Inspirational Story: Success Against The Odds

Max Candy Was A Big, Bouncy, Bonny Boy

Max Candy Was a Big, Bonny, Five Kilo Baby

Here’s a story about faith, determination and team work

It’s a success story which I hope will inspire you to strike out for what you want and achieve your goals, even if the odds are stacked against you.

It’s a story in which I faced my fears, followed my gut instincts and believed in myself when some medical practitioners wouldn’t. Today is my second son’s eight birthday and I’d like to share his homebirth story with you.

Best of all it’s a story with a very happy ending. Well, more of a happy beginning really, the beginning of Max’s life with us.

The Challenge

Having experienced a caesarian section with our first baby in 1998, and almost dying after the surgeon left me with a bleeding artery, I dreamed of giving birth to my second baby in the comfort and privacy of my own home. After that caesarian in an Auckland hospital I needed eight units of blood, and went back to surgery under general anesthetic for a second operation to stop the bleeding. There are six hours missing from my life, my first six hours as a new mother, but I’m lucky to have survived.

Statistics say that caesarian sections are more dangerous for the mother than vaginal births, and I was unfortunate enough to experience that first hand. I wanted to have a home birth with my first baby but I ended up going to hospital and being convinced to have a caesarian because the doctor thought I was having a big baby. They got that right as Luke weighed in at 10lb 12oz (4.9kg).

Since baby Luke was a week overdue, and so large, I wanted to have my second baby early in the hope that she or he would be smaller. I was delighted when I went into labour ten days before my due date on a Monday morning.

The Struggle

At first labour was very slow and I wasn’t sure if it was the real thing. I went for a long walk on the beach, had a siesta and was examined by Alison at 4pm and found to be 3cm dilated. So far so good. For the uninitiated I’m referring to the cervix, which needs to be 10cm dilated before the baby can squeeze through it. I slept a little that night.

By Tuesday morning I was 5cm dilated. My friend Jayne arrived and another friend, Mel, looked after three year old Luke for us. Me, Jayne and Rich hung out, picked flowers, pottered round the garden, and got things ready. Alison came back at 2pm and I was happy when she said she was going to stay now and started setting up her equipment. The four of us laughed, chatted and listened to reggae. The pain got worse but not too bad, I was in and out of the bath and took a few walks, kept eating and drinking throughout. Around 6pm Alison broke my bulging waters ~ woosh, I was soon fully dilated.

Pushing that baby out was hell, but thank heavens it only lasted 45 minutes. I was in agony and changed position with every contraction. I touched the baby’s head as it crowned, then Alison said the baby had the cord round its neck and I let out a terrible wail. “But not tightly” she added. I gave a huge push.

The Reward

Out the baby came, strong and healthy, another big boy. My entire body had split twain in two, at least if felt like that, but my amazing doctor came to the house and sewed me back together again. I was so exhausted I fell asleep while she did it.

None of us could believe that the baby weighed 11lb 1oz (5kg), even more than Luke, who’d been delivered by caesarian because he was so big. We decided to call the new arrival Max which means ‘the greatest’.

I soon recovered and healed fast. I felt vindicated ~ now I knew not only could I grow big strong babies, but I could push them out the natural way too. I was so happy that I’d finally had the home birth I wanted, surrounded by people I knew and trusted.

That night our oldest son, Luke, stayed with Mel and the next day me, Rich and baby Max had a well deserved lie in.

Good luck with all your plans! I hope you succeed in making YOUR dreams come true.

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Related Articles:

>> Maintain Motivation: Celebrate Your Successes
>> Follow Your Dream: You Only Live Once
>> Changing Crappiness Into Happiness

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101 Ways To Feel Happy

A Happy Ni-Vanuatuan Man

A Happy Ni-Vanuatuan Man

Do you want to feel happier than you already are? Do you find that most self-help books are too long, detailed, embarrassing or complicated?

The simple solution is these 101 quick, easy and free ways to make you feel happy right now. They’ll help you get the big picture on how you can feel happier, and from there you can start to add more ideas of your own. Make sure you get your daily dose of happiness, because life’s too short to be miserable.

I’ve read enough self-help and personal development books to fill a couple of tea chests, and I’ve traveled all over the world in search of happiness and fulfillment. So now you don’t have too. Here’s the most important stuff you need to do to make you feel happier, all compressed into one quick list.

If you haven’t already had your happy fix today, or if you want to feel even happier, try these 101 quick, simple ideas, but maybe not all on the same day.

Please, dip in to these happy hints, try them out one by one and start to feel happier day by day:

1. Smile.
2. Connect with nature.
3. Surround yourself with positive people in person or online.
4. Do something you’ve always enjoyed.
5. Do something you’ve never done before but have always wanted to try.
6. Learn something new.
7. Smell something that makes you happy: a mandarin, your lover’s perfume, chocolate, you decide.
8. Reward yourself for your good habits.
9. Eat something that makes you happy, but not too much if it’s fattening.
10. Spend time with a good friend.
11. Touch something that makes you happy: a cat, velvet, the bark of a tree? Take time to notice.
12. Don’t worry now, worry later.
13. Say, or sing, something that makes you happy.
14. Challenge yourself, I dare you.
15. Look at something that makes you happy.
16. Stop procrastinating, do something.
17. Take a small step towards your goal.
18. Congratulate yourself.
19. Tell someone you love them.
20. Do a good deed.
21. Face your fears.
22. Read a book you love.
23. Get outside.
24. Spend time with inspiring people or read about someone who inspires you.
25. Clear out your junk, literally.
26. Let go of negative memories.
27. Dwell on positive things from your past.
28. Be creative.
29. Dare yourself to do something.
30. Give someone an unexpected gift.
31. Change your habits just this once, do something unexpected.
32. Watch the sunset.
33. Get up for sunrise.
34. Open a savings account.
35. Be active.
36. Plan for success.
37. Eat something healthy.
38. Trust your instincts.
39. Follow your passion.
40. Throw a party, or plan to soon.
41. Avoid drama queens and energy suckers, you know who they are.
42. Write stuff down, keep a diary.
43. Set a goal.
44. Clean your house, bit by bit.
45. Say no.
46. Spend a day alone.
47. Devote a day to family.
48. Pick up the phone and call someone you haven’t spoken to for a while.
49. Wear your favourite outfit.
50. Be present.
51. Go for a bike ride.
52. Do something you loved as a kid that you haven’t done for years.
53. Forgive someone, especially yourself.
54. Go slow.
55. Have a meal somewhere different: try a picnic.
56. Avoid advertisements.
57. Pick a bunch of flowers and put them in your house.
58. Ban all media for the day.
59. Let something slide.
60. Display a colorful fruit bowl and eat one or two pieces a day.
61. Be romantic.
62. Play a game: uno, monopoly, chess, poker.
63. Make a smoothie.
64. Have a siesta.
65. Do something you’ve been putting off.
66. Dream big.
67. Start small.
68. Seek out supportive and like-minded people.
69. Understand that all things come to an end.
70. Feed the ducks.
71. Persevere: pick up something you gave up on.
72. Start a new habit, a good one.
73. Look at yourself in the mirror, pick what you like best and flaunt it.
74. Seek sensuous activities and enjoy them.
75. Look for funny things and have a laugh.
76. Rest up.
77. Change your routine.
78. Take a photo, look back at old ones.
79. Stretch your body.
80. Meditate.
81. Write a mantra.
82. Focus.
83. Don’t buy something, see if you miss it. Put the cash in a savings account instead.
84. Notice what makes you happy and use it in sad times.
85. Ignore people who annoy you, stop being with them.
86. Play hide and seek with some kids.
87. Put a picture of something you want on your wall.
88. Tell someone your dreams.
89. Love yourself.
90. Be grateful.
91. Visualise.
92. Unblock.
93. Use your brain: try a crossword or suduko.
94. Make a good choice.
95. Acknowledge your feelings.
96. Go on a journey, long or short.
97. Talk to someone you wouldn’t normally connect with.
98. Be grateful for life.
99. Write a poem.
100. Teach someone something you know well.
101. Choose to be happy every day.

Thanks for reading, please add your comments below and don’t forget to subscribe by email now if you haven’t already so you don’t miss out.

Related Articles:

>> Maintain Motivation: Celebrate Your Successes
>> Give Fear The Finger And Live The Life You Want
>> Live Your Dream In A Material World
>> Seven Reasons To Go For A Walk

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How To Use Twitter As A Motivational Tool

Twitter: Motivator, Not Time Waster
John Birmingham (JohnBirmingham) on Twitter - Mozilla Firefox 7262009 85712 PM
I’ve been motivated, inspired, and just given a good old kick up the bum, by an established writer I follow on Twitter, John Birmingham.

If You Haven’t Already Heard of John Birmingham

The book that turbo-charged John Birmingham’s writing career, He Died With a Falafel In His Hand, is a bizarre collection of true stories about his house-sharing experiences. The tales are so bizarre, disgusting and ludicrous that they make compulsive reading. After the book became a cult hit, Hollywood recognised its potential as movie material, and it went on to become a hit on the big screen too. Inspiring stuff. It makes me want to write a similar book about my personal travel experiences, tentatively called Out Of It In Africa.

But anyway, I can relate to John Birmingham because it took him four years to get established as a writer, he lives near me in Brisbane, and he’s fabulously successful, with a string of books, features and blogs to his name. Well, I confess, I haven’t quite reached his level of success yet, but we both seem to regularly spend up to ten hours a day writing and live in Queensland.

>> Follow me on Twitter
>> Follow John Birmingham on Twitter.

Writer, Motivate Yourself

It was John Birmingham’s regular updates on Twitter, in 140 characters or less, that got me motivated to write more, and to write faster. Now and then JB tweeted that he’d written 3000 words and, being a competitive soul, that made me want to see if I could match him word for word. It really worked to motivate me, and once I even challenged him to a word count race which he very kindly took part in and let me win, even though I cheated by starting before him. The man’s a hero: confident of his own writing prowess and happy to encourage aspiring writers.

How To Motivate Yourself Using Twitter

Now, I was thinking what a loser, stalker, weirdo, or sad combination of all three of them I was for doing this, but then I accidentally came across a post on the Procrastinating Writers website where they named this method of motivation. It’s called ‘bookmarking’. Basically, you tell someone your goal and then update them regularly on your progress. It may be a friend, but it can be anyone, and it can also be done on the phone, with a text message, face to face, or on Twitter where you don’t even need anyone specific to report too.

For example, early in the morning, I might tweet:
“Three things to do: edit chap four of fiction manuscript, polish up my short story for a competition, write post for blog, In the Hot Spot”
Then I make updates on my progress, via Twitter, as the day goes on, like,
“Chapter four edited and looking good. About to update my blog now.”

I know this sounds ridiculously simple and unnecessary too, but if it works as a motivational tool, then that has to be a good thing.

Writer, Motivate Other Writers

One more brilliant side-effect of this is that as well as John Birmingham motivating himself and me, my progress reports have motivated other people too. One man told me that my tweets about writing and my word count have inspired him to start writing again. Another well-known travel writer, with over seven published books, kindly emailed me and said about my word count tweets:
“I’m impressed that you’re knocking out those kind of numbers in a family environment.”

Wow! So I rest my case on the motivational power of Twitter, and pour scorn on those who dismiss it as a waste of time.  As in real life, with Twitter, if you spend time with positive, inspiring people, you’ll be motivated to improve yourself and work harder.

Using Twitter To Motivate Isn’t Just For Writers

I think this type of motivation could easily be used for other goals too, such as:
Giving up smoking – “Haven’t had a cigarette for three days. Going to reward myself with a walk in the park.”
Making sales calls – “Going to do twenty more calls before stopping for lunch.”
Fitness goals – “Just did fifty sit ups during my tea break.”

Well, you get the idea! It could probably be used for any type of goal.

Another Hot Tip on Motivation and Staying Focused

I’ve noticed that the simple act of writing every day for eight hours has made my writing faster. Now I’m going to fit even more writing in, and avoid distractions, thanks to another idea I got from John Birmingham. He recommends putting a timer on your desk and setting it for two hours. Now, write until it rings, have a ten minute break and repeat daily until your task is finished.

Bring Bring! Got to go now, time’s up. Have a super duper and highly productive day everyone:)

Good luck with your plans!

Thanks for reading, please leave a comment below, follow me on Twitter and don’t forget to subscribe to In the Hot Spot by email now, if you haven’t already, so you don’t miss out.

Related articles

>> Self-Motivation and Co-Motivation
>> Maintain Motivation: Celebrate Your Successes

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If I Were A Geek, Just For a Day

Geek glasses: my fancy dress favourite for 23 years

Geek glasses: everyone should have some

Frustration and Computers

During the 13 years I’ve been working on computers, designing websites, and studying online marketing, there have been times of frustration. Moments when I knew exactly what I wanted to achieve, but couldn’t quite work out how to do it.

Fortunately, the frustrations of computers and the Internet are balanced out when you finally manage to do something you’ve been struggling with. That success makes it all worth while and keeps you going, and it’s the same with many other challenges in life. But ultimately, it’s constant learning, and the feelings of achievement that come from persevering, then finally succeeding in your goal, that make those challenges interesting.

Working with technology doesn’t come naturally to me, but it’s got to be done, because the Internet is for all of us, not just for the technologically gifted. I’m determined to persevere and play my part on the Internet as well as I can, and I hope you will too.

This article was inspired by:

  • 13 years spent overcoming computer-based challenges to design user-friendly websites;
  • “If I Was A Boy”, as sung by the beautiful, and highly tuneful, Beyoncé.

So, with many thanks to all the geeks who made this possible, here’s a tongue in cheek look at what I’d do if I was a geek for a day:

  • I would add all the cool buttons to my website so that readers could Tweet this, Digg it, email it to their Facebook page, and have it digitally tattooed on their foreheads too if they so desired.
  • I would employ a brilliant writer to come up with inspiring ideas for my website and turn all my geek speak into intelligent sentences which the general public can understand and relate to.
  • I would have an English English spell check on WordPress and Twitter, not US English.
  • I would fiddle with my coding all day long and half the night, giving my site every useful bell and whistle known to mankind and, most importantly, I’d love doing it.
  • I would make sure my site ranked number 1 with Google for the search engine terms: “Hottest Aussie blogger”.
  • I would get one of my brilliant graphic designer friends to make my site look über-cool, so no one ever suspected a geek was behind it.
  • I would write a program that generated short, witty strings of words and automatically added them to my Twitter account every hour or so.
  • I would be best friends with Leo Babauta, John Chow, Darren Rowse, Seth GodinSeth Simonds and Guy Kawasaki plus all the great girl geeks I’d connect with and I’d happily share my brilliant tips with them all.
  • I would set up my computer with perfect voice recognition so that I never have to type again.
  • I would seem shy, but I’d be totally self-confident in the knowledge that, thanks to me and my skills, the future will be a better place.

Now, just imagine what I’d do if I was a geek for a week!

Good luck with your computer and your Internet dreams!

Thanks for reading, please let me know what you’d do if you were a geek for the day by adding a comment below, and don’t forget to subscribe to In the Hot Spot by email now, if you haven’t already, so you don’t miss out.

Related articles

>> In Praise of Geeks
>> The Trouble With Typing

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Follow Your Dream: You Only Live Once

Me and the Kids, Antigua, Guatemala

Me and the Kids, Antigua, Guatemala

My article, Live Your Dream in a Material World, struck a chord with many of you. In it, I described how we sold most of our belongings in order to make our dream come true and move to Central America.

Now I want to share the first page of my book about our experiences. It tells how we followed our hearts, ignored other people, took a risk, and put up with hardships to follow our dream. I hope that our story will inspire other people to be brave and follow their dream. Here are the first 900 words:

Our First Day in Guatemala

As I looked around the tiny hotel room, now stuffed to capacity with a family of five and our eleven bags, I wondered if we’d done the right thing. It was hard to believe that we’d sold our large, comfy home in New Zealand and most of our belongings in exchange for this. Outside the streets of Antigua, Guatemala’s best known colonial city, beckoned, but I wasn’t sure I could handle the kids here by myself. My husband Rich, my faithful travel companion for sixteen years, had gone on strike suffering from exhaustion and jet lag. My only ally in a 10,000 kilometre radius lay prone on the bed and refused to budge.

Meanwhile my youngest child, Kiara, aged two, was whining. With unfortunate timing, she’d broken her arm and developed a terrible tummy bug about ten days before our departure so a once happy and energetic girl had been replaced by a miserable, lethargic cry-baby. At the opposite end of the emotional scale her brothers, Max, five, and Luke, eight, were running round the minute hotel courtyard laughing uproariously. The colonial hotel with its inner courtyards and fountains, its tiled floors and decorative touches just hadn’t been designed for a large, noisy family. These small spaces were created for smaller, slower and quieter people than us.

Where We Came From

Our children were born and raised on Waiheke Island, just off the coast of New Zealand’s North Island, a thirty minute ferry ride from Auckland City. Waiheke’s a serene and beautiful place, well known for its perfect beaches and famous vineyards. Up until this point the Candy kids had spent the majority of their time running and playing barefoot in a place with only 8000 residents, little traffic and no traffic lights.

Waiheke Island is the perfect place to raise young kids, and the Candy kids had enjoyed a sheltered existence with the security of living and growing up in a familiar place, surrounded by people they’d known since birth. Now we’d turned their world upside down, immersing them in a foreign culture with an unknown and incomprehensible language. The only familiar objects were the ones we’d brought with us. Exhausted after our 27 hour journey, I needed to remind myself why we’d done it.

Our Journey Started in the UK. Where Would it End?

Both me and my husband were born in the UK, but Rich was raised in Kenya. We both love travelling and we met in the Sinai in Egypt, so that’s where our adventures together began. For years we travelled, worked or studied in Africa, South East Asia, the USA, France and the UK, before finally deciding that enough was enough. It wasn’t that we wanted to settle down and stop travelling, just that we wanted a base, a place where we could keep our stuff, a home where we could one day live forever and raise a family.

Neither of us wanted to settle in Britain, but New Zealand fitted the bill: safe, unspoilt, and under populated. After a long, arduous process involving endless application forms, medical exams, and procuring certified copies of every official document that ever crossed our paths, we managed to get New Zealand residency. Our friends in England were horrified, especially our Australian friends who seemed to take it as a personal slur. The typical response from family and friends when we told them the news was disbelief:

“New Zealand? What do you want to go there for?”

But we were used to this. It seemed as if every time we packed our bags and went to a new place we got that same reaction of horror, combined with total incomprehension. Ten years later when we left New Zealand and told people we were moving to Panama the reaction was the same again:

“Panama? What do you want to go there for?”

I’d love to know what you think of this opening to my book. Would you like to read the whole story of how we moved from New Zealand to Panama, then ended up living in Costa Rica for a year, before finally moving to Australia? I’m excited about this chance to get feedback from my readers now as I complete my manuscript ready for publication.

Thanks for reading, please add your comments below, and don’t forget to subscribe by email now if you haven’t already so you don’t miss out on the next installment.

Good luck with all your plans!

For More Inspiration Read

>> Live Your Dream in a Material World.

>> What Can You Give Up To Live Your Dream?

Blogging Away With Growing Success

Visitor stats for June 2009: a definite upward trend

Visitor Stats for April, May, June 2009: Definite Upward Trend

Writing a blog’s an up and down thing. One day I love it, then the next day I wonder why I bother at all. Especially when my dear husband sends me cruel little jokes about bloggers like that one, where bloggers are compared unfavorably to monks. I hardly found it funny at all, so I think I’ve been spending too much time writing and not doing enough living.

The Difference Between a Blog and a Website

Since bloggers are the butt of jokes these days I’m not calling In the Hot Spot a blog anymore. From now on, if you ask me, it’s officially a website. Well, what’s the difference anyway? I won’t get started on that now, but what I’m aiming for here is a dynamic website, with easy to find and useful information that’s topical and updated often. Hopefully the archiving will improve when I relocate it to my own domain name and revamp the site. Soon soon!

Hare and Tortoise Fable Rings True

Hare and Tortoise Fable Rings True

Good News For Hard Working Bloggers

The good news is that my blog statistics show a definite upward trend, and the number of people who’ve subscribed to my email updates is growing slowly, but surely, too. But it’s going to be a long journey to achieve my goal. I suppose it’s now that I need to remember that it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon. All I can really do is keep writing away, enjoying it and finding more funny, inspirational and/or weird stories that keep us all on track in hot pursuit of out dreams.

Shortcut To Success

That was a naughty trick because there are no shortcuts to success. I think we all know this in our hearts although it’s fun to imagine that there may be a quick route to achieve our dreams. In the end, it all comes down to this. If you want to succeed at something you need to:

    • work hard
    • stay motivated
    • keep focused
    • persevere.

You’ll get there in the end.

My Goal for This Blog

If you haven’t read my article, how to break the blogging rules, you can find out about my goals for this blog and what I write about there. To sum my goals up I’m ambitiously trying to get a monthly visitor count of about 30,000 people.

Wish me luck!

Thanks for reading and for sticking around, please add your comments below and don’t forget to subscribe by email now (if you haven’t already) so you don’t miss out.

Good luck with all your plans!

Writer’s Rite of Passage: Rejection Slips

Racing at the Bellingham Maze

Racing at the Bellingham Maze

In March I sent a story idea, and an example of my writing, to the editor of a local newspaper, and received my first rejection as a writer. The full story on my first attempt to kick start my writing career is here. Come June, I was overdue for a second attempt.

Becoming a Travel Writer

I can’t believe it’s taken me three months to send my writing to someone else, and not because I’ve been too scared, but because I’ve been too busy writing my novel. Last week in a misguided attempt to boost my ego and my cash flow I thought I’d try again. This time I sent an insightful, witty and tightly written travel article to the editor of the travel section of a national newspaper. I swear, this article is excellent, so good in fact that I may pop it on my website some time. It’s about the annual Hipica, or horse parade in Granada, Nicaragua, a fabulous fiesta we went to in 2007.

In the back of my mind I knew the Granada Hipica wasn’t the kind of thing they cover in this type of publication, but I really felt it was a great story, and I want people to know about this unspoiled and little visited part of the world and the ‘horsey party’ as I saw it described. Now I’m thinking that if I want to be a travel writer in the popular press I’ll have to write about Disneyland and mainstream stuff like that. I can only hope that there is a market for travel writers who get off the beaten track and that I’ll tap into it one day.

For the record, here’s my second rejection email

“Thanks for the offer Annabel,

This story is too specific to an event that even you admit in the copy is pretty much unheard of.

For Granada I’d be more likely to accept a piece along the lines of 72 hours in Granada, where to stay, what to eat, what to see, must dos etc. That kind of thing.”
(Name and address withheld)

Keep on Moving

What a great rejection slip. Notice once again that the editor didn’t say anything like “get lost loser and stop bothering me.”

By the way, I’m still corresponding with the ed in question who’s a lovely man and has been very helpful. I’ve promised to rewrite my travel article on Granada as per his suggestions and hope that I can make it to his liking this time. In my mind I’m thinking of it as my first commissioned piece even though as my dear hubby pointed out the editor doesn’t know that.

Am I deluded?

Maybe but I haven’t got enough rejection emails yet: it’ll take a lot more than two to deflect me from my dream!

Thanks for reading, feel free to add your comments below and don’t forget to subscribe by email now if you haven’t already so you don’t miss out.

Good luck with all your plans!