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The Ooey Gooey Mess of Success and How Chocolate Chip Cookies Saved My Life

Chocolate chip cookies are a huge part of my life. About twenty-five years ago, I decided I would bake them not only for family and friends but would also donate them. I have baked cookies for the late, great Robin Williams through the kids’ writing organization 826 Valencia. I’ve baked them for Little League teams, story times, weddings, schools, churches, Uncle Frank, and more. I also decided to keep a cookie count of sorts, that has added up now to tens of thousands of cookies donated across the country.

A funny thing happened along the way. People started to pay me for my cookies. I’d be retired in South Carolina right now, if I had budged and caved into all the requests for people wanting to pay me for the recipe or even pay me for cookies.

What I also learned in these moments is that I would do this whether you paid me or not. That, my friends, is called a passion. It honestly even took me by surprise, and I’d have to confirm it with myself and my husband more than once. Yes, chocolate chip cookies are my passion.

Here’s what happens when you follow a passion. Your heart speaks, the world speaks, and things align. You will hear feedback from people—good and bad. You’ll see smiles on faces, including yours. You’ll learn. But most of all, you’ll thank yourself and people will thank you for it.

Speaking of thank-yous, here’s one of the most thoughtful hand-written notes I’ve ever received—and I save all of them.

Dear Ms. Hamilton-Guarino,

I am a patient at Dana-Farber and I have Stage 4 colon cancer. I have been receiving chemo for almost two years now. As you must know from leaving some cookies at the 10th floor, chemo is very hard. I also have two lovely daughters (ages eight and ten) that have been by my side and following this rough journey with me. I brought two of your cookies home to my girls who both said that they were the best cookies in the world. I want to thank you for your kindness. These little things make the road easier. My very warmest wishes to you. Thank you for your help and thoughtfulness.
This thank-you note changed my life. It made me think, not just about cookies, but how precious life and time are. I posted it on my computer, and it was there speaking to me when I started The Best Ever You Network and part of my intention and thought process in those early start-up moments.

Cookies have taught me so much about success. What really connects me with other people and fills my heart with joy? The answer is absolutely 1000 percent helping people be their best, and chocolate chip cookies.

 Whatever it is that you do, do it with world-class excellence, success, a winning attitude, and a giant platter of cookies. I tend to think just about anything can be deemed a success when it brings happiness, joy, and smiles to yourself or others.

I wholeheartedly believe applying the concepts of gratitude-based awareness of our time, and honoring our uniqueness in the world, drive the power to create success in all areas of your life and help you sustain and carry success with you during your lifetime.

SUCCESS TIP #73: Let Your Superpowers Shine

With success, you’ll find which superpowers are unique to you. Let’s figure it out. Is it your smile? Perhaps the kindness with which you interact with others. Maybe it’s your ability to recognize others for their own success. Maybe you have many superpowers all combined into one special, unique you. Think of yours, and revel in them for they are usually what others either appreciate or try to diminish.

My superpower is baking chocolate chip cookies. First, to me they are a metaphor for life and breath. The other reason, and perhaps the biggest reason of all, is that cookies present a shared connection. They seldom disappoint.

SUCCESS TIP #74: Share Your Why

 Chocolate chip cookies being my superpower might sound strange, but there is a reason.  You see, every year, I celebrate April 10 and June 5. It’s not my birthday or wedding anniversary, but rather the days I survived after nearly dying from food allergies! On April 10, 1998, I had a life-threatening allergic reaction after eating a small bag of almonds at a local coffee shop in Burnsville, Minnesota. Within a few minutes, I became dizzy, had severe stomach cramps, and noticed voices around me starting to fade and things becoming blurry. My husband carried me to the car and rushed me to the hospital, which, by sheer luck, was minutes away. We administered my EpiPen in the car and upon arrival at the hospital, my blood pressure was 65/38 and steadily dropping. I was put on a resuscitation cart. When I came back to life, I was hooked up to a variety of machines and drips and was filled with fluids that doctors had pumped into me to save my life. I spent the next several days on machines and drips designed to get my kidneys and body functioning again.

On June 5, 1999, while pregnant with Cam, our third child, I ate a chocolate chip cookie that had walnuts in it. At the time, we didn’t know I had become allergic to walnuts, as these were cookies I’d eaten for most of my life. Within seconds, my unborn baby and I were fighting for our lives. The paramedics arrived and soon we were in an ambulance heading to Fairview Ridges Hospital in Burnsville, Minnesota. I was admitted and spent over a week there, hospital personnel carefully monitoring me and Cam.

These experiences changed my perspective on celebrations and how I celebrate everything in my life. Each day is one to celebrate. Each moment is one to celebrate. Knowing what it’s like to nearly lose my life has made me completely understand what living is all about and how much each moment matters. I also created my sayings, “We aren’t entitled to time,” and “Random acts of kindness create waves of peace.” In the moments that followed the last reaction, I knew I wanted to live my life differently.


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