Passion and Paper Tigers


Fear preys on passion, but it is a paper tiger. ~Vautaw

I received a check for $25 today from the Poetry Society of Indiana for winning 1st place in the Linda Bannon Memorial Category with a poem I wrote specifically for the contest called, “Overflow“.

In my mind, I wielded the check like a sword to shred the paper tiger that has pursued me since the day I dared to publish my first word. Apparently, it worked, but I know a legion of paper tigers exist for every word I dare to share.

I am taking advantage of this momentary victory and boost of confidence by dreaming big, writing like I am already famous, and visualizing my name among the greatest writers of all time: Hemingway, Vonnegut, Faulkner, Joyce, Shakespeare, Tolstoy, Eliot, Bronte, Woolf, Plath, Atwood, Angelou, Christie, Cartland, Steel, Vautaw…

That last one is me, one of my pseudonyms, fits right in doesn’t it?!

Whew, I got that out before the next paper tiger spotted me and fueled my inner critic with enough adrenaline to make me want to escape through the open tab to check my email or scroll social media… anything to avoid the thoughts of inadequacy, of not being good enough to even think of being in the same sentence as the “greats” or “real” writers, of dramatic despair of dying with my words and stories left unsaid…

But, wait, I have my sword. I may not even cash the check. I may post it on my vision board as a reminder of an Amelia Earhart quote, “Fears are just paper tigers“. So, write to your heart’s content. Write the words that you want to share with the world. Write the stories that make your soul shine.

En Garde!



No Excuse

Little wins

Little wins create big victories! ~ Kathy Chaffin Gerstorff

I really have no excuse for not stringing words together much beyond my Morning Pages lately. No one cares if I do or don’t. No one but the soul that is currently taking up residence in my fleshy abode and patiently waiting for me to do what I was born to do which, from all the flashing arrows and neon lights in my mind, is… WRITE!

My response to this other worldly prodding is typically some form of resistance from blissing out on Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey or other vegan confections to procrastinating with another personal development/business building program, to the infinite social media scroll.

But today, the Universe wins. I showed up and let my muse dance across the keyboard, despite the steady stream of interruptions that started the moment I sat down. I forgot what an endorphin rush it is to push through the obstacles and finish something as simple as a blog post.  It’s little wins that create big victories!

Write On!

Kathy G



Welcome to Oz (23)

The Wizard of Oz is my favorite movie. When I was a kid, I loved the technicolor and the idea of getting swept up in a storm to visit a magical place. As an adult, I appreciate the subtle message of the movie and I see it in action every day.

Many of us are looking to the great and powerful OZ, whoever that may be, to help us achieve our dreams when the ability to make it happen resides within us. We just have to believe in ourselves as much as we believe in Oz. After all, Oz turned out to be human with just as many insecurities and flaws as the rest of us.

So click your heals and skip along the adventurous, sometimes scary, road to make whatever it is you are searching for in someone else come alive in you!

Write on.




Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment. ~ Jim Rohn

It took me years to understand that discipline can be a good thing. As a child that was “disciplined” to the extreme on many occasions I grew up hating the word and wanting to distance myself as far away from it as I could. The mere mention of the word made me defensive. Discipline represented a negative, master-slave, controlling, manipulative, walk-on-eggshells obedient existence and I wanted no part of it once I escaped that kind of dominance. That distorted definition of discipline has cost me many opportunities of health, wealth and happiness over the years.

Fortunately, after extensive personal development study, I learned to look at the other side of the discipline coin and change my association of the word from harsh to helpful. I now know that discipline is the key to success.

Peek into the routine of any successful person and you will see that self discipline plays a major role in their success. The runner who gets up at 5 a.m. to train – rain or shine, the musician who passes up partying with friends to practice for hours on end, the entrepreneur who works 12+ hours a day growing their business, the author who writes daily whether they feel like it or not…

It’s not rocket science or luck that creates olympic athletes, award-winning musicians, multi-millionaires, best-selling authors, or any success – it’s discipline!

Write on.


Honorable Mention


“There is no dishonor in honorable mention.” ~ Mike Rothman

There was a time when honorable mention felt like losing to me…

“If she can’t win, she doesn’t want to play.” My cousin said those words about me when I was ten years old or so and a group of us kids were playing red rover or some similar game that I decided I didn’t want to play for reasons I don’t even remember. My cousin continued his berating, “It has to be her way or not at all.” He was talking to them about me right in front of me. I was furious, stomped back into the house and slammed the screen door to make the point that I was mad which probably just confirmed his point to the group. My cousin’s biting words stayed with me all these years. I think about it from time to time. Am I really that rigid that I don’t want to play if I can’t win? There have been many times in my life when I felt like that was true. I have never been into sports perhaps because I know I can’t win without training and I have no desire to train for any athletic event, not even hippity-hop when I was in the fourth grade. I was always last to get picked for the team and I really didn’t care. I would rather be sitting by myself somewhere coloring or reading a book.

Writing is a different story, sort of. I want to the be the best, do my best, but often feel like I fall short which used to prevent me from entering writing contests or attending big writer conventions where MFAs and bestselling authors abound. I remember the first time I attended the Midwest Writers Conference. I felt so inferior after coming home from that event. It took me months to get beyond my self-imposed limitations of thinking what makes me believe I have a chance of getting published when there are so many great writers who are struggling. Thank goodness self-publishing became popular and easily accessible or I would have probably never pursued publishing my writing.

Once I self-published, it was like breaking through an invisible barrier. Suddenly, I could say I was a published author. I began to see myself as a writer. I continued to study, read and write, becoming a little more confident with each poem and story I wrote. I began to enter writing contests, only a few that meant something to me. I remember the first time I won a writing contest, it felt like I won an Olympic gold metal. All I won was some random poster from the 70’s that became ashes along with all my journals, poems, stories and books when my house burned down a couple years ago.

After the fire, I got a new perspective about what is really important in life. I no longer wish to accumulate things. I would rather accumulate memories. I no longer write to “win” a contest or get published. I write to say what I feel I have to release into the world. If it resonates with someone, that is wonderful. I love when that happens both as a writer and a reader. But, I’m no longer in competition for the coveted “best-seller” title or winning any awards. I write because it is who I am and what I have to do to quiet the voices in my head. I write because I love the written word. Passionately.

When I got an honorable mention at the recent Mounds State Park Poetry contest, I felt that twinge of “first place” memory and smiled inside because I am in the game now, playing, having fun, right along with all the other writers who submit their art for something that is important to them.

Being willing to step outside your comfort zone and writing from your heart, that’s what makes you a winner!

Write on.

Kathy G


Shiny Object Syndrome

objectsFOCUS – Follow One Course Until Successful

If I had to name one thing that has contributed to my lack of success with the hundreds of ideas I have had over the years, I would have to say it is shiny object sydrome! I get an idea, whether it is for a book or a business, then I get super excited about it, spend hours, sometimes days finding the perfect domain name, then create a website on WordPress or Wix, make few blog posts, then cue the wantwawa music… get distracted and move on to the next bright idea. I have done this so many times that it’s pretty much an inside joke among my family. I don’t get offended anymore. I just bury myself in the minutiae of my day and wonder why I am not making the progress I feel I should be making or living up to my full potential. But, a few things have happened lately that has made me take a hard look at what I am doing and what I need to do to have the success I seek.

First, I have listened to a couple podcasts about people who were as down on their luck as they could get and managed to turn their life around to astounding success. This has inspired me, motivated me and made me ask myself if these ex-cons and former junkies can turn their life around and make millions when they have only been at it a couple years and I have been doing this since the 80’s, what is going on? What is holding you back? Will your legacy be you accomplished none of your dreams because you couldn’t stay focused on one thing or stick with it long enough to experience success? That’s some tough love I’m gifting myself.

I read a blog yesterday from a fellow John Maxwell Team member who has started an online business called New Inceptions. I love an anology he used about burners on a stove. I only use the two front burners on my stove. I rarely use the back burners. Reading JC’s article in addition to listening to the podcasts about the guys who turned their life around plus watching Brendon Burchard videos and being on Pat Flynn’s Smart Passive Income forum has got me fired up and focused to the point that I am ready to turn on those front burners and cook up some success!

On my two front burners will be my infused water project and writing. That is it for this year! I think I can. I think I can. As my mentor, Mike Dooley says, “Thoughts become things.” I have learned from the best, now it’s time to put it into action. Consistently!

Kathy G

Death Wish Coffee


I will forever think of the phrase “Death Wish” in a different way from now on. I used to think of death wish as a way someone wished to die. For example, someone who drives a hundred miles an hour on a 35 MPH curvy road must have a death wish to die in a car wreck. Since hearing about the awesome contest Intuit QuickBooks had for small businesses to compete to win a commercial played during the Super Bowl worth an estimated five million dollars, I now think of Death Wish as something all of us aspiring entrepreneurs dream of, which is marketing that adds value while promoting our business, products or service. WestJet also does value-added marketing with their Christmas Miracle program.  It both cases it is inspiring!

As a writer who also happens to be passionate about the business side of writing and a certified Guerrilla Marketing Coach, I am always on the lookout for examples of what the late great Jay Conrad Levinson referred to as “Fusion Marketing.” What Intuit did is a brilliant example. Not only does Intuit get exposure as the sponsor and help promote a small business, they create goodwill in the world that sets an example for other businesses to follow and gets the wheels spinning for us creative entrepreneurs to think of ways to fuse our marketing efforts. Bravo Intuit!

Write on.

Kathy G

Choreographed Success

grease live

I tuned in the other day just as the cast from Grease Live was doing their curtain call. I was sorry I missed it and happy when I found out that I can watch the replay on Fox Now. I think the idea of performing live on TV is poetic. I have always enjoyed live theatre, but I was in awe when I saw a behind the scenes video of the associate director Carrie Havel working magic by capturing the rhythm and vibe of the performance. The video is only a few minutes long, but she did this for the entire three hour performance!

What Carrie did to bring the performance to life for TV viewers reminds me a lot of what it takes to accomplish any big goal. What people often see is the polished version of our efforts. When someone reads a book, they don’t see all the drafts, editing, formatting, and promotion that went on behind the scenes to bring the book to life. The same goes for podcasts, vlogs, paintings, songs, and running a business. We are good at not breaking the fourth wall.

I like to peek behind the curtains and see what it really takes to succeed because that puts it all in perspective. The long nights, staying home working on your project while everyone else goes out, putting the time in it takes to be successful. None of it happens overnight like it seems, but if you are dedicated and determined, which some people call “lucky” you get in a groove and make it happen!

Write on.

Kathy G