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What—a World with No Wine and Cheese?

Anyone who knows me knows I love food and red wine.

With a Jamaican father and a French mother, how could I not be a foodie? Because I draw on the spices native to Jamaican culture and the cream and butter that are so much a part of French cuisine, I am proud to say that I am a pretty good cook.

When I lived in California with my ex-husband, who was running for Congress, I hosted parties for governors and dignitaries. I often served a hundred guests buffet-style. Many Americans asked if the food was catered, and I proudly told them, “No, it’s all homemade.” I served such dishes as Jamaican mini–jerk sliders, whole lemon-roasted chickens, my famous mac and cheese, and pineapple upside-down cake (my dad’s favorite), and no one left my parties hungry. Most folks left with a plate of food in their hand.

I grew up in Jamaica, where certain things are not as abundant as in the United States, and I often think about the times in the mid-1970s when you would walk into a Jamaican supermarket and the shelves would be empty. Even if you had money, not much was available to buy, and anything you did find was very expensive. Thank God my parents were in the retail business—they knew when shipments were coming into stores and could make do.

I often wonder if Americans understand how lucky they are to live in a world where supermarkets are always stocked with food and water. When you live without these things, they gain greater value to you. You develop a sense of deep gratitude for God’s many blessings. You learn to live with less. You realize that designer products and fancy cars do not bring happiness. You learn that the simple things—like a nice glass of red wine and a slice of good cheese—bring true happiness.

So I say no way to a world without red wine and cheese.

Until next time.

Solange

 

Image courtesy of JoshDMcK (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Finding Peace in the Social Media Age

I was truly fascinated when I recently watched a toddler swiping on his mother’s iPhone screen. I thought, “Where is technology taking our society that a child so young has any idea what an iPhone is, much less knows that he has to touch the screen and swipe to see a new picture?”

While having a social media presence is necessary for an author, I watch practically no TV to increase the time I can devote to writing. I no longer watch the news, as I find it depressing. When I write, I listen to either instrumental music or none at all. I recently went to see the Gipsy Kings in concert, and I liked their instrumental stuff. Sometimes classical works for me too, but other times it puts me to sleep. The bottom line is that I choose when and if I allow social and traditional media into my life, not vice versa.

I recently went on vacation overseas. While flying home, I noticed that people got out their cell phones and checked their messages as soon as the flight entered US airspace. Now, I understand that staying connected is part of the job for some people, but come on—they just came back from a beautiful, relaxing trip where they could take a break from social media, and as soon as they could, they plugged back in again.

I’m sorry, that life is not for me.

I wonder about people who are constantly plugged into their phone or social media. Is this behavior something that our culture teaches? Does it make people feel more important? Or does it reflect something deeper?

We all laughed at the idea in The Terminator that robots and megacomputers could take over the world. But that is what’s happening today. Social media is slowly taking over our brains.

Until next time.

Solange

 

Image courtesy of Seika (CC BY 2.0)

When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Sweet Lemonade—Part 2

“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”

Last week, I told you about one occasion when I put this adage into practice. This week, I have a second to share.

I belong to a travel group with about 175 members. We go on day trips, overnight trips, and sometimes longer trips, usually by bus. The group consists mostly of older members, but some are young whippersnappers like me. The purpose of our group is to spend time together and see new places without worrying about driving ourselves there and back.

For the last few months, we had planned a Memorial Day trip to Naples, a city on the west coast of Florida, that would include a walk around town, a show, dinner, and cocktails. The trip was sold out and had a waiting list. We thought everything would go as planned like it usually does thanks to our fearless leader, Rosalie.

Hurricane season was not scheduled to start for another week, although we had been having a lot of rain in southern Florida the week before Memorial Day. Then on Friday, the National Weather Service issued a flood warning for southern Florida because of the rain.

And then Tropical Storm Alberto decided to form on Friday morning over the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico and head our way. Needless to say, I drove home on Friday evening in such a heavy torrent of rain that drivers on the highway slowed down to thirty miles an hour and had flashers on. I was almost totally blinded by the rain and could barely see the car in front of me.

That same day, I found out the Memorial Day trip was cancelled because of the weather. Initially, I was upset because I had been looking forward to getting away for a little bit and seeing some new scenery. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized this was a smart decision. Some members of the travel group are elderly, and the slippery, rain-slicked streets would not have been safe for them. Someone could have fallen and gotten injured, and none of us wanted that.

So, what was supposed to be an overnight Memorial Day trip to Naples turned into a three-day writing binge for me. As I listened to the rain drops on the windowsill in my home office, I thought of each one of those drops as sweet lemonade.

Until next time, make lemonade.

Solange

 

Image courtesy of Rob Bertholf (CC BY 2.0)

When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Sweet Lemonade: Part 1

“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”

We have all heard this saying, and we know what it means: look on the bright side of things. Well this week, I had two opportunities to turn lemons into lemonade. In this post, I will share the first one with you.

My friend, Azie, hosted a wonderful royal wedding–watching party. It started at eleven o’clock in the morning, and my mom and I were the first to arrive with pastries and cakes in hand. Little by little, other guests arrived (all women) with mountains of food, including sandwiches, pastries, and sweet treats. Our hostess made mimosas and tea—both hot and iced—and we all sat down to watch the pomp and circumstance of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s royal wedding.

It was raining outside, but not heavily. In fact, my hostess’s little girl and some of her friends were out by the pool having a pizza party and watching the wedding on a big outdoor screen.

As with most royal weddings, the build-up to the ceremony lasted about two hours. At one point, the lights in Azie’s house flickered but immediately came back on. We thought nothing of it. We watched Oprah, the Beckhams, and a host of other VIPs arrived at St. George’s Chapel for the wedding. We watched Meghan wave and smile from the vintage Rolls-Royce that took her and her mother to the cathedral.

As we drank mimosas and noshed on treats, we watched Harry and the future king of England, William, walk into the church, looking dashing (and in Harry’s case, a bit nervous) in their dark uniforms.

We watched Meghan emerge from the car, looking tasteful, elegant and understated. She beamed with joy and happiness. A look of true love shone in her eyes.

And then the power went out. I mean out. It wasn’t coming back. We all groaned.

Luckily, our hostess, Azie, took this setback in stride. She thought of games for us to play, including one called What’s in Your Purse? By the time we finished that one, we were laughing. (I mean, who carries toenail clippers in her purse?).

We soon realized we weren’t there for the royal wedding. We were there to spend time together, to have fun dressing to the nines and wearing crazy hats, to drink tea with our pinkies sticking out, to laugh, and to make new friends. That was what the day was about.

And in those moments before the lights went out, we witnessed true and abiding love on the faces of Harry and Meghan. I wish them all the happiness in the world. And I know that Princess Diana was looking down on her son from heaven and smiling at the strong and faithful man he has become and at the beautiful and intelligent woman he has chosen as his wife.

Until next time, make lemonade.

Solange

 

Image courtesy of Nick Harris (CC BY-ND 2.0)

New novel Firestorm is on the way!

My second book is on the way. Firestorm promises the return of someone from Dr. Cat Powers’ past, as well as her tracking a new killer who is a fire fighter by day and a twisted arsonist by night. McGregor returns to chase down a mad man hell bent on watching Southern California’s scenic neighborhoods burn. Cat is caught in a hellish firestorm she cannot control.  Will she survive or succumb to the heat?

Women Attorneys of Michelman and Robinson (WAMR)

the WAMR Hammer

The Women Attorneys of Michelman and Robinson, LLP (WAMR) present Solange Ritchie the WAMR Hammer in appreciation for serving as a guest speaker. January 28, 2015.

Solange recently spoke live in Orange County and via video conference in Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco about writing and character development for her novels. She was presented with this stunning award by the Women Attorneys of Michelman and Robinson (WAMR).  Solange wants to thanks all who attended both live and via video.  It was so exciting to speak to like-minded attorneys who enjoy writing, story telling and share a little of her own story about how her writing career began and has now taken off. It was also very rewarding to hear from many of the female attorneys that they could really connect with her lead character, Dr. Catherine Power’s struggles as a power woman in her career and her role as a mother.  They loved the cover and Solange provided 2 chapters of the final edit on the novel. Many told her that they wanted more to read.  So thanks to the Mona, her fellow lady lawyers (and a few gents) at Michelman & Robinson for the opportunity and this award. One additional item, the breakfast talk was videoed and they promised to send it to Solange When she gets it, she will post it on this blog.  Hope everyone has a great weekend.

The Burning Man Book Cover

The Burning Man cover

Hot off the presses. Here it is! The cover for The Burning Man, released in paperback and e-book in September 2015. I promise that this psyche thriller featuring lead character, FBI agent/forensic pathologist, Dr. Catherine Powers, will have you flipping though the pages from the very first paragraph until the surprise ending.

 

KEYS TO LIVING A PURPOSE DRIVEN SELF-ACTUALIZED LIFE

How many of us feel like we go though life without purpose? I know many parents got kids back to school this week. So you probably feel more drained this week than most.

So many people go to work each day and repeat the same patterns for years. This leads to physical exhaustion, a mental lack of clarity and a sense of emptiness.

How many times do we wake up in the morning and realize we have a choice each day.

We have a choice to live life with happiness and gratefulness. Or we have a choice to live life filled with complaints, “drama” and unhappiness.

I know which of these I do each day.

Do you?

Do you bring happiness to those around you?

Do you live life with gratitude, joy and purpose?

If not, here are some ways to get there.

1. Identify your core values:

Your core values are the things that are the most important to you in your life. These tend to be very different for everyone and range anywhere from health to family to contribution, etc. Take a piece of paper are write down 10 core values. Just dump them out at first. Don’t over think them and don’t judge them. Then, list them by priority. For many of us, family is first, but it is an individual exercise. No right or wrong answers. No judging what you wrote down.

2. Figure out where you are:

Once you have figured out your core values, you can ask yourself if whether what you are doing in your life right now gets you closer to or farther away from living in alignment with those core values. For example, if your core value is family, but you do nothing to reach out to your loved ones on a daily basis and tell them they are loved, then you are probably not working from a place of alignment. In addition, if your top core value is freedom but you are tied down to a 9:00-5:00 job, could it be time to reevaluate your path? Do you want to start a business? Do you want to change your line of work? Do you want to do more charitable work? Figuring out whether you are near or far from your core values in your daily actions will get you moving in the direction of your dreams.

3. Make an action plan:

As a fulfilled full time attorney, passionate philanthropist, lecturer and soon to be published novelist, people always ask me how do I find the time to do it all. The answer for me is simple. I live my life with passion and with a plan. Now I am not here to tell you that at the end of the week, I am not tired. God knows, some weeks, I just want to go home on a Friday night, put my feet up and have a glass of wine and forget the week.

But having a goal and an action plan helps make the week something I can look back on and feel like I accomplished something. A goal and action plan can take you from being a dreamer of great things to being a doer of great things.

If you have decided that you don’t feel aligned where you are right now, make an action plan that will help transport you to where you want to go.

First, make one master statement. This statement will combine your top three core values into one sentence. Then, break that statement into three separate goals.

Here is an example: Statement – I am an inspirational speaker, life coach, and author. Goals – 1. It is January 1, 2015 and I have scheduled one speaking engagement per month. 2. It is January 1, 2015 and I am coaching 10 clients per week. 3. It is January 1, 2015 and my book has been published. These goals will start moving your life in the direction of your purpose.

Once you have identified these goals and committed them to paper, list ten action steps you need to take under each goal. For example, if we pick goal 1 above, the action steps may be: Reach out to local organizations to procure speaking engagements; reach out to corporate wellness programs; create flyers to hand out at events and local businesses; create a newsletter of potential attendees for seminars, etc.

These action steps will bring you clarity on what you need to do to live a purposeful life. This exercise takes your thoughts surrounding purpose and makes them more tangible so you can begin to see them come to life. So you can do what you need to actually accomplish them.

Dreams are just that – dreams. Dreamers are just that – dreamers.

But by following the steps above and taking action to make your dreams a reality, you will find “A Purpose Driven Self Actualized Life.”

 

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