Making Your Dreams Real & 100 Thank Yous!

RebeccaVillarreallaunchesSelmawithpancakes

Readers and beautiful ones! I want to say thank you for buying more than 100 copies of The Amazing Adventures of Selma Calderón: A Globetrotting Magical Mystery of Courage, Food & Friendship! Since we published the book on August 8, I set a goal of selling 100 books by September 30. Whether you bought one, told someone about it or shared it on social media, thank you! You can read all about why I wrote the book on my new website here. If you want to know the answer to “What if you could travel the world, go back in time, and eat your favorite foods along the way, all the while unraveling the mystery of your missing parents?” click here.

I’ve written this post with so much love and a desire to visit with you via video. That’s why I’ve compiled moments in the journey all together in this post. More than anything I hope this inspires you to go for your own dreams. No desire is too big or too small! That’s why I included a never-before-seen video of my own vision wall at the end. Here’s an appreciation video I made for you during my lunch break.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, this beautiful story took me ten years to finish. To take you back to the moment we published the book, I’m sharing a video of me popping the cork to celebrate.

Here’s another video we created the weekend of publication which includes a delicious sweet potato pancake cooking lesson thanks to my favorite Life is Messy Kitchen cookbook by the amazing entrepreneur Mayi Carles.

It’s been so rewarding to read a mom’s Facebook post telling me that her daughter is staying up wait too late because she can’t stop reading Selma. And for a reader to send me this picture saying that she made a date night just for herself alone to read the book.

Selma Eat and Read Party

The reviews have been amazing! Here are some excerpts:

As soon as I started reading about Selma, I was hooked! — KC

I have fallen in love with Selma, her friends, family and adventures. Each page of this wonderful story takes you on a magical journey filled with love. This is a story you will want to share with the entire family. I can’t wait to find out where Selma takes us next. — Margaret S. Edwards

You will be swept away in a magical tale…Selma will inspire you to dream and believe in magic. Rebecca Villarreal creates a world where anything is possible-both good and bad-and how patience, understanding, love, and belief in oneself can truly be transformative…she teaches us to approach life with an open mind and with gusto. – John C. Kazmierczak

Thoughtful, engaging and delightful–your entire family will enjoy this page-turner! – Jaqueline M. Crocetta

I set aside an evening to dive into this delectable book and fell in love immediately with the cast of characters. Selma’s got a big heart and a mischievous streak that lands her in a spot of bother more often than not. I loved being on this journey with Selma, Guadey, and Hurley & Uli. And I honestly can’t wait for more. I think kids of ALL ages will enjoy this magical journey! –Linda Stockton

I was transported near and far, and imagined myself taking all of these adventures with Selma and her family & friends. It made me laugh a lot, it made me cry a little and it definitely left me wanting for a sequel. –J. Sullivan

Selma and her companions will be in several Christmas stockings this year. Hopefully, we will not have to wait long for a sequel! –Juliann Uritus

Signed copies!

And speaking of stockings or Hanukkah or Kwanzaa or any holiday, we now have a team ready to send you signed copies! Please send an email to team@rebeccavillarreal.com and we’ll send you a form. The book is $12 and U.S. shipping rates for one copy are as follows: Media Mail $4; First Class: $5; Priority Mail: $8.50. Once we get your order, we’ll calculate shipping one or multiple copies to you and your loved ones.

I’m a HUGE supporter of independent book stores. You can purchase Selma through your local independent books store by searching and ordering here.

It’s also available on: Amazon, iTunes, Barnes & Noble and Nook.

Stay tuned in the coming months, we’ll be announcing which organization shall receive 5% of all net profits from Selma!

Creating Your Own Vision and Making Your Dreams Real

And here’s the treat I promised at the top of this post. Remember how I moved across country from Chicago to California? That was part of a very big and beautiful dream I held for 20 years. I kept wishing for it and working toward it.

A key step in getting me closer to how I wanted my life to look was to forgive others and myself any and all hurts and disappointments. It sounds simple and we know it’s not but it clears the way for so much yes in your life. I wrote a post about forgiveness here and shared resources related to forgiveness here.

The other way was to constantly declare my intentions either to my loved ones or to my broader family here on this blog. You saw me apply for a scholarship and very nervously and excitedly declare that I’d finish the book. The other thing I did was surround myself with images that supported my dream. Here is an intimate tour of my giant vision wall while which was built over time at my home in Chicago.

Everyone has a recommended approach to visualizing your best future. You are the best judge of that. Monday, October 12 is the new moon. No matter what you believe in the world, we all live in the same one. Here’s what I’d like to share about this moment: You are worthy. As we move into a new phase, take a moment to sit with that. You deserve joy, happiness and a rich life. Think about how you want to feel.*

One recent interview I enjoyed which helped me break through some of my own fears, is this “Big Strong Magic” interview by author Elizabeth Gilbert of researcher and storyteller Brené Brown. If you have little ones, put on your headphones because there is some adult language in it. There’s an entire podcast series on this available on iTunes and Soundcloud. You can listen to the interview here.**

I love learning about and creating my own rituals alone and with my family. Tonight’s a great night to do that. Or tomorrow night with the new moon. What if you took some time to write down a few old hurts rip them up and toss them in the trash then write some new gratitude lists or wishes for your new beginning? I’m on Day 53 of a #yearofgratitude. You can follow my journey on Instagram and start your own journey!

Please keep sharing your Selma love with her magical hashtag #cucalacas!

Thank you again for your generosity in helping my dreams come true. I hope my vision wall and these words open up a bright space for you to reflect and set some intentions for your best life ever!

With love and gratitude,

Rebecca

*P.S. A fun free tool to help you visualize how you want to feel is the Desire Map Core Desired Feelings library and graphic maker. I used the latter for my vision wall.

**P.P.S. I can’t help but encourage you to read Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert and Rising Strong by Brené Brown. If you visit Brené’s site, watch her brief book trailer video including the Manifesto of the Brave and Brokenhearted. And I can’t help sharing her interview on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday. I broke through some MAJOR fear when I watched it. Enjoy!

What’s Your Trigger?

I’m writing you while brewing garlic, purple onion, cardamom, ginger, honey and lemon tea. I’ve had a cold for about five days. I’ve tried to figure out how I got sick. Was it that I eased up on green juice? Was it that I started consuming more dairy? Or was it that I missed some vitamins? Didn’t rest enough? Did too much? What did I do?

Um, how about nothing? How about I just caught a cold? And I have to wait it out for days. Rest. Tea. Liquids. Binge reading.

I love reading. I love television too. Lately, I’ve been loading up on so many books at the library. Ripper by Isabel Allende. Five, Six, Seven Nate by Tim Federle. And I finally started a book I own: Daring Greatly, by Brené Brown. I recommend all three books. Crime novel, elementary fiction and a breakthrough book on vulnerability, shame, perfectionism and the courage to connect.

I’m only on page 90, but what I’ve found is that men and women both suffer from shame about not doing enough, being enough, enough, enough.

I once worked for someone with whom I did a subtle dance where I let her push me into working with such intensity that I would have trouble sleeping and perpetually get sick. I let her pull the trigger on my “if I just work hard enough, I can do enough to stay under the radar and not suffer her wrath” button. Hers was a wrath cloaked in disappointment and shame. Let me tell you, if this was a dance on a reality show, I’d win. I know every step. I know how to please and how to anticipate better than the highest ranking general in a war room. I know how to make moves to keep the peace, to my own detriment. (Man, I love mixing metaphors!)

I also know how to blame myself for not doing enough.

Guess what, I am learning to recognize those dance moves and stop. Stop the thoughts that trigger an old script. I am not actually in that movie anymore. I’ve created a life I love. I’ve created a life I deserve. Also known as, “I am worthy of happiness.”

What happens when people, even those you love, trigger an old script? My husband is reading the Brené Brown book as well. He started it when I was binging on elementary fiction. Lately, I’ve been going through a strange emotional regression at home and have fallen back into a weird needy pleasey annoying (my word because it’s even annoying me) behavior. He’s been saying, “I want my Rebecca Villarreal back.” And I’ve been looking at him cross-eyed, confused, saying, “I’m trying! I’m trying!”

I was meditating, doing yoga, exercising, working, being a good mom, trying to be intentional in my marriage. Striving, trying and exhausting myself. (You can see how I’d like to blame myself for being sick?)

Well, here’s the good news. Yesterday, I was reading Brene’s book and watched how shame, disappointment and a scarcity mentality were triggering that pleasing button. Scarcity is about thinking you can never do or be enough–the house isn’t clean enough, your work isn’t good enough, you’re not thin enough, smart enough. When you flip that thinking on its head, you end up with, “I am imperfect and I am enough.” Cool beans because that means you are worth a life full of love. Trust me, you are worthy.

Basically, by slowing down and being sick, I could actually watch things happen in my mind. I watched old thoughts pop up about doing more for my son or my husband, or doing more around the house. I started squinting my eyes and looking sideways at those thoughts and saying, that’s not what’s happening right now. You’re just a thought. Go away. And sometimes, I even laughed at those thoughts.

I told this to my husband yesterday through some snot-filled tears. And even some laughter. I pointed to the intensity of editing my book and making some major decisions about content, timing and release. And what I could humanly do given that I have a full-time job and family and life. I pointed to some childhood scenarios that didn’t exist, yet trained me for certain life sports: pleasing, keeping the peace, anticipating villainous and crazy moves. I have no reason to use those muscles now. So I’m in training, a sort of emotional Olympic training, to use my muscles of courage, connection, vulnerability and enoughness—also know as, IMPERFECTION.

So, dear friends, my tea is ready, I bid you adieu. If you have triggers or are trained in any sports or dances that no longer suit your life, or the life you want to create, I’m sending you a special wish for a new hobby. Connect with someone you trust. Tell that person: I’m choosing to use my courage muscle now. (Be aware that a lot of the fibers that make up that muscle are comprised of fear and that’s okay.)

A toast to you and your new week! Much love in perpetual pajamas,

xo
me

Meet my noisy neighbor, Fear

 WalkThroughFearbyRebeccaVillarreal

I’m not exactly sure when she moved in. But I do know fear’s been with me since 5th grade. That year, the boy who liked me followed me home and punched me in the jaw because I wouldn’t be his girlfriend. Fear’s been that neighbor with the music pounding through the walls in my head when I submitted my first poem for publication. She came to visit me when my son was in the hospital, but she spent the whole time talking about herself. She’s been planting her lawn chair on my property poking at my heart each of the seven times I took a risk on love, until this last try worked out. She stands at my fence with a cigarette hanging out of her mouth yammering away as I expand my novel answering the questions asked by characters eight years ago when I didn’t know them well enough to answer. Or I was just too afraid?

What’s your fear?

Is it your boss? Heights? The dark? Your dream of becoming a writer, singer, chef, CEO, marathon runner, spouse, parent? Or is it just a fear of speaking up?

Fear’s that noisy neighbor inside your head. You might be so used to her voice that you think she’s your imaginary friend.

Fear tells you, “You’re not good enough, smart enough, brave enough…” And then there’s the way she controls others: “They’re going to laugh at you, find out your secret: that you don’t know what you’re doing.” Eckhart Tolle might call that voice your ego–those thoughts that are not real. Those voices are not real. What’s happening in the moment is real.

How much power do you want to give fear?

I’m not going to tell you to laugh in the face of fear. Though sometimes, you have to admit that the conversations with your neighbor, from an objective standpoint, or if they were in a movie, might be funny in a neurotic sort of way. Please know that I’m not referring to the fear when in life-threatening situations. That’s a different kind of fear. But even in those circumstances, I think that humans have the capacity to dig deep.

What about “tragedy”?

I asked Pam Teaney Thomas, the winner of my Birthday Blog Giveaway, about fear. I met her when speaking in South Dakota last year. She’s a remarkable woman, an artist and an activist who works with youth. She has seen her share of fear in the form of two life-threatening situations. Her house, including most of her paintings, burnt down. And she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Here’s what she said:

When I think of the hard times…you find the courage to go through them by those who have walked the path before you and are standing on the other side. They understand your fears, pains and needs. They made it, therefore so can I. The support of my Faith, Family and Friends were huge in pushing through. Each hard time made the next hard time not so hard. You become tempered like steel…Sharper, stronger, and shinier. You recognize that by walking through it there can be a sliver lining if you keep your eyes open to it. Count Your Blessings and Name them One by One and you will see what The Lord hath Done. Truly at the first anniversary of our Fire that is what we did, (it was hard especially for my 17 year old son, but was the best thing we could force ourselves to do). We are now 7 years out and we don’t miss that dinner together each year to celebrate the blessings, not the loss.”

Easy Tools to Deal with Fear

My friends, we can learn from Pam and we can learn from Fear. Here’s what I do now:

  1. Ask for help: I did this when I recently experienced a wave of almost paralyzing fear about publishing my novel. (The closer it becomes to a reality, the more my neighbor wants to keep me company.) I asked some lovely people to hold me up in a bubble of bravery, and that’s what they did, in words, through Facebook posts, with photos, and in thoughts and prayers. I also asked the divine for help. I pulled out all the stops, God, angels, guides, universe, fairies, moon—it made me exercise my vulnerability muscle in a whole new way.
  2. Push the button to walk. I actually walk through my fear like a swamp, because I know there is dry steady land on the other side. Steven Pressfield author of The War of Art, wrote about fear as a good thing. It can be a helpful messenger in showing you how much you want something. So the more frightened you are of taking action, the more you know it’s what you’re called to do. It can sometimes provide you with the adrenaline rush you need to get a task done.
  3. Write. It can be a poem. Or just a scrap of paper that you later rip up or burn over the stove. It can be a journal entry. An email to a friend. Try it. In writing down your fear, you face it differently. It can help you separate from those noisy voices and more objectively decide how much longer you want to pass the time with those thoughts and feelings.

Here’s an excerpt from a poem I wrote last week while swimming in the swamp of fear. One fear had triggered another and another until I was all memories and pain. It’s called: “A New Path.”

Higher self hanging by the tips of angels

feel my fingers slipping

go back to the page

repair one line at a time

fill in the space

between your eyes

there’s a knowledge

in everyone’s heart

and it rests right here

it rests right here

 

You can buoy your dreams

on a raft of chants, songs

steps on that new path

you wouldn’t have it

brick by brick

heel mark

pebble

rock

the charity of a new day

embrace it before

it’s gone again

So tune out your noisy neighbor when you need to, or shake your booty at her and use her yammering voice to propel you forward. Embrace this new day, my friend, it’s the only one you have right now.

Big hug from my heart to yours,

R

P.S.: For some other resources on dealing with fear* check out:

  1. Brené Brown: If you just want a 10-minute fix and a chance to laugh, here’s one of my favorite clips from her speech at the World Domination Summit. The ultimate victory over fear is to be able to choose vulnerability, to risk your heart in the face of it. If you’re not familiar with her research, consider watching Brené’s 19-minute TED talks focused on vulnerability and shame. They get at the heart of fear as well. I’ve also just started reading her latest book Daring Greatly and it’s amazing. If you’re already a fan, check out this recent interview with Jonathan Fields of The Good Life Project.
  2. Danielle LaPorte’s Making New Mind Grooves: A Discussion about the Neuropathways that are steering your life. This is a great way to train your brain out of its habits of worry or negativity. She also recently wrote about love and having a gentle heart, yet building a fence around it. You don’t have to let everyone in. That one resonated with me as I balance compassion with self-care.
  3. Hay House World Summit: This is a free online summit that started yesterday. You’ll be able to hear 30+ speakers online on a range of topics. I believe that for $7.00, you’ll have anytime access to 100+ speakers. (Registration fees go to their nonprofit.)

Finally, you can follow Pam Teaney Thomas on Twitter @PamTeaneyThomas

*Items one and two contain an occasional well-placed swear word in case you are sensitive about that. Stick with the content, it’s going to make you feel worlds better.

ExpandingSelmabyRebeccaVillarreal

Honeycomb It: Getting to Your Core

Image

After seeing the majestic artistic vision of Mt. Rushmore, I keep coming back to the image of “honeycombed” rock. This was a process of drilling holes in the outside of the rock to weaken a layer and then knock it off to get to the smoother more carvable granite. It made me think about the process of discovery as an artist and as a human being.

What lies underneath? What amazing sculpture is lurking inside of you? You can take this on the physical level and look at your body. I can tell you that I was not one of those Hollywood stars who shed their baby fat after giving birth. I finally joined Weight Watchers when my son was five years old and am happy to say that I am 25 lbs. lighter as a result. That has definitely given me more energy.

But what about the soul stuff? What about that light burning brightly inside of you? As I write this, a colleague who is a self-proclaimed cynic told me, “We don’t take off the layers.  We just cement and plaster layer after layer.” Is that true for you? Do you have a vision of how you are supposed to be? At different points in my professional career, I felt stifled. Like I had to show up in a certain way, in a role layered with cement, plaster, drywall. I wasn’t eating well or exercising. I felt like I always had to watch my back. What a way to live.  Fear can make us protect ourselves.

What if you poked a few honeycomb holes in that fear? Or in that vision of what or who you are supposed to be according to your boss, your partner, your family? What if some light got in? What if you took a chance, weakened that layer of rock and did an awesome karate kick…and a chunk fell off? What marvelous creation might you uncover?

Go ahead, drill a little hole, then another one and another.  The world needs the YOU under all that rock.

Image

The Sun, a Monster and Spring Bikes in Bloom

Monster by JL Villarreal
“Look over your shoulder. It’s not there. We carry it all inside us.” –Natalie Goldberg, Writer

At thirteen years old, I transferred from a parochial Catholic school to an intense, academically challenging, amazing Quaker school. There was a teacher there who told me during a studio art class, “That’s not the sun, silly.” And from there, I did not stick with visual art for almost two decades. Though I did lots of creative things, in that moment, I let her shut down my vision of what I could draw and paint.

In my late twenties and early thirties, I just started buying paints and taking photos. I was always writing.  My first painting was an abstract of the sun called “That’s not the sun, silly.” It was my defiant step into the world of visual art.  Since then, I have participated in several visual art group shows and even had a solo photography show which also featured large installations of poetry.  

I share my story to invite you to step into your courage. 

Is there some area at any point in your life where someone told you that you were not good enough? Or perhaps you didn’t have the formal education so you don’t count your talents?  Did you stop trying? Do you still long for it? Take one step to try.  See what happens.

I’m happy to post my son’s painting titled “Monster” and to celebrate the public art installation I witnessed on the way to work. Art is everywhere!

Tonight at midnight, the contest closes for my blog followers.  Do you want to win a box of personalized inspirating gifts just for you?  Details are here: http://wp.me/p2Kzj7-8W

Art Bikes on Franklin Street, Chicago, IL

Art Bikes on Franklin Street, Chicago, IL

What’s your superpower?

Image

Yesterday while watching the movie, The Green Lantern, I heard, “Green is the color of will.” Hal Jordan was chosen as the Green Lantern for his courage.  His big a-ha came when he realized that you can have fear, overcome it and become courageous.  We all know this.  Yet sometimes, in fear, I think we forget that courageous folks are scared all of the time.  If you had a superpower, what would it be?  Are you the most organized person in the land? Are you the funniest? What would it take to hone your superpower? A focus on fitness and nutrition? Watching comedy so that you can laugh more? Writing every day so that it becomes a habit? Think about the greatest possibilities, why you were put on this planet for this period of time. Think about the best version of yourself.  What will it take to get there?

Wahoo! Believe! Rebecca applies for scholarship! Publishes novel!

Reaching, believing!

Reaching, believing!

Butterflies in my stomach. You have to believe in yourself, right? Please view, believe, like…send positive energy, prayers, shouts of wahooey to me as I apply for a scholarship to Jennifer Lee’s Right Brainers in Business premium pass. I will have access to amazing mentors and resources as I embark upon publishing my novel. I will know by this Wednesday! View the video below where I declare!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-o0LQf1tCZ0