Our culture is always full of "catch phrases" that are indicative of the times. A term that pops up quite often these days is synchronicity. As popular as it is today, it is not a new term. Carl Jung introduced the concept as early as the 1920s and coined the word to describe what he called "temporally coincident occurrences of acausal events" or more commonly, "meaningful coincidences".
What does it mean to the average person today and why is it important?
It means that seemingly random, unrelated events have relevant meaning and can guide you to the proper action…if you're paying attention!
Life has taught me that what happens to us, happens for a reason and happens exactly when it is supposed to. That is Fate and beyond our control. How we react to the things, these synchronicities, that Fate presents is up to us and that is how we control our Destiny.
The underlying theme for my novel, Touch Me Not, deals with the concepts of Synchronity, Destiny and Fate. The heroine, Sadira Montgomery, has paranormal gifts that, due to certain events, she has denied since childhood. Just when she thinks she can finally put her past behind her, Fate steps in to remind her of what is really important and steers her toward her true Destiny.
In the introduction to the book, Sadira explains that everyone has a story and a part to play in the game we call Life. Touch Me Not is her story. It is a journey that takes her on a winding path to her higher-self while teaching her the lessons, and giving her the resources she needs in order to finally embrace her destiny.
I, like most writers, draw on both personal experience and research to tell a story. Another element in the creative process is what some call "listening to my Muses".
I have found, when I just listen, that is when I am the most creative and productive. I liken the experience to taking dictation from the characters I have created and I find that just keeping up with them is a major undertaking and prevents me from over-analyzing what I am putting down on paper.
It is also probably why I didn't catch the "meaningful coincidences" that were taking place before my eyes!
In the fall of 2005, my grandson was born. It was a joyous event that inspired me to re-evaluate my life. I realized that I had abandoned my writing and denied my creative nature for a very long time. I had become bogged down with a job that had, at one time, given me a sense of fulfillment but now simply paid the bills and left me physically and emotionally drained.
I stopped and asked what was really important to me? What brought me true joy and satisfaction? The answers were 1) spending time with my grandson and 2) being able to write.
As soon as I consciously chose those things as my priorities, all of the pieces of my life began to rearrange themselves and fall effortlessly into place. Then confirmations that I was headed in the right direction started to come to me in the form of synchronicities.
The more I paid attention to the synchronicities, the more frequently they manifested into things that guided me along the path I had chosen. There were incredible opportunities along the way that seemed to test the strength of my conviction to stay focused on my priorities. When I remembered what it was I said that I wanted to achieve, I quickly realized that as good as the offers were, they would take me off my chosen path.
Each time I turned down one of those "golden opportunities", another one would present itself that, rather than hinder my goals, moved me forward exponentially!
Those experiences, those meaningful coincidences, were extraordinary in and of themselves but the biggest revelation was yet to come. After Touch Me Not was released, I realized that there were personal messages I had missed.
When the print version of the book came out, I sent out an email notice to friends and family with the news. One person in my address book, whom I hadn't heard from in seven years, eventually replied to congratulate me and we started corresponding about a month ago.
His name is Eric Sand & he is an Alaskan native artist I'd met fifteen years ago. Somehow I had forgotten that this gentle, kindred soul from the frozen north was the one who first planted the seed and encouraged me to express myself through my writing.
Conversations he and I had so many years ago were the inspiration for all of the Native American concepts mentioned in Touch Me Not.
My dearest friend and mentor (for encouraging both my writing and metaphysical abilities) told me only a few days ago, that she remembered the gentleman in question fondly.
She then informed me that she considered him the reason she and I had become friends in the first place.
Through my experiences of the past few weeks, I realized that my life, like my heroine's, had come full circle. That I had finally embraced my Destiny and was on the path that Fate had meant for me to take. The synchronicities I recognized along the way simply confirmed what I knew in my heart to be true.
Regardless of where you are in your life at this moment, I encourage you to ask yourself what would bring you true happiness and contentment? Then, listen to the answer and pay attention to the opportunities that Fate presents—those meaningful coincidences that we too often overlook.
And above all, remember…
Follow your dreams.
Find your Destiny!
Up Close & Personal: Behind the scenes with Romance's Sexiest Men
Copyright 2001, All Rights Reserved Shannon Emmel
Working with the Mr. Romance Competition for seven years made me an expert on the men of romance. I've seen them at their best and at their worst. I'm always fascinated by the reaction of the fans You wouldn't believe the things you hear in the ladies room! There are those who are so enamored by the handsome faces and god-like physiques they are unable to speak when they meet them. Others show only a mild curiosity. Some show open disdain, while still others go out of their way to find their every fault.
The collective term I used for the contestants was 'My Boys'. That is, as opposed to, 'The Boys' for cover models in general. This was because for the week of the competition, I was their surrogate mother. (Or as I prefered to tell them during orientation, "...the most important woman in your life for the next 5 days..."
What was my job? Well, in a nutshell...Prior to the convention, I detailed for them everything they needed, and needed to know for the competition, so they could arrive properly prepared. I made sure they're on time, that they got enough sleep, ate right, and I tried to keep them out of trouble for the duration of the convention. I'm the one they came to with their problems and questions because everyone knew 'Mommie Shannon' could fix everything. Yeah, Right!!
I've had some very interesting experiences with My Boys. I've dealt with stage fright, lost luggage, missing wallets, cancelled reservations, tanning beds, workout schedules, restricted diets, irrate wives, jealous girlfriends, pseudo-agents, obsessed fans, missing costumes, or worse yet-- NO costumes, last minute additions and no-shows, blight, famine and plague-- Huh? Whoops, skip those last three.The most common misconception about My Boys is that they are great to look at, but basically stupid, egotistical, sex-crazed gigolos.
The truth of the matter is that, with very few exceptions, My Boys are intelligent, polite, and professional. Many of them are surprisingly shy and unassuming, and sorry ladies, most of them are in long-term, monogamous relationships.I offer my personal reflection, in no particular order, on not only the winners of the Romantic Times Mr. Romance Competition, but also the most famous, or is that infamous, of the celebrity cover models.
Ryan Storm: This Mr. Romance is just as sweet as they get. He charmed the crowd and the judges during the competition. Who would have guessed that a guy who looks like that actually teaches second grade! He won me over during a photo shoot when he told me he made his own costume. What more could a woman want? This man is not only good looking, but he cooks, cleans AND sews. To top it all off... he loves kids! Since his competition, Ryan has also become the proud pappa of a beautiful baby girl and he happily looks forward to playing the role of real-life hero to "Daddy's little girl!"
Mark Johnson: Mark is the consummate performer. He has impeccable timing and can ad-lib in any situation. He is a remarkably spiritual person who has devoted much of his time and talent to delivering inspirational messages through his music and his everyday life. Although he is not the typical brawny hero-type, his rugged, handsome features, natural poise, sincerity and generosity of spirit combine to make him a wonderful role model. I would have to call Mark an atypical hero- a hero of heart and soul for the new millennium.
Joseph Zingali: The last Over 40 winner. Joseph is a truly amazing man. He has survived some personal tragedies which, in the end, made him an even stronger, more balanced individual. He was so stunned when he won the title in Ft. Worth, we wondered if he'd make it through the rest of the awards. He has the heart and soul of the classic, romantic hero and is living proof that chivalry is not dead.
John D'Salvo: My experience with John has been nothing but positive-- from the 1994 Mr. Romance Competition in Nashville to today. In the years since his win, I've known John to be extremely professional in his dealings with me and others in the industry. His secret? He has a face and body chiseled out of stone, but he also has an incredible head for business. More importantly, he plans ahead, follows through with those plans and maintains control of his career. He also understands the importance of effective Public Relations and promotion and chooses carefully when selecting those who represent him in these areas. Although John still appears on countless covers, his main focus has turned to the film industry, both in front of and behind the camera. Judging from his past record, I have no doubt John will attain whatever career goals he sets for himself.
David Alan Johnson: The very first Mr. Romance! Although I wasn't in San Diego when he won, I had the pleasure of working with David in Nashville, Ft. Worth and Baton Rouge. I have to say he is the perfect contemporary hero. He has a fabulous body, a great personality and a smooth, sexy voice that seems to wrap around you. It's no wonder he was so successful in the Male Spokes-Model category on Star Search. I still have the photo he signed for me, "I loved the passionate kisses..." I'll let you try to figure that one out, but it's NOT how it sounds.
James Fox: (The First over 40 winner) I met James in Nashville and found him fascinating. He is tall, handsome, distinguished and sexy as all get out. All I could think of at the time was, "God! I hope they look like him when I'm in the Over 40 category."
Harvey Stables: Toronto brought several pleasant surprises, not the least of which was the newly-crowned Mr. Romance. Harvey was one of those contestants who made you think, "He's not the most obvious or the most flamboyant, but he's got great features and he might just surprise everyone." When the winner was announced, the one who was the most surprised was Harvey! You see, at the time Harvey was a key player on his college football team. Although he'd taken quite a bit of ribbing from his team mates after his photo appeared in the promos for the competition, he hadn't really considered what he'd do if he actually won. Only after he had been selected by the reader's of the Toronto Sun to participate in the competition, did he reluctantly break the news to his coach that he would NOT be playing in that Saturday's game. (Please note that since his win Harvey signed a contract to play professional Football for the CFL!!!)
Steve Sandalis: The original Topaz Man-- I first met Steve when Topaz sent him to south Florida for the Florida Romance Writers' Conference. I was the publicity chair and also in charge of the book fair- so believe me, I was thrilled to have him there to help the cause. My first impression of him was that no one could be that perfect. I couldn't find a flaw anywhere-- Not in his physical appearance or in his personality. The real killer for me was when I saw him a few months later in Nashville. Not only did he recognize me, he remembered my name and spoke to me first. Then he asked about my friends and family, whom he'd met in Florida. To me, Steve's sincere interest in the people he meets is one of his most endearing features. I'm not easily impressed, but that impressed me then, and it still does. I am very pleased to say that Steve has found success in many areas of his life. On a personal note, he is happily married and currently living in California. Steve is also steadily gaining respect and recognition in the entertainment industry. With so much going for him, I have no doubt that Steve can look forward to continued success in all of his career endeavors.
The Bartling Brothers: Jim, Kurt & Kris-- Cover models and pig farmers extraordinaire! I don't know what to say except, "Ya gotta love 'em." I've watched Jim, the eldest, balance a family, a family business and a blossoming career, and still find time to see the humor in life. I've seen middle brother Kurt roll with whatever life throws at him and never miss a beat. And I've seen the baby Bartling, Kris, distinguish himself as an individual, rather than simply the youngest in a family of five. What has impressed me the most about the Bartling Brothers is that, through the years, they have remained refreshingly untainted by their notoriety. What has made them so popular, is that they really are the All America Boys Next Door. They are approachable, friendly, polite and have strong moral values. They are the kind of young men any father would approve of, and the kind of men that any mother, would love to see their daughter bring home. And that is perhaps the greatest testimony to the character of these three, delightful Heartland Heroes.
Fabio: His obvious good looks were only a part of his success. Fabio was, and in many ways still is, the epitome of the romantic hero. He was the first to step off the covers and into the twentieth century. He is the personification of the fantasy-- outrageously handsome, devilishly charming, intriguing and literally larger than life. (For anyone who hasn't seen him in person, the man can fill an entire room with his presence. It's positively uncanny!)My experiences have shown him to be dedicated to his friends and family, patient and gracious with his fans, and funny and surprisingly down to earth. In many ways he truly is 'The Gentle Conqueror"
The trend in publishing seems to be leaning away from the classic clinch covers and leaning toward a more mainstream look. I for one miss the bare chests and flowing manes on the bookshelves. But not to worry, I'll always have enough personal inspiration to keep my creative juices flowing for years to come. And if I do run out of inspiration, I have the perfect, all-purpose reference guide- my personal 'Little Black Book', complete with 4+ and a few 5 star ratings.