Monthly Archives: March 2013

Do You See What I See?


By Vicki Hughes     Posted March 31, 2013

I had a thought provoking conversation with a friend a few days ago. She was curious about the sea glass jewelry I make from the softened glass fragments that I find here on remote Fairhope beaches. She asked me, “How do you find sea glass? I’ve lived along beaches for years and I’ve never found any.” She clarified, she wasn’t after my secret honey holes, she just wondered if there was a trick to it.

I told her, “I honestly believe it’s a matter of intention. I expect to find it, and I do. I think you have to train your brain to see it. But once you learn to see it, you can’t un-see it anymore.”

I explained how, in the beginning, when I took John with me the first few times, he didn’t find any sea glass at all, only a few cool rocks. He’d hold one up hopefully, and ask, “It this glass?” I’d shake me head, “Nope, keep looking.” But now, he is a glass finding machine! We never go to the beach to “pick glass” and come home empty handed.

Sometimes we don’t see certain things because we’ve convinced ourselves that seeing them is too hard. I feel this way about four leaf clovers. I look down at a patch of clover, and I’m all, “There is no way I will ever be able to find one, specific, odd-ball clover with a genetic mutation, in all of THAT!” And apparently I never will. Not with that attitude. Do yo know how many four leaf clovers Momma has found? Me neither, but it’s a lot. I try to be happy for her, but I’m secretly jealous. Don’t even get me started about her winning drawings and raffles.

I believe we all see what we are looking for, that which we are focused on. It behooves us to look for what we actually want. We get results when we stay focused on something, and allow a little time to pass so the results can show up. It takes some time for results to appear, and we short circuit the magic if we stop looking fifteen minutes into the game.

This explains why I’m not very good at fishing. I quit too soon. If a fish doesn’t jump on my hook within the first few minutes, I get bored and assume there are no fish, and give up. John on the other hand, has learned the art of waiting. He knows they’re out there, and he patiently waits for them to get their lunch break and stop by his line for a snack. He’s catching fish which don’t exist in my world, and I’m wandering around the shoreline, doodling in a journal.

We’re all anticipating something, positive or negative. We will get confirming evidence for whatever it may be, and then we will see more, and more, and more. We look for people to be kind and helpful, or for them to be selfish, annoying jerks. We look for bills, or we look for new sources of income. We look for disaster or opportunity. What we look for has an uncanny way of showing up.

A few days ago, I started looking for idiot drivers, and pretty soon, they all showed up! Magic. It was a stunning reminder of my role and responsibility in the creation of my reality. All of the good drivers didn’t evaporate when I got fixated on the crappy drivers, but I was no longer able to notice the good drivers, only the clowns in cars. Suddenly, I was seeing the ones that were weaving, and nearly rear ending me, and the ones who sat like stones in front of me at green lights, the ones who suddenly wanted to cross over into my lane as if I was invisible, “Hello?”

We’re all focused on something. The question is…what?

What would you like to tune into that would make life a little happier when it starts showing up?

© Vicki Hughes 2013

How To Get Clear on What You Want to Do (and also freak out)


By Vicki Hughes    Posted March 30, 2013

A couple months back, I posted as my Facebook status, “Caterpillars are just butterflies in fur coats.” I’d been going through my own caterpillar experience. I had a lump in my breast. When your fingers make that discovery, it takes a few minutes for your brain to process the implications. And you forget to breathe.

Due to some insurance complications, I wasn’t able to run screaming into the ER, demanding immediate answers. So, I began a waiting game that felt like a combination of Russian Roulette, Operation, and Perfection, that nerve wracking game where the little plastic pieces fly up in your face if you don’t get them crammed in the right spots before the end of the world, “POP! Goes Perfection!”

Having the lump was freaking me out, and yet I didn’t want to discuss it with anyone until I knew exactly what we might need to discuss. Why should we all be freaking out?

So, I’d breathe in, and breathe out, and then I’d think some scary-ass thoughts and then I’d turn it over to God, and then I’d feel a twinge in my chest and wonder what the hell that was, and then I’d quote a healing scripture, and then I’d read, and then I’d distract myself, and then I’d take a shower and try to decide if I should feel the lump again, and then I’d tell it to dissipate. I laid hands on myself, I tapped, I drank tea, I drank martinis, I praised God for insurance, I laughed at funny shows, I felt numbness in my arm, I felt freaked out, I felt guilty for not saying anything to anyone, then I decided there’s nothing to say to anyone yet, and I’d tell myself to calm down. I’d discover that I was breathing very shallowly and wonder if it was stress or some sort of a symptom. I mentally calculated the hours I’d work that week, I looked forward to seeing my best friend for the weekend, and rejoiced that this delayed doctor’s appointment meant our visit would not be marred by possibly bad news.

I freaked out some more and wondered how long it would take to get the mammogram results. I reminded myself that my family is very healthy, I caught myself thinking morbid thoughts, I made myself take a deep breath. I went for a walk, I made cookies, I played on Facebook, I wrote quotes in my quote journal, I pet the dog and listened to the rain. I made tacos and I swept the crumbs off the counter, I lit a candle and I took out the trash. I got choked up reading a story about a woman whose dog died, and I admired the puffy white clouds that were floating by. I listened to Chelsey lament all the things she still needs to do at her house and I felt bad that I didn’t have the energy to offer to help her. I went to my room and flopped, face down on the bed, and appreciated how good it feels just to lie there. I wished I had more time to write and contemplated ways to make that happen.  I considered how writing is my gift, my calling and my purpose, and I realized that it would suck if I needed an illness to give myself permission to pursue it with passion. I felt mildly guilty that John wanted my attention and I felt selfish and I just didn’t want to play, and then I justified it with the fact that I’d baked him cookies. I allowed myself room to be both scared and confident that it would all work out. I was doing my best. In the end, that has to be enough.

Sidenote: Simple cyst, no malignancy. Resume breathing.

© Vicki Hughes 2013

It’s The Little Things


By Vicki Hughes      Posted March 28, 2013

Most people agree it’s not the big stuff that really makes us crazy. It’s the little things: the dripping faucet, the ticking of a clock at three a.m., the toothpaste flattened in the middle, that breathing. Little things have the power to unravel us.

But little stuff is also some of the most satisfying stuff in the Universe. I am quite the fan of little things. When I’m attentive to the right little things, I step over into a place where life feels good, and my heart in nearly overflowing with appreciation for all of the thousands of little details that make up this experience we call Life.

Seeing the little stuff that is all around us, supporting and comforting us, making us smile or laugh, making today’s demands a little easier to get through, those things are noteworthy. A cup of tea or coffee in the morning, made just the way we like it. The ability to put on tiny earphones and be transported by beautiful music, pets, who love us with an unfathomable devotion. A healthy, simple meal on our table, and the four walls, wrapped protectively around us, keeping the cold and wind outside.

Our sense of smell, telling us the tea olive is in bloom, the coffee is perking, the cookies are nearly done. Our eyesight, allowing us to take in written words and process them, to see photographs of places we’ve been, and of who we’ve been, and with whom…that catalog of our own personal history that plays out a story in our mind’s eye. We simply pick up the edges of a photograph from twenty years ago, and we can appreciate the fact that we are not that person anymore, because we’ve learned a trick or two in the meantime.

Yes, it cost us a few wrinkles, creases and grey hairs, but we’re here. Here is good. Here has potential. Here has life and breath, and one more day to look around. Here has people, and those people need us here. Here is where we get to smile at them, and talk to them, tell them a story or encourage them to not quit. Not today. Here has the power of all our previous “theres” in it, with the added bonus of Google to fill in the pieces we can’t remember.

Here is chock full of little things that, when we notice them, can be the most amazing place we’ve been in a long time. Breathe it in. Let it weave it’s way into your story, so that one day, a little bit later, it will stand out, and sustain you.

© Vicki Hughes 2013




Why I’m Not Cynical


By Vicki Hughes    Posted  March 27, 2013


[sínnik’l ]


1. distrustful of human nature: doubting or contemptuous of human nature or the motives, goodness, or sincerity of others

Cynical humor is trying to take over comedy, and possibly Earth. I am doing my best to resist it. I cannot deny the fact that there is immense fodder for the cynical cannons, or the fact that it can make you laugh, but buying in really runs contrary to my personal philosophy, which is, “I want to be happy, so I can add happiness to others.”

It’s rather difficult to be cynical and happy at the same time, based on the definition of cynical. I want to feel good about people, and if I distrust them, their motives, their goodness and sincerity, it’s basically impossible to feel good about them.

Individual people, on the whole, surprise me daily with their desire to help others, in spite of their hectic and busy lives. Groups of people, are a different animal all together, and need to be treated with the same caution as say, wild boars, grizzly bears and plastic explosives. But I try to focus on individuals, because in my daily life, I really don’t have to interact with many large groups, but I do have relationships with many individuals.

Ordinary, everyday people do extraordinary things to reach out to those less fortunate, and to add fun and beauty to the world, and make life better for those around them. I grant you, some individuals are jerks, but let’s not let them ruin it for the rest of us, shall we?

I think the main problem is that cynicism has a much better PR department than optimism. Maybe optimists are so optimistic, they don’t think PR matters?

That is why I have to deliberately step away from the media machine, and take it in quite limited doses, because if it were to have it’s way with me, I would simply throw my hands in the air and concede that all is lost.

I assert, all is in fact, not lost. People, in all their flawed weirdness, still long for love, and happiness, and derive joy from making others happy. People sacrifice immensely to provide for their families, take care of their friends and do quality work.

I beseech you to shun the crazy Kool-aid that insists that people are not to be trusted. Some are not trustworthy, but that’s what your brain is for, to discern when something is genuinely fishy. Keep your heart open, believe in people, remember even awesome people can get weird in large groups, and don’t take them too seriously. It helps if you picture them in clown outfits. When they start spouting weird, group-stuff, just remind yourself, they are being intoxicated by the crowd, and if they didn’t have the group standing right behind them, they might not even have an opinion on the subject.

Spend more time with people you love, respect and admire, and less with those who criticize and complain. Look around for someone who needs something you can provide, and then do it. This is your life, spend it wisely. Don’t squander it being mad over something you heard on the news. Make a decision to be happy, and then guard your heart and mind from things that run contrary to feeling good about others. I’m not saying it’s easy, I’m saying it’s worth it.

© Vicki Hughes 2013

Mornings, I’m Not a Fan


By Vicki Hughes      Posted March 26, 2013

I am not a morning person. Actually I’m a leave-me-alone-in-the-morning person. Firstly, I don’t have the verbal skills or the listening skills prior to a minimum of two cups of coffee to carry on any appreciable conversation. If it’s pre-dawn morning we’re talking about, and we are not leaving on a very exciting vacation, I sound like a grunting grizzly she-bear. It’s best to give me time.

I do most of my writing in the morning, which may seem strange, but I started the habit and I think it works well because I can tap into that creative right-brain more easily when I start out semi-conscious. It’s sort of like how you can figure out how to end world hunger and balance the national budget just as you’re falling asleep, but can never remember in the morning. My semi-conscious brain can get a lot done when I get out of the way. Mornings, in my mind, are very personal. I’m not fit for public display, conversation or anything much, other than shooing the dogs out of my chair as I return from getting a coffee refill.

I’m definitely not a breakfast person. I think it comes from my childhood school anxiety days. I’d wake up, freaked out about going to school, eat a well balanced breakfast, and puke it up at the bus stop. After that became a reliable trend, I was encouraged to have a Carnation Instant Breakfast shake, which I have to admit is much easier to throw up on people’s Keds while waiting for the bus, but won’t win you many friends. Barfing to the smell of school bus diesel fumes is no way to start your day. Momma always worried that I wasn’t getting a nutritious breakfast. But I was, I just couldn’t hold onto it.

In the seventies, California public schools started offering breakfast to kids before school. After scrambled eggs and toast, and Carnation Instant Breakfasts had failed, we tried this new approach. The logic was, maybe I was eating too early. Maybe postponing food till later in the morning, after I got to school would be the solution.

if you have a breakfast-averse stomach, guess what you don’t want to smell on an institutional scale, upon arrival to school, which gives you anxiety? Breakfast. No. Just no.

Looking back, I wish I’d had the foresight to invest all the breakfast money my folks gave me, into something with some decent compound interest. Maybe a nice mutual fund. Unfortunately, I blew it all on Bonnie Bell Lip Smackers, K-Tel Records and candy necklaces at the ball fields on weekends. You live and learn.

I learned not to eat breakfast, or anything more solid than coffee until at least eleven a.m. I barely have the stomach for toothpaste before then, but I power through for you. Coffee breath has to be dealt with. If you and I ever go on a trip together, and we are choosing a hotel, the free Continental breakfast will not sway me. However, you can get my attention with some complimentary wine in the evenings. Just so you know.

© Vicki Hughes 2013


Things Don’t “Just Happen”

thank you

By Vicki Hughes     Posted March 25, 2013

Working in a salon and day spa is a very rewarding and interesting job. A few days ago, I had finished a facial for a new client, and when I finished, I was doing what we call, “turning the room over.” This is the process by which the room is cleaned and prepared for the next guest. Here is a sampling of what that entails: I filed her paperwork, stripped the sheets, took all the used sheets and steam towels to the laundry room, washed and sanitized all the bowls and brushes, grabbed clean sheets and towels, re-dressed the table with sheets and blankets and made the table look inviting, heated up the neck wrap, wiped down all the surfaces and bottles and jars, replaced all the caps and put all the products back in their proper place, laid our a spa wrap, prepped new steam towels (this is code for burning the bejesus out of my fingertips) prep new dry towels, take a deep breath, and compose myself (meaning make sure I am not sweating, and that I don’t look like I just did a fifty yard dash in a windstorm.)

If I am really speedy, and don’t goof off, I might have time to use the potty, or run into the break room and wolf down three bites of the salad I abandoned two hours ago. There’s a lot going on behind the scenes. And I realize this is true of all professions. Whatever you do is harder than it looks, if you’re doing it well.

The teacher who spends hours and hours working on great lesson plans that are over in the classroom in less than forty five minutes. No wonder they get a tad crabby when some kids talk too much or are disruptive to the kids who are trying to pay attention.

The chef who goes in at the crack of ridiculous to inspect the freshness of his ingredients, chop, slice and dice and begin the simmering of the soup, which we we will zip through and grab for lunch. Do we even pause five seconds to appreciate the fact that he drug his butt out of bed in the darkness so we could have a lovely corn chowder for lunch?

The veterinarian who spent almost as much time and money to learn his job as a medical doctor, but who is willing to express our dog’s anal glands and clip their ever growing talons so we don’t have to? And they work with that smell. God bless them, I hope they have grown immune to it the same way I can no longer smell shampoo.

The barista who got up at four a.m. to make her kids lunches, and get them hustled off to the babysitter so she could be there to fix your skinny, Venti, mocha latte with extra sprinkles. Tip that girl! She smiled at you and everything.

The farmer in central Tennessee who had to beat some sense into his tractor with his bare hands, to make sure the harvest got in before the rains came and ruined it all. Without him, your soy latte would be light on the soy.

All day, everyday, countless details are being tended to just to take great care of us, the customer. The people who work so hard, know quite well that we could take our business elsewhere if we decided to. They do amazing things to make the two or three minutes we see them seem “easy.”

Today, take a few minutes to appreciate the seamlessness of good service when you see it. Call a manager over and praise their team. Write a quick email or a note of appreciation on your lunch ticket. Tell a friend if you get great service somewhere. Heck, tell two friends.

One of the best things we could do for the economy is to talk up the businesses that are getting it right. Without them, we’d all be left with crappy service from people who don’t give a rip.

What behind the scenes efforts would people be surprised to learn about jobs you’ve had?

© Vicki Hughes 2013

Asshat Thinking-How To Avoid It


By Vicki Hughes     Posted March 24, 2013

There is something I like to think of as Asshat Thinking, which we all have to guard against. If we aren’t paying attention, and start participating in Asshat Thinking, we begin to lose our grip on our happy groove. Happy grooves are the sweet spot where we want to spend most of our time, and Asshat Thinking is what drags us away from our happy groove, making us want to either inflict bodily harm on the woman at the drycleaners, or buy a one way ticket to Aruba and leave no forwarding address. Which brings us to Magical Thinking, and I simply can’t go there right now, or I won’t finish this post.

Today, let’s talk about the choreographer of Asshat Thinking: Exaggeration. Out of exaggeration comes an entire flock of Asshat Ideas. Allow me to demonstrate.

Exaggeration is sneaky. It will often start when we are stressed, or tired, sick, and especially when we are running late. It weasels it’s way into our brain, and it usually starts with such innocent sounding banter such as, “Great! I was going to wear these pants today, I’m already late, and they’re covered in dog hair!” Naturally, this leads to, “Dogs have no respect…where is the friggin’ lint roller…somebody has hidden it from me…this day is PISSING ME OFF!” Asshat Thinking has a tiny flair for the dramatic. It needs some Elton John glasses and a feather boa. It tries madly to get and hold our attention.

It will leap from one, small, inconvenient fact (there is dog hair all over the pants I want to wear) and it will catapult it, like digusting, infected body parts, over the castle walls hoping to contaminate all of the castle occupants. I told you, it’s dramatic. As soon as I allow the hairy pants to translate into, “This day is pissing me off!” my bus is now careening over to Asshat Central.

Here’s our dilemma. You like to be right. I like to be right. Everyone likes to be right. Entire wars have been, and continue to be waged, over this one glaringly obvious fact. We all love being right. So what will our brains do for us once we focus on the day pissing us off? It begins scanning the rest of our day for facts to prove us right. The really scary part is, it will also filter out and prevent us from seeing evidence to the contrary.

Suddenly we have our Asshat Glasses on (these do not make us look fabulous, by the way) and all we can see with them are the things that prove our earlier declaration right: Traffic? Sucks! My muffin? Cold and hard. My coffee? Spilled! My job? Impossible! People? Idiots. My life? Stinks.

Did I just manage to create a shit storm of boo frickin’ hoo over pants with dog hair on them? Really? Asshat Thinking is so dramatic, it should have an entry at the Sundance Film Festival. Our brains love Asshat Thinking because it’s nearly effortless, and has a huge following.

It takes a little thoughtful effort to have a different conversation with ourselves in frustrating situations. Deep breath. “Yes, my pants look more like an Angora sweater, but at least they didn’t split at the seams while I was loading a thirty pound bag of dog food in my buggy at the Piggly Wiggly.” To make it up to ourselves, we can make a quick mental list of five things that don’t suck, or if we’re still cranky, just stop and get a frappucinno. Sweet, legally addictive stimulants have improved many a day. Yes, I know I’m not a dog, and shouldn’t reward myself with food, but let’s face facts, I do!

Use some creative distraction, re-focus on something, anything positive or funny. Look at the pants and tell them, “Let’s pretend this didn’t happen.” You give the orders to your brain, so tell it what to look for. Re-decide what you want on your radar, and tell your brain what you want it to keep an eye out for, and get ready, because it will show up.

© Vicki Hughes 2013

I’m All Ears


I want to know what you have enjoyed here so far, and what you want MORE of. Wrack your brains, scribble notes (that you may or may not be able to read or find later) or just comment below, and let me know how I can bring you the things you want most from Hell-Bent On Happy.

My heart’s desire is to provide a positive community of people who live in the real world, overcoming real stuff, with practical, fun, uplifting ideas and ways of looking at life. I love encouraging you, and your happiness matters to me!

Happy Sunday…stay frosty. I just learned that. It means “stay cool.” You’re welcome, now you are cooler than you were five seconds ago.

© Vicki Hughes 2013

Thanks to All You Early-Birds!

headshot Avatar

This is a very quick dry run, just checking with the few of you who have signed up as the early-birds for my blog emails :)

I switched over to a new email provider called MailChimp. God willing, and the creeks don’t rise, you will get these better looking emails whenever I publish something new on the blog. The emails will have all the info. so that you can contact me any old way that flips your wig, via Facebook, Twitter, or just going to the blog at

Hopefully this will simplify things, and make it much easier for you to share stories you like, and it should open up new ways for me to get cool stuff to your in-box. If you have any problems, or questions, just leave me a comment, and I promise to get back to you ASAP.

I hope these doses of Asshat Repellant keep you smiling, and positive in am imperfect world laced with random Asshats!

You guys are the greatest!

Love ya, mean it!

Vicki :-)

© Vicki Hughes 2013