attitude of realizing that change(a lemon) is necessary and positive if you want to achieve your desired outcome, but part of having a lemonade attitude is also acknowledging that a lemon doesn’t turn into lemonade if you do nothing. Work events are necessary for lemonade – you need sugar, water, ice-cubes, time, and if you want to fully enjoy lemonade…add some sunshine!

Keeping with today’s analogy:

Sugar = the people and events in our lives that move us forward

Water = perseverance, our own resistance to giving in and giving up

Ice Cubes = those little happenings that stop us in our track and make us re-evaluate and adjust our course ever so slightly if necessary to achieve our desired outcome

Sunshine = the rewards of our labors; the moments of laughter and joy along the path

So, to recap…you need a person or event that changes you, people to support you, a positive attitude and goals, check points along the way, and rewards. Seemingly simple, right? Not always simple, but ALWAYS worth the effort. A Lemonade attitude helps you see yourself as the valuable person you are, helps you value those around you, and reminds you that every step along the way carries with it a lesson and that sometimes the destination isn’t as important as the journey. 

A Lemonade attitude also reminds you to relax with that big glass of lemony happiness, and we can all use more time to Relax. (speaking of which, if you know someone who would benefit from a free consultation with me, send them to the Relax Consulting website – I promise it will be time well spent for all involved: )

May your paths be filled with lemons, sugar, and sunshine!


Your To Do List Makeover

Do you have a personal "to do" list and a professional "to do" list? A desktop calendar, a wall calendar, and a school calendar? Small slips of paper and reminder floating around your vehicle, briefcase, or purse? Giving your to do list a makeover might be just what you need to help make sure you don't miss any appointments ever again!

Sometimes it's hard to let go of paper, but streamlining your to do list, and your obligations/appointments takes some time initially, but can save you time and stress in the long run. This article was written assuming that you have some sort of online platform for scheduling (Outlook, Google Calendar, Zimbra, etc...). As soon as you receive your work schedule, take a few moments to input it into your online calendar, then you can add babysitter schedules, appointments, school schedules, your spouses schedule, etc... Use a color pattern to differentiate between schedules. For example, your son's schedule may appear in blue on the calendar, yours in green, doctors appointments in orange...and be consistent. If your scheduling platform is at your office, please consider the privacy events (ie: you may not want your co-workers knowing about your husbands vasectomy consult on the 23rd).

In addition to placing calendar items on your scheduling platform, you should also add 'to do' items. Use one color for personal tasks and one color for professional tasks. You know how long approximately how long it will take to edit that presentation. When you put it on your calendar, you may want to choose an available setting, since you aren't technically un-available, but that's up to you. Similarly, if you plan to grocery shop on Saturday afternoon and it usually takes you two hours, put it on your calendar from 2-4 or maybe 1:30-4 if you're grabbing a latte' on your way. Take those lists, scraps of paper, appointment cards, and calendars and make sure they are on your calendar. This way, you can look back (sort of like a diary or journal), but you'll also receive a reminder prior to the start time which will help any of you work-a-holics pause and better plan your day.

If you are also a smartphone user, you can choose to show that calendar on your phone which will pop up reminders prior to events. In most cases, you can set the desired reminder time. I happen to live in a small town and a 20 minute heads up is sufficient time for me to fix my hair and get across town in most cases, so I choose a 20 minute reminder window.

You may also want to use your scheduling platform to help you with goal planning. If my goal is to lose 10 pounds by a particular event, and I know I need to lose 3 pounds per month to hit my goal, I can create a check in for myself at the end of each month and again at the goal date. Most scheduling platforms will allow for recurring events and they allow you to schedule quite far into the future, so even your long range goal planning can become an online tool instead of a piece of paper in the bottom of your washing machine!

Hope you enjoyed your To Do List Makeover! Now...if only someone would come help with yardwork, right? (that's not a service we offer at Relax Consulting by the way...sorry

May your paths be filled with lemons, sugar, and sunshine!


Monday, March 19, 2012

Don't Beat Yourself - Surviving Divorce

A few years ago (2007 if you must know). Forbes published an article filled with tips for those going through a divorce. I included the link if you would like to read the article yourself. The article is titled :Tips for a Smarter Divorce. I just had a great conversation with a dear friend about divorces, and I just want to go on record saying that I did not do anything that was smart in my divorce. I went into my marriage twitterpated and blinded with love, and that's the same way I went out. No two people love the same or live the same, so don't expect your divorce to go just like the next door neighbors did. The main key to surviving divorce is not to beat yourself up.

If you aren't experiencing an emotional roller coaster, good for you. If you are, that's ok too. It's perfectly acceptable to be cursing about your soon to be ex one minute and then along comes a thought that brings tears to your eyes as you realize how much you are going to miss the way they did something. I received some advice while I was separated from my now ex-husband. Most of the advice came from those who were happily married after 20 plus years...and when I was sad, the advice sounded something like this: "you must still want to be with him", "you don't really want this divorce, do you dear?"

Of course I wanted the divorce and there was no way I wanted to be anywhere near this man I had so erroneously married. In their minds, that meant I shouldn't be sad at all. Now that I've survived the divorce, I can tell you why I was crying. I was crying because I had failed. I didn't care about him or our marriage, but I cared about the dream I had and how it was being shattered. We walked down the isle knowing that the divorce rate was 50% but we vowed to beat those odds and we truly thought we would be together forever. I was crying and teary because of the death of that dream, NOT because I still wanted to be Mrs. _______. In fact, at that point...the only death that would have brought me joy was his. (if your wondering how I could say that, good for you...but at that point, I truly hated my husband and if he didn't want to be my husband I would have preferred him to leave the planet...hopefully some of you can understand).

Well - whatever you're feeling: hate, sorrow, joy, elation, all of the's perfectly acceptable to feel that way. Don't expect your feelings to mirror any one else's and don't be surprised if those feelings change at the drop of a hat. I can tell you that I am a survivor of divorce. My divorce ruined me financially and oddly enough Mr. ______ would say the same thing. We drug our divorce on for so long that not even the Attorneys made any money. We were children and we childishly frittered away time and money in hopes of making the other party more miserable than we were.

Here's the happy ending: We survived, we thrived, and now we are friends. It doesn't work that well for everyone, but for us...we talk fairly regularly and even encourage one another and share pleasantries. It was an experience that helped make us each who we are today, even though all those years ago we thought it was the end of the world, it wasn't - it was simply a chapter of a long book. We can go back and read the chapter and learn from it, but ultimately, that one chapter didn't define the entire reading experience.

May your paths be filled with lemons, sugar, and sunshine!


What I Learned in Dixie

I've never been to Dixie, but I have learned a thing or two from the Dixie Chicks. This afternoon I was listening to Pandora and "I'm not Ready to Make Nice" came on (by the Dixie Chicks). This is in no way a plug for them or for Pandora...just setting the mood. I'm in my office, working on the Relax Consulting business plan, feeling a little dejected by some recent feedback, not particularly cheery and on comes the song. The part that caught my attention includes the following lyrics: I made my bed and I sleep like a baby With no regrets and I don’t mind sayin’...

I'm a firm believe in take what works for you and leave the rest. So for today, let's just focus on making our own beds, sleeping like babies, and not having any regrets. Sounds like a great plan, right? But how do you do it? In my mind, making our beds is deciding what we want and developing a path to get it (a path laden with goals). Then, in order to sleep like a baby, we have to work hard. And in order to have no regrets, we need to make sure that our actions are in alignment with our values.

It's not quite as lyrical to say: I know what I want and I've got goals, I work hard and live my values...but that's my it yours?

Find out more about setting goals, achieving them, fulfilling your dreams, and how Relax Consulting can help you along that path:

May your paths be filled with lemons, sugar, and sunshine!


How to Stop the Stick in a Lemony Situation

You're standing in line at the grocery store and the person behind you says something rude to their spouse. Someone cuts you off in traffic and nearly causes an accident with your new vehicle. You're pulling into a great parking spot on a rainy day and someone sneaks right in front of you and steals your spot. Your spouse asks 'are you really wearing that?'. We are faced with lemony situations every day (sometimes a dozen of them before breakfast). The key to turning each and every one of those lemons into lemonade is to stop the stick.

Here's what you might do if you want to get sticky in a lemony situation: (remember the events above, here is a sticky reaction to each one) -glare at the rude person behind you and let them know that you don't approve of their conversation. Beep your horn and cuss something foul as loud as you can. Flip them the bird and make sure they know you're unhappy. Say to your spouse 'why do you always treat me so crappy? you're such a jerk". It's our human nature to react this way. I say human nature, because my toddlers do it instinctively every time they are faced with a lemony situation. I hear a lot of "he did it first" and have to continually remind my children that we don't call one another 'nut crack heads'. This isn't learned behavior, it's what we see animals in the wild do. Animals don't have the ability to reason, and as humans don't take the time we should to reason before we react. This reacting causes us to take a lemony situation and get totally sticky to the point we are stuck.

The first step to stopping the stick is to take a deep breath. Add some oxygen to the situation and give yourself a moment to gain perspective and reason. The couple in the grocery store may have a dying child in intensive care and they are simply at their wits end with they aren't being patient with one another. The driver was probably late for the third time this week to pick up their spouse from work and the spouse is verbally abusive if things don't go their way. The driver didn't even see you because he/she had so much on their mind. The driver at the store possibly had a toddler in tow who was about to wet their pants if they didn't get into the store quickly. Your spouse possibly thinks you look amazing and was hoping you'd take off your outfit and have some snuggle time because they find you so attractive they can't keep their hands off you.

When you take a moment to think about the possibilities your reaction may not even be required. You may find yourself simply shrugging your shoulders and moving forward. We cannot change others, we cannot change situations, but we can change how we look at things. Call it sugar coating if you will, but in reality it takes some sugar to turn a lemon into lemonade, so go with it!

May your paths be filled with lemons, sugar, and sunshine!


Far Reaching Lemonade Lessons; Thank you!

Good morning! It's Monday morning and I'm still in shock. I cannot believe how many people are following the lemons to lemonade adventure of Crystal Casavant and Relax Consulting. I didn't think anyone would read what I was writing, but I gave it a shot because so many leaders encourage blogging, writing, websites, etc... as a way to share your stories, struggles, and victories. Here's why I'm so amazed (and keep in mind this is less than 2 weeks of blogging/writing/website): 437 view of the 'Bring on Lemons' blog:,  we've reached 375 on Facebook - 18 people are talking about us - we have 43 followers on our page:, 150 article views on Ezine:, 18 followers on Twitter:!/Relax_Consult, and 208 visitors on our Relax Consulting page:

I just want to say thank you to all those who have been encouraging - the future looks brighter because YOU are in it!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Why THIS Lemon?

Why does THIS Lemon think she's onto something with her own business? My perspective on things is different than most people. You'll find I ask a lot of questions and I like to think in the context of "now what?" "how can we solve that?" instead of: "something is wrong here". My philosophy on the world is that everyone is good and should be trusted until they give you a reason not to trust them. My Lemonade philosophy boils down to believing that anything is within reach and forcing that voice inside your head to tell you positive things. I've fallen down, risen up, fallen down personal path has not been at all perfect. After all, you need a BIG LEMON to make a big refreshing glass of oh so sweet lemonade. If life had never been bitter, how would I know to appreciate the sweet moments? I am the founder of Lemonade Lessons and win or fail, this path in life is mine. I surround myself with others whose life goal is to help others and partner with other professionals to form a support group of successful positive leaders. I've grown other people's companies and plan to use the same positive attitude to grow Relax Consulting and spread the word about the Lemon Philosophy through Lemon Lessons. There are those who will join me, those who will jeer, but in the end I'll have smiled, laughed, and loved - this will be my legacy!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Lemonade Philosophy - Lemonade Lessons

Here's a sneak peak into what I'm thinking. Relax Consulting is going to offer coaching and training - that's not new news...but what do you think about the following titles: "Lemonade Philosophy" and "Lemonade Lessons" The Lemonade Philosophy would be a philosophy about how a positive attitude can drive goals and ultimately lead to success. Lemonade Lessons would be a breakdown of the philosophy with exercises to help students become more positive. An audio program? A CD? An in-person training session?


This is what I'm pondering as I garden this weekend - your thoughts and ideas are welcomed!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Newly Published Works!

I am super excited! About a week ago I was talking to a friend about my passion for writing. She told me about Ezine Articles where authors can submit work, receive feedback, and become published. I'm not sure how to explain it exactly, but there are levels of accomplishment and a new author on Ezine should prepare themselves for some rejection (that's what she told me). I was ecstatic when my first article was published as written - no rejection, no improvements, it was simply published and they promoted me as an expert writer on the high traffic page. I was floored (because as you may know from previous posts, my confidence was a bit shaken lately).

I now have to tell you - multiply ecstatic by 1000% and that's where I am at today. I submitted 10 articles and had ALL 10 of them published as written! I am now being considered for Diamond Status (their highest level of achievement). And I am doing something I love! The only way this could get any better is if I could be getting paid to do it, but that will come in time too.

Here is a quick summary of each of the 10 articles and a link to each. if you are interested, please read...and if not, you know the old saying: take what you want and leave the rest.

An Arsenal of Clutter Combating Tools - (a review of the well written book 'Why Can't I Get Rid of This Clutter' by Sallie Felton)

Why Relax? (an article about why taking a break is a good thing and should not be viewed as lazy - it's constructive folks, I'm telling you!)

Rehab for Killer Phrases (an article about taking those negative thoughts and turning them into inspiration - 'YOU are good enough, smart enough, and gosh darn it, people like YOU!')

A Beautifully Musical Future Grows Among Turmoil (the story of a lemons to lemonade musician)

From High Risk Pregnancy to the High Life!&id=6929120 (my own personal lemons to lemonade story about the daughter I never thought I would have, who is now one of my reasons for living)

Every Life Is a Story Worth Telling (my plea to my reader to journal and share their personal story, to realize that inspiration lies within them)

Rare and Precious Human Contact (an article reminding us all of the impact of a touch, a smile, or a kind word)

Motivation for Lemony Days (a quick lesson in goal setting and success)

I Miss What You Are Missing (a lesson in grief)

This Boss Loves BossyPants!!&id=6921339 (a book review of Tina Fey's Book Bossy Pants)

Thursday, March 15, 2012

A Beautifully Musical Future Grows Among Turmoil

Are you looking for a role model? A rags to riches story about overcoming troubling times and becoming a success story? Look no further, sit back and be impressed by a young man whose troubles started at birth and whose success began at the tender age of seven.

Picture a drunkard of a musician who had seven children with a woman who thought herself a friend to her children. Only three of their seven children survived, and the eldest was the over-achiever. At age seven ½ he was performing in public. That wasn’t good enough for his father, who told people the child was only six…as if seven ½ wasn’t good enough to be considered above average or talented. Before he was twelve, he was writing his own music and teachers compared him to the likes of Mozart. What many did not know was that this young man was also taking care of his siblings, his mother, and filling in for his father who was often rendered useless due to his battle with alcohol. He was merely a child himself, but yet the man of a household. What a humble beginning.

The young man furthered his education through grants and the generosity of others. A few short years after schooling began, he was called back home. His mother was sick and dying. He was torn between his education and his duty to his loving mother and family. He didn’t let that stop him and pursued grants and generosity again a few years later and returned to school where he could be surrounded with the things he loved, music and culture. He never again returned to his birth home and didn’t let his humble past slow down his quest for a bright and amazing future.

The young man loved music and culture and studied some of the great composers such as Mozart and Haydn. Some of his peers thought his music was odd, but yet he followed his heart and his dreams and wrote music, played music, and performed music. He was delighted with himself, until another crashing blow came his way. He was fearful and angry…he was losing his hearing. Imagine the unfairness of a musician who cannot hear the amazing works of his own hand?

The young man struggled with the illness of his deafness as well as financial problems through the years. His brother died and left him to care for his widow and young child, and yet the young man continued writing music and performing for some of the most well-known and successful people in his country. His popularity was growing although his hearing was declining. He did not live to a ripe old age and died well before turning 60 on the eve of a storm which seems rather fitting for his successful and yet tumultuous life.

What a beautiful story about overcoming life’s road blocks, and turning lemons into lemonade. The man we are speaking of wrote ten symphonies in his life and Franz Schubert was a coffin bearer at his funeral. His was a life lived beautifully and he gave the gift that will live on for eternity in song. Beethoven was an amazing man with strong moral character. He did not use his difficult past as a crutch, and he created a beautiful future for himself and those who appreciate his music – he did this by believing in himself and surrounding himself with those who believed in him. Thank you Beethoven for setting a great example that is still pertinent today.

Another Ezine Article Published

I had another Ezine article published this afternoon titled "I Miss What You Are Missing" - a tribute to grief and the death of my Father. If you'd like to read the entire published article, you can find it here:

The Lemon Fell Off the Tree

I was recently asked about the lowest point of my life. The question went something like this: "when did you feel you had really failed and weren't sure you'd be able to recover?" Now - I'm no Drew Barrymore, Scott Walker, or someone who has really overcome anything huge. My name has never been splashed negatively across every newspaper and magazine in the nation. Honestly, I don't have what it takes to put myself in that position. I love politics and I love acting...but I also have a deep passion to be liked. I as a person am not ready to be in a position for so many people to hate me or say negative things. My story isn't amazing and I haven't overcome a disability either...but since the question was asked, I'll respond.

My most lemony moment - I really had to think long and hard about this one. Was it at age 16 when my father, mentor, and best friend died? Was is at age 20 when I placed my daughter for adoption? Was it at age 24 when my husband said 'I don't love you anymore'? Was it at age 34 when I lost the job I thought I'd have forever? Each of those bumps in the road created the woman I am today, but none of them were the lowest of lows. There was a time in the Summer of 2008 that this lemon literally fell off the lemon tree. I fell and rolled pretty far away from the tree...and that my friends was the lowest point for me.

Long story short, I had spent over 1/2 my pregnancy on bed-rest trying to save my daughter's life. This was my 2nd pregnancy. The first time, I was young and in an odd relationship. I was 20 and my husband and I agreed to place our first daughter for adoption. A few years after, we regretted that decision and tried to have another child. Miscarriage after miscarriage eventually led to the demise of our relationship and our marriage. That's the history - so here I am, a high risk pregnancy. I'm on bed rest at home and then in the hospital, etc...March 9th I delivered a lovely little girl. She was crabby, I was crabby, and it was nothing like the dreams I had where everyone was joyous and smiling. My boyfriend had agreed to help me get pregnant, because he knew how much I wanted a child. This was odd, especially considering that on our 2nd date he admitted he never wanted children. I ignored all the warning signs. All I could see was what I wanted. I wasn't thinking about my child, my family, or the ramifications of my actions. I just knew I wanted a baby.

How could this be a low point? That part is coming. My daughter was born in March and we kept things together until just before Father's day. A few weeks before Father's day, things fell apart. I was back to work, commuting 2 hours a day, and now the father of my child was moving 18 hours away. I mentioned the bed rest, right? Not only was I emotionally drained, I was also physically un-equipped to handle the demands of my career, my family, and my infant. I realized I needed to leave my boyfriend to be a good parent, but I had nowhere to go and no resources after being off work nearly 1/2 a year. I ended up living in a camper in a friends backyard. I lost my car, lost the roof over my head, but I was determined NOT to lose my daughter.

The camper situation wasn't ideal, but it was working out. I borrowed $400 to buy a car so I could get to and from work, and my friends were incredibly supportive. I spent that summer trying to win my boyfriend back to hang onto some sort of normality for my family. When only one person is working on a relationship, no matter how hard that person tries...they are going to fail. I failed. I also managed to get pregnant the weekend of my birthday (end of July 2008). By the end of August I had stopped losing the baby weight from my daughter and shocked myself with the realization that I was pregnant. Yes can get pregnant, even you only do it once.

That brings me to the lowest of lows. I was the new mother of a 6 month old, I was 2 months pregnant with another child, I was living in a camper in my friends backyard, AND it was September in Wisconsin. The only thing I had going for me was my job - I had a paycheck coming in...but I had no money in the bank and no clue where we were going to go. That's when I realized that I was irresponsible and that I had failed my children. I was so preoccupied with what I wanted that I thought of no one but myself. I wanted a baby so badly that I proceeded full speed ahead into the eye of a tornado called 'my life'. I had everything I had ever wanted, but no clue what I was going to do with it; there's such a thing as buyers remorse in the game of life and I had it.

There you go - that was the lowest point in my lemony life - I fell off the tree completely and rolled far far away from the ranch style house in the country with the white picket fence, loving husband, and happy little life I had planned for myself.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Motivation for Lemony Days

I talk about defining ones own success. Let's start there. What do you consider success? This is a personal question and no one can answer it for you. Is it having enough money to take a family vacation, pay off the mortgage, buy a home, purchase an SUV, pay for a wedding, retire in Hawaii, children who graduate from high school, a happy spouse after 30 years of marriage, a certain position in a company, the ability to give back to the community, a museum named in your honor, a particular income threshold??

If you don't know, you'll need to start there. It's like goal setting on a grand scale. Where do you want to be in ten years? What is going to be your legacy? Do you define success by a feeling, a mark on the map, the size of your bank account? This is for you to decide.

Once you have defined success for yourself, I highly recommend making something visual for yourself. At our house, we call it a goal board (and we sort of use Pinterest for some of it). If you define success as having a happy family and being able to take them to Disney, your goal board may have a picture of your family in the center and the outside ring will be a picture of the plane you'll be taking to your destination, a picture of the Disney Princesses, etc...and if part of your definition of success includes some artwork for your home, and a larger home - the board will also show a photo of your dream home, a picture by your favorite artist, and maybe the crystal vase you've been longing for or a picture of the hot tub you'll have in the backyard some day.

Goal boards serve several purposes. They serve to give your dreams depth and bring them closer to reality. They give you something to talk about with others who may see them. They serve as motivation on those lemony days when you feel that your dreams are out of sight. If that dream is in front of you daily or at a minimum - weekly, you're less likely to spend your money on things that deter you from that goal. For example, if my definition of success includes growing my company and I have a picture of a large office with lovely wooden desks and happy smiling employees on my goal board, I'm less likely to spend that $4.76 on a white chocolate mocha at Starbucks on my way to the meeting. On the other hand, if my goals seem so far away and I can't envision them, I am going to seek immediate gratification more often and squander my $4.76 because it tastes yummy for a moment. It's really about seeing the big picture - seeing what you want so vividly that you can hear it, taste it, smell it, feel it, and nothing is going to de-rail you. It's about passion and longing and making it happen - because YOU are worth it!

Keep turning those lemons into lemonade - YOU deserve the sweet refreshing beverage!

Helpful Hints & Technology Tips (from our newsletter)

This post is brought to you buy the Relax Consulting Newsletter (full version can be found on our site:

Not quite sure what software you need for your home or business? Wondering where to find the best deals and finest support? We suggest visiting the Microsoft Office website: where you can try a free trial of their products, chat with a representative, or purchase the software. Their representatives are honest and patient (they’ll even tell you to buy the product elsewhere if they know there are coupons available through other vendors that may not be available on their own site).
For hardware, you may find that shopping local is a good fit for you, but sometimes has the best price, or if you can wait a few days, try price shopping on the Tech Bargains website:

Lose Your Focus - Find Your Dream

When everything you know is taken from you - that is when you really have the opportunity to come alive! (feel free to quote me on that) I remember my mother saying "if it's not broke, then don't fix it" and in business, I've heard "keep doing what you're doing and you'll continue to get results". Both of those are a bunch of hooey in my book. If it's not broke, then break it so you can make it better, and if you keep doing what you're doing, someone is going to come in and do it better and you are going to fail. Life moves fast these days and business is moving even faster. If you want to get ahead, you need to embrace change with a vengeance. If something is working well, make it work better. If your marketing strategy is helping you gain clients, improve it to gain even more clients. If your turn-over ratio is low, find ways to make it even lower. Do you think Facebook and social networking is the best thing since sliced bread? Look out...and do some homework to figure out how you and your business can tap into Diaspora ( and UnThink (if it comes back to life). Lose your focus and find your dream - if you're still doing the same thing you were doing a year ago, you will lose ground. This is the tech age and things are moving fast. Put on those running sneakers and run even faster. if you need a running partner, Relax Consulting is here to help - check us out:

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Dealing With Difficult People

I was privileged to attend a Women in Management meeting today and listen to a speaker present "Dealing With Difficult People". I learned a lot. First and foremost, I am going to admit...I am a difficult person. I am not intentionally difficult, I am simply difficult by design. Born to a 50 year old man and his 32 year old wife, I was the long awaited only child of people nearly old enough to be my grandparents. I tease that I was spoiled, but in reality I was just appreciated, adored, and spent the majority of my youth with adults. This combination resulted in a mature teenager who was completely idealistic. I fully believed my father when he told me I could do anything I put my mind to as long as I was willing to work hard. I was not born with a silver spoon in my mouth; I was born with a work ethic quite unique to my generation.

My drive, ambition, and self confidence has been misinterpreted from time to time and during my quest to find my authentic self, I admit...I can see how that would happen. Honestly, my motivation has always been genuine. I am a people pleaser and I give 110% and hope to avoid conflict at all costs. Really and truly. Here's where the disconnect comes in though. I expect that others have the same goals I do. I really bought into the 'we were all created equal' idea. Not sure where that came from, but I really thought that people said what they meant, meant what they said, worked harder than they got paid for, and all wanted what was best for the world at large. Oops!

When I walk into a store, I expect to be greeted warmly with a smile and a chipper hello. When that does not happen, I am disappointed and the experience is already tainted. This isn't about the store at all, this is my own problem. I assume that the world operates by the same set of standards I have set for myself. Today's presentation gave many great suggestions on how to deal with difficult people, how to listen carefully, rephrase for understanding, come together with a solution, provide feedback etc...

As I difficult person, my take-away from the presentation was this: Go into each situation with an open mind. Don't assume you know anything about what you are getting yourself into (ie: you know nothing about the person you just met, nothing about the culture of the business you are entering, etc...). If something strikes you as being "off", search for the root cause, or let it go (ie: instead of wondering why the customer service was so poor, notice the red nose of the clerk and speculate that maybe she isn't feeling good). Last but not least, don't take it personally. This lesson is hard for me as an only child - but the world does NOT revolve around me. That clerk wasn't rude to me...she is probably rude to everyone. Learn to let go of the small things. I may not leave the grocery store with a warm fuzzy feeling about the cashier, but wasn't the goal of grocery shopping to buy groceries anyway? Focus on the outcome and the positive take-aways from the experience and do not assume that everyone operates by the same set of standards.

Once again - Turning Lemons into Lemonade...yours truly (a somewhat less demanding/difficult) Crystal Casavant - signing off

Monday, March 12, 2012

Inspirational Women

Not that there's anything wrong with men - I love men...but...I've owned a coffee table book for over a decade now. The title? "Quotable Women - A Celebration" the pictures are just as amazing as the quotes. One of the quotes took my breath away today and it is a quote by Beverly Sills that I want to share with you:

"I've always tried to go a step past wherever people expected me to end up."

Wow does that speak to me, how about you? The quote was so profound and personal that I was embarrassed to say that I had no idea who Beverly Sills was. Thank heavens for Google Chrome, because in a matter of minutes I had the information at my finger tips. To make your life easier, I'll just tell you (nothing against Google - go ahead and research it on your own if you wish):

Beverly Sills was an American Opera singer who sang Soprano. She was very popular in the 50's and 60's. She was the General Manager of the New York City Opera after she retired and is widely known for her charity work to fight birth defects. Her parents were Jewish immigrants and she was raised in Brooklyn.

You can read her entire story if you wish, I won't regurgitate all over you - Wikipedia has lots of information including a photo - she was very pretty.

Her quote interests me, because it is how so many people live their lives. The motto "if you tell me I can't do something, I'll prove you wrong" is repeated again and again in both personal and professional circles, and it seems that even my toddlers are even privy to this information. This got me to thinking. I fully intend on telling my children they can become President - so when they exceed that, I wonder where they'll end up? The possibilities are beautifully endless - love it!

Keep turning those lemons into lemonade ya'all!