Saturday, December 19, 2015

Three Life Changing Lessons from 2015

It's the end of another incredible year. I just took a peek at my New Years post, looking back at how difficult 2014 was and how promising 2015 seemed. Well, the promise was fulfilled. 2015, for me, was one of the best years. Why? Because I actually started to enjoy my life. 

As I mentioned in my New Years post, I resolved to have a balanced life. Turns out that it's not about balance, it's about balancing- its a verb, an act, a process that needs regular attention and recognition. 

When I sent out the Get Sorted questionnaire, it seemed that many of you are seeking balance. That's why I wanted to share the top three lessons that not only helped me with balance, but changed my life. Hopefully, you pick out some nuggets of wisdom from my experience. 

One- Masterpiece Days

This is a little bit of wisdom I picked up from Brian Johnson. I absolutely love this man and his Philosopher's Notes. Please check out his site at He's got a ton of free videos and podcasts and an inexpensive membership for more. 

If you want to change your life you have to change your daily habits and actions. All those small, seemingly insignificant acts add up to huge, significant changes. Brian shares the idea, which is from The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy, to bookend your days. 

You have the most control over your morning and evening, and you need to make them count. I began changing my evening routine by shutting off the TV and other electronics two hours before bed, no caffeine after 3pm, so I could get to bed early and have a Miracle Morning, another great book by Hal Elrod. Now I have a morning routine that sets me up for success throughout the whole day! (You can read about it here.

Having a masterpiece day also means making time to do the most important thing that you need to do that day, usually getting it done first before the day gets crazy. This alone has made a huge impact on the quality of my life and overall sense of fulfillment. Incredible! I can tell the difference between having a masterpiece day and not. Now, I strive to have more masterpiece days

Two- Give Yourself Time

Time. I don't know about you, but I have a love/hate relationship with time. I love when I have it, hate it when I don't. 

The year started great. I released The Commitment Test and I was fast at work on a new novel that I felt was sure to be a great success. Then, around May I found myself in a panic. I was rushing to put out my next book. After all, I set a goal to release at least two if not three books this year. I was running out of TIME

During this same time, I was beginning to believe that the reason I wasn't achieving the kind of success I thought I should have at that point was because I was somehow hindering it. Or dare I say, self-sabotaging it. I decided to use my practice of chanting nam-myoho-renge-kyo to have a breakthrough in my life and began chanting for an hour a day for 100 days. 

It was about ten days before my 100 days campaign was up when it happened. My dear friend and fellow author, I'll call her Shoten Zenjin (Protective Function), read my soon-to-be released novel and said, "This is great, but it's not ready." 

I was crushed.

But then, she opened my eyes to see that by rushing I had sacrificed the quality of my work, and she encouraged me to think about the kind of writer I wanted to be. It was this same conversation that I realized why I was in such a hurry to make things happen. 

I was on a self-imposed deadline. (BTW, I'm omitting that word this year and replacing it with Timeline or Lifeline) 

I believed that if I didn't have a certain amount of success by early 2016, I would have to go back to a regular full-time job and scale WAY BACK on my writing businesses. Because of this, I was acting out of fear . . . and it was ugly. 

She kept telling me to Give Myself The Time I Needed. "Give yourself time." And so I did. I took a step back, horrified over how I had been thinking and operating, and took some time. I gave myself permission to release a book a year, because there's nothing wrong with that. Because that is me being authentic, true to myself (lesson of 2014). 

Please don't misunderstand this as a reason to hold off on your achievements or aspirations, but to allow yourself the proper amount of time to produce the quality of results that you want to share with the world. Give yourself time.

Three- This & That

So while I'm taking time, and setting up my week to have masterpiece days, I still found myself yearning for what I consider a successful career, wondering when I was going to make that six-figure income. When!? 

Then I thought to myself, okay let's say I achieved that, what would I do? How would I want to spend my time? My money? So I made a list that I dubbed This & That. If I get This (six-figure income) it means I can have more of That (fill in the blank). Here's some things on my list:

  • Have time to cultivate lasting relationships (friends & family, etc) that encourage & fulfill others- having conversations (phone, over meals, coffee houses, walks, get togethers)

  • Getting plenty of sleep
  • Spending time in nature
  • Reading

90% of my list costs nothing, or is extremely affordable. Nothing that would require me to have a six-figure a year income. So I thought instead of waiting to do all these great things when I have the great career, why not make TIME for them now and see what happens. 

You guys, this list is a game changer. 

And since I began acting as if I have the time for these things, in other words adjusting my priorities and making time for them, I feel like I'm not only balancing my life but enjoying my life, dare I say, being successful at life. And after all, isn't that what we really desire? To be happy in our entire life?

I'm not talking about rainbows and unicorns happy all the time, but having a profound sense of yourself and what you want, how you want to feel, knowing and acting on your fundamentals daily.

This & That was so eye opening for me, that I created a free worksheet for you as part of my Get Sorted Series. (Click Here to Download) I'd love to hear what you think.

So what were the life changing lessons you learned this year? Please share them by leaving a comment below.

I wish you and your families a very joyful holiday season. See you in 2016!


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Friday, November 20, 2015

Five Reason I Left My Heart in San Francisco

Golden Gate Park with Joe

Some of you may know that I recently celebrated my 30th birthday with a trip to San Francisco. Yes, The Marin Test Series takes place in the Golden City, but here's a little secret . . . it was my first visit.

I was so excited about the trip . . . in theory. But when it came time to leave, I was so caught up in my day-to-day, that I didn't feel like taking a week away from work and flying 3,000 miles away. 

It wasn't much better when we first arrived. By the time we landed, rented a car, drove to the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood, and found parking four blocks away from where we were staying, three hours were gone and I was hangry. (Yes, it's a real thing) 

Joe and I walked a couple blocks to Nopalito (delicious) and waited for a table. I watch the locals come in and out of the little shops next door, leaving their dogs tide to posts outside. No way in hell my dog would let me do that. She's a suburban dog and these cute pooches were well-trained city dogs.

By the time we settled in that night in our little rented AirBNB room after dinner with friends, a ride on the train, and passing homeless people on the street, I had seen enough. I was ready to go home. 

Then as the days passed on, I found myself absolutely smitten with the city. And here's five reasons why.

Haight-Ashbury Neighborhood
One: The Walking
It sounds crazy, but I loved being able to walk to the park, restaurants, and Whole Foods. I'm so used to driving and sitting behind a desk, that I forgot how good it feels to move on foot. The weather was chillier than I had anticipated, but once I learned to bundle up, the cool breeze on my face was wonderful. According to my phone's health app, Joe and I walked approximately 16,000 steps a day! Probably the only vacation that didn't result in weight gain.

Conservatory of Flowers
Two: Golden Gate Park
Between the lush trees, vast grounds, the Conservatory of Flowers, and the Japanese Tea Garden, Golden Gate Park is now my favorite park in the WORLD! There was something so peaceful about being there, thoughtful. I imagined I could walk around there for hours, or just sit with the sun shining on my face. If you're ever in the city, this is a must-see.

Conservatory of Flowers

Japanese Tea Garden
Three: The Food
We were fortunate enough to have a ton of highly rated (according to yelp) restaurants right in the neighborhood. The restaurants were local and almost all offered vegetarian or vegan options, which was great for me. Joe and I loved Street Taco on Haight Street, but my favorite what this tiny whole-in-the-wall called Lime Tree, a Southeast Asian restaurant. Their yellow curry sauce was to die for. 

The Painted Ladies
Four: The Architecture
I've always been drawn to architecture. Kinda random, but a beautifully designed bridge or house always catches my eye. San Fran has such a picturesque style, it's hard not to fall in love with the bay windows of the Edwardian style houses. The Haight-Ashbury neighborhood has rows of uniquely colored houses that look like they're out of a Dr. Seuss book. My favorite were the famous Painted Ladies. Incredible! The view of the houses stretched all the way to the downtown area, the tall Transamerica building peeking out from behind. You may recognize the houses from the show Full House. I could not get that song out of my head for two days!! "Everywhere you look, everywhere you look . . . " 
Golden Gate Bridge

And of course the freaking Golden Gate Bridge!! I totally teared up when we drove across on our way to Muir Woods. It was utterly breathtaking. 
Inside a Redwood Tree

Baker Beach
Later, we found ourselves on Baker Beach to get some good photos of the Bridge. As we got closer  to the bridge, we realized we were encroaching on a nude section of the beach. My husband asked, "You want me to climb the rocks and get a picture of bridge?"
His steps picked up ahead of me and a naked man drew closer. Joe had seen too much and immediately turned back. "Never mind," he said. "Let's go back." 

Five: The Lifestyle 
The number one thing I noticed about the natives is how active they are; walking, biking, jogging--all day! Everyone is fit, not Southern-California-bronzed-muscle fit, but healthy. Public transportation is the norm and encouraged, partially for environmental reasons and partially for the parking issues. Speaking of the environment, San Francisco and neighboring areas have outlawed plastic grocery bags!! Recycle bins are everywhere. I was in eco-friendly heaven.

When I got home and back to work my colleague noticed how sad I looked. He asked, "What's the matter? Did you leave your heart in San Francisco?" 

Yeah, I totally did. 

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Vote For Telly's Cover

Hello Lovers!

I've got something fun for you today! Telly, Marin's best friend in The Marin Test Series, has her own short story called Telly Tells All: Telly Meets Marin.

It gets better . . .

Telly's story is available to YOU for free when you sign up for my newsletter. Click here or sign up below!

In the meantime, help me pick the best cover. Click to vote below on Legs or Lips 

Thanks for voting!

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Sunday, October 11, 2015

October Seven 11 Blog Hop with GIVEAWAYS!!

Today is October 11th, which means it's time for seven lines from my new short story, available next month for free to all my newsletter subscribers. 

If you're a fan of Telly in The Man Test and The Commitment Test, then you'll love Telly Tells All: Telly Meets Marin.

Here's seven lines from Telly's new Story!

It’s sex. I have sex with my fitness trainer after I work out, and we call it round two. The thing I like about Mike is that he keeps it light, which is good for me because I’m not looking for anything serious. The word relationship is not in my vocabulary. Maybe I’ll add it in my thirties. Make that late-thirties. Besides, how does a young lawyer working at a competitive law firm have time for more than sex?

If you haven't had a chance to read The Man Test you can enter here to win the eBook for FREE!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Want more seven lines and FREE giveaways! Check out these awesome authors. 

SC Ellington has a SURPRISE giveaway- $600 in gift cards in the online store of your choice!

Heather Hildenbrand is giving away a $5 Amazon gift card and Bitterroot Swag 

Enter to win one of five copies of Scornful Sadie from Felicia Tatum

Bethany Lopez has her novel, 3 Seconds, up for giveaway

Justine Winter's giving away a copy of Sapphire's Divinity

Enter to win a copy of Return to Pandora by Kayla Smith

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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Winning in Life Starts in the Morning

Good Morning! I'm so excited to be posting my first Get Sorted blog post. 
In case you didn't know, I'm a self-improvement junkie- productivity, organization, attitude, health, business, writing. If I can learn something that's applicable and will make my life the slightest bit better or easier, I'm in!

I tell you this because for years I've been learning how important mornings are but I've never really applied it until this year. This is what I've learned.

Winning in life starts in the morning. 
Tweet: Winning in life starts in the morning. @amandaaksel

First, I want to share three keys I've learned for making the most of your morning.

1. Get enough sleep. 
So many of us are truly sleep deprived. Do you wake up to an alarm clock in the morning? Yep, then you're sleep deprived. Do you need coffee at three o'clock in the afternoon to make it to five? Yep, sleep deprived again. 

This year I've been fortunate enough not to HAVE TO wake up to an alarm. So I did a little experiment and started tracking my sleep and my energy throughout the day with a journal. I found that if I got the amount of sleep I needed, I was much more effective and had more energy throughout the day. It turns out I need more than 8 hours of sleep. And that's okay because it's an investment in my day. 
Makes for a better morning too!

So if you have to be up at a certain time, make sure you go to bed early enough that you'll be fully rested come morning. 

2. Make Your First Hour Count
Brian Tracy calls this the "Golden Hour". This is when you set your mind up for the day and arm yourself against the troubles that are thrown at you as soon as you get on the highway. Tracy recommends reading something positive or educational. This is also the best time to meditate or pray, do yoga. Something to get  plugged in to your greater self. 

3. Breakfast! 
I cannot stress this enough. If you're running on no sleep and no food and you're miserable, it's easy to see why. You're literally running on fumes. Your body needs fuel in the morning. If you're saying, "I'm not a breakfast person." Start saying, "I'm not a breakfast person YET."  
If you're body is trained to go without substance until lunchtime, you can train it to crave substance first thing. 

I totally recommend drinking 8-16 ounces of water first thing upon waking. Your body is very acidic in the morning. Water neutralizes that acidity making you less prone to illness and preparing your body for food. Then have your breakfast and THEN have your coffee

Wanna hear about how I spend my mornings? Read on . . . 

1. Sleep
Like I said, I get enough sleep. I keep water on my nightstand and immediately drink it when I wake up. I started doing this three years ago. Before that, my stomach would hurt shortly after waking if I didn't eat right away and lead to nausea, hence decreasing my appetite. With 16 ounces of water working for me, I don't have that issue anymore. 

2. Breakfast
I open the windows in my bedroom, put on some easy or feel good music, and make the bed. That's when I'm ready for BREAKFAST. I used to eat cereal or oatmeal with fruit, but the past few weeks I've been drinking this smoothie and I'm addicted

Click here for the recipe. 

3. Spiritual Time
As soon as I'm done with my smoothie, I have my "spiritual" time. I practice Nichiren Buddhism and so in the mornings I chant nam-myoho-renge-kyo. When I'm chanting, I make a determination to succeed in my day and for the happiness of others. This practice makes me feel 10 feet tall, so all the problems that come up in my day are easily or at least more easily surmountable. 

4. Mind, Body, and Puppy
When I'm done chanting, I continue to get my mind right by listening to something encouraging or motivational. I like to pull up a YouTube video or Podcast. Here's one I listened to recently. I put in my earphones and take my dog for a walk. This is a four in one for me (Inspiration, Nature time, Exercise, Puppy time.)

Okay, now I'm ready to take on the world. 

If you're thinking that you don't have time for ALL this in the morning, then tailor it to fit your life, but make it a priority. I challenge you to tryout these three tips for one week and see the improvements in your life. 

Now I have to ask:

What do you do in the morning that gets you ready to take on the world? 


What will you start implementing in your morning routine to make you more effective throughout your day? 

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Seven 11 Birthday Blog Hop with GIVEAWAYS!!

This is such a wonderful and terrifying day for me. It's my birthday. 

And I'm turning 30 . . . Holy s***! Where does the time go. 

But we've got a lot of fun things to share for this month's hop as it is the hop's one year anniversary. 

So I guess I'm not the only one having a birthday. 

And since birthdays are about celebrating life, I've decided to donate mine to an amazing cause called Charity:Water. 

You may be surprised to know that there are 748 million people without access to clean water. Something we have abundance of and take for granted. The good news is we can lower that number with a small donation. I'm asking my friends, family and yes, my lovely readers to donate on behalf of my birthday. I set a goal of raising $1000. We've raised $150, changing the lives of FIVE people. 

You can check out the campaign here: 

Here's the interview that inspired my campaign:

Thank you for considering a donation. Every little bit helps!

Now here's seven lines from my upcoming novel. I'll be announcing exclusive information about the release on my newsletter soon. If you haven't joined, sign up below!

Selena smiles, letting out a little laugh. “I definitely haven’t heard that question from a man before. But the key to success is the same wherever you go. It’s about confidence. You have to walk in like you own the place. Because when you roar like a lion, they’ll treat you like you’re the king of the jungle.”

“Or queen,” I say.

Just to make things more fun, I'm giving away an ebook copy of 
The Commitment Test

a Rafflecopter giveaway IT'S BONUS TIME! Here are the links to 5 other AMAZING authors who have agreed to share seven lines from their upcoming books. Get a behind the scenes glimpse of 5 stories!

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Thursday, June 11, 2015

June Seven 11 Blog Hop-Can you guess the premise??

I feel like I've been living in a cave, writing and editing this new book. Now, I'm ready to rejoin the world and get back to blogging and social media. So it's a perfect time to come back with this month's blog hop.

Today is June 11th, which means it's time for another seven lines from my new comedic novel, which is expected to release in August! I've been tight lipped on this project and I'll announce it next month. 

Can you guess the premise based on today's seven lines . . . . ?

Something’s different this morning. I can see clearly though my glasses are on the nightstand. Weird. I stretch out under the covers of my warm, cozy bed. My full bladder is screaming for me to get up. That’s normal. But I also have this light pressure in my crotch and it feels a little sensitive. 

IT'S BONUS TIME! Here are the links to 6 other AMAZING authors who have agreed to share seven lines from their upcoming books. Get a behind the scenes glimpse of 6 stories!

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