Finding Your Way… One Step at a Time

Last weekend, I went to a three day Yoga and Meditation retreat in order to get refocused and reenergized.  It was an event that I have attended before, and I was so excited to attend it again this year.  The weekend was packed with outstanding Yoga and Mediation sessions, and when I laid my head on my pillow Saturday night, I felt such a peace that questions I have been asking would find answers soon.  As I woke at the crack of dawn Sunday for the early morning hike and meditation, I felt uneasiness in my heart.  We started the hike down to the beach where we were led in Meditation by my favorite Yoga Instructor.  She has a great gift of giving, outstanding energy, and a sense of peacefulness that transfers to anyone she is around.  After a led meditation, we were left to meditate on our own.  I gazed out over the stillness of the water on the most peaceful lake with rolling hills.  Tears just started flowing down my checks.  The uneasiness in my heart was still there.  I was the last one besides the instructor to depart the beach, but I felt like I was not meant to return to the lodge where breakfast was about to be served.

Trail Path mediumAs I took a back trail to get to the lodge, I remembered that someone told me there was a trail that would take you up to a ridge that overlooked the lake.  So, being the adventurous spirit I am, I found an opening of a trail in the woods and started down it.  I started walking across a creek and up an incline.  About half way up the hill, the path narrowed to only about a foot wide and was getting windier.  I had been looking down at the ground as I hiked, and I came to an area where I would have to jump across a fallen tree. I looked up, and all I could see was tree after tree.  I couldn’t see the path.  Then, I noticed orange flags tied around the trees.  As I looked up the hillside, they were just these disparate orange dots on trees, limbs, etc.  It looked like total chaos; nothing was in a direct line. My fleeting thought was, “I have no idea where I am or how far I need to go to get to the ridge.  Perhaps I should turn back now and return for breakfast.”  The thought exited my mind as quickly as it had entered.  I am a goal setter, and I had set out to find that ridge, so the journey continued…

I took a deep breath, jumped over the log, and looked up the hill. I could see an orange flag located about 10 feet in front of me where it seemed the path ended.  I walked up the incline to the flag, and then I could see the path curved to the right for about another 8 feet where I could see another orange flag.  When I reached this flag, the path curved to the left about another 10 feet.  This process continued until I got up that hill and the path widened.  It was a T at this point, and I could proceed left or right.  When I glanced to my right, there was a yellow flag hanging on the limb of a tree. As I looked to my left, I saw an orange flag.

My curiosity got the best of me, and I followed the yellow flag.  It took me down a path for 10 minutes until it opened up onto this private area that had very weird and unsettling karma.  There were three rundown buildings, and I immediately had an uneasy feeling.  I made a 180-degree turn, jogged back to the T intersection, and proceeded the other way where the orange flag fluttered in the wind.  I stuck to the path, and minutes later, I reached the ridge.  It was beautiful, peaceful, and serene.  I talked to God… I listened as he responded giving me an answer that I had been seeking.  I don’t know how long I sat on that ridge, but whether it was a minute or an hour, it was as if time had stood still.  Eventually, I got up, brushed myself off, wiped away the tears trickling down my cheeks, bowed my head in thanks, and started my hike back to the lodge.  There was no fear in getting back, because I knew the orange flags would get me home.

I had not taken my phone, so I could not take a picture of those flags and the chaos that it looked like, but I knew immediately that there was a message God had brought me to share with you…

As we go down life’s journey trying to find our way, he already knows the whole path.  He knew how to get to the ridge, but I did not.  He knew my answer would be found there.  At the beginning of the journey, we might be very obedient in following the flag from Point A to B, etc.  We can’t see down the whole path, and there is never a moment that we won’t get to one orange flag on the path and can see the next flag.  There are times we realize we can’t see the path, and have the urge to turn back.  However, we must persevere!

How many times do we get sidetracked by the other paths?  How many times do we follow a yellow flag where God is giving us a warning not to go there, but our curiosity or stubbornness takes us there anyway?  When we get to the end, we are unsettled and realize, “Crap… that wasn’t a good idea!  I just wasted time and energy!”  So, we go running back to find where the orange flag was to get back on track.

If we are faithful and follow the flags…  one flag at a time… we will get to our destination.  That is where peace and happiness will be.  Trust me, I am not at the ridge in my real life, but I can honestly say that I feel I am almost there.  I learned so much on that lonesome hike last Sunday morning.  I realized to only follow the orange flags, to heed the yellow ones, and to realize that it is okay that I can’t see the ridge, yet. If I trust God and the Universe, they will get me there one step at a time… one flag at a time.


Draw yourself a life map.  Put a circle where you are now and an “X” at where you want to be.  Draw some little orange flags along the path.  Mark what you think your milestones are in order to get to the end. You might not be able to think of all of them, but try your best.  Put the Map on your refrigerator where you see it all the time.  As something happens that moves you closer to your happiness, either put a checkmark next to the orange flag that you originally had there or make a new orange flag showing the new activity or situation that got you closer to your goal.  If something happened that day that got you sidetracked from your destination and you felt unsettled about it, mark a yellow flag showing you got detoured.  Now, find your way back and persevere!!!

Live with passion,

Laurie Calzada
– Author and Motivational Speaker –

Make a Renegade Version of Yourself

In life, we cross paths with people every day. Sometimes they are in our lives for a season and sometimes for a reason.  George Sioris and his lovely wife, Cherly, crossed my path last year through one of the dance communities that I frequent.  Immediately, we hit it off.  Why?  Because of our common threads… We are both authors and optimists, and we share a passion for dance.  George is from New York City and is an Amazon bestselling author, and it didn’t come over night.  I am THRILLED to introduce George as a guest blogger this week, as he shares his journey about NEVER GIVE UP and when it doesn’t work out the first time, just REINVENT YOURSELF!

ReinventYourselfIn 1991, the first of three Highlander sequels opened in theaters, and it was looked at as a massive failure. The bonding company responsible for the film’s completion stepped in and took it away from the filmmakers, resulting in a 90-minute movie that made absolutely no sense. A few years later, the producers and director had an opportunity to re-visit the movie and they fixed what went wrong and streamlined the story in a much better way. In a way, the bonding company’s interference was a blessing in disguise, since the film’s failure allowed director Russell Mulcahy and producers Bill Panzer & Peter Davis to look back at the entire film, remove what went wrong (including their own storytelling issues), add what was left on the cutting room floor and basically re-invent Highlander II to such a degree that they took an abominable film and made it work.

To differentiate this version from the one that was in theaters (that was called Highlander II: The Quickening), this new cut was known as Highlander II: Renegade Version.

With that in mind, allow me to introduce myself. My name’s George Sirois and there’s a good chance that you have no idea who I am. In fact, I can virtually guarantee that unless you have been a frequent visitor to the pop-culture site, or currently check out on occasion, you have never heard of me. I’m not upset by this, not anymore. Because if there is one thing I’ve learned so far this year, it’s that if nobody’s heard of you, then this means you have a chance to make a Renegade Version of yourself.

See, back in 2002, two years before I was to start my eight years of writing for 411Mania, I self-published my first novel. It was called “From Parts Unknown” and it was based on a screenplay I had written over ten drafts of between 1999 and 2001. It was a fun story to write, but when I tried to sell it, it went nowhere. So I thought that my chances of success were greater if it were a novel. A year-and-a-half later, I was finished and an acquaintance thought I should self-publish it since it catered to a niche market.  After discovering a great deal from iUniverse, the novel was released in November of 2002.

And once again, it went nowhere.

Eight years passed, and I had just released my second self-published novel, a science-fiction young adult novel called “Excelsior.” This one, I felt, had more universal appeal, and once it was formatted for the eBook, I noticed something interesting. People I never met before were buying it and enjoying it. And when I joined the Indie Book Collective, their support and advice resulted in more sales, more positive feedback and even several trips to the Amazon Bestseller lists (I even broke the Top 5 on one of those lists).

Unfortunately, that momentum quickly fizzled out and it seemed that the time for the novel’s success was running out. But then, last February, I was rescued by Rocking Horse Publishing, a small press based out of St. Louis, who felt that “Excelsior” would make a great fit with them. Not even a week after getting this news, I signed the contract and immediately unpublished both the paperback and eBook versions of the novel.

Now, here’s the really good news. The book is not due to be re-released until November of 2013. This gives me about five months to examine what went right with “Excelsior” and what went wrong. And more than anything, it allows me a chance to completely “Renegade Version” myself. The cover art always felt like a compromise to me, so I can get it right this time. My website is very simple, and very limited since it’s with, so I can make the switch to and give the site a full overhaul. When the book was first released, I didn’t have a clue about marketing, so now I get to make connections very early on and prepare advanced reader copies for new reviews. Plus, I get to use the reviews from the previous incarnation to promote the book for this November.

The second chance for “Excelsior” has prompted me to get the rights to “From Parts Unknown” back and completely rewrite that story. I always believed in it, but always knew that it could be better than what it was in 2002. Now, with that book ¾ of the way finished (I started re-releasing it as a five-part serial, but decided it would work better as one complete file), the re-release of “Excelsior” less than half a year away and the first of two “Excelsior” sequels currently being drafted, it’s safe to say that my life as a writer has been completely “Renegade Version’d.” It’s been fun watching these stories get better and better, and coming up with the promotional ideas that I didn’t have years ago.

Of course, this doesn’t have the typical “happy ending” because it’s currently July as I write this.  But I’m already feeling very confident about my chances now that I’ve begun the full overhaul process for myself as a writer and a promoter of my writing. And if I can take these steps to re-invent myself, anyone can. Don’t look at this kind of opportunity as failure. Hell, don’t look at failure as failure. Look at it as a chance to take account of what went right, what went wrong and what you can do better.

No matter who you are, everyone deserves a “Renegade Version.”
George Sirois


What is something you have tried that was not as successful as you thought it would be?  Write out why the last attempt was not as successful as it should have been.  Reinvent it.  Fix it. Meditate on it.  Now, DO IT again!  One of my favorite quotes is:

“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”
Wayne Gretzky

Live with passion,

Laurie Calzada

What’s Your Oz?

Recently, I was talking to a dear friend about my son and his Asperger’s Syndrome. She asked me, “What’s his Kansas?”  It really made me stop and think.  Dorothy was trying to escape her life in Kansas, so she created Oz.

What is your Kansas?  What are you trying to escape?

Wizard-of-Oz-001What is your Oz?  Where is your getaway from all of life’s complications?  Remember, your Oz can be very different from my Oz.  That is why it is yours!  Creating your Oz gives you the escape for just a short moment in time.  It can be a sport, getting lost in a good book, building something, working in the garden, meditating by the ocean, fishing in a lake, playing an instrument, singing a song, hiking a mountain, etc.

For me, my Oz is the dance floor. Whether it is tango, salsa, swing, or a good ole’ two-step, it is my escape where I can forget about all of the responsibilities of life… the career, the munchkins, the finances, the clients, the speeches, the novel that I should have finished writing by now, the film script I should be focusing on… yada yada!  When the music starts playing and the hips start swaying, all the stress just fades away.  As I write this, I have to chuckle, because I have a pair of ruby red Tango Shoes from Argentina.  Every time I wear them dancing, someone says something to me such as “Click your heels”; “Do you miss Kansas?”; “How’s the Tin Man?”… and on and on.  From now on, when I wear those shoes on the dance floor, I will think, “This is my Oz!”

I think some people feel guilty when they visit their Oz.  Others may not understand your Oz, but remember it is YOUR OZ!  You won’t stay forever.  Just like Dorothy was ready to go home to Kansas, you will be, too.  However, that brief time you spend in Oz will recharge your battery so you can continue on down life’s Yellow Brick Road…


What is your Oz?  I am sure you know it.  If you don’t, then find it!  The next time life gets overwhelming, go visit your Oz.   Remember, it is YOUR OZ!

Live with passion,

Laurie Calzada

Energy is Swirling… Anything is Possible!

In 2006 I met a lovely woman by the name of Joy Mills.  Little did I know when I stepped into her office what a huge impact she would have on my life for years to come.  She is a world renowned Psychic/Clairvoyant, and has dedicated her life to helping others throughout the world.  I am not talking about some street side vendor, or some Tarrot Card reader that works out of the back of some shop.  She is the author of nine books, and her book “Destination Spirituality” changed my life.  I have met many people that consider themselves “spiritual,” or claim to have the gift of prophesy or other spiritual gifts.  This woman has it all!  She has blessed my life personally and professional, and her advice and direction have kept me on the road to great success and happiness.

I am pleased to have Joy as a guest blogger for Motivational Monday this week!

Energy HandsThe energy is swirling. This week you would think everyone around you has taken a nasty pill, including but not limited to yourself.

I have been thinking about all of the emotional stressors such as relationship issues, financial difficulties, etc. Could it be a by-product for something working out for the better? Sometimes we think there is no peaceful way out of any mess generally speaking but there is. Are there some unresolved issues in your own heart and mind? It all begins with finding peace in yourself. When you can figure these things out it is much easier to work out instead of that little voice or nagging feeling inside that disrupts us and keeps us off balance (the feeling nothing will ever change).

What I believe is some of the biggest events in our lives – good or bad – allow us to draw insight, wisdom, and experience from what happened to us then you can look at it as an investment instead of a loss. We have to work through our thoughts, sometimes change our perspective and lighten up (difficult).

Change is a frightening thing so how do we accept a new way of doing something without feeling insecure or threatened? We have to take it one step at a time, one minute or one day at a time and the positive journey begins with what can we do?

    •  Deny it entry into your mind. In other words, don’t dwell on something that is causing you a lot of worry.
    •  Try hard not to let it invade your quiet thoughts. It takes too much time and energy to allow negativity to take hold.
    •  Don’t underestimate the power of your mind, God and the Universe.

We all have the ability to turn our thoughts, acts, words and deeds into something great and inspirational that is far more productive and meaningful.

The difference, maybe we are learning to like something we didn’t before, learning to care about someone you didn’t understand in the past and realizing a little kindness can go a long way. Anything is possible if you learn your lessons well and you are open to all of the possibilities, even if they are different from what was meaningful to you before.

Joy M. Mills

Copyright © Joy M. Mills


By focusing on others, you can achieve so much in life, and generate great energy for your own life.  Do three kind things for three different people today.  Open a door for an elderly, give up your seat on the subway for someone, tell someone they look nice today, or just give a smile to someone who has a frown.  You can make a difference!

Live with passion,

Laurie Calzada
Author and Motivational Speaker