Musings, Manifestations and the Keys to Living Life Abundantly

My thoughts, tips, tools, and discoveries in my search for a deliciously Abundant Life.


Act II, Scene 1

It would seem, relative to the title of my previous post, that I "stepped back" so far I went right off stage. And out of the spotlight. Which really won't do!

Even the greatest of Divas and Goddesses (and I definitely count myself as one of them!) has times when she just "vants to be alone", just to rest, refresh, and reconnect with her goddess-ness. To corral all those scattered, shared and stolen points of energy and fuse them back together, so that she too can be renewed by it. On the days when you feel as thinly spread as butter on toast, the only true sanctuary is inside.

But no true Diva or Goddess can remain incognito for long! It's just not in our nature. There's is too much growing to do; too much abundance to share; much light to shine for those still searching. And to all of those Divas, Gods and Goddesses (Nanette, Kerry, Johann, Lin, Alexzandra) who shone their lights brightly enough to lead me back - Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Here's what I've been doing "off-stage":-
I've been reading The Sedona Method by Hale Dwoskin, and basically working through any resistances that came up. The scary thing was how many came up! From little tiny irritations (washing on the floor, dishes in the sink), to full blown panic attacks when thinking of newly licensed Youngest Son driving 25 minutes to college, in Atlanta traffic, in a stick shift Chevy Metro (which we all know is really a Tupperware lunchbox with a lawnmower engine!).

Some releases have been subtle. Other's potent enough to make me weak at the knees. All have made this past 10 days very interesting!

With resistance out of the way, energy flows and achieving goals becomes effortless. I spend a lot of time smiling ruefully at myself and wondering why I thought it would be so hard.

My business has been burgeoning and bearing fruit. I sold more candles last month than I did in the past six months combined! I also signed up a new distributor and a wonderful friend will be hosting a home show for me soon. I joined a local women's networking group and not only promoted my business, but connected with so many other entrepreneurial ladies that I left feeling like a REAL business woman. That feeling in itself was a huge step forward.

On the home front, I have organized (and paid for!) my daughter's wedding, as well as finding the perfect dress. I installed new drywall in her kitchen (yes, I do drywall too!) and in a surge of DIY enthusiasm, repainted my bedroom.

I taught my son how to drive a stick shift, without killing him or anyone else, and got him enrolled and registered for college.

During all this, I remained The Goddess of Starbucks; a latte-making legend to my customers and the source of all things The Secret-wise to my colleagues.

All this while keeping one eye on the Olympics, the baseball and pre-season football. (Go Falcons, I think...)

I have also managed to shed another 7 lbs, making a grand total of 18.5 lbs in 3 months.

Truly life is glorious.

Ladies and Gentlemen, intermission is over.
Dim the house lights. Strike up the band.

I'm ready for my close up, Mr de Mille.

The Value of Stepping Back

*** This is also a repeat of my Boundless Living blog, posted on August 7th.
A lot has happened since then, so there'll be two blog posts today, to get you up to date. ***

I have been somewhat out of sorts of late, which is why there've been no posts for a few days. Not exactly depressed, just a little down, a little tired, a little small. You know the feeling? Just wanting to be left along to find a warm spot with your journal and a pen and a hot cup of tea. Where no-one can bother you. Or expect anything of you.

But the World won't let you be. There are dinners to be cooked, jobs to be done, and businesses to grow. All things you've taken on yourself. And it's just so distracting when all you want to do is wander through the far reaches of your soul to find out why your seemingly perfect life is somewhat ...... unsatisfying? Is that the right word?

Don't get me wrong, I am deeply grateful for my current life - thankful to my very core - and yet there is still this nagging discontent. A persistent, irritating feeling that I should be, do and have more. I just know that I am capable of, desiring of, and yes dammit, deserving of much more. There, I said it. Does that make me greedy? If the Universe is a catalog as Joe Vitale says, am I allowed to order from every page?

I regularly end up like this. I take on a Challenge, run at it full tilt, spreading myself ever more thinly until I crumple and disintegrate like wet tissue paper.

So, instead of pushing against it and forcing my way through, which is what I would usually do, I took some advice from Kelly (a fellow Challenger) and tried the Sedona Method. It just seemed so simple. Just allow (there's that word again!) the feeling to surface, and release it.

No judgement.
No criticism for being ungrateful/greedy/undeserving/a disappointment/a phony.

Just a few gentle questions,
a brief silence,
a deep breath,
and then,
and then,
a soul-flood of Peace.

I'm gonna be OK.

And while my Challenge may not be reached in the allotted 45 days, due to the temporary detour into the slow lane,
I am going to get there.
And the timing will be just right.


Nudges from the Universe

***This is a copy of the blog post I did for my page on the Boundless Living Challenge website. Life is getting far too hectic to successfully run two blogs!***

I've had so many Nudges from the Universe over the past few days that I hardly know where to begin! Actually, some were nudges. Others were in-your-face, poke-you-in-the-ribs, pay-attention-to-this! type attention grabbers. They have come from everywhere and everyone, and tempt me into so many directions that I'm torn and somewhat intimidated. So please forgive any disjointedness in this post - I'm thinking it through as I go.

Firstly, to follow up on the previous blog post (Baby Steps) - I had a fairly successful day. I hesitate to get too enthusiastic since I didn't complete everything, but I'm still moving forward and that's what counts.10
1. I took my Sample bag and a few jars to the delicious store I found recently, and sold one jar (Yay!) with promises of further sales in the future. Not as great as I hoped, but we're not attaching to the outcome! *sigh* However, I did meet a wonderful lady who runs a business network for woman entrepreneurs, which I intend to join. I'm excited about meeting like-minded women in my city. So I'll mark this one as done and successful.
2. Did this - it was surprisingly easy. But I do need to practice not swamping the poor person with hundreds of details at once. I'm so excited about my candles and the opportunity they represent, that it's hard not to get all evangelical about it.
3. I must confess that the pile of catalogs is still unadorned. I'm moving this to number 1 for tomorrow. I'm adding to this the making of scent samples, and delegating the entire project to the Youngest Unmarried Child.
4. It's amazing what you can do in 15 mins. Just check out the Fly Lady and you'll see what I mean. I got soooo much done. The room is starting to look more like an office, and just another couple of 15 minute segments and it'll be the haven of productivity that I'm dreaming of.
5. Update my website. Haven't done that yet ... Must get it done this week. I found out yesterday how to check the traffic stats - and was gobsmacked to see how many hits I get! Way more than I ever thought.

But throughout the past three days, one question has been nagging at me. A question posed by my good friend Jennifer, (see her gorgeous blog) in an attempt to get some insights for her article on me on her community website.

The question: "What are you passionate about?"

Every millionaire-mind type book I've ever read; every article on achieving your dreams, always starts with knowing what your dreams are! What you're passionate about. What keeps you up at night and going full tilt during the day. Ester Hicks and Abraham call it "Following your Bliss."

And while I was painting my bedroom on Friday - a luscious feng-shui-appropriate gold, and absolutely not on the day's to-do list but I couldn't resist (which figures considering the revelation that followed) - I realised that I am happiest when I'm beautifying things. Taking something unloved and unwanted, whether its a chair, a room or a house, and making it into something that lifts your spirits and warms your soul. All my previous business endeavors are an extension of this. This is why I love my candles. A delicious fragrance will always make you feel better, richer, more abundant. An inexpensive quick-fix to a crappy day.

Then the next day, while investigating the cost of reupholstering two vintage wingback chairs I found (currently swathed in pepto-bismol pink, poor dears!), I found the business card of a woman that actually teaches upholstery right here in town. For the cost of getting one chair done, I could get the skills to do it myself. On hundreds more chairs! I cannot explain in words how excited this made me.

And that tiny little thought grew, mushroomed, exploded into a fullblown epiphany.

I love to make things beautiful!

That's what I'm passionate about! Beauty raises your vibrations, increases your feeling of abundance and fills your heart with joy and gratitude. My candles, my theatricality, my flea-market addiction, my reclaimed-from-the-dumpster style of decorating - everything has led to this.

So, it's no longer just about the money (gasp!). As I create and spread beauty, helping people make their homes into sanctuaries that heal their souls, the abundance will naturally flow.

I will follow my bliss.
Day by day, step by step.
And so, to bed. Perchance to dream ...
of luxurious fabrics on vintage chairs, the delicious fragrance of candles,
and creating abundance, one person at a time.

Till tomorrow,


Baby Steps

I've just realized the immensity of this challenge that I've set myself!

"Grow my business"! How vague is that? That's really not going to cut it in the goals department. What I really want is to emulate my sponsor - a woman who has created a six figure income predominantly online. At home. In her pajamas. Six Figures!!!

Admittedly she has been in this business for many more years than I have, but I nonetheless hold myself up to her achievement and find myself wanting. A sneaky nagging tweak of envy, followed closely by a stomach-churning slide into self-criticism and doubts.

But all the while, over the whining and chattering negativity, there's this quiet firm voice in my head saying "What are you doing?! You know better than this!"
Hmmm. Here's an idea. How about if I actually start listening to that voice? What if I begin to trust the Universe (and myself) enough to believe that not only the direction, but the pace at which I travelling is just right. For me. Right now.

Trust myself? What a novel thought!
I've always been a self-confessed self-improvement junkie. You know, the one who always buys the latest book, and listens to endless CDs in the car. But today, in the car, with Jack Canfield pouring wisdom from the speakers, I realised that all the booksmarts in the world is not worth a pinch against one small action.
Profound, no? I nearly stalled the car in my excitement.

So ... my challenge has been narrowed down and honed into one brief statement:-
Each day I will take 5 small actions in marketing my business.
And the growing part should take care of itself.
So, here's the plan for Day 1:
  1. Take candles and sample bag to the nearby shop-owner who expressed an interest last week. (Was it really that long ago?)
  2. Talk to Three people who don't know that I have any other interests besides being the Goddess of Starbucks, and give them a 5 second overview of my candle business. Reminder to self -Do not attach to the outcome!
  3. Put my contact info on all my new catalogs (so I can actually hand them out). Do this while in front of the TV tonight. So as not to be called antisocial by the rest of the family.
  4. Spend 15 minutes attacking the clutter in the space that's euphemistically called my office. Being able to see even half of the top of the desk will be considered a monumental achievement and grounds for a celebratory ice-cream cone.
  5. Update at least one page of my website to reflect my new-found abundance mentality, as opposed to the slight tone of desperate pleading.

OK, so I realise its actually Day 3 of the Challenge itself, but I think I needed all the energy and input that I've experience from every wonderful person I've met there to get me to the point of not just talking the talk, but actually walking the walk.

Or at least, a few baby steps in the direction of my dreams.


So very much to share with you, Gentle Readers, that I hardly know where to begin.

I must first apologise for the long silences between the last few posts. I can only blame it on houses needing paint; floors needing cleaning; daughters planning weddings; sons entering college; husbands needing dinner; all coupled with growing my candle company and helping to keep my Starbucks open.

But the two Most Importent Items are as follows :-

Behold my Weight-loss graph!

Absolute, concrete, visual proof that I, Jacqui Gates, perpetually-plump-and-on-a-diet Jacqui Gates, have actually lost 13 lbs!
And the most wondrous, life affirming, self-validating part of all is that I know that this time it's permanent. I have found a tool to keep me on track, a system that works for me and above all, I can actually see myself as Thin. In the pictures in my head, I am slim and fit and vibrantly healthy, and every day the manifestation is becoming more and more real.

And this achievement has in turn given birth to a revitalization of my other purpose in life - to create an abundant life for myself and my family, and lead and empower others to do the same.

I have joined Bob Doyle's Boundless Living Challenge. You can get all the details if you follow the link, but basically it's a global 45 day challenge to step out of your comfort zone and actually reach a goal you're passionate about.

My goal is to Grow My Business to the point where it more than covers my monthly costs. This means to stop playing office (you know, organize my catalogs; make some pretty folders; tidy the office; etc; etc) and actually get out there and sell!

I'm creating a 5 Steps a Day plan that I'm committed to carrying out each and every day. No more airy fairy vague goals - just specific, identifiable, measurable results.

I'll let you know how it goes tomorrow .....

No really, I promise!



I have Spring Fever, in the middle of Summer!
You know that sense of anticipation; the quickening of momentum; that "something's coming, something good" feeling. The inescapable desire to declutter, uncover, and discover. To grow, bloom and burgeon into an abundant life.
Taking part in this challenge has me excited, nervous, determined and yet so aware of the Resistance lurking in the wings.

But this time, I will not quit!

Too many times, I have sunk my ship before it ever left the harbour, or walked away before the journey was done and the gold unloaded.

Not this time. Because this time, I won't be alone.
And that makes all the difference in the world.


The Woman in the Mirror

I'm actually beginning to like what I see in the mirror.

Only those of us who have developed that specific kind of tunnel vision that only allows one to focus on the "nice" and "passable" portions of our bodies when confronted (usually by surprise - like in shop windows) with a wide-screen, head-to-toe reflection of ourselves, will understand what a profound statement that is.

You know that mental cinematic trick that zooms in on a pretty nose or shapely ankles, and just fuzzes over the bulging hips and poochy belly in between? Well, for the first time in decades, the scale is my friend and I can actually see my butt lifting off my knees!

The magician's wand that has helped me manifest this miracle is a free website on which I have been tracking my calories and carbs for the past six weeks. That, coupled with a final resigned acceptance that I really cannot eat wheat without it resulting in zeppelin-like bloating and stomach curling agony. So I'm down 9 lbs in 2 months and fast regaining my former sylph-like figure.

I tell The Centre of My Universe that I still have everything I had when I married him 26 years ago - it's all just a little lower. But at least, soon, finally, it'll be almost the same size too ...


Keeping Promises and Getting to Done!

Several things pushed themselves to the front of my awareness today, unbidden but persistant :-
  • The delicious irony in the title of this blog - Musings and Manifestations. At present there is too much musing, not enough Manifestation and a subtle straying from the original intent to share my journey to Abundance. My exploration of "The Road Less Travelled" has somehow led to a comforable cul-de-sac of suburban mediocrity instead of the succession of scintillating dinner parties and starring roles.
  • Then a post in my friend's blog. I too am tired of honoring all promises made except those to myself. Why am I the last on my life-list, when everyone's knows you can't pour from an empty pitcher?
  • And, a few days ago, a personal call from my millionaire mentor/sponsor, the woman I most want to emulate, following an email admission that my candle business has lost momentum and is very close to needing the commercial equivalent of CPR.
I want to be the woman who "has done" rather than the one that "dreams of doing". While I am aware that my life resume is already full of admirable adventures, heading toward my 45th birthday I feel a pressing need to make each moment count, to channel my inner Auntie Mame (my favorite role and inspirational character) and Open a New Window every day.

So enough Musing - Today I will Manifest! I will step off the smooth-trodden asphalt of the freeway to Ordinaryville and back onto the cobbled, pot-holed twisting road taken by the few who reach Abundance.

This week, Today, Right now, I will take my To Do list by the scruff of the neck and get to Done.


My Hero!

My youngest graduated this weekend.
How is this possible?
Where did the years go?
Such a full heart - to many feelings to put into words.

As usual, there is a song to express it perfectly.

To paraphrase the ballad in "Fiddler on the Roof" -

When did he get to be a hero?
When did he grown to be so tall?
Wasn't it yesterday when he was small?

Sunrise, sunset
Sunrise, sunset
Swiftly flow the days
Seedlings turn overnight to sunflowers
Blossoming even as we gaze ....


What a life!

Do you think the Universe would allow me to come back as one of my daughter's cats?


Garden of the Gods

My darling daughter gave me the sweetest statue for Mother's day, and perched atop a column I've had for ages (Never throw anything out!), he makes me smile while I wash the dishes. The uncontrolled exhuberance of white blossoms and sweet fragrance of the honeysuckle fill my garden with beauty and wonder - and I am so grateful to be in Georgia. I was told you could plant a toothpick here, and it would grow. I believe it now.

When my dad was here from South Africa, he pruned the two rose bushes outside my lounge window. Actually, "pruning" is not the term I would have used - the once straggly, unkempt but still recognizable bushes ended up looking like kindling for a fire. But look at them now! There are more than 20 buds on the two bushes and every time I look out the window, I am filled with joy, and gratitude for a wonderful man who took me in when I was only four, and loved me as his own.
Thank you, Daddy.


Tea with a friend

My dearest new friend, Jennifer, invited me to tea.

By the time I left, I felt as if I had been feted and honored at an intimate, elegant gala event, where, for a few too-short hours, I was the center of attention. From the silver tray set just for me to the record player filling the candle-scented air with Chopin, I moved through the Universe of Jennifer cannily disguised as a suburban home, and marveled at her skill in creating vintage luxe on a Goodwill budget.

Her unique view of the world and its occupants can be shared through her photographs. Her blog is redolent with pictures that move your spirit and invite you in. She was kind enough to take a few of me to use on my soon-to-be-revamped website and I am so grateful that she has agreed to capture my daughter's wedding. (Best I take advantage of our friendship before she moves into the Annie Liebowitz league!)

This is my favorite photo - taken in her kitchen, on a memorable day.
Thank you, Jen. You make me feel beautiful, special and admired - and that's a gift.


Curiosity Spooked the Cat

Sitting in my livingroom, I hear the cat hissing. Investigation reveals this little guy, calmly sitting inside the kitchen door, scooping catfood into his mouth.
To preserve whatever dignity the twice-as-large, cowardly cat had left, I closed the kitchen door.
But how can you resist those eyes?


Coffee thoughts

We sit here, my laptop and I, at a small table in my local independent coffee shop, and try to look like those millionaires we've heard that run their empires on the free WiFi from such establishments.

My coffee's cold; I've squandered half my allotted time; and I only have an empty Inbox to show for it.

Just how do I step out from reading to doing?

Spring Fever is coursing though my veins. I'm aching to grow and move and DO. So why do I feel like I'm wading though molasses?


Sunday, sweet Sunday

My absolute favorite day of the week.

Which is odd, considering that I probably do more work on this day than any other. For one thing, it's tradition in our house to begin the day with a full English Breakfast, which takes an hour to prepare and twice as long to enjoy. (See the toast-rack in the picture - I got mine at Harrods!)

How I relish these quiet, soul-balming moments when everyone's home and the house seems to embrace us all in a warm hug. There's something comforting, and restorative about having nothing planned; just puttering about a home that you love; washing this; dusting that; with lots of breaks in between to snuggle on the couch with the Center of My Universe and a hot cup of tea to watch tennis or baseball.

Life is good.


Just One Decision

I have come to the conclusion that I have been brainwashed. Conditioned, if you will.

Due to the date of my birth - which could either be considered as a random happenstance, or the result of a vast, intricate web of small organizational miracles synchronized by the Universe - I am a Libra. Actually, let me restate that - I am believed to be a Libra. These days I am a little wary of the labels I've acquired over my 40+ years and find myself, in the new light of Spring, scrutinizing and re-evaluating each one. To be a Libran is, according to the pundits and soothsayers, to be indecisive, fickle, unable to stay the course. Blessed by being able to see so many possibilities but lacking the mental fortitude to choose, and stick to, just one.

I happened upon a new blog today with a post that rang true, and last night saw an interview of Donald Trump in which he said that the greatest attributes of self-made millionaires is to do what you love and never, never give up. Reminds me of Winston Churchill in the dark days of the war.

I think the Universe is trying to tell me something ....

Therefore, I have decided that that part of the Libran tag is no longer true of me. I am passionate about my candles, about the opportunity that MLM offers, and my ability to see it through to the Beach Money at the end.

Care to join me? They say there's lots of room at the top!


First Steps

Perhaps announcing to the Universe and all Gentle Readers that I would post a blog entry every day for the rest of April was a little radical ... If one spends the whole day hoping and waiting for something to happen than would constitute a decently entertaining/enlightening/not boring entry, then surely the whole thing is more trouble than it's worth?

However, what such a statement does do, is get you off the couch and in to the kitchen/garage/black-hole-called-the-study so that you can, at the end of the day, truthfully say that you accomplished something..... And then wrote a blog entry about it!

I have done/finished/accomplished all three of my MITs today - Ta Dah!

Tonight, when I lie upon my pillow, I will not feel disappointed for those minutes wasted doing unimportant things. I will be satisfied with baby-steps taken toward far horizon goals. And be happy.


So, where's the money?

When one owns this many make-a-million-dollars-in-a-month books, one gets to wonder why one's bank account does not reflect said million. Surely, since I have actually read all of them, there should be several zeros behind the lone digit on my balance sheet. Or perhaps the lack of funds is in direct correlation to the number of books. If I hadn't bought the books, I would have more money.
This has been a point to ponder while tidying my office. It led to two momentous decisions today, made while Anthony Robbins and I did a goal-setting workshop over a superb coffee at my local happy place. (Actually, he wasn't really there - just his voice in my earphones from yet another self-help audiobook.)

Decision 1 : I will follow my good friend's lead and post a blog entry every day from now until the end of April. I will document and publish the redirection, re-invention of my life that is at present just a cluttered collections of journal pages and post-it notes.

Decision 2 : I will actually use at least one piece of advice from each of said books, tapes, training manuals. And I'll share with you how it goes.

I think I'll start now ...


My Daffodil time is Now!

I received this in my email today - this is how I feel today.

The Daffodil Principle

Several times my daughter had telephoned to say, 'Mother, you must come to see the daffodils before they are over.''

I wanted to go, but it was a two-hour drive from Laguna to Lake Arrowhead. 'I will come next Tuesday', I promised a little reluctantly on her third call.

Next Tuesday dawned cold and rainy. Still, I had promised, and reluctantly I drove there. When I finally walked into Carolyn's house, I was welcomed by the joyful sounds of happy children. I delightedly hugged and greeted my grandchildren.

'Forget the daffodils, Carolyn! The road is invisible in these clouds and fog, and there is nothing in the world except you and these children that I want to see badly enough to drive another inch!'

My daughter smiled calmly and said, ' We drive in this all the time, Mother.'

'Well, you won't get m e back on the road until it clears, and then I'm heading for home!' I assured her.
"But first we're going to see the daffodils. It's just a few blocks,' Carolyn said. 'I'll drive. I'm used to this.'

'Carolyn,' I said sternly, 'Please turn around.'

'It's all right, Mother, I promise. You will never forgive yourself if you miss this experience.'

After about twenty minutes, we turned onto a small gravel road and I saw a small church. On the far side of the church, I saw a hand lettered sign with an arrow that read, 'Daffodil Garden.'

W e got out of the car, each took a child's hand, and I followed Carolyn down the path. Then, as we turned a corner, I looked up and gasped. Before me lay the most glorious sight.

It looked as though someone had taken a great vat of gold and poured it over the mountain peak and its surrounding slopes. The flowers were planted in majestic, swirling patterns, great ribbons and swaths of deep orange, creamy white, lemon yellow, salmon pink, saffron and butter yellow. Each different-colored variety was planted in large groups so that it swirled and flowed like its own river with its own unique hue. There were five acres of flowers.

'Who did this?' I asked Carolyn.

'Just one woman,' Carolyn answered. 'She lives on the property.. That's her home.' Carolyn pointed to a well-ke pt A-frame house, small and modestly sitting in the midst of all that glory. We walked up to the house.

On the patio, we saw a poster. 'Answers to the Questions I Know You Are Asking', was the headline.

The first answer was a simple one. '50,000 bulbs,' it read.

The second answer was, 'One at a time, by one woman. Two hands, two feet, and one brain.'

The third answer was, 'Began in 1958.'

For me, that moment was a life-changing experience. I thought of this woman whom I had never met, who, more than forty years before, had begun, one bulb at a time, to bring her vision of beauty and joy to an obscure mountaintop. Planting one bulb at a time, year after year, this unknown woman had forever changed the world in which she lived.

One day at a time, she had created something of extraordinary magnificence, beauty, and inspiration. The principle her daffodil garden taught is one of the greatest principles of celebration.

That is, learning to move toward our goals and desires one step at a time, often just one baby-step at a time and learning to love the doing, learning to use the accumulation of time. When we multiply tiny pieces of time with small increments of daily effort, we too will find we can accomplish magnificent things. We can change the world …

'It makes me sad in a way,' I admitted to Carolyn. ' What might I have accomplished if I had thought of a wonderful goal thirty five or forty years ago and had worked away at it 'one bulb at a time' through all those years ? 'Just think what I might have been able to achieve!'

My daughter summed up the message of the day in her usual direct way. 'Start tomorrow,' she said.

She was right. It's so pointless to think of the lost hours of yesterdays. The way to make learning a lesson of celebration instead of a cause for regret is to only ask, 'How can I put this to use today?'

Use the Daffodil Principle. Stop waiting.....

Until your car or home is paid off
Until you get a new car or home
Until your kids leave the house
Until you go back to school
Until you finish school
Until you clean the house
Until you organize the garage
Until you clea n off your desk
Until you lose 10 lbs.
Until you gain 10 lbs.
Until you get married
Until you get a divorce
Until you have kids
Until the kids go to school
Until you retire
Until summer
Until spring
Until winter
Until fall
Until you die...

There is no better time than right now to be happy. Happiness is a journey, not a destination.
So work like you don't need money. Love like you've never been hurt, and dance like no one's watching.

Wishing you a beautiful, daffodil day!

Don't be afraid that your life will end, be afraid that it will never begin.

New Life!

THIS IS ME! I saw this shrub on my walk this morning, lost in thought and Anthony Robbins ... the symbolism of it took my breath away. Went home, smiling at every step, grabbed camera and trespassed a few steps to take a stealthy photo. (Tree paparazzi?)
I feel like this tree. Budding. New Life beginning under an unpromising skin.
I'm too excited, full of breathless eagerness to write now - let the picture be my thousand words, and I'll compose my thoughts into some cohesive frame and get back to you tomorrow.

Re-do, re-new, re-invent, return.


If music be the food of life ....

Behold my shrine to Handel!
According to Feng Shui (which I consider to be a direct application of The Secret and a potent tool in creating a beautiful and empowering sanctuary at home), the front room of my house is the centre of Creativity and Helpful People. This just so happened to be where we set up the piano ** cue Twilight Zone theme ** and our cherished antique bust of George Handel. Who, I decided, needed a far more dramatic home than perched on the top of the piano, at constant risk of being knocked to the ground by my daughter's cats.

So in keeping with the colors of silver and white, I painted a square on the wall a darker shade of grey (or gray, depending on where you're from); applied silver leaf and antique glaze to an old frame and sconce that I had; and voila! George has a home worthy of his stature, and I have a music room ready for soirees and song.
Who knows? I may even start practicing again .....
When I'm not selling candles!


Adding sparkle

Aaah, my "new" Chandelier. Symbolic of me in so many ways. You see, it came with the house, functional but a little ordinary. So I embellished it - life is nothing without a little embellishment! I draped it with crystal strands rescued from the Christmas decoration box. Bought shades at 50% off which appeals to my frugality) to add a little drama. And then glued chrystals to them to remind me of theatres past. Now it speaks to me - drama, glamor, a little too much sparkle, and cheaper than you think!

Gifts from a Friend

A new friend arrives at my door
with flowers, chocolate and books
- a perfect manifestation of my favorite things.
The lilies have opened to full magnificence,
my hallway is saturated with exotic fragrance.
No need today for gourmet candles.
Every breath makes me grateful on so many levels.
Thank you
to that Portion of the Universe
known as Jennifer.

The Secret Weapon against Household Chaos

Have you ever found yourself frantically trying to defrost something edible at 5.30pm. Or piling a wailing infant and grouchy toddler into the car and fight rush-hour traffic to get to the grocery store. Do you find yourself reaching for the phone to order pizza again, even though you know that the family budget (and waistlines!) deserve something better? We've all been there - it's not pretty!

More and more studies are showing that families that meet round the dinner table, even a couple of times a week, are happier, healthier and generally more productive. We owe it to our children, our husbands and ourselves to bring dinner time back to the table.

So here's my major weapon against drive-thru's and out-of-control grocery budgets -
Menu Planning
Now before you go rolling your eyes and clicking away, think about it. Eating out is expensive; fast food isn't healthy; and it really only takes a few minutes each week to lower your stress level and your food bill.

So here's how it works -
  • You're going to make two lists - one with the nights of the week that you're going to serve dinner on - I call it my Weekly Menu, and one to take to the store (shopping list).
  • Pick a day of the week where you could go grocery shopping, preferably on your own. (Making it the same day each week makes life more structured and easier to manage, but it's not vital. Pick a time that suits your schedule )
  • The day or evening before, do a quick check of your freezer, fridge and cupboards. See what you have that could form the base of a meal. (Remember that tray of chicken thighs getting frostbite, or those five boxes of pasta you got on special....)
  • Decide what recipe you could make with it. Could be a family favorite or you could finally make that one you clipped from a magazine two months ago! Do you need any extra ingredients? Write them on your shopping list. Make sure you have everything you need, including side dishes.
  • Then choose a night to serve it on and write that down on your Weekly Menu. Hint : Check your calendar for what's happening in your family that week. You don't want to plan a meal with a lot of prep time for a night that you only get home at 6pm. Those days call for a Crock Pot recipe!
  • You might not have enough in your freezer for the whole week - but that's OK. Make a note on your shopping list (ie. Need dinner for Thursday) and see what's on special when you get to the store. Taking advantage of store specials this way saves a ton of money.
  • Then check for side dishes - veggies, rice, etc - and write those down on your list.

Within about 10 minutes (seriously, it doesn't take more than that!) you will have a set of meals for the next week, and a full shopping list of everything you'll need. Plus you'll get to use up all those random things lurking in your fridge and freezer. And if you're really organized, you'll attached those coupons you clipped, to your shopping list so they're right there when you need them at the register.
Then off to the store to buy only what's on your list. You'll be amazed how much you save and you'll be in and out in no time, with money left in your wallet!

Each day, check your Menu to see what's for dinner tomorrow, and pull it from the freezer or do whatever prep needs to be done (soaking beans, etc).

You can do this - really! And it's so worth it.
You deserve a peaceful, organized home - menu planning helps. I promise.
Just give it a shot!


Tools of a Domestic Goddess

It's taken quite a few years, but I feel I can now officially claim the title of Domestic Goddess. It was not always this way, I can assure you, but these days I can honestly say that my home is welcoming, peaceful, organized and usually clean enough for company. There are scented candles burning, dinner is organized and I would not hesitate to invite anyone in.

I firmly believe that we all deserve a beautiful sanctuary and I thought I'd share a few tips and tools on how I create mine They're not the usual, but then neither am I!

The first one is the Fly Lady. How I wish I had found her when my kids were tiny and life was a lot more hectic. But really, the skills she teaches can be applied to any home, whether child-free or overrun with teenagers. And the whole thing is FREE! You just sign up for her email reminders and essays - warning here, there are a lot of emails, don't get overwhelmed! - and you just follow her babysteps. It really does work. Check out the site and let me know what you think. I wouldn't be without her.

The next one is The Secret. If you haven't seen the dvd or read the book, I recommend to do both! The difference learning about the Law of Attraction had made in my life cannot be over-emphasized. The crux of it is that you get what you focus on. You will bring into your life more of whatever you think and talk about most. So if, like me, you keep saying "I can't afford that." or "I don't have the time.", then guess what? You will keep not being able to afford the things you want, or have the time you need to do the things that make your life worthwhile. It's not just some New Age mumbo jumbo. I've just been to a conference for my scented candle company and every one of the really successful leaders used some form of the Law of Attraction. It works - just try it

Tomorrow, I'll tell you about my "Secret Weapon" in the fight against chaos and fast food!

Come back soon.
Till then, focus on the Good in life.


No Coincidences

Follow the path .....
Make a wish in 2008 to attract more like-minded souls, make more friends
Drawn to a picturesque bookstore in Olde Towne Woodstock
(FoxTale - could you be any more perfect?)
Develop bookclub and cultivate friendships
Drop in, unplanned, for a few minutes to browse and talk about books and candles
Meet another book-lover who also "dropped in", same time, also unplanned
Follow her website to a mesmerising blog
New friend!
No coincidences ....


Heeere's Jacqui!

Wow, what an amazing thing the Internet is! Isn't it awesome that I can sit here in my cozy livingroom and make a journal entry that the whole world can see and comment on?

As you can see from the photo attached, I have just got back from Las Vegas. This picture was the only cheesy touristy thing I did, besides losing
$15.00 into the penny slots! I was there for a conference and training for my home-based candle company and I had an amazing time. There were so many different facets to the experience that I'll probably take a few days to write them all down. There's nothing like mixing with selfmade millionaires to make you realize that you could be one of them. More on the conference and making money later ...

But first, let me introduce myself.

My name is Jacqueline Gates, usually known as Jacqui. I have been married to the Uenter of my Universe since 1982, and we have a daughter, and a son. Until May 1998 we lived in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. This is also the birthplace of Nelson Mandela and, after he came to power in 1994, the attempts by the new government to correct the wrongs of the past made life a lot less certain for the White minority. Crime was escalating, education standards dropping, and job security practically nil. So my husband and I decided to search for greener pastures. We didn't really care where we went, we were just looking for more security and greater opportunities for our kids, who were 9 and 11 years old at the time.

The Centre of My Universe posted his resume on an international employment website, and we were amazed when we were contacted within a few weeks. In December 1997 we were interviewed by one of the recruiters, and by May 1998 we had sold up a five-bedroomed home down to eight suitcases (yes, just 8!) and arrived in Minnesota. The only person we knew was the lady who was to be Malcolm's new boss, and we had never even visited the US. It was an adventure to say the least! And for this tropical blossom that had never experienced temperatures below 35F, that first Minnesota winter was a huge shock! I very quickly learned to pay attention to the wind-chill readings, and just because the sun's shining, doesn't mean you can go out without a coat!

But what an adventure! We have never regretted it for a moment, and we are focussed on creating our piece of the American Dream. Truly this is the land of Opportunity, and finally after 10 years of searching and a few wrong turns, I have found the perfect opportunity for me to do that.

After nine long winters in Minnesota, we decided that we had had enough of dealing with the snow and the hassles that it brings, and looked to relocate to warmer climes. I had just read The Secret and watched the dvd everyday and I was determined to find the perfect house, and to have Malcolm and me be able to work from home. We created a vision board and focussed on what we wanted to see manifest in our lives. The Law of Attraction is an amazing thing. Within six months, everything I visualized came true. I am one very happy lady and now having experienced my first Georgia winter, I'm even happier. I am grateful everyday for highs in the 50s and for snow that just looks pretty for a day or two and then disappears!

Finally, I'd like to share my favorite quote:
"It's a funny thing about life, if you refuse to accept anything but the very best, you very often get it." Somerset Maugham

So, to those new to my blog, Hello and welcome. I'm pleased to meet you and hope that you'll post a comment so that we can get to know each other.

Till next time, wishing you a Bountiful and Beautiful Day