Friday, May 9, 2008


Below is a series of 13 previously-published blog entries from my personal blog: I thought that I would post them here for our Daily Muse audience. This is a detailed analysis of the novel "Wishcraft" by Barbara Sher.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Wishcraft: Introduction - Part 1 of 14

I was recently (today) introduced to a free eBook called "Wishcraft: How to Get What You Want" by Barbara Sher. This book is for ordinary people with BIG dreams and small bank accounts. It's a self-help book that shows you how to make your wishes come true. I'm going to do a 14 part series on the book, as I read it, and let you know how it works in my life. I am one of those people who was born poor, am still poor, but I've known since a very young that I was meant to be somebody important and to do great things. I wake up everyday with "wishes" in my heart for my life, but no money to make those wishes come true. I'm interested in seeing how this book plays out in my life and whether it works or not.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Wishcraft: Chapter 1 - Part 2 of 14

Chapter 1 of Wishcraft is about the "care and feeding of the human genius." It's starts out by asking an important question: Who do you think you are? So many of us would answer this by stating our name, age, occupation, and relation to various individuals in our lives. But this would be wrong. Who we are should be about what passions run through our soul, what we love to do.

Then the author goes on to explain that all of us are born geniuses in some form or fashion, but we lose our true sense of self by the time we reach gradeschool. She goes on to explain that it's not too late to get this genius back. Through a series of exercises, she promises that we will re-discover our "original self."

I must say that I am flabbergasted by this revelation. It truly is a revelation to know that every human being was born, BORN with a purpose. And even though we may have developed "amnesia," we can get it back. We can all learn to follow our hearts once again and have true passion for life. I know there are many screaming voices inside of me that I need to nurture. I can't wait to read chapter two!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Wishcraft: Chapter 2 - Part 3 of 14

Chapter Two of Wishcraft talks about the environment that creates winners. The author explains that your genius should be nurtured in a certain way, but that most of us didn't grow up in the right kind of environment to achieve this. So our genius faltered and we developed amnesia. This nurturing should have included encouragement in our interests, support when we failed (but not making it okay to quit), and teaching us how to achieve by showing us how it is done.

What does this translate to?

Ideally, we should have parents and family around us who encourage us no matter what, who tell us that sometimes things are hard but not to give up, and who are winners themselves. I know what you're thinking. Yeah, right!

But this idea is SO important and so true. You can see it at work most plainly in the wealthy, privileged set. Mr & Mrs Wealthy have a son, they take great pride in everything he does, they encourage him and make him feel like he's the king of the world from day 1, when things get hard they push him to go on, his whole life he sees Mr & Mrs Wealthy achieving all their dreams so he knows exactly how it works and how it feels, and when he reaches adulthood Mr & Mrs Wealthy pass on to him a NICE setup in life: job, education, connections, friends, you name it.

So if this is what it takes to be a winner, then how do ordinary people like you and I achieve our dreams?

It's simple. Just take the same scenario and empty the bank account. Encouragement is free. Support is free. And those are the most important gifts you can give your children. There are a lot of rags-to-riches stories out there that show us that you don't have to be born with a silver spoon to achieve your goals.

Well, that's great for MY children, but what about ME?

Good question. And the author promises to answer that question in another chapter. Do you see why I can't put this book down? I've got to know the secret!

On to chapter 3.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Wishcraft: Chapter 3 - Part 4 of 14

Well, Barbara Sher has done it again. She's effectively peeled another layer of the onion. Chapter 3 of Wishcraft was all about how your personal style provides deep insight into your ambitions and goals. Readers were encouraged to make a list of things in your home that show your personal "style." For example, I noticed that I have art in my home, scrapbooking supplies, books, and journals. Now some people might think of this stuff as clutter. After years of listening to my husband complain about my subpar housekeeping skills, I realized that I had come to believe those things to be less than they really are. After completing the exercise, I learned to look at those things in a different way. I realized that I am an artist, an avid scrapbooker, a dedicated reader, and a gifted writer. Having those items in my home is not a sign that I am a clutter magnet, as others would have me believe. Those items exist in my life because my subconscious encourages me to gather them because my subconscious knows better than I do who I really am. That "clutter" is a sign that the real me is trying to get out.

After completing the exercise, I still felt that I needed to clean my house, but I didn't feel like I needed to apologize for it anymore. I also wanted to take all those books out of boxes and give them a proper home - so I bought book shelves. Now I'm proud of my books, and I want the world to see them. Who cares if they collect dust? They represent an important part of my genius. I also put all my scrapbooking supplies in a large plastic tub. Having it all together makes me feel like I'm a professional scrapbooker, a real Martha Stewart. And I even framed my art and hung it up on the walls. I don't consider myself an artist. I'm not pursuing art as a career. And I don't draw all that much. But I do love art. Not prints you buy in chain stores, but real original art. I love it. And this book got me to thinking about how I've managed to acquire several pieces of original art. I even know several "real" artists. I'm drawn to them. And now I know this means something.

This was a great chapter. I didn't realize how suppressed I was until Barbara Sher opened my eyes. Now I look at my environment in a different way. But that's the point. First, you look at your own environment in a different way, and then you bring others into to as sources of support and encouragement. In a sense, you re-create what you didn't have growing up.I feel re-born. I feel like I'm regaining my memory of my original genius. And I'm ready to do it right this time.

On to chapter 4.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Wishcraft: Chapter 4 - Part 5 of 14

In chapter 4, I developed my Goal Plan. It's looks like this:

Dream: professional writer
Touchstone: work from home, win awards, respect in the industry, world reads my wordsRole Model: Kara Lennox, Harlequin Romance Novelist
Target: My books on every bookstore shelf

I just loved this chapter because I finally got start tapping into my goals in preparation for achieving them. I felt that the exercises, which included making a "problems list," were right on track. I know a lot of times in self-help books, they have an overabundance of seemingly meaningless exercises, but no so in Wishcraft.If I haven't inspired you to read Wishcraft by Barbara Sher yet....GET TO IT!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Wishcraft Chapter 5: Part 6 of 14

Chapter is about hard times, or the power of negative thinking. Everyone has dreams. And everyone has problems that get in the way of those dreams. This chapter is about facing those problems. It talks about the terrible "yes, but..." game that wages war with our minds on a daily basis.

There was a very interesting section on complaining. Apparently, there are two types of complaining: good complaining and bad complaining. As I read this part, I was reminded of a section in another very popular book about life, "The Purpose Driven Life." In that book, the author states, "you can't complain about what you permit." This quote stuck in my mind like a giant splinter. So many of us go through life as self-made doormats. Then we THINK we have right to complain.

Here's what the author means by good complaining and bad complaining. Good complaining is a helpful way to release negative feelings about things that are beyond our control. Bad complaining is just complaining for the sake of complaining about things that you COULD do something about if you would only quite playing the "yes, but..." game.

Now deciding the difference between these two is entirely a different story. Because so many people, including myself, think that we are dependent on others to make our reality. The truth is that making our dreams come true is scary, and it's easier to hide behind our loved ones and responsibilities that to face them.

Then the author goes back to the artform (yeah, you read that right) of complaining. She mentions that various cultures and religions have made rituals out of complaining: gypsy songs, singing the Blues, and all the lamentations of the Bible! Complaining is good therapy. It keeps you from becoming numb to world around you. It keeps those emotions whirring. It keeps your fighting spirit working.

Now you just need to figure out when to stop complaining and take action. Complaining is just one component of a healthy emotional diet. You must also have a good balance of ACTION!

What does complaining do for our soul? Well, it's not really what the complaining does. It's what the person we're complaining to does - validation. We love to complain because we need validation that our problems are real and that we matter.

The author suggests putting up pictures of our heroes, so that we can complain to them without them talking back. The worst thing anyone can do when you complain is give you advice, so this is a safe way to complain without receiving bad advice. Also, everyone should have pictures of their heroes up, to keep yourself focused on your goal.

Another thing that our heroes can do for us - research into their lives shows us that everyone, even those who have achieved what we have achieved, go through periods of highs and lows. Not every successful person comes from a priviledged background with everything handed to them on a silver platter (though it seems that way sometimes). What makes a successful person unique is that they have the structure and support that the author referred to in previous chapters. Structure and support.

Is it really that you CAN'T or is it that you just DON"T WANT TO?

The rest of the novel will focus on setting up a system of structure and support. I can't wait!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Wishcraft Chapter 6: Part 7 of 14

We're halfway there! It's been an extraordinary ride. By now, I hope that I have convinced you to download the FREE eBook by Barbara Sher. Did I mention it's FREE? Just go to: to download your FREE copy. It will change the way you look at life, maybe even change your life. Baby steps.

In a nutshell, here's Chapter 6:

Chapter 6 is called Crafting I: Plotting the Path to Your Goal. It's about down-to-earth miracles. So far, the book has got our hopes up about our dreams for life and then crashed those dreams by focusing on all the problems that keep us from achieving our dreams. I have to admit that the reason I put this book down is because it depressed me so much that couldn't continue. It's not a good thing to think about your dreams and then think about all the obstacles that stand in the way. It's disheartening to say the least.

But now that my mind has had time to clear, I think I'm ready to continue on. Yesterday's chapter gave me a sliver of hope because it hinted that we be working on overcoming those challenges. But when I read today's chapter, I was even more satisfied. Specifically, it said we would be working on building bridges over those challenges. I can't wait!

Here we go:

A disease that is more common that the "common" cold and that spreads faster than the Black Plague is keeping us from achieving success. It is called pathological individualism with conventional wisdom being the primary symptom. In other words, we think that we have to achieve our dreams by ourselves in a standard way. So-and-so did it all by himself (pathological individualism) by following the rules (conventional wisdom). Whoever said that you couldn't get a little help along the way? And whoever said you had to achieve something in the exact manner as those who came before you?

Do not dispair! Unlike a cold, there is a cure. And unlike those unfortunate victims of the Black Plague, help doesn't have to come too late.

Barbara Sher, describes a 2-part remedy: brainstorming and barn-raising. This goes along with that saying, "Two heads are better than one." Find a network of people who are willing to help you and TAKE that help. Don't feel bad about. Here's my problems list for becoming a successful, published author:

1. money (having to work for a living until my writing supports me)
2. time (since I have to work, it leaves little time to write)
3. no agent (this one speaks for itself)4. no childcare options that don't cost money (I never have time away from children when I can write)

Possible bridges:

1. Husband leaves the teaching profession for "man" job with a bigger paycheck, so that I can stay home
2. By staying home, I can write all day
3. work on author friend connections to get an agent
4. move my mother into the spare room, so that she can keep the kids for free (hahaha)

The point of this chapter was to come up with potential solutions for the problems, no matter how crazy they are. These solutions couldn't be listed in just any order. Sher proposed creating Flow Charts that lists the steps for each solution in order.The most important thing about a flow chart is that each step has to be so small and manageable that you could do it tomorrow!

I'm going to get started on my flow chart right now!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Wishcraft Chapter 7: Part 8 of 14

Chapter 7 is called Barn-Raising...and for a good reason! It talks about exchanging goods and services for love instead of money. That means that you enlist people to help you achieve your goals. Most people will help you for nothing, but for some you can give them something in return. For example, I used to be a massage therapist in my college years. I still own my table, so I could give massages in exchange for editing help or an introduction to an agent.

This chapter digs deep into the world of "ole' boy network." For women, this is the equivalent of the "cup of sugar connection." It's modern barn-raising, but a more modern term, according to Sher, is a resource party or resource network.

There are two rules for a successful barn-raising:

1. Be as specific as possible as to your needs
2. Always ask for the most specific information you can get

My favorite quote from this chapter is, "just knowing that someone else's eyes have seen your plans helps to keep you from sliding back to the never-never land of dreams."

You really can't achieve your dreams on your own. You need the help and support of friends and family.

Still feel bad about asking for help? Sher talks about keeping a balance of giving and getting and even details some safe-guards for a barn-raising.


This always comes up when you're talking about achieving your dreams. Sher makes it clear that when it comes to money, you should always get the terms in writing...even when it involves friends and family.

I know everyone has heard of "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon." There's been a scientific study that says that everyone in the world in connected to everyone else in the world by 6 people or less. Sher talks about that experiment and how personal connections (who you know) is essential in achieving your dreams.

Safeguards for a Barn-Raising

1. the Principle of Mutuality - "I scratch your back if you'll scratch mine"
2. the right to say "no"

I particularly enjoyed her description of "mamas" and "babies." These are the two extremes of mutuality. Ther former helps and helps and loses track of her own dreams. The latter takes and takes and never learns do anything for herself. As a "mama" (I have always considered myself a doormat), it was nice to know that there are others out there like me and that there is hope for this disease.

All in all, this was a very fast-paced and jam-packed chapter. And there was a nice little surprise at the end. She added that there is something called "success teams," which is a resource sharing group across the country that you can plug into by filling out a questionnaire. I don't know if there is a charge for this service, but I'm definately going to flip to the end of the book and check it out.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Wishcraft Chapter 8: Part 9 of 14

Chapter 8 is about finding blocks of time to do what you love. But what if your goal is to do what you love full time? Well, do what love in your spare time first and work your way up from there.

Still don't think you have time to achieve your goals?You won't get sympathy from Sher. She says that "not having time is no excuse." In fact, she gives this excuse a name: avoidance patterns. These are all those little time-stealers. She encourages you to take inventory of them and do what you love instead.

Shucks, I'll gladly give up laundry, dishes, housework, dishes, did I mention dishes?

Sher even provides a niftly little chart on which to record how you spend your mornings, afternoons, and evenings every day of the week.

She says that most people who complete this exercise fall into one of two categories:

1) The Procrastinator - "Gee I had no idea I was wasting so much time!"
2) The Good Woman/Provider - "Gee I keep a lot people clean, well-fed, and happy."

Then there are the split personalities like me! Hehehe!

But in spite of this, Sher suggest NOT making any resolutions to get rid of your avoidance patterns. She actually says that this will lead to inner rebellion that will drive you straight into the arms of wasted time. Instead, she suggests scheduling time for your weaknesses: watching tv, surfing the internet, cleaning house, etc.

To ease your way out of your avoidance patterns and into goal-reaching mode, she suggests making a schedule of "Me Time" but don't list specific things for you to do. If you use her worksheet to record your time, you'll probably notice that your time wasters occur on a natural schedule that reflects your work schedule, kids' schedules, etc. For me, I get home around 4:30 on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. On Tuesdays, I teach clogging, so I get home around 7:30. On Thursdays, we go to the library. So I have from 4:30 until 8pm (sort of) on MWF. And from 7:30 until 8ish (sort of) on TTR. I have all day (sort of) on Saturday and Sunday. I say "sort of" because I have 2 small children. They have needs, on after another after another after another.

Now take this time and cut it in half. You do your goal work for the first half, with the promise of goofing off for the second half. She mentions that little by little, you'll start cutting into your goof off time without even realizing it.

As for good mother/providers: she's pretty matter-of-fact. She says BLATANTLY that if you like to have a clean house and all that, then stop whining about it and just do it. And don't let anybody give you a hard time about it. But if you don't care about housework, and it's only keeping you from doing what you want to do, then just STOP! And again, don't let anyone give you a hard time about it.

Then she tells us to make a list of all the things we must do in this lifetime. Then cross out all the things you would cross out if you were going to die in six months. Then start focusing on those things and quit worrying about your making your bed and cooking gourmet meals.

If you think your kids are just going to DIE if you don't sacrifice yourself to provide the perfect life for them, Sher includes a nice section about obligations. She has several of her workshop attendees tell about how they actually resented their parents for working too hard to provide when they all they really wanted to spend time with them.

Now it's time to set up your planning wall.

Basically, this is a wall or bulletin board where you display all the charts you have created so far in this program. Here's a list:

1) a picture of your role model (top)
2) your flow chart (center)
3) on the left side of your flow chart, write "tomorrow" - this is where you will list your steps to achieve your goal - mark them out as you do them, but each step should be something you can achieve tomorrow
4) your goal goes at the far right of your flow chart
5) under your goal, write your target date
6) cut out or draw a picture that represents your goal and put that underneath, too
7) your goal calendar - this is a piece of paper divided into boxes, one box for each month between now and your target date
8) give each of your tomorrow steps a deadline and record on this calendar
9) list of immediate priority steps
10) weekly calendar where you list the steps you plan to take that week
11) transfer all this information to a pocket calendar that you keep with you at all times
12) a sheet that shows what you want to be doing with your life each year for the next five years
13) two post-its: 1 marked "today" and 1 marked "tomorrow" - you will change these out each night and list the step you completed today and what you plan for tomorrow

This sounds like a lot of work - and it is - but it will pay off in the long run. I don't know if I will be able to keep up a system like this, but I WILL find a way to streamline it to suit my life.

What will you do today to reach your goal? What will you do tomorrow?

If nothing else, ask yourself those two questions each day.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Wishcraft Chapter 9: Part 10 of 14

Chapter 9 is titled: First Aid for Fear

I think this quote from the book sums it up:

"Fear strikes when you feel as if you'd been so busy building and climbing a ladder that you forgot there was a 30-foot diving board at the top. All of a sudden you're teetering out at the end of that board, with your toes curling over the edge, and the loud peaker is booming, "Hello! Are you ready?" And as the spotlight hits you and the drums began to roll, you feel like yelling, "Wait a minute! I thought we were just having fun! I didn't know I was actually going to have to jump!"

The whole book so far has been about preparing for action. With this chapter, there is now a call to action. Taking action is scary.

There are different types of fear:

1) stage fright - uncertainty of yourself, self-doubt
2) survival fear - the unknown, lack of preparation in first-generation winners

Together, these two are a vicious cycle: "Can't get self-confidence without experience. Can't get experience without self-confidence."

Sher then talks about how to overcome survival fear, which is the hardest of the two, by humoring it and treating it like a small child and giving it it's way, so-to-speak.

1) "I'm not prepared." - So indulge your survival fear and do what you need to prepare yourself. Just don't do nothing at all, simply because you're not prepared. Get prepared.
2) "I'm not good enough." - So indulge your survival fear and lower your standards. Allow yourself to make mistakes early. Consider early attempts just practice. Make some trial runs."Give your experience and skill time to catch up with your vision and ambition."Learn to say, "I'm a beginner. I'm new at this. It's my first day."She mentions a quote from Robert Townsend, "Anything worth doing is worth doing badly."
3) "I can't do this alone." - It doesn't have to be lonely at the top, as the cliche goes. It's okay to make achieving your dreams a group effort. Those you love and care about will only benefit from your good fortune.

After all of this, Sher stresses the importance of rewarding yourself for your hard work. Here's the funniest quote from the book:"Virtue is it's own reward. As far as I'm concerned, the reward for virture should at least be a chocolate sundae, or preferably a trip to the Bahamas."

Now go out there and take action in achieving what you want most in life!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Wishcraft Chapter 10: Part 11 of 14

Self Improvement and Home Improvement are two very different things. Home Depot's message proclaims, "Do it yourself," but the message for chapter 10 is "Don't do it yourself."

Sher encourages us to employ our family and loved ones on our team to help us achieve our goals, rather than do nothing because we're worried about what they might think. Then she gives us some survival tips for making the transition:

1) Let them be mad. - You don't need permission to follow your dreams. Do they love you for the role you play or for the real you?
2) Work it out. - Draw out a contract or a detail description of how life is going to be with all the new changes.

Sher details a family economic conference, complete with questions. This gets the whole family involved and prepares them for what is about to happen. It's easier to accept change when you feel like you have an active role in the process.

There is even an entire section on housework. This is a biggy. I know it is in my house, since I'm a clutterbug and my husband is a neat freak with OCD. I think the thing we fight about most is how dirty he thinks the house is and how I would rather write or read than do housework. My philosophy is: if we don't have bugs then the house is fine AND clutter ain't dirt!

What? Your husband doesn't subscribe to this philosophy?

Sher lists 4 strategies for dealing with this dilema:

1) Democratic Chaos - the ole' yeah-I-wish-I-had-a-maid-too speech
2) Compassionate Autocrat - this is for people who want to achieve their goals AND have a clean house. Obviously, I don't fall into this category, but I suppose it's worth mentioning. Basically, if you must have a clean house, don't do ALL the work yourself. Share in the housework with others who live with you.
3) I Need You to Take Care of Me - If taking care of your family makes you feel good, then give them the same pleasure by letting them take of you sometimes. Don't be such a control freak.
4) Love Your Life - You know that old saying, "If Momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy." It's true. Very true.

When you approach your family wih a new idea, allow them to be a part of the strategy process. Even children have a lot to offer when it comes to reaching your goals. They just want to be a part of the process. Whenever I'm developing a children's story, I always look to my oldest daughter for input. Who knows children's books better than a child?

There's a section in this chapter for single folks or older people who live alone. She tells how to set up a buddy system. This buddy system can offer you 3 kinds of help, according to Sher:

1) Expectation - check in with each other
2) Hard Times - emotional support
3) Practical Help - two heads are better than one

With either system, you must have weekly business meetings and several 3-minute booster phone calls. Sher gives details about what these meetings and phone calls should include.The 2 main rules are:

1) Be on time.
2) Use a clock or kitchen timer.

5 mins - report in for the week
20 mins - go over problems and solutions
10 mins - hard times "bitching" session, if needed
5 mins - scheduling for next week

Then switch places, and it's your partner's turn. This meeting should last 1-hour, maybe a little more if there is a hard times session.

She talks about crisis points that keep you from doing what you need to do. Sometimes a crisis will send you into Intensive Care. She details how to handle these moments.

With help and love, anything is possible!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Wishcraft Chapter 11: Part 12 of 14

Chapter 11 is titled: Proceeding

Basically, it tells you how to proceed from here, once you've established all of your planning sheets. Here is an excerpt directly from the chapter that sums of what you should have ready:

"On Your Planning Wall

1. your personal "saint"
2. flow chart
3. goal calendar
4. first steps
5. weekly calendar
6. the next five years
7. the next step: tonight / tomorrow

To Carry With You Wherever You Go

1. purse or pocket calendar
2. actions and feelings journal
3. hard times notebook

Here's What You Do Every Week

1. Sunday night planning meeting
- review what you've done this week
- flow chart and goal calendar update
- list of first steps
- problems list (hard times and brainstorming)
- next week's plan (calendar and pocket/purse calendar)
- journal
- next steps
- dreaming

Daily Procedure
- journal (evening)
- list of first steps (evening)
- the next step (evening)
- rewards (evening)
- get up 10 minutes earlier than you have to (morning)
- look at the Next Step on your planning wall (morning)
- look at flow chart to gauge where you are (morning)
- quick glance at "saint" and gather up travel calendar (morning)"

And that's all she wrote. Really puts things into perspective, doesn't it?

Go get 'em, Tiger!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Wishcraft Chapter 12: Part 13 of 14

Epilogue - Learning to Live with Success

1. Hooray for You! - Remember to celebrate your achievements. You've earned it.
2. Fake It - Now is the time for action. Or as Barbara Sher says, "Fake it until you get used to it."
3. Until You Get Used to It - Honey, you have arrived!

My favorite quote from this chapter:

"Being on your path is what it's all about. Each destination you reach only opens out into wider horizons, new and undiscovered couuntries for you to explore."

Seek out your dreams, Adventurers!...all this from a girl who can't count. I've been stating all along that there were going to be 14 parts, but this is, in fact, the last part, number 13. Hahaha!

Love Ya!

Now go get your FREE copy of Wishcraft at


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