Help for Those Grieving the Loss of a Loved One

As helpful as friends and family can be, often times they cannot provide the understanding you need because they don’t know what you are going through after suffering a devastating loss.

In “The Road to Recovery” you learn that you come to a crossroads in life when you lose someone very dear to you. To help you choose the right path, it is vital to read the work of someone who knows full well the deep sorrow you feel and can provide both comfort and practical advice that works. The author lost his college sweetheart and wife of four and a half years in a commercial airline crash in 1997. She was only 27 years old. He wrote this book to help other through the grieving process.

Grief HelpWhat Others are Saying about “The Road to Recovery: Overcoming & Moving Beyond Your Grief.”

“The contents are amazing and profound. Your words rang loud and true when I read them. Wish I had found this book earlier.” – Terry Welch, sister to Michael Ryan lost on Comair flight 5196, Aug. 27, 2006.

“This book contains so many insightful, appropriate and helpful ideas and suggestions. God bless you.” – Kelly Markillie, pastoral counselor at The Cathedral of Christ The King, Atlanta, GA.

“I lost my son in the World Trade Center [911] and I found your book so comforting.”Patricia Noah, mother of Leonard M. Castrianno, Cantor Fitzgerald, 105th floor WTC. 

Excerpt from this grief support guide:

If grief can be summed up in a nutshell, it is how we feel now that an important person is no longer in our life. In essence, we hurt and feel sorry for ourselves. Our focus is usually on what WE lost. Grief, of course, is a normal reaction to the loss of someone or something. Each of us will handle these feelings in our own way and in our own time. There is no blueprint to the process and no timetable to how long you will hurt.

Author J. William Worden describes four facets of mourning:

1 – Accepting the reality of the loss

2 – Experiencing the pain of grief

3 – Adjusting to an environment without the lost loved one

4 – Reinvesting emotional energy in life

Having been through the complete grief process, I can relate to each of these “steps.” Accepting the loss almost immediately helped me move on with my mourning quicker, although it didn’t make anything easier.

I cannot help you acknowledge the reality of your loss. Only you can do that, and hopefully you are well past that stage by the time you receive this book.

Sometimes, intense feelings of grief will catch us by surprise. It may startle you when you fall “into the pits” several months after the tragedy. It is at this time that many people will be expecting you to be over your loss. Don’t believe them. It is only normal for this to happen. Just remember your grief is unique. No one else is just like you. No one else had the same relationship with the person who died.

Understand that a main purpose of grief is to help you reach the point in your life when you can remember without the pain.

What I present in this book are several steps to help you get through the grieving process in a positive way.

 “The Road to Recovery: Overcoming & Moving Beyond Your Grief” has now been reduced to only $0.99 (effective Summer, 2014). Available in instant downloadable PDF format:

Buy Now


“Grief only comes in one size, extra large.” — Dennis Manning

Adding the Five Percent

5_star_image_prefby James Hale,

In an interview with authors William Doyle and William Perkins, a successful partner in a management consulting firm credits attention to detail for her success.

She says, “I believe that battles are won and lost in the last five percent of detail.  Everybody gets the first 80%.  Most people get the first 95%.  What makes the difference is the people who get the last five percent.”

I can relate.  One day, a colleague of mine and I were partnering up to pitch a major training program to the General Manager of one of the largest hotels in the Southeast.  With over 900 employees, this was a big deal … for the GM and for us.

We put together our cost estimates, mapped out the series of classes we would offer, and projected the hotel’s return on the investment.

On a sunny summer day, my colleague and I walked into the GM’s office to make our presentation.   The GM was a surly, ‘numbers kind of guy,’ focused keenly on our ROI projections and the metrics we would use to measure project success.  With a furrowed brow, he put his hand on his chin and said, “There’s a lot of soft stuff in your proposal about training managers how to coach their staff and teaching staff to work as a team … what if we cut that out and focused on work flow, process streamlining, and maximizing efficiency?”

My brain started thinking about the edits we would need to make and how cutting out the content would reduce our time and therefore save on project cost.  After all, he’s the customer, right?  We need to deliver what he wants, right?  Before I could open my mouth to ask specific questions about the modifications, my colleague said, “No, that’s not an option.  This company was built as a family.  The founder made it feel that way.  He had a 5 star hotel that he was proud of and that was a place of dignity for the employees.  I looked you all up and you are not a 5 star hotel anymore.  You’re 3 stars.  3.5 at best.  Your performance has steadily slipped since the founder passed, and it is because of the degrading trust within this organization.   I ate at your restaurant last night and you could feel it in how the staff interacted.  Efficiency, work flow and process streamlining are the byproduct of an environment where managers coach well and people work together towards a common goal.  We cannot maximize the results of our training without the soft skills.  If you take that out, we are not the people to deliver the program.  We can’t be part of a company that doesn’t believe in teamwork and trust … that’s not how this empire was created.  It would be disrespectful to the founder and to the legacy he created.”

Then, there was the dramatic pause.  My mouth dropped open as I stared at my colleague.   I could have killed him.  This was too big of a project to be that forceful.  Sure, I was impressed with the boldness he had shown, but a major contract was on the line.

The meeting didn’t last long after that.

Then, in the elevator on the way down, my colleague told me about some research he had done.  He told me that  the hotel is family owned.  It was constructed by the father of the current owners.  He built the hotel floor by floor on a cash-flow system, building a new floor only when he had the funds to pay cash for the work.  An amazing man.  In addition to showing wise restrain in his money management, he had quite a reputation in the community because of the commitment to his church, his generosity to local charities, and his way of treating employees like they were family.  When my colleague ate in the restaurant the night before, his waitress talked about how this man gave her a chance when others wouldn’t because of her low education and her race.

We ended up getting the project, and the GM told us that the deciding factor was my colleague’s boldness … and because he had gone the extra mile in researching the history of the company.  He new the importance of the family legacy, and that made all the difference.

That’s what I mean about that last five percent:  attention to detail made a difference in the overall impression we left with that client.

Was it worth it?  I think so.   It’s that last five percent that separates the marginally successful people from those that will rise even higher.

When making an impression, go the extra mile by attending to the last 5%.

How to Stick to your New Year’s Resolutions – 7 Steps

New Years ResolutionsWell, it’s January 11, 2013 already. How are you doing with your New Year’s resolutions?

The Today Show on NBC recently featured some helpful tips on not only setting but also keeping your New Year’s resolutions far beyond January. Most people tend to quit after the first month of the year. Let that not be us!

1) Be Honest with yourself – know what you need to change and admit it.

2) Write down your goals – putting specific goals to paper is required for reaching them.

3) Start a journal to track your progress, including why you may not have stuck to your goals in the past.

4) Establish positive feedback. Set up a dangling carrot; in other words, a prize or reward for accomplishments.

5) Be present in the moment. Appreciate today’s good moments.

6) Establish stress reduction. This could be Yoga, meditation, quiet time, or whatever helps you cut down on the stress levels in your life.

7) Gratitude makes you happy, so acknowledge all of the blessings in your life.

Keeping your New Year’s resolutions is not easy, but these seven steps should be very helpful to anyone looking to make life improvements in 2013.

Best of luck!


Five Truths: Part 5, Luck Favors the Prepared

Climb A MountainIn 2004, Pixar and Disney Studios released a brilliant movie called “The Incredibles.”  It was an animated film about a family of superheroes and their struggles to live in normal society.  There is a minor character in the film named Edna Mode.  Ms. Mode is a half-Japanese, half-German fashion designer specializing in custom-made outfits for superheroes. It is apparent that she feels infinitely superior to all other designers in the world and shows much disregard towards runway boutiques and modern fashion models.  She is very talented, overachieving, and a success in her special career niche.

Ms. Mode has several clever lines, but the one that applies to the job search is one she makes when questioned about all the flame-resistance, stretch ability, bullet-proof features, and attention to detail she provides in her designs, which her client views as unnecessary add-ons.  “Luck favors the prepared.”

Whether you call it divine intervention, attention to detail, or simply luck, the world provides advantages to those who invest time and attention to their life.  Whether it’s the job search, health of your relationships, or your dedication to what you are passionate about in life, more opportunities are presented to those who work to prepare themselves for the opportunities.  Luck does favor the prepared.

Bond Voyage – Scene Two

Hello, Fifi. Goodbye, Fifi

“Miss LaChance. Miss LaChance.” The knocking on the door and accompanying voice confirmed to Bond that he was not having a bad dream. Dazed, he stumbled to the door and opened it to view the room steward, immaculately dressed in white. Upon noticing the occupant’s indisposed condition. He excused himself and uttered in broken English, “So sorry, sir. Did not know you were busy. Will come back later.” Were it not for the blood on Bond’s hands, the steward would have done just that. However, on seeing this, he asked if something was amiss.

Bond Voyage - the gun“Better fetch the ship’s captain, my good man. There’s been a terrible accident.” He closed the door as the smallish man went running down the narrow corridor of the vessel. Bond turned the light on and, finding his clothes neatly stacked on a royal blue faux leather chair, he slowly dressed. His first thoughts were of the decapitated young lovely on the blood-soaked bed. Could he have departed from his own cabin more hastily to answer her plea for help? Why him? He had never seen her before in his life. But that name – LaChance, LaChance. Could she have been socialite Fifi LaChance, millionaire owner of last year’s Kentucky Derby winner, King Fleet? He recalled reading how this beautiful woman was an orphan who was later found to be the only living heiress to the fabulous LaChance fortune. Everything she touched had turned to gold until now.

Captain Haverford reminded Bond of his own mentor, the impeccable M. Cold, penetrating eyes and gray, almost-white hair gave him a distinguished, fatherly appearance. When the captain sighted the headless body, he lost his composure as M never would have been human enough to do. “My God, what has happened here?”

“Well, she certainly did not cut herself shaving.” Bonds words cut deeply into the morose atmosphere and were looked upon scornfully. Why he said something in such poor taste was beyond even his own comprehension, probably to relax the tension which so obviously permeated the cabin. James walked over to the bed, placed one last kiss on the beautiful face, and covered the body with a sheet.

“How long have you known Miss LaChance?” asked the ship’s chief officer.

“We spoke for the first time shortly after the ship’s departure from New York.”

“Come now, Mr. Bond. Surely, you do not expect me to believe that bundle of utter hogwash. How, then, could you be found stark naked with a stranger just a few hours after sailing? That involves an incredulous stretching of the imagination. Have you no reverence for the poor girl? Must you defame her character after she is no longer among the living?”

“Look, Captain, I am in no mood for your heinous accusations. Miss LaChance rang me at approximately 5:10 P.M. and said she desperately needed my assistance. How she knew me, Heaven only knows. Shortly thereafter, I reached her cabin and was knocked unconscious as the lump on my head clearly attests.”

“How can you explain the fact that Wong found you unclothed?”

“That, I cannot answer. Someone must have a morbid sense of humor. When I regained consciousness, I found this beautiful creature lying next to me in her bed.”

“And, when she resisted your atrocious advances, you killed her!”

“That is a lie!” Bond said angrily, feeling cheapened by the atmosphere the captain had created. “She was dead when I kissed her.”

“You certainly do not expect any reasonable person to believe you were making love to a dead woman, without a head, no less.”

“You may believe whatever you bloody well please. I’m returning to my cabin.”

With that flurry of words, James weaved his way through the crowd that had gathered and headed for the peaceful serenity of his cabin.

“All right, ladies and gentlemen, let’s disperse. There is nothing more to be seen. Closing the door behind him, the captain ordered Wong, “Clean up this mess and seal off this cabin so no one tries to enter.”

Used to more menial tasks, Wong beamed with pride at having been given such an important responsibility.
“Aye, aye, Captain. Wong will guard this room with his life.”

Having returned to his cabin, James fell across his bed, trying to blot out the ghastly memory of Fifi LaChance. He wondered what kind of madman would do such a deplorable thing. Surely, whoever did it is mentally deranged. He then thought how neatly the lovely head had been severed from her carcass, as though a razor-sharp guillotine had been employed. The shrill ring of the telephone on the nightstand brought Bond back to reality.

“Mr. Bond, if you want to know who killed Fifi LaChance, meet me at the swimming pool on La Playa Deck.”

Whoever it was quickly hung up, providing no clue to the identity of the indistinguishable male voice. Bond opened the dresser drawer and lifted his .25 caliber Smith & Wesson pistol, which had been peacefully encased in the soft, tan leather shoulder holster. He removed his blue serge jacket and placed the gun in the uncomfortable, yet familiar, underarm position. This time he would not be caught with his defenses down. Although he never had the pleasure of meeting Miss LaChance, while alive anyway, Bond still wanted to avenge her death. She had much too much to live for to have met such a wicked end.

The elevator stopped on La Playa Deck, and Bond exited. The night air was bracingly cool, and a bright full moon shone brilliantly on the calm Atlantic. As he sauntered over towards the deserted swimming pool, his flaring nostrils detected a familiar, pungent odor. It was unmistakably the stench of burning flesh.

“Over here, Mr. Bond,” came a voice from the shadows obscuring the 16’ by 32’ swimming pool.

007 ducked behind a wooden chaise lounge, listening for any strange sounds in the night. He heard nothing, so slowly crept towards a small puff of smoke smoldering about ten yards forward of his secured position. As he approached, the putrid odor intensified. On reaching the origin of the smoke, Bond recoiled and had to fight off a strong urge to vomit. There, lying in the middle of the oversized barbeque pit was the charred body of a very dead young woman.

Swiftly, catching Bond completely unaware, a life preserver crashed into his skull and knocked him headlong into the swimming pool. There was no movement from the water save soft waves created by the gentle swaying of the pleasure cruiser.


To Be Continued on the All Star Press Authors Blogs

“Getting Seen” Hits #1 on Amazon Resumes e-Books

Getting Seen, the ultimate book for job seekers.

Click here to download "Getting Seen"

“Getting Seen: the Ultimate Guide to Creating the Most Important Document of your Life – Your Resume” hit the #1 ranking on the Amazon Kindle store under “Resumes” and # 3 under the “Job Hunting” category this week. Written by career guidance expert James Hale of Path Choices, “Getting Seen” provides unique advice on standing out in a crowded marketplace, something that is desperately needed by job seekers and unemployed looking for the job they want in a difficult economy.


“This is a book that gets to the heart of resume writing and that heart is the idea of using the resume as a teaching tool,” explained James D. Smith, Author and President of Iron 2 Iron Equipping. “I’ve been in the personal development business for almost 20 years and have not come across a better resource for the job seeker or career changer. People pay thousands of dollars for the advice and coaching that is in Getting Seen.“


Hale’s book is available exclusively through Amazon for the Kindle eReader, Kindle App, and can be read online with any device through the Kindle Cloud. It retails for $4.97.




5 Truths: Part 4, Highly successful people are not hopeful…they are optimistic.

by James Hale, author of “Getting Seen”

You thought “hope” and “optimism” were the same? Just smile. They are not!

Oh, yes, they do have definite similarities, and in casual usage they are thought of as synonyms. After all, both hope and optimism are considered powerful emotions based on belief. Both anticipate a positive outcome for a situation. Both feed a desire for the future. But the similarity stops there.

Hope is passive; optimism is active. According to Dr. Emmett Miller, hope has an element of desire—we hope for things we want to happen and what we hope for is usually possible. (I hope Johnny gets the job.) Optimism has more of an element of confidence—we believe good will come from the situation, we believe good with triumph over evil in the end, or that our innate strengths will carry us through. (I know things will be okay even if Johnny doesn’t get this job.)

Optimism knows that things will be okay regardless of the outcome. If “hope” and “faith” had a baby, it would be named “optimism.”

Like gasoline fuels a car, optimism fuels our ability to solve problems and find creative solutions to life’s puzzles.

So how does this affect your job search? Hope has a trap. That trap is passivity. People who misuse hope feel they have no personal control over a situation. People who draw energy from hoping for success often fail to take complete action because they rely instead on simply wishing for the best. They trust that hope will fill in the voids from their limited efforts. They sometimes then simply accept their lot in life and do not take action to help themselves … even when they could.

Optimism is very different. The strength of optimism is that not only does it keep us moving toward the things we desire, it also enables us to let go of the situation if our desired outcome is not realized. Without this motion toward a positive outcome and the ability to let go when reality falls short of our dreams, we tend towards depression, despair, apathy, and helplessness. We give up.

But there is more. Like gasoline fuels a car, optimism fuels our ability to solve problems and find creative solutions to life’s puzzles. When your career path gets steep and rough—when you have those extended periods when no one returns your calls or responds to your resume—optimism helps you see the footholds and the shortcuts. If you cultivate optimism in a way that keeps you in action and keeps you focused on what you can do to influence the outcomes you desire, success will be achieved.

When something bad happens to you, like a layoff or struggles in the job search, it will always do one of three things to you:

  • It will define you, so that you identify yourself by the condition (I am unemployed).
  • It will destroy you (by creating bad habits like isolating yourself from those closest to you)
  • It will feed you power and strengthen you.

People who are naturally optimistic are masters of the latter.  If you are not naturally optimistic, here is a checklist on optimism from Optimist International. See where you are succeeding and where you might improve:

 To be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.

 To talk health, happiness and prosperity to every person you meet.

 To make all your friends feel that there is something in them.

 To look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true.

 To think only of the best, to work only for the best, and to expect only the best.

 To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own.

 To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future.

 To wear a cheerful countenance at all times and give every living creature you meet a smile.

 To give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others.

Truths #3 of 5: You Need Help

by James Hale,

80 – 90 % of job openings are filled by people who knew someone within the company to put in a good word for them.  Chances are you have landed a job in the past based on who you knew.

Sample resume formatTechnical skills alone will not get you job offers.  You need friends, coaches, mentors, colleagues, family, and a nice mix of people who recognize your potential and want to help you succeed.  Maybe PathChoices can be one of the people to help you on your career path.  Regardless, there is no doubt that you cannot succeed by yourself.  No success in Hollywood, politics, or the business world did so alone.  You must surround yourself with people who help you learn, grow, and flourish.  Think of all the coaches and managers that surround the big name Hollywood stars and the great business talent.  The most successful people have surrounded themselves with an “inner circle” of 8 – 20 people who can help them.  The road to success is rarely traveled alone.

And while you are surrounding yourself with people who can help you, keep an eye open for people you can help.  The world is packed with both children and adults who do not recognize their gifts or potential. They have never had anyone who believed in them.  A few of them will succeed in life, but many others will fail because no one invested in them.

At any time, there should be at least one person in your life whom you invest in with confidential discussion, productive advice, and genuine encouragement.  This person should be someone you are not required to help and who cannot offer you any assistance as a payback.  There should be nothing for you in the relationship.  It should be a selfless, giving act on your part.  It should come from the heart, even if you do not want to and you need to force it just a little.

Work is a social undertaking.  No one achieves success in their career without the help of others.  Find someone whom you admire and take them out to lunch once a month to pick their brain.  Hire a coach who will be totally honest in encouraging you and helping you see your blind spots.  Get to know people who work for the business you want to work for.  Chances are, the next giant step on your career path will come from one of these three sources.

Truths # 2 of 5: You CANNOT be Anything You Want to in Life.

by James Hale,

No, you cannot be anything you want to be in life.

That is a lie told by well-meaning parents who want their kids to dream big and achieve greatness.  The reality is there are limits and restrictions on your potential.  One of these limitations is your natural skills and talents.  There are some skills—perhaps reading or math or caring for others or an ability to focus quietly—that come easy to you.  Maybe you have chosen to work on refining these natural gifts into perfected talents, or maybe you are like most of us and fallen a little short in this effort.  Regardless, these seeds must be watered and nourished if they are to grow.  Get to work perfecting your natural gifts.

That’s your natural gifts.  But there are other skills that are not as natural for you.  These areas can limit your options in choosing a career, and they can be your downfall in the job search.  For example, the brilliant yet introverted mathematician who cannot deal with people makes a lousy teacher, if he does not deal with his shortcoming.  Similarly, the extroverted people-person who lacks the discipline to master mathematics also becomes a lousy teacher, if he does not try to control skills that do not come naturally.  Recognize that you are set free by your natural skills, but limited by those that are not as developed in you.

But raw skill is not the only variable affecting your ability to choose your profession.  You are also either empowered or restricted by your finances, your network of support from family and friends, and the unique opportunities that come your way every day.  You cannot simple “will” your way into a job by raw desire.  And no matter how hard you work at achieving career goals, some will simply stay beyond your grasp.  When I was in school at Western Kentucky University I worked hard to be the Geologist Senior of the Year.  I was a lab assistant, I volunteered to help teachers outside of class, I tutored people who were struggling in geology, and I studied nightly into the wee hours.  I got the highest grades in the class on nearly all my tests … and I came in second.  Similarly, everyday thousands of talented, brilliantly gifted kids work tirelessly to become the next music superstar … but only one person can hold this spot.  You must live YOUR life, recognizing that you will not have the opportunities provided to others.

James Hale is the author of "Quiet Spaces"

James Hale is the author of "Quiet Spaces"

You cannot be anything you want to in life … but the reality is even better.  You have been placed on earth for a unique purpose … with unique skills  … at a unique place … at a unique time.  You cannot be anything, but you can be one thing better than anyone else.  Better than anyone!  That’s because you have a truly unique skill set and completely unique opportunities that no one else will have.  Just like you may not be able to be the next President of the United States, the next president cannot be you … even if he or she tried.  The opportunities come your way every day, but they are usually subtle and you have to look carefully for them.  They reside in the manager you walk by every day, but never talk to.  The back-to-school scholarship you never looked for on the web.  The on-line degree taught by the university half-way around the world. The article in the newspaper about a community problem.  Or the difficulties that a friend or coworker is facing.

Look for YOUR opportunities.  YOU can serve YOUR purpose like no one else because of the unique combinations of abilities you have, the unique lessons your life experiences have taught you, and the unique opportunities that will be presented to you and no one else.  Successful people focus on the short-term opportunities around them, rather than the vague dreams that can never be realized.

Coming up next: Truth 3:  highly successful people have help.

Why We Have to Die

Graveyard Crossby James Hale,

Death. It’s not much fun to think about. Not a whole lot of fun for many who experience it, either. Most people don’t have the luxury of passing away in their sleep. They die some other way. Regardless, the outcome is the same. It’s also entirely unavoidable. Everyone here on this planet will eventually die. We don’t like that fact, but it’s a fact, nonetheless.

Why is that? Have you ever thought about why is it that we have to die? Seems strange doesn’t it?

I believe it is not quite as big a deal to God as it is to us here on earth. He has a bigger plan. He knows that this life here is just a stepping stone for life in eternity. Life here is our preparation. We learn life lessons. We learn what to do and what not to do. And if we are smart, we learn to trust Him.