Tuesday, November 6, 2012

On Adventure - Big and Small

I'm a big fan of adventures - of not letting your life get boring.  

This past weekend I had persimmon pudding for the first time.  Pretty good.  I went to the NC Persimmon Festival just to try it. 

I also visited two Walmart stores to find the new Gingerbread Oreos.  They are pretty darn good.  The cookie part is the golden (vanilla) Oreo, it's the filling that is gingerbread.  Yum!

Basically if I see something I haven't tried, I try it (well, if chocolate, sugar, peanut butter, cake or frosting are involved).  Why not?  What a great way to have a mini-adventure!  And you may not be a fan of sweets, so you can name your thing.  But it sure helps if it's inexpensive!

My next big adventure is not inexpensive, but it will be fun and will push me out of my comfort zone.  I've always wanted to go to Italy.  To stand in the Sistine Chapel and see all the glories of the Renaissance.  And who doesn't want to see the canals of Venice and the coliseum in Rome?  I've been putting the trip off, waiting until after the recession or until the European economy settled down.  I was also waiting until I met Mr. Right.  Well, I've met Mr. Right, and he just started a new job and can't go!  If you wait to live your life, you'll never live it.  

I'm headed to Venice on November 15th.  Recession still here, Europe far from settled down, and going solo.  I'm going with a tour group, so I'll make new friends.  The recession might hang around for a long time to come, and who knows when Europe will get it together.  Meanwhile the great wonders of history are eroding.  There is no better time to go than now.

Is there something you've always wanted to do?  What are YOU waiting for?  There will never be a perfect time or a perfect situation.  The only time you are guaranteed is now. You'll never be any younger.  Your life is now - live it!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Hershey - It Really IS the Sweetest Place on Earth!

I was lucky enough to do work for a client in Lancaster, PA last week, and I got to head back to one of my favorite places - Hershey, PA! You know you are in the right place when you see this from your windshield:

And things just get better! Forgive the blurriness - I was driving. Yes, photographing and driving. Not good.

The streetlights really are shaped like Hershey's Kisses - they alternate between wrapped and unwrapped.  and you gotta love the American flags.  You can't see it here - but there was baskets of flowers everywhere and loads of green grass and quaint houses.  Hershey is so pretty.

As soon as I got there, I headed straight for Chocolate World.  I feel these guys were there just to welcome me.  "Yay!" they say!  "Yay!" I say!

As soon as I got there, they were doing a chocolate tasting, so I popped in.  The last time I was there was back in 2007 and things have changed a lot.  Back then you got TONS of chocolate, it was great!  Now they have a fancy room (back then you were just in a restaurant area, it seemed almost illicit.  People walked by, looking at you like you were getting something special.  Which you were.) and you get very little chocolate. Especially considering it costs $10.

The girl went through it like she had done it 1,000,000 times before which I'm sure she had.  But it's chocolate!  You are in Hershey!  Get some emotion going!!  You know how I feel about non excited chocolate people.  What the heck is wrong with them?  What could be more fun?

And don't say, "If you did it for a living, you'd feel that way too."  I do!  And every time I get to give "Motivation by Chocolate" I love it!  Maybe she was just having an off day.  (I wanted to cast her from the stage and take over.  I would have had a blast with that tasting!)

Afterward, I wandered into their bakery - how I love bakeries! I love anything with copious amount of frosting involved:

Who wouldn't love getting one of these for their birthday?

Chocolate chip cheesecake:

Wow - these looked really good - Reese's PB & J!:

Hershey's Bliss Raspberry:

Smores - yum!!!

Pina Colada - eh.  But Reese's White PB Cup? - YES!!!

Almond Joy:

Take 5:

Heath Cheesecake - woohoo!!

Now here was a little enthusiasm!  I was raving and taking pictures and basically dancing with glee at the sight of all this fat and sugar.  And one of the cute bakery ladies pulled this out of the back to show to me.  How lucky is Elizabeth?

And how lucky are we?  Milton Hershey's birthday is on the 13th - and I, for one, am so glad he had the vision to build the Town of Hershey.  So think of him on Thursday and raise a bar (or a chip or a cookie) to the man who built the Sweetest Place on Earth.  Happy birthday, Milton Hershey!  And thank you.

Friday, June 29, 2012

On the Cover of the Rolling Stone.......Not Quite

I thought since my loyal readers went through my hip replacement with me, WAY back when I was a regular blogger, you all might get a kick out of seeing the cover of this month's Arthritis Today magazine:
Yep, that's me!

Can you believe it? They came across my blog posts and thought my story would be an interesting one for their readers. Working with them was a blast and I have to say, it's kind of cool to be on the cover. I've already had two old boyfriends e-mail me. (Not really the way you want to dazzle them, but what the heck!)

Just goes to show you, every cloud has a silver lining. You might not know it at the time - I was so bummed and sad when I first was told I had to get a hip replacement, and now I'm pain free and on the cover of a magazine! If you're going theough something tough right now, keep your chin up. You can't even imagine what the future holds for you. I can promise, it will be better.

Have a great 4th and eat more chocolate!!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Brink of Summer

I know, I know - three months since a post! What the heck kind of crappy blogger am I?

I assure you, I have been eating my share of chocolate, I just haven't been writing about it.  But I have been talking about it - I've been giving loads of "Motivation by Chocolate" speeches!

I scored three bags of Godiva's almond butter Easter eggs on sale for half price and have almost polished them off. The great gals at my local Lindt store were happy to see me cart off a pound of their amaretto, almond and pistachio eggs as well as the BOGO pound of raspberry cheesecake truffles. I left the store with over three pounds of chocolate. Madness, I know. But it's so exciting!!!

On my recent trip to Vegas I dropped a cool $100 at the Jean Philippe Patisserie in the Bellagio. And I am on a Tootsie Roll bender as we speak. So my tastes range from the sublime to the mundane. Here's the patisserie - and yes, the lady in the dress is made of chocolate:

Here's me and my huge grin at my birthday dessert at Stack in the Mirage:

Better pic of the dessert:

Love the restaurant name in white chocolate - shouldn't all of us have white chocolate calling cards?

And here's me at one of my favorite places in all the world - the Bellagio:

So I am indeed guilty of not writing, but I am out there indulging in chocolate and savoring life! What about you? Here we are at the brink of another summer. What adventures - culinary or otherwise - will you have? Are you going to live your life or is life going to live you?

Don't let any chance to have chocolate or ice cream pass you by.  Life is short.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Cover Girls, Motivational Speakers, and Betty White

I am getting old. 

How do I know this?  Technology drives me insane.  I fought for hours trying to figure out how to change the font in the e-mail updates from this blog.  They were in this hard to read brownish color and had shrunken to about 3 point type.  I could find no way to alter how the e-mail updates looked.  I finally gave up and changed the whole layout of the blog in an attempt to fix it.  I won't know what they look like until this post comes to my own inbox.  If it is in a hard to read brownish 3 point type, I will age another three years.  My hair is turning grayer just thinking about it.

How else do I know I am getting old?  Social media makes me want to jab a knitting needle into my eye.  (Okay I don't knit, but you know what I mean.)  See? I'm like an old crotchety Grandma yelling at the kids about rock and roll.  I am now on Empire Avenue (totally clueless about that one), Facebook - business and personal, LinkedIn - my profile and FireStar Speaking's profile, Twitter, this blog and another one called The Spark, have a YouTube Channel, and still have a MySpace page somewhere.  Oh and Google Plus - personal and business.  Not to mention SpeakerMatch, eSpeakers, and other speaking directories.  Pinterest, FourSquare, Flickr - I feel my wrinkles deepening.  How about speaking, my actual job?  When should I do that? 

And the final way I know I'm getting old?

I'm going to be on the cover of Arthritis Today magazine.  Not Elle, not Glamour, not Health, not Fortune......Arthritis Today.  I am, for the month of May anyway, going to be the poster child (woman) for arthritis.

But you know what?  I'm good with it.  Getting to be on the cover of a national magazine is a WAY cool honor.  And getting old is not a bad thing - check out Betty White.  You can fight it (ala Demi) or ride it for all it's worth (like Betty).  I say, "yehaw!"

I just hope the font is better on the e-mail update.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Lessons in Love from Demi, Whitney and Denise

I'm not much of a celebrity watcher, but the recent passing of Whitney Houston and Demi Moore's drama have captured my attention.  Mostly because here are two women who are gorgeous, immensely talented, and arguably have everything (money, power, fame) any woman could ever want.  But both cast all their personal magnificence aside for love of an idiot.


So what to learn?

If a relationship is good, it:

Helps you grow and makes you stronger
Doesn't drive you to drugs or other self-destructive behavior (seems like a no-brainer.  I mean at what point do you decide smoking crack is a good idea?)
Doesn't cause you to lose yourself to be with someone else
Encourages you to revel in your awesomeness (tweeting desperate bikini shots is NOT what I mean)

The most important relationship you have is with yourself.  If you decide that your relationship with say, Bobby Brown, is more important than your own life, you have made a serious, serious mistake.  And if someone with all the gifts Whitney had did it, what about your 15 year old daughter?  What about your struggling middle aged neighbor?  What about all of us who aren't Whitney or Demi?

Here's what I know:

Hanging on to someone who doesn't love you is a waste of time.  Let that loser go and love yourself.

See all the love you already have - both of these women are loved by MILLIONS!  MILLIONS of people and they didn't even see it.  Every person reading this is loved by many, many people as well.  Don't let one blockhead blind you to that.

You are so much more than your love relationship.  Demi and Whitney apparently forgot that. 

Women need to stop giving so much more than they are getting!  I obviously don't know any of these people, but it just seems to me that Whitney gave a hell of a lot more to Bobby than he ever gave to her.  There's no prize for giving yourself away like this - just a lot of pain.  Save your kindness, your love, your energy, your time, your precious life for someone who can give the same back to you.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day! A Little Sugar for You All!

Happy Valentine's Day, my friends!  Who better to share it with than you all and Peeps! 

Check out these little cuties - strawberry Peeps with a milk chocolate base:

It just doesn't get any cuter than this!

But here's the problem - they just don't taste very good.  WAY too sickly strawberry sweet - maybe they need dark chocolate rather than milk chocolate.  I love the chocolate/Peep combination - but the dark chocolate is the way to go.  The sugary Peep needs the offsetting bitterness of the dark chocolate.  Have any of you tried these?  What do you think?

Did you see these at Christmas?  I heard about them, but didn't see them in any store, so I had to order them from the online Peeps store.  I had to order a CASE just to try them!  I may not have been posting, but clearly my madness continues.  They are caramel flavor (yay!) and dark chocolate:

Still adorable!

And WAY better in flavor.  These are a winner!

You know, I tried to give a pack of these to one of my motivational seminar attendees and he said, "Ugh!  I hate those things!"  Now I KNOW he had never tried a caramel flavored chocolate based Peep.  Total stereotyping.  No open mind, no willingness to accept a gift.  You know what I say? 

Give Peeps a chance.  

Saturday, February 11, 2012

For All the Free Time You Have - More Chocolate Blogs!

In my frenzy of New Year's organizing, I am going through my e-mail inbox.  Yes, Virginia, I am an e-mail hoarder. 

Or I have been.  I have sworn to empty the inbox by Monday morning.  (I started with 1246 e-mail messages, I now have 299.)  Now before you judge me, many of these were links to things I wanted to read (ha!) or video I wanted to watch.   Many were address updates.  But there really is no excuse.  Dr. Zasio (from Hoarders) would have some deep questions for me, "Denise, how could you let it get like this?"

I'd be like a lot of the people on the show - staring blankly at the mess in front of me, mumbling somehting about how it just happened. 

Anyway, there is a reason for me airing my electronic laundry.

I found an e-mail sharing this blog post listing the author's choice for the 50 Top Chooclate Blogs (and we made the list!):

Be warned - if you go check out the list, you might get sucked in.  I cannot be held responsible for what happens to your time.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Where the heck did the time go, Shakespeare?

Time, time, wherefore art thou, time?

I had such grandiose plans for the day.  I was going to get so much done.  Projects were going to be tackled, proposals were going to be sent out, e-mail was going to be diminished.

Alas, poor time, I knew him well.

What happened?

I spent over an hour trying to get a fax to go through to a customer service provider.  I had to call them twice.  I tested my fax machine to make sure it was still working.  I finally scanned the documents and e-mailed them.  I have no idea if they have been received.

Every e-mail I sent out seemed to generate two more in response.  I have more e-mail in my inbox than when I started the day.

I had a lunch meeting.  I had to pick up dry cleaning.  I had a call to discuss my social and web strategy which is like trying to figure out the best way to find a needle in a landfill.  On Mars.  While blindfolded.

And here I am - blogging.  While more e-mail come in.  I can feel them.  (Because of course I disabled the alert so as not to be distracted.)

Sometimes the day just gets away.  What to do?

1.  Avoid lunch meetings.  I try, but then I worry about having no friends and associates.  But they are a time slayer.  Opt for a conference call next time.
2.  Don't buy anything or use any services that might ever involve customer service.  HA!  I see no way around this evil time serial killer.
3. Start the day off with a prioritized list.  I didn't do that today and time pulled a fast one on me and escaped.
4. Be glad it's Friday and pretend you're going to get everything done over the weekend. 

Ah Macbeth - to-morrow and to-morrow and to-morrow!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Death by Conference

Have you ever gone to a conference or a meeting and left feeling like everybody else had all the answers? They were all making tons of money or all had brilliant careers and somehow you were a loser? You weren't a loser before the conference, but somehow you morphed into a loser overnight.

It just happened to me. I heard great presentations by best selling authors, multimillionaires, people with thousands of Facebook fans and Twitter followers. I was told I should spend at least two hours a day on social media. I should be crafting my best selling book proposal and sending it to publishers. I should be traveling to Dubai and to other planets to speak. I should be doing webinars and creating books for the Kindle. Clearly I am WAY behind the curve.

After a pep e-mail from my good friend and fellow speaker, Wally Adamchik, who reminded me that my house was paid for and I earned a nice living talking about chocolate, I snapped out of it. Well, partially. I still feel a bit, well, less.

But I have developed some tips for myself and I wanted to share them with you:

1. Set a day aside to regroup. Yep - put it on your calendar. Look at all your notes, etc. and decide what YOU are going to do - what tips and ideas work for you. This is also known as thinking - something we don't seem to have time for anymore. Then craft a plan. I know I can't do everything I learned about. But if I don't make a plan, I'll wind up doing nothing.

2. BUT take some action immediately. I posted this blog entry. Tweeted. Secured my name on Empire Avenue (another social networking site I had never even heard of.) I already feel less loserish.

3. Start where you are. I would love to be speaking in Dubai for fees of $15,000 plus. But maybe I should get my desk cleaned off first. You have to start where you are - you can't win the Boston Marathon if you can't walk around the block.

4. Decide what YOU want. It is so easy to go to these things and get swept up in someone else's "dream." I really don't care about having 25,000 Facebook fans and Twitter followers. I just want to make a good living doing what I love. I want to have time to take long walks and enjoy life. I don't really have to speak in every country. I don't want paid staff.  And I've NEVER wanted to run a marathon. I agree with Christopher Morley who said - "There is but one success - to be able to spend your life in your own way."

5. These events are supposed to be inspiration, not demoralization. And they will be if you apply perspiration. (Ha, ha - pretty good, huh?) Up with sweat and down with regret! I can do more. I am far from working at full capacity. I do get distracted, and some days I waste too much time. I can always learn and grow and I can always take action. Taking action is the key. One good idea implemented is better than 50 left undone.  (Or 40 pages of notes I never look at again.)

6. Don't drink the Kool-Aid. I don't know how happy any of these people are.  It's proven that after about $75,000 (household income) greater amounts of money don't contribute significantly to happiness. (I don't know what travel to Dubai does.) I think what we all want is to be happy. Will 50,000 Twitter followers make me happy? Not as happy as one good friend who will remind me who I am when I forget. (Thanks, Wally.)

So here's what I think - always keep learning. Listen to those more successful (I'm using that term loosely - there are many definitions of success). Temper their advice with your knowledge of yourself and your goals. Take action on the ideas you want to try. You don't have to do it all - just do what you can, begin where you are. Always try to get better, but always keep your happiness in mind. At the end of the day, it is all that matters.

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Walking Dead

There’s a show on AMC called “The Walking Dead.” (It returns on February 12th if you want to check it out). I’ve never been a big zombie fan, but I kept reading reviews saying the show was good, so I decided to watch it. It is good and I’m hooked. Yeah, yeah, I know the undead aren’t very motivational, but they are scary. And part of being motivated is conquering fear. So let’s talk about zombies. Why are they so scary?

There are lots of them. One or two zombies we could deal with. Millions of zombies? That’s a whole ‘nother thing. To tackle fear you have to make it manageable. Take it one step at a time. Ask yourself what can I do right now? I can’t find a job immediately, but I can update my resume. I can’t cure my illness overnight, but I can get to my Doctor’s appointment tomorrow. You can always take the next step.

They are creepy. I mean, they are gross - they are the undead after all. But lots of things are creepy - blind dates, job interviews, Bourbon Street. But what’s a little creepiness? Creepiness never killed anybody. Decomposition is in the eye of the beholder. Sometimes you have to get past the creepiness to get what you want. Creepiness you can conquer.

They want to eat us. Okay, this is pretty scary. But lions want to eat us and they aren’t as scary as zombies. I think it’s scary because they ARE us. They are people with all the peopleness taken out of them. They don’t laugh or think or have compassion or empathy. We can’t communicate with them - they are soulless. They are us at our worst - a mirror none of us would ever want to look into.

They take away our humanity. What makes the show so interesting is the interaction among the characters. As each horror mounts, they respond in different ways. Some get harder and more violent themselves. Others reach out and offer comfort. Some turn inward. The ultimate danger is that the fear of the undead will take away the lives of the living. Fear will steal their joy, their passion. What fear are you allowing to take away some of your life?

Fear, like zombies, isn’t real. Don’t let yours make you one of the walking dead.