Monthly Archives: January 2016

5 Mistakes Optimists Often Repeat (over and over)


A leading financial magazine recently published a list of the 10 mistakes smart people never make twice. Here’s a link to that list.

Here’s a list of 5 mistakes that cockeyed optimists often make more than twice.

1. Believing people can change. (Better known as ‘The belief you can change a person.’)

You can change a diaper, or retool your face, but in terms of getting someone to alter their basic being through sheer force of will and desire, nuh uh. Never going to happen. Of course people can change, but they will never change the way you wish they would, or in all likelihood, at any time during your lifespan. Yet I have clung to that tiny ort of hope like hair on a biscuit.

I like to think of myself as a potentialist, or in other words, an idiot. I can spot an infinitesimal molecule of possibility in an otherwise soulless human who possesses no apparent redeeming value, and inflate that itty bitty subatomic particle of virtue into a full blown mushroom cloud of Nobel-worthy promise. Over and over, too. I have done this with employees, people whom I would call friends, loony neighbors, unbalanced coworkers, and mostly menfolk.

I’d think to myself, “He would be perfect if he were just different.” And then I would wait eight or nine years before determining the times were not a’changin’.

2. Persevering (or as Einstein might call it, the definition of cray cray).

Doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result is not the same as thinking you will chip away obstacles until everything breaks free and victory is yours. The thing is, while you’re toiling and chipping like a demented woodchuck, someone else has gone ‘round the back of your obstacle house, let themselves in, and snatched victory off the kitchen table of life.

My people are Eastern European peasant stock—the sort who believed you just never ever gave up. I was taught to stick with it, keep your nose to the grindstone, move that salt, push the big rock up the hill!

I was taught these lessons by a people who left behind brutal, harsh, unforgiving winters of unimaginable suffering, and moved to Wisconsin when Florida and all the southern states were an option. The Ferderbars; three-peating mistakes since the 19th century.

3. Trying to make other people happy.

Don’t wait for an unhappy person to bludgeon you with a ball pean hammer, while shouting, “You can keep trying all you like with the compliments and love and positive reinforcement and groceries that you pay for, but you will never ever in a million gazillion years make me happy” because no self-respecting happiness vampire will ever say those words aloud. What he or she will do is encourage you to keep trying, and suck every drop of joy out of your life in the process.

Ever notice how happy folks seem to attract good luck, while bitter, angry unhappy humans are like flypaper for misfortunes, calamities…and cockeyed optimists? After years of making the same mistake over and over, I’ve developed a little tool for myself when I suspect I’m being courted by a happiness leech. I find a lovely flower or majestic red sunset to point out, and I say breathlessly, “Look at that! Just look.” The instant they turn, I run away. It’s a simple, yet effective way of keeping your sanity and soul intact.

4. Finding the good in others, also known as “bad boy disorder” and “she’s got a screw loose syndrome.”

I didn’t realize until recently that men had their own version of bad boy disorder: a man is attracted to a woman who seems to have it all together, only to discover, shortly after the relationship commences, that said female is batshit crazy, at which point the man keeps thinking about the beginning, when the woman seemed normal, and he erroneously figures the bats-in-the-belfry are merely a blip, perhaps hormonal. By then it is too late to escape unscathed.

We women know crazy doesn’t ever improve with age. If anything it is shockingly perfected as time marches on. And men know that bad boys will only break our hearts.

Upon meeting the man who would shortly thereafter become my second husband, my dear friend Mary Knox-Sitley said, “He is the most inappropriate man in Los Angeles.”

“Where do I sign up?!” I asked excitedly. I made the exact same mistake many years earlier, electing to marry the most inappropriate man in Milwaukee, certainly a lesser distinction, but at the time every bit as alluring.

So what? you might think. You divorced. No harm no foul, and all you were doing was trying to find the good in someone. But this is a cautionary tale. Because I elected to “find the good” in someone who hadn’t taken any interest in developing the good within himself, I missed what might have been my one opportunity for real happiness.

5. Thinking you’ll always have a second chance.

You won’t.


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3 Steps to Fixing an Epic Fail at Work

screwed up

#1 Own It.

Many years ago I worked for an advertising agency as a freelance producer of TV commercials. A young executive who was an employee of the company made a clerical error that would cost the agency tens of thousands of dollars. When I told her we had a rather large issue to rectify, she looked at me with big dumb cow eyes (behind which lurked the sinister innards of a politician or axe murderer), and she asked, “Who should we blame?” (I knew the ‘we” was rhetorical, and I would be thrown under the bus forthwith.)

Owning it is not nearly as scary as it sounds. The trick is in pre-emptively owning it. The minute your stomach goes queasy, you throw up a little in your mouth, and in my case, the armpits heat to the temperature of molten lava, I know I’ve got to act fast, getting out in front of the screw-up. When you fess up to a flub straight away, one of two things will happen with your client or boss.

1. A normal, decent person will be impressed that you had the balls to come forward, and he will help you figure it out. Or…

2. He will go ballistic, cuss and embarrass the living bejesus out of you. It may take a few minutes, possibly years to get over an such an ordeal, but you will eventually realize that any person who lambastes you when you’re taking ownership of a mistake is a bombastic jerk, and anyone who witnesses the outburst will recognize it, too.

Sometimes we aren’t aware we’ve made a mistake until someone else points it out, in which case getting out in front of it isn’t an option. In this scenario the best bet is to remain calm, bear in mind that on the day you die, this boo-boo will be the farthest thing from your mind as you list your regrets in life (didn’t love enough, didn’t swim enough, didn’t eat enough chocolate, never made it to the Galapagos), and you can use the experience as a way to elevate yourself as a professional, and a human being.

#2 Fix It.

The second half of a sentence, which begins, “I have made a terrible mistake,” should be, “I will do everything humanly possible to fix it.” If you do not know how to fix it, be unpretentious and genuine in asking for assistance. “I messed up and I don’t know how to make it right. Can you please help me?”

Unless you’ve been a complete jackass, your coworkers and others will pity you, and it will make them happy (feel superior) to lend a hand. Plus helping you puts a nice deposit in their goodwill savings account. If, however, it has been your habit to be an insufferable asshat then you will not get support when you need it most. You will instead find people fighting over your parking spot.

Once a person has signed on to help you they are invested in the outcome, and you are both less likely to fail. Enlist your whole team and failure is almost not an option at all. It may take a village to raise a child, but a team of coworkers pulling together to find a solution can lift your sagging self-esteem (nobody feels good about herself after falling flat on her face), and you are showing your superiors that you have what it takes to manage people and solve problems.

When you ask for help you must realize you are now a passenger and are no longer behind the wheel. You drove the car into a ditch and have effectively handed the keys over to someone sober. Nobody likes a backseat driver, so keep your mouth shut, your eyes open and pay for the gas.

If the people who’ve come to your aid ask for your input, perhaps along the lines of “what the f*ck were you thinking?” remain humbly gracious. You have to take your lumps. But, you can engender feelings of good will by asking, “What would you have done?” Sweet mother of God do not disagree or argue with them no matter how ridiculous they sound. Listen. Nod agreeably. Right now you need all the friends you can get.

#3 Let it go.

For many people this is the hardest thing to do. We obsess. We rehash. We relive the horror and the shame. Does it change anything to do so? Nope. Does it prevent you from making further mistakes? Uh uh. Beating yourself up has zero positive effect.

I’m not a cockeyed optimist who tapes Post-its to the mirror saying I’m good enough! I’m smart enough! But there is one quirky little trick I’ve found that helps me let go of the inadequate and unproductive feelings I harbor after I’ve made a big blunder. Once I’ve acknowledged my misstep and done my utmost to make it right, I write the screw up on a piece of paper and then set it on fire. (Be sure to do this in the sink, bathtub or outdoor area away from any dry foliage or you might add arson to your list of lapses.)

As corny as it seems, the act of destroying that thing that was an embarrassment reminds me to focus on the here and now, and drives home the point that the past is transient, gone, behind me. Poof. Like smoke. The important thing is what lies ahead, and the grace, and ashes, with which we face the new day.

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Pam Ferderbar Featured on Year of Purpose


Wednesday, January 27th

 11:30A CST

The highly-rated Year of Purpose Podcast, hosted by best-selling author of Life Re-Scripted, Zeph Blaxberg, will feature Feng Shui and Charlotte Nightingale author Pam Ferderbar to talk about perspective and the power of positive thinking, why other people’s misfortune is so damn funny, and whether luck, voodoo and magic are real. 30 minutes of conversation, laughs and insights.

Click here for Year Of Purpose.


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5 Ways Acting Stupid May Be Smart


Blog Badger

The other day my pops read an article about why highly intelligent people sometimes opt to hide their intelligence, and he asked what I thought. I stared at him for a moment, poured myself a coffee, ate half a yogurt and forgot the question.

I did a little research and here’s what I’ve learned:

1.  In a competitive situation it is often better to have your opponents underestimate you, which is especially useful if they are already likely to underestimate you for other reasons, such as being young, small, female or inordinately beautiful.

My editor is young, small, female and highly intelligent; on top of which she’s also gorgeous, so I know people underestimate the daylights out of her, which is as big a mistake as thinking the badger with foam dripping from its maw is smiling at you when you reach into its den to pat it on the head. The minute you think you’ve outwitted Samantha, and re-inserted some of the brilliant lines she has edited out of your book, you have effectively reached into its wee house and taunted the cute little badger (which btw is in the same family as the weasel and the wolverine), and you will draw back a bloody stump.

Samantha and the equally underestimated badger use their considerable skills to protect their young, and bend authors to their will. The badger and editor will one day rule the world. Mark my words.

2.  When dealing with an intellectually challenged authority figure it is often better to play dumb.

If you’ve ever had to deal with a teacher, boss or policeman who was an idiot, you don’t need to be Einstein to grasp this concept. It is never wise to point out the mistakes or shortcomings of an imbecile who holds your fate in his hands. Grossly stupid people tend to be proportionately petty and spiteful. Although it seems to go against the very laws of nature, it is impossible to outwit a moron, so another strategy must be employed in an effort to maintain order in the universe.

You may not be able to outwit him, but you can thwart a simpleton by carrying out his bad orders in a completely literal way. Next time your boss chews you out in front of the entire office and threatens to terminate you if you don’t get your ass in gear and “light a fire under the sales department,” well. Just make sure the sprinklers are working, then sit back in your cube with your umbrella, and let it rain.

3.  Hiding your smarts is excellent camouflage.

“The nail that sticks up gets hammered.” (Japanese proverb)

Tall poppy syndrome is a pejorative term used to describe a social phenomenon in which people of genuine merit are resented, attacked, cut down, or criticized because their talents or achievements elevate them above or distinguish them from their peers. (Wikipedia)

Budweiser syndrome is an accurate term used to describe a uniquely American phenomenon in which undistinguished and largely uneducated people wish to elect equally unremarkable officials with whom they would feel comfortable having a beer rather than choosing leaders who are really smart. (Pammy)

Throughout history there have been many instances where it would have been advantageous for the brainiac to keep her IQ on the DL. I’m guessing there were some mad smart gals in Salem back in 1692, working at the sackcloth shoppe, doing math in their heads and people were like, “No man can add that fast! She’s a witch! Throw her in the lake with a rock tied around her neck!”

Nowadays, at least here in the U.S., we extol wealth and excess, but only if it is achieved through hard work, the lottery or leaked sex tapes. Don’t go acting all Mensa when your stock splits and you’ve become a Fortune 100 company. Just tell people you’ve worked, like, really hard to get where you are. And then pretend to cry.

No one has ever been thrown into a lake with a rock tied around her neck because she was rich and stupid…pity.

4.  Playing dumb is an excellent ploy for finding out how much or how little other people actually know, and is an excellent way to gauge character and communication skills.

It’s the old “give ’em enough rope and they’ll hang themselves” strategy. I know a little something about writing, but I sit quietly by when some blustering Barnard announces he is a wordsmith. (I’ve yet to meet an actual writer who refers to her or himself as a wordsmith.) Another clue that I am not dealing with an actual wordsmith is the person’s inability to speak with proper grammar, and their rampant use of malaprops.

You soon learn that the only things the gasbag writes are text messages and poorly crafted emails–and that he lies about where he went to school pacifically because, for all intensive purposes, Harvard isn’t all its cramped up to be.

5.  Clever cluelessness can get you out of extra work.

Want to avoid extra assignments? Don’t wear your brains on your sleeve. Practice saying “I don’t know anything about that” while blinking as if you feel a stye coming on. If forced to undertake the task anyway because they think you’re really smart and just playing possum to avoid work, fail in such a breathtaking way as to ensure you will never be asked to do anything extra ever again.

In 1999, a couple of smartypants at Lockheed Martin were tasked with building yet another satellite for NASA. I’m not sure, but I think they were overdue for a vacay, and had had enough of hearing, “But you guys are so smart. Come on. Just one more.”

“Fine,” they said tersely in unison, and proceeded to build the satellite using the English system of measurement rather than the metric, which is what NASA uses. The use of two different measurement systems prevented the spacecraft’s navigation coordinates from being transferred from a spacecraft team in Denver to a lab in California. The orbiter was then lost in space.

Even I know that science uses the metric system for measuring stuff, so what kind of rocket scientists would build a $165.6 million Mars orbiter using the English system of measurement? I’ll tell you. Two guys who said enough is enough with the ‘just one more’ crap.

“Who’s smart now?” were their final words before departing for Aruba.

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Delafield Public Library Meet the Authors

Delafield Public Library Thursday, April 21, 2016

Thank you Delafield Public Library, authors Ann Angel and Christine Ann Schimpf, and all the lovely people who came out last night to listen to us read, who asked compelling questions, and who supported us by buying our books! It was a lot of fun, a lot of laughs and great conversation!

5:30 – 7:30P

Meet Pam Ferderbar, author of Feng Shui and Charlotte Nightingale, and two other local authors (TBD) for a brief discussion of their work, a reading, and a lively Q&A!

Delafield Public Library

500 Genesee Street | Delafield WI 53018

262.646.6230 |

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“Riot of a Book”



Feng Shui + Charlotte Nightingale

By Pam Ferderbar

Feng Shui +Charlotte Nightingale by Pam Ferderbar is a comedy of errors. A riot a minute. Wacky from page to page. A clever twist around each corner with a cast of characters you’d just love to get to know better.

Charlotte Nightingale in one word is chaos. She’s like the Tasmanian devil and no matter what she touches it seems to turn into a mess. If you think you’ve ever had a bad day, I beg to differ after spending a few days in Charlotte’s world.

Although told in 3rd person, the POV switches off between Charlotte and the other main character, Kwan. Kwan works at his father’s restaurant, the Emperor’s Kitchen, located below Charlotte’s apartment in Chinatown. Although Kwan ultimately plays a pretty significant role in the plot, he seems to me to be playing his part in the background-which works really well in my opinion.

Ferderbar does a magnificent job in bringing the characters and story to life for readers. We meet people like Charlotte’s “perfect” younger sister, Charlene, who is engaged to a doctor, Dr. Dirk – to her parent’s delight and her sister’s annoyance. The doctor is quite an interesting character all on his own but not the catch he might seem on the surface.

As aforementioned, Charlotte is a ball of chaos. She seems to thrive on it. The only person who seems aware of it and with any idea as to how it might be changed is Kwan, her complete opposite, a calming force. He is certain a little Feng Shui could go a long way for her. How he goes about it and all the events surrounding his attempts are quite entertaining.

Although some mild language and sexual content, I would say this book is okay for the YA to read, but of course that should be left to a parent to decide based on the maturity of their teen.

In conclusion, I’d encourage you to check this riot of a book out. Feng Shui + Charlotte Nightingale is a book I’d read it again if I had time. It is truly a good book! I can see it being one of those relaxed weekend books where you curl up and just read the day away. I hope my review has done it justice.

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Why New Year’s Resolutions are Bad for You (And Why Springtime Goodness Motivation is Better)


Truth be told, I just don’t like New Year’s resolutions. They’re a lot like New Year’s Eve expectations—rarely met, usually disappointing and sometimes resulting in divorce.

(I’ve heard there is a tribe in the Amazon that celebrates December 31st with music, dancing and unjacked food prices. Everyone is happy, the giant ants are served hot and crispy—by pleasant waiters—and no one gets drunk and has sex with his ex-wife in the coatroom.)

A recent University of Scranton study (fyi I get all my intel out of this thriving Pennsylvania metropolis) found that only 8% of Americans will keep their New Year’s resolutions, and, spoiler alert—losing weight was the number one resolution. I may not have nailed the 8% figure exactly, but for less money than the Scranton study cost I could have told you the same thing. Look around. If any number of people kept their resolutions we’d see like maybe nine overweight folks in the entire country, assuming people in Mississippi and Arkansas make resolutions. (Mississippi is the fattest state in the union for the 10th straight year. Burp. Arkansas is the second chunkiest monkey in the United States.)

Why do people abandon their resolutions like rats from a sinking Ben and Jerry’s ship? Here’ s a study out of Myass; because it’s winter! Duh. I don’t feel highly motivated to do anything but stay warm, watch movies and think about what I want to eat, how I will get what I want to eat, and whether there will be any impediments that must be eradicated in order for me to execute my plan…to eat, and then have a nap.

I suppose there’s some kind of scientificky reason why I feel the way I do in winter, like maybe I’m descended from cavewomen who packed on buttpounds in January, because come February and March, mastodon ribeyes were in short supply. By May, cavewomen slipped back into their size 6 pelts and resumed eating a paleo kale salad.

Rather than the doomed-to-fail “New Year’s resolution,” I am in favor of “spring goodness motivation.” Spring is a time of rejuvenation, fertility of mind and body. Optimism is in the air. Our metabolisms pick up in the springtime. Animals come out of hibernation. Bunnies turn to chocolate, and “a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love.”

Anything we wish to accomplish in life, such as losing weight, quitting smoking, saving money, getting more exercise, or cleaning house both figuratively and literally, is doable…in the springtime. Here are a few tips for getting your cabooses in gear:

1. On the first warm day fling open every window in the house, apartment, condo and yurt.

2. If you have access to any outdoor space, string a laundry line and hang your bed linens outside.

3. Take a 30 minute walk around your neighborhood and smile at every person and animal that you see.

4. Deeply inhale the earthiness of the season – springtime has its own scent no matter where you live. Become a connoisseur of the air like wine aficionados “read” wines. See if you can detect notes of jasmine, earthworm, tree bark, lichen, etc.

5. Wash your hair and air dry it outside.

6. If you’re trying to quit smoking get a copy of Allen Carr’s Easy Way to Stop Smoking and read a few chapters outside, paying attention to the lovely fresh air.

(Actress Joanna Cassidy told me about this book many years ago when I struggled to quit smoking…again. After trying everything else under the sun—acupuncture, the patch, gum, hypnosis, Chantix, Zyban, psychotherapy and hitting myself in the face with a ball pean hammer, Allen Carr’s book did the trick. It has been almost five years since my last cigarette. I do not miss it. I have not been tempted even when the martinis are flowing. The idea of smoking is repugnant to me, although it doesn’t bother me when other people smoke. This book is nothing short of a miracle.)

In the meantime, while it’s still winter, I suggest backing the genius inventors of the Hypnos Hoodie, “an everyday hoodie that inflates for sleep (and support) on the go.” “On the go” seems counterintuitive, but who am I to criticize the greatest achievement since hibernation? See ya in April!


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