Category Archives: Image & Identity

Anger and the lizard brain.

<div class=\"postavatar\">Anger and the lizard brain.</div>

by Gail Z. Martin

I’ve told the story about the two warring wolves inside each of us—the light one that is brave and true and the dark one that is dangerous.  The wolf that wins is the wolf we feed.

I tackled my own “wolf problem” when it came to feeling angry.  Now I’ve already shared my reaction to the over-hyped, over-dramatized TV news.  But once I realized how much the doom-and-gloom drumbeat of the news affected my mood, I went looking for other culprits in order to take back my wolf.
A friend of mine who is a psychologist told me that the oldest part of the brain is focused on survival.  It’s programmed to fight, reproduce and grab all the resources for itself, because that’s how wild animals survive.  Interestingly enough, this old part of the brain is what lights up when we’re angry.  And even more interesting, when we’re angry, the body redirects blood from the more advanced parts of the brain (that control logic, reasoning and decision-making) to fuel the fight-or-flight old brain.

Do you realize what that means?  When we’re angry, we’re using our lizard brain, not the new improved frontal lobe reasoning brain.  In other words—and this is important—anger turns off the ability to think.

Now consider how angry our society has become.  Road rage. Politicians who barely avoid fist fights and call each other names. Flamers and trolls on the Internet who post nasty comments.  School bullying that makes kids commit suicide.  Talk radio. Anger turns off the ability to think.
What would happen if you pulled the plug on the anger-makers?  Skip the morning drive talk radio show that leaves you with an upset stomach and a bad mood.  Stop reading the Letters to the Editor and the comments on news blogs.  Look for a non-partisan source for news that tries its best to provide the facts and let you decide.  Take time to breathe.

Anger turns off the ability to think—and it also drowns out your intuition.  When you’re angry, there are too many survival chemicals flooding your system for you to hear the soft whisper of intuition and opportunity.

Make just one change this week to pull the plug on the anger-makers and let me know how it changes your life and awakens your intuition.

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Filed under Balance, Gail Z. Martin, Image & Identity, Inspiration, Passion & Potential, Personal Transitions

My Big Dream? Get Smaller!


My “Before” Picture

At age sixty-five I was, for the first time, feeling old. I had developed arthritis, and my knees, back, and the arches in my feet hurt so much that I hobbled and groaned. At times I feared my joints might give way. I had trouble leaning over to clip my toenails or tie my shoes. I read articles on arthritis, something many people endure as they grow older, and learned that weight and age were the most influential factors in its development. I didn’t want to devour all the painkillers my orthopedic doctor prescribed, because they could cause internal bleeding, and I’d have to take antacids, as well. I dreaded going into a medication spiral where every drug required me to take another drug. “I’m just getting old,” I told myself at first. After months of pain, though, I grew depressed. Who wouldn’t?

In the past when my pets grew old and their quality of life decreased, my veterinarian euthanized them. I pondered the word euthanize, a handy euphemism for ending a life. I didn’t want to end my life, but some days I didn’t want to live, if it meant more pain.

“I don’t want to be euthanized,” I finally said one day. “I want to be youth-anized.” I couldn’t change my age, but I could relieve some of the stress on my joints if I lost weight. As a sedentary writer and book editor, I topped out at a whopping 245 pounds after a cruise to Central and South America that I thought would have to be my last, because of my difficulty walking.

To youth-anize myself I needed to weigh 150 pounds or less, which meant I needed to lose ninety-five pounds. Ninety-five pounds? That’s a whole other person!

Food is my downfall. I love sweets and salty snacks. I eat when I’m hungry; I eat when I’m not hungry. I eat when I’m happy; I eat when I’m sad. I eat when I’m bored; I eat when I’m excited. I’ve overeaten for my entire life and have always weighed more than I should.

Nothing else would do, though. If I wanted to get youth-anized, I had to eat less food and get more exercise. I also needed to stay motivated for a long time, to meet such a hefty (pun acknowledged but not intended) goal. How can a single person living alone find the incentive to keep moving toward a long-term goal?

In previous years I’d joined groups, read books, and tried every diet. In truth they all worked, but I always quit following them after a while. I already knew how to lose weight, but how could I stick to a diet long enough to lose almost one hundred pounds? Every time I thought of dieting, a streak of fear ran through me.

Wait!  A flash of brilliance came to me. I know what to do! I am, after all, a writer!

Deciding that “diet” was a four-letter word that struck fear in my heart, I began a blog called “Don’t You Dare Call It a Diet.” I spelled out my intentions for anyone to read. I revealed the horrid truth of my weight in hopes that “putting it out there” shamed me into doing something about it. I revealed how I planned to lose weight through healthy eating and exercise, and I promised to weigh in every Monday and report my progress. I sensed that if I made my intentions public, I could not back down and give up.

Years ago a nutritionist gave me information on a healthy food plan created for diabetics, and I decided to follow it. I’m not diabetic, but if I kept eating the way I did, I soon would eat myself into type 2 diabetes, one of the many dangers of being obese. The diabetic food plan calls for lots of vegetables and fruits, controlled portions of protein, and limited starches and sugars. All real food. No fees. No meetings. No shots. No pills. I could do that.

Although I already belonged to a nearby gym, I had gone there only a few times. I set up a schedule to swim and do water aerobics at least once a week. If I could get there twice a week, it would be even better, but I’m still working full-time as a book editor.

Once I drastically reduced my starches, carefully guarded my portions, and worked out regularly, the weight began to melt away. On my blog I reported healthy-eating tips as well as my weekly weight loss, usually one or two pounds a week, and people wrote to say I had motivated them, and they were losing weight. I was helping others? An unexpected bonus!

By the time I lost twenty pounds, the pains in my knees, back, and feet became minimal. Now that I’ve lost forty-five pounds, I’m practically pain free. I can walk as long as I like and even sprint up stairs. If you happen to face challenges with your stairs, curved stair lift installation can provide the necessary assistance to make your home more accessible and convenient. I thought my joints had lost their flexibility, but it turns out that my joints weren’t the problem. My fat was. It got in the way more than I admitted. I now cut and paint my toenails with ease and tie my shoes without any stress. Even sex has gotten better, without my huge belly in the way.

Once again I feel confident planning cruises and other trips, because I feel years younger than I did six months ago. I get more youthful with every pound I lose. I didn’t lose weight to look better, but I do look better. A lot better.

Within a year, and probably sooner, I’ll be at my healthiest weight ever. I still deny that I’m on a diet, though, because diets are restrictive. On my food plan I don’t have to do anything outside my comfort zone. I don’t have to eat strange or tasteless food, go to meetings, or deprive myself. I eat absolutely anything I want, but moderation and portion control is the key. As I research healthy eating more, I disseminate that information to my blog readers, so we can all make better and wiser choices.

My plan involves conscious eating. Every meal gives me a chance to make wise choices, eat less than my body needs, and lose weight. Every blog entry allows me to give and receive support from readers. Every pound lost brings me closer to my big dream of losing ninety-five pounds.

My journey continues, and more than 1,700 people have read my blog to date, with more people added all the time. Read it at

Writing is a magical thing. While I work hard to achieve my big dream of getting smaller, I’m helping others get fit as well. My influence has extended far beyond my dreams. Best of all, when I hit my goal weight, I will have written enough blog entries to comprise a book. All I’ll have to do is search for a publisher or self-publish.

No longer do I harbor dark thoughts of euthanasia or fears that I’m going to live in pain. I have youth-anized myself, and I’m pain free. I can’t even imagine how great I’ll feel when I meet my goal weight.

How easily I could have given up and let myself get old and fat, but thanks to writing, my own big dream has turned into something that helps others achieve their dreams, too, and everybody is winning—by losing!

My “During” Picture

Bobbie Christmas, author of Write In Style and other books, is a book editor and owner of Zebra Communications in metro Atlanta. She can be reached at Sign up for The Writers Network News, her free newsletter for writers, at

You can listen to the audio from when Bobbie was a guest of Blog Host, Gail Z. Martin’s Shared Dreams podcast here:

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Filed under Guest Blogger, Image & Identity

Shojai Mentoring Award

by Barbara Florio-Graham,

I was honored to receive the Shojai Mentoring Award in November, from the international Cat Writers’ Association. The award consists of a wooden plaque with am engraved metal plate, and $500. The full citation is on Bobbi’s website, at The nomination letter mentioned that Bobbi helped innumerable CWAers tackle the complexities of contracts and self-publishing, and has dispensed invaluable advice. She also designed CWA’s formal Mentoring Program, to enable any member who needed help on a specific writing topic or technique to get personalized attention from another experienced member. “As architect of our organization’s mentorship system, Bobbi once again showed her commitment to voluntarily giving her time and sharing her knowledge. Her willingness to help guide others is never in question.”

CBC radio will air an interview with me in January, and a review of my third book, Mewsings/Musings, will be published in the January/February 2011 issue of Women on Top Magazine ( That issue also contains an interview with me about how I created the persona of my co-author, Simon Teakettle (Canada’s celebrity cat).

After being given his own page in the award-winning book, A Cat’s Book of Days, by Peg Silloway, Simon Teakettle III now has his very own 2011 calendar. Published by, it features 12 photos of Simon III, plus one on the cover. Plans are underway for a 2012 version.

I’m also one of three editors of an anthology of short prose by members of a group of professional journalists I formed four years ago. Prose to Go: Tales from a Private List, will be published by Bridgeross Publishing ( in the spring.

I continue to work with two mentoring clients who hired me last year, and to contribute articles to various publications, including a monthly column for The West Quebec Post, a quarterly column for SCRIBE, and regularly for SOURCES Hotlink and for Freelance Writer’s Report.

You can listen to the audio from when Barbara was a guest of Blog Host, Gail Z. Martin’s Shared Dreams podcast here:

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Filed under Guest Blogger, Image & Identity

On becoming an advocate!

by Meredith K. Bromfield, M.A. Ed

Wow as life seems to hand many women life-changing challenges my job has changed. I am an author, an investment advisor, a counselor and now an advocate. I have taken all these skills and put them together to be that person in a women’s life to help her navigate the challenges she will face when an event occurs that rocks her world. The event may be a divorce, a death of a spouse, a retirement or becoming a caregiver. These events in of themselves are very overwhelming but then to have to navigate through the fields of paperwork and dealing with attorneys, CPA’s, life insurance companies, and human resource departments and all that they are requiring can be overwhelming to say the least. My company, Crossing Your Bridge, is here to help. With a network of resources and personal one-on-one treatment, unlimited phone and email contact you never need to face this situation alone.

You can listen to the audio from when Meredith was a guest of Blog Host, Gail Z. Martin’s Shared Dreams podcast here:

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Filed under Business Planning, Image & Identity, Inspiration

Why First Impressions Matter

by Sandy Dumont, The Image Architect

The way you look and dress announces the outcome other people can expect from you. It also announces how you feel about yourself, and you’ll be treated accordingly.

Numerous university studies, including one at Harvard, have concluded that we make an in-depth and long-lasting “first impression” in a mere two seconds. We  think we make decisions based on serious considerations, and after much thought and time. Wrong. We choose the professionals who serve us and even job candidates the same way we choose our significant other. It is “love at first sight.”

Job seekers would be advised to dress to impress, because the one who is hired is qualified, of course; but he or she is the one who makes the right impression in the first few seconds.

The way you look and dress determines many things, including the tone of your day. The way you look defines who you are to the person in the mirror when you leave the house each morning. Self esteem soars when you see a mover and shaker, but there’s not much motivation when the person in the mirror seems to say, “Aw, what does it matter how I look.”

You sell yourself short when you don’t look extraordinary every day. If you only “dress up” when the occasion arises, that person in the mirror may look like an imposter to you. If you feel good about who you are and what you do, you want to shout it to the world by looking like a million dollars.

Image doesn’t cost, it pays. When you look dynamic, you get deferential treatment and are accorded more respect. Just ask social psychologist Kevin Hogan, PhD.  In his book, “The Science of Influence,” he asserts that when you meet people you put them in one of three categories:  Yes, No or Maybe. Hogan says the vast majority are in the No category and they are dismissed entirely. He says it’s difficult to get out of the Maybe category, and that only a few are in the Yes category. He contends that those in the Yes category basically have a high-status look and are well-dressed and accessorized. You’ll find wonderful tips about how to dress in a professional manner in the white papers that are attached.

Color is the cornerstone of image, and color preferences are embedded in our DNA. Early cave men and women noticed that if they dressed to blend into their environment, the wild animals wouldn’t notice them. This “instinct” still lingers. In fact, it’s the secret to the success of the early books on color analysis. They were popular because they confirmed our “instincts” that dressing to match our superficial appearance was a good idea. All the blondes beamed when they read that baby pink and other pastels were for them; while the redheads nodded in enthusiastic agreement when they saw that redheads were shown in rust and burnt orange. It was so “logical” and so easy! Alas, it didn’t work. It kept the wolves away, but it also made everyone look invisible. Invisible people pass by unnoticed. They are dismissed. They are in the No category.

If you want to stand out in the crowd and turn heads when you enter a room, you don’t want to blend into your garments. Think contrast. Take the time to discover whether you look better in cool colors like royal blue and cherry red; or in warm colors like teal blue and tomato red. It will make the difference between looking ordinary or looking extraordinary.

Make certain that person in the mirror is dressed to impress!

You can listen to the audio from when Sandy was a guest of Blog Host, Gail Z. Martin’s Shared Dreams podcast here:

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Filed under Guest Blogger, Image & Identity