Musings From A Budding Optimist

2020 is off and running for me with a big event. Tomorrow To Tame A Texas Cowboy is released! 

I’m also starting out the new year with a shiny new outlook thanks to some advice I received. 

I’m a firm believer that everyone we encounter teaches us something. I also believe the simplest action sometimes has a profound impact. That’s what I discovered when I entered Maxine’s Uptown Boutique, in Pitman, New Jersey and met Jinger Cahill. What she told me changed my outlook. Today, I’m passing on her wisdom.

My heroine, Cheyenne Whitten, a barrel racer, is definitely an optimist. For me, that sometimes proved difficult. My strength has been seeing possible pitfalls in situations. Because of that, I never would’ve called myself an optimist and have tried to change that. I’ve heard “it’s how you look at something” before. It’s the old the glass is half-full, not half-empty idea, but I’ve struggled to put those words into practice.

Jinger taught me what I give voice to, I give power to and attract more of. When I said I struggled with negativity, the universe heard, “Hey, I love negativity! Give me more!” As I’m writing, the vision of Audrey II from Little Shop of Horrors saying “Feed me, Seymour” popped into my head! 🙂 

Over the years, people have told me not to worry. I’ve been given what I call the Frozen advice—Let it go.  I’ve been told not to get my panties in a bunch. I thought it was great advice, but wondered how to accomplish it? How do I rewire my brain? Then Jinger shared a quote from Mother Teresa. “I was once asked why I don’t participate in anti-war demonstrations. I said that I will never do that, but as soon as you have a pro-peace rally, I’ll be there.” The light bulb went off. My brain screamed, “I understand it now!” Instead of concentrating on what not to do, I needed to give my brain something else to focus on! The way for me to fend off those emotions was to work on being more positive.

I’ve never been a big believer in affirmations. Imagine Natalie Wood’s character, Susan in Miracle on 34th Street. When she doesn’t find the gift she asked Santa for under the tree, in the car on the way home she mutters, “I believe. I believe. It’s silly, but I believe.” That was me when I tried Jinger’s affirmation, and like Susan, I received a surprise.

“Great I Am, White Light of Truth (you can tailor to your own beliefs), only good will come to me. Only good will go from me. So be it. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.”

Those few words reframed my thinking. They remind me to stay positive. When I slide back into old ways, they remind me to look at the flip side of a situation and to focus on what I can do, rather than what I shouldn’t.

If what I’ve shared resonates with you, great. If not, file it away. Someone you meet may need to hear it one day. Whichever the case, thank you for being here today, and I wish you a blessed 2020 full of possibilities. 

I have two giveaways today. One person will receive the Chakra bracelet from Jinger’s shop, Maxine’s Uptown Boutique. Another will receive the Goldstone bracelet, and both will receive a copy of To Tame A Texas Cowboy. To be entered in the random drawing leave a comment about the best or most impactful advice you’ve received. 

Click here to buy a copy of To Tame A Texas Cowboy. Click here to like and follow Jinger’s shop, Maxine’s Uptown Boutique on Facebook.  

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Julie Benson has written five novels for Harlequin American, and her Wishing, Texas series is available from Tule Publishing. Now that her three sons have left the nest in Dallas, when she isn't writing, Julie spends her time working on home improvement projects, rescuing dogs, and visiting Texas wineries with her husband. Visit her at www.juliebenson.net.

42 thoughts on “Musings From A Budding Optimist”

  1. Education is the most important thing. Since I couldn’t afford college I did manage business school.

    • Kim, I agree and right now it’s becoming harder for young people to get advanced education. Technical schools and business school like you attended are ridiculously expensive, too. A friend’s son went to a technical school to become a car mechanic and I couldn’t believe how much that cost. If he hadn’t gotten scholarships I don’t think they could’ve afforded it. We have got to do better for our kids. Thanks for stopping by today.

  2. Good morning! I love this blog and it is great to read it at the beginning of the year to be reminded of mindset. I am a single disabled mother, I have MS. I am a huge believer in having to look for the positives in all situations because my life tends to be hard the majority of the time. If I didn’t look for the positives I could easily become a miserable hardened woman. I often fail but I do my best to see the “glass is half full”, “others have it worse”, “there is a positive side of everything and every situation”… books have saved my life and sanity because they are my escape. Happy New Year! Congratulations on your new release, I’d love the opportunity to read it!

    • Stephanie, I’m in awe of you. From what I’ve seen from friends, being a single mom is tough enough, but being disabled too? Wow, talk about a superhero! You’re exactly the type of woman my heroine Cheyenne is modeled after. Life hits her pretty hard in this story. I thought about my mom when she had some health issues a few years ago. She slipped into the why is God doing this to me depression. I told her life was sometimes tough and we have 2 choices, we can give up or we can fight with all we have. I thought of that a lot when Cheyenne was dealing with her issues. In the book Cooper asks her how can she laugh and stay so positive with what’s going on in her life. She tells him life is a lot like poker. We don’t get to choose the hand we’re dealt. We can either play the one we’re dealt or fold. She says she wasn’t about to fold.

      May your new year be blessed and may you stay strong to fight the good fight. What an example you are to your children!

  3. I do agree that everyone can teach you. I think the best advice I was given was to not sweat the small stuff. I still do but I remind myself of that.

    • Debra, that’s good advice. I’d forgotten that one, and I admit I forget it too often in my daily life. My husband is good about that. He says I worry too much. (Which I do. Yet another issue I’m working on!) I say he doesn’t worry enough. The first time I said that, he smiled and told me it was a good thing because then together we worry the right amount. I ask myself a lot how important is this? What’s the worst thing that could happen? That helps me put things back in perspective.

      Thanks for stopping by today and for reminding me to not sweat the small stuff!

    • Estella, your mom gives great advice. I used to tell my oldest son that. He would complain and complain about something he had to do. I would tell him that if he’d just gotten to it instead of complaining, he’d be done! I always keep that in mind. When I have a bunch of things to do, I always tackle the toughest one first. Thanks for sharing our mom’s wonderful advice with us today!

  4. I think my best advise is never give up and always finish what you start. Congrats on your new release and I am looking forward to reading it.

    • Your advice is great! I kept thinking of it when I wrote To Tame A Texas Cowboy. The story gave me fits. I took so many wrong turns it made me dizzy, but I kept telling myself I refused to give up. I do the same thing when I lose something. I get a little obsessive searching until I find it. It serves me well because I usually do find the object I’ve misplaced. Though I still have one necklace that has eluded me…

      Thank you for stopping by today! May your 2020 be blessed!

  5. well not advise about the new year, but Mom always said that your reputation was the easiest thing to lose and never regain and to hold on to it with everything in you!

    • Teresa, your mom is so right! Reputations and trust are so easy to lose or destroy and so very hard to repair. I wish more people would realize that. Lately our culture has forgotten your mother’s advice. Thank you for reminding us of how important it is to protect our reputation!

    • Melanie, thank you for stopping by the corral today. I substitute teach for kids in grades 3-5. They’re always asking me, “Is this for a grade?” when I explain an assignment. I tell them it shouldn’t matter because they should do their best no matter what. I tell them when they get a job what will they do? Will they ask if a task is important enough to do their best or if they can just rush through it? I say they need to get in the habit of doing their best because then they never have to worry.

      Your other bit of advice is something I deal with students a lot, too. When something is hard they often come to the teacher and say, “I don’t get it.” That’s kid speak for “this is really hard and I don’t want to think this much to figure it out so will you just tell me what to do.” I think as parents, and teachers too, we have to be careful not to step in too much for kids. We need to help, but not do something for them. I have to remind my husband of that sometimes when I have computer issues. I have to say I don’t want him to do it for me. I want him to walk me through how to do it. However, I admit sometimes when I’m really tired ahd frustrated, I’ll say I want him to just do it for me! 🙂

  6. The best advice came from my mom every time I worried over a test or a project growing up, “Just do your best and don’t worry.” As long as I tried my hardest, she reassured me, I would be fine. I graduated high school and college with flying colors and have a good job and wonderful husband and kids. I think Mom was right.

    • Carrie, I wish more parents would give their children that advice today. I see kids so stressed out in elementary school. And don’t get me started on the blasted standardized testing! We need to praise their effort more and the result less. Your mother is a very wise woman.

      Thank you for sharing her advice and may your 2020 be blessed!

  7. My parents always gave advice since they cared about my future and my life, but they did not hover. When I was young they encouraged me to continue with my education as it was vital for security.

    • Anne, sounds like your parents were incredibly wise. People don’t realize hovering is almost as bad as not helping your kids. When we hover we don’t let the learn to deal with anything on their own. I’ve heard from friends who teach college who’re amazed how many call they get from parents about their students’ grades–in college! Really? By that age if you haven’t raised your children so they’re able to handle their school issues on their own, they’re in trouble!

      Thanks for stopping by today and sharing your parents’ wisdom!

    • April, your mother’s advice is excellent. I’m working on the first two, but I do well with the last one. I think as a woman, I really need to listen to my instincts. They tell us when something isn’t a good idea or when it’s dangerous. So many of us get into serious trouble when we override our instincts. We usually do that when we overthink. 🙂

      Thank you for popping in and sharing your mother’s wisdom.

  8. When we were growing up and guided by our parents they felt that it was very important to complete what your start. In life we have to learn from our mistakes but benefit from experiences. I don’t think that any advice which I give is taken seriously since I am old and things have changed drastically. The future is theirs.

    • Ruth, if they don’t take your advice then they’re foolish. If the rest of your wisdom is as good as what you shared from your parents, then they could learn a lot. Sometimes I think advice takes a while to sink in. With my oldest, we’re getting a lot of “now I see what you mean” or “you know you were right about…” in regards to advice we gave him as a teenager. (He’ll be 30 in April!) Stick to it and keep giving your advice. I truly believe one day it’ll kick in. Thank you for stopping by the corral today. I appreciated your advice.

  9. I hate to admit it because it would give him a big ego, but a lot of times my husband gives me good advice. Mostly he reminds me that I worry and stress too much and he always says to give it to God. I fought that advice for a long time, but lately it has really helped me. Like this morning I was stressing over getting my driver’s license renewed. My eye sight has gotten worse and I was really worrying about the vision test. I also worried about how long it would take to get it done. But everything worked out well. We even had time to stop off to get some breakfast before he went into work.

    • Janine, your husband sounds like mine! I tease him that whether nothing’s going on or the house is on fire, he has one speed. But I wouldn’t trade him for anything. If I’d married another worrier like me, I’d be completely crazy by now. He’s taught me patience, to slow down, and not worry as much. He’s provided such balance and stability for me. Of course, that doesn’t mean that he still doesn’t drive me crazy at times…

      I’m so glad it was painless getting your driver’s license renewed. Sometimes that can be such a pain. No one should have to spend half the day getting that done, but I’ve known it to take that long some times.

      And turning things over to God is always sound advice. Thank you for reminding me of that. Enjoy the rest of your day!

    • Abigail, you’re spot on with your advice. Why be a copy of someone else when you can be an original? I’ve heard the saying be the best you, you can be. Dr. Seuss said, “Be yourself, because the people who don’t mind matter. And the people that matter, don’t mind.” Thank you for reminding us about that wonderful piece of advice. Thanks for stopping by.

  10. I waited to go to college after I graduated from high school. I went to a private college and got my Medical Secretary diploma. Then, I decided to go back to college later and went to our community college, where I got my AS degree in Business Administration and Management. However, I’m also a firm believer that just because you have a BS, Masters, or higher, doesn’t necessarily mean you know anything other than the book work! There are a lot of jobs in fields like construction that don’t need degrees, that aren’t being filled, because people don’t want to do that type of work any more. There may soon be a shortage of houses, etc., because they can’t find people to do that work. My parents couldn’t afford to pay my way through college. I went on grants, and the last one I worked full time and went to school at night. If you want it bad enough, you can find a way.

    • Caryl, I’m so glad the blog spoke to you. Thank you for stopping by to chat, and I appreciate the congratulations. I’m excited to hear what people think of this story!

  11. Trudy, I admire your tenacity. You definitely didn’t take the easy route with your education, especially when you were working full time and going to school at night! I was like you and went back to school after having received a degree. I decided to get my teaching certificate. Returning to school was definitely harder the second time around.

    I agree that a degree doesn’t mean someone knows what to do in a job. Nor does it mean someone will earn a living wage. I have friends with masters degrees that are struggling to pay their bills because their fields pay so poorly. We also need to realize college isn’t what everyone wants. I’d like to see us put more energy and money in terms of scholarships and grants into trade schools for those students who don’t want to go the college route. Whatever education someone needs for the job they are targeting, we need help them obtain. The better trained people are, the better job they do and the happier they are.

    Thank you for stopping by and reminding me how all education is valuable!

    • One semester, while working full-time, I went to three night classes and a Saturday morning class! The Saturday morning class was a computer class, and I didn’t have a computer at home! Two of the ladies in the class would call me with questions, while sitting in front of their computers, and I’d answer them without having a computer in front of me! Our final for the class included doing work on the computer and turning the floppy disk in (tells you how long ago that was!!). One of the ladies invited me to her home, told me I could use her computer if I’d help her with the work. When I arrived, she’d managed to do the work on her own, still fed me, and let me use her computer. I was so thrilled, cause I had no idea how I’d have managed to do the work without her!!

      • Trudy, you are an amazing woman for what you’ve achieved. I can’t begin to understand how difficult that was! (And I remember floppy disks, too!) Thank goodness for the women who helped you with survive the computer class. It’s a true example of how much better we all are when we work together instead of seeing each other as rivals. I hope God blessed those women for their kindness.

  12. When it’s too big for you to handle, give it over to God.

    Believe, have faith, give grace, and go forward.

    Happy Book Release!

    • Denise, I love your advice to believe, have faith, give grace and go forward! I especially love the give grace. I’m going to add this advice to my lists. I think I’ll add it to my daily meditation. Thank you so much for sharing it. And thank you so much for the good wishes for my release!

  13. My mom lived by the motto, “Don’t let the joy stealers steal your joy.” I like that concept and try to apply it to my life.
    Because I’m a Christian, I also try to live my faith in God in whatever situation I find myself in, whether it be joyous or difficult.

    Loved reading about your new book too! Great blog!

    • Kathy, your mother sounds like a smart woman. She was right. No one can steal our joy unless we allow it. I don’t think I’ve ever realized that before, but I’m glad I’m aware of it now. It’s a good thing to remind ourselves of when we feel like someone is bringing us down. Like your mom, I always try to keep God in mind in situations. When I find myself getting upset with someone, I try to pause and say a prayer for them. I’ve found when someone is being difficult it’s usually because something in their life has them upset. I find saying a prayer erases my anger.

      I’m glad you enjoyed the blog today and thank you so much for the good wishes about the book!

  14. The best advice I ever got is “Always do the Very Best in Everything you do so that you can be Proud of what you have done!” I have been passing that advice to my 3 grandchildren , I told my now grown up daughter that and my son. When my daughter was in College, she would call me when she was going to have her finals, she would always worry, she was always a very good student throughout he HS years and she would always study, she would start studying at least a couple of weeks before her test and she did that in college also. So I would tell her, I know you have studied so just do the Very Best you can, now if you didn’t study, then you will have to worry about it. Also, there will always be someone that does better than you, but you will also do better than someone else. Thank you for sharing this Post, it really makes a lot of sense! The bracelets look beautiful, Thank you for the chance. God Bless you.

    • Alicia, it sounds like you were a fantastic parent, supportive and realistic. Some parents try to sugar coat things from their children. In so many things in life, we get out what we put in. Our children (and grandchildren) need to know that. I always gave my children the same advice. If you’ve prepared, studied and done your best, then you’ve done all you can. I told myself the same thing when I was in college.

      The bracelets are even prettier in person. Jinger has the neatest stuff at her shop. It’s such an eclectic shop. She has vintage jewelry and purses, plus crystals and various other items. She picked out the bracelets for me! Good luck and thanks for stopping by today to chat!

  15. I know the giveaway is over, but I wanted to thank you for this post. It has been very easy to let negative thoughts and attitudes take over lately. It is an effort to prevent them from taking over. In addition to that, I have a niece who has started writing and getting discouraged. This post will be of help to her. I especially like Mother Teresa’s quote. She is among those I most admire. I had not seen that quote before and it does clarify a positive attitude. It did open my eyes to the difference in those two approaches. She has moved up a notch in my admiration. Best wishes for the release of TO TAME A TEXAS COWBOY.

    • Patricia, first of all, I want to thank you for the beautiful note you sent. I’m glad last month’s giveaway reached you safely. Tell your niece not to get discouraged. Share with her that I started writing when my middle son was a toddler. I sold my first two books to Harlequin when he was in college. In fact, I sold during spring break and my two oldest were home when I got the call! Persistence is the key. That and learning the craft. The 2 books that helped me the most when I started writing are Debra Dixon’s Goal, Motivation and Conflict and Jack Bickham’s Scene and Structure. I had epiphanies when I read both those books. If your niece hasn’t read them, suggest them to her.

      Thank you for letting me know the blog spoke to you. The affirmation Jinger suggested to me has truly changed my life. I say it every morning when I put on the bracelets I bought at Jinger’s shop. I wear them to remind me to stay positive and remember Mother Teresa’s quote on how to see things differently. It’s also a constant battle with me, too.

  16. My best advice I got was a classic one. the cup is always half full
    you got to loot at life as if the glass is half full..there is so
    much to life and it has its ups and downs.you reap what you sow and
    to live by that will always guide you in the right direction

  17. My grandmother not only told me but she lived this advice. No matter where you are or what you are doing, if you are following God it’s right.

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