Conquering Fear One Failure at a Time

What Are the How-NOT-to Guides?

Welcome to the official site of The How-NOT-to Guides, a series of how-to books that show you the Whole Truth about what you’re trying to do and then laugh in Its face.

Many people are terrified to try something new. And they’re right, stuff does happen. So we here at the Guides want to make sure you’re well prepared, with stories of those who tried and failed and then rose again to fight another day.

The fact is, what goes wrong usually doesn’t kill or bankrupt you. I say usually.

Our approach is to defy bad luck and poor judgment by getting a grip on the grab-bars of life.  Here, you’ll find help: resources for your projects, good-natured advice and stories from us and our generous readers, and your growing personal strength as you “Conquer Fear One Failure at a Time.”

If you’re interested in keeping pace with us in our highly random wanderings through the challenges of your DIY projects, give us your email address in the contact form below.

Right now we’re giving a free pony to the 1000th person who signs up. (Well, actually, we don’t really have a free pony right now, it just sounded good. But there’s gotta be one around here somewhere … )

OK, onward and outward and round in circles, no matter where our paths lead us!  The first How-NOT-to Guide? For getting out there where you may never have got before? How NOT to RV; the RVer’s Guide to RVing in the Absurd.

New How-NOT-to Guide! How NOT to RV Redux: RVing for RVers Who Never Learn

So, guess what?

We’ve got a new How-NOT-to Guide coming out. Yup. How NOT to RV Redux: RVing for RVers Who Never Learn.

If you only knew.

Well, actually, you can know soon, when it’s available in time for Christmas 2017 on Amazon Kindle and will also be packaged in a paperback with the first book, How NOT to RV: The RVer’s Guide to RVing in the Absurd. That will follow on soon after.

Then, when I can find a quiet place to do it, which where I am is not, I will record the audiobook so that you can be motorin’ and listen to what you should not be doing right that minute.

This book is a short one, while we’re working on the next How-NOT-to Guide on a different subject. Redux is my way of demonstrating that yes, you don’t have to have a personality transplant to learn enough to keep moving in your life in interesting, fun, and surprising ways. Some things never change, some things change enough, and some things change a lot.  You don’t always know which is which from the outset, thank goodness.

See you on the road, I hope. We’re still driving the motyho and we’ll have a pic of the book in the window in case you want to stop by and exchange, um, notes.



Says Who?

Dr. Jennifer FlowerWhen I closed my psychoanalytic practice in New York City and left for parts unknown in an old Airstream silver bullet my friends thought I was crazy.  To people living in Manhattan, RV camping in a 16-year-old motor home was about the same as joining the circus.

But one of my friends, bless him, so loved my plan to go RVing that he renamed me Ruby – which somehow felt like the right name for an eccentric, middle-aged woman traveling alone in an RV – and the name stuck.  So I’m often Dr. Ruby on the Road, and when I’m not on the road I’m Jennifer Flower, Ph.D.

Although I miss New York sometimes, I couldn’t live there again.  So much wonder and adventure has come into my life since leaving; the people I’ve met have revived my sense that marriages can work, that people can just play, it doesn’t have to be fancy.  Actually, I still love being in New York, it’s just that I had to leave to change myself and since I’ve changed I don’t expect the same things I used to.

I guess you could call me a recovering psychoanalyst, recovering the spontaneity I left at the door to my consulting room when I walked in, and recovering the entrepreneurial spirit I suppressed in order to pursue a more professional identity.

The sad thing is that most people don’t do a lot of what we’d want to because we are so afraid of screwing up.  I guess that’s why I’ve started The How-NOT-to Guides, of which How NOT to RV is the first.  We’re, as we say, “Conquering Fear One Failure at a Time.”

That’s what these Guides are about, knowing that when you set off with hope in an old RV camper you can end up on the side of the road eating a 3-hour tuna-fish sandwich, but as long as you’ve got some tuna fish and you can joke around with the Good Sam emergency road service guy you’re still on a great adventure, moment to moment, under the sun.

For more information, contact j “at” HowNOTtoGuides (dot) com.

How NOT to RV

It was soon after my father died, and right when I was sitting with a patient in my Upper West Side apartment in Manhattan, on September 11, 2001, listening to an unusual number of helicopters, that fate wiggled its seductive finger in my face.

It said, “Drooooop what you’re dooooooing and buy a decrepit motor home and behave bizarrely!”

That what started my trip to the horizon.  In an old Airstream that needed work.  Because I did, too.

For information on our first How-NOT-to Guide, How NOT to RV: The RVers Guide to RVing in the Absurd, go to How NOT to RV.


Want to Write a How-NOT-to Guide?

hand drawing light bulb on white board

You may have suffered the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune and come out, if not on top, at least with some recovered dignity, somewhere in the middle.

You may have a flair for making fun of yourself with knee-slapping humor.

You may have a short story of How-NOT-to do something, like how NOT to change a tire, or,

You may have a long story of How NOT to do something, like how NOT to raise a parrot.

And you must be prepared to allow us, the arbiters of the How-NOT-to style, to edit your work, if necessary, to make sure readers who pick up a Guide are not shocked, appalled, or confused by how this one got into the series.

The books in the series don’t all have to sound alike. In fact, we’d hate that. But they do have to be respectful of human frailties, and have the true purpose of educating. Now that I think of it, they could just be reaallly funny, and not be very educational. We’ll publish those books with a warning label.

We’re the alternative, the antidote, or the complement to all those other well meaning Guides out there that leave out the bloopers and give everyone the impression that you can do anything without screwing up.

If you’re interested, send us 5 sample pages of your writing on your subject to:

j (at] HowNOTtoGuides [dot} com

(that’s spelled out all weirdly to fool the spammers, but you get it, right?)

If we like it, we’ll email or call you (if you make sure we know where to reach you!) and discuss the possibilities.

If we publish your work, we’ll pay you and send you a How-NOT-to-Guides hat that says, “A How-NOT-to Guide” on the front, thereby encouraging people you meet on the street to follow you into the nearest sink-hole. Hell, you can attract other kinds attention, too.

Buck up!  There is a way through for the fallible!




Book Dr. Flower

Jennifer Flower, Ph.DI do speak to live audiences, often loudly, and am also available for teleseminars, webinars, radio and TV. I’ll log in at the virtual events from our Top-Secret Locations – wherever they are – showing up as a keynote speaker (or panelist, if you’d like us to talk amongst ourselves) for an agreed-upon fee or other blandishments. It depends on the function. I can be serious, well, mostly, but I really insist on asking people to lighten up about what they can.  We live in a torrent of bad news, and spend most of our lives pulling our jackets around us and holding onto our mental pants to keep that torrent from washing them away and leaving us shivering, cold, and gutless, with nowhere to put our iPhones.

Speaking Topics:

The Bodymind

The more we study human behavior and the health sciences generally, the easier it is to see powerful interactions between what happens in your body (yes, yours) and the way your mind works.  Microbiome and hormone imbalances, food intolerances, and autoimmunities, to name a few, can depress you, make you feel as though your head is full of squirming maggots, and prevent you from following even the simplest instructions, like how to get your calendars to sync on your plethora of electronic devices. And I’m not even talking about psychosis yet. The special blend of your particular internal goopiness is in many ways who you are, mentally, and affects how you think and behave, often in astonishingly distinct and bizarre ways. But the tendency still is for people – including many doctors – to divide themselves into neat little body/mind boxes, as though you could tighten your necktie and it would make no difference. Unfortunately, a lot of psychotherapy is still practiced this way, too. I’ve had a lot of personal and clinical experience with this, and talk about the psychological and social aspects with audiences. Forget this notion that you can just decide to lose weight.  There’s a whole lot more going on in your head caused by what’s already going on in your body.

Aging and Not Aging

Practitioners like Dr. Daniel Amen have drawn a lot of attention to brain health and our ability now to improve it, but there’s a lot more to say about the subtle mental changes that play out in our relationships and in our lives generally, that used to be assumed to be natural aging processes. Desire of all kinds can be blunted or frustrated for medical and psychological reasons, and an increasing feeling of invisibility to a younger society can have profound affects on who you feel yourself to be, and what you have to offer. You’ve heard of those mirror neurons in your head? Well, we don’t know exactly how they play a role yet, but psychological mirroring is part of what makes us feel that we exist. Who do you want to have looking into (or avoiding) your eyes and telling you stuff about yourself?

How to Get Out of Therapy and Into Your Life

Psychotherapy enriches your internal life like few other experiences, it deepens your relationships with friends, family, and the folks behind the counter at Safeway, and it heals rifts and resolves what you were sure were intractable problems, making getting up in the morning a lot easier. The problem is that many people and their therapists forget that ending therapy is a key part of the process, and that if you don’t find a way to do this definitively, instead of just moving on to the next therapist, that you can continue in a reflective, self-conscious state that stunts spontaneity, drives your friends crazy, and prevents you from consolidating all that hard work you just did in therapy. So the subject here is both how to think psychologically and then how to stop thinking psychologically and live your life.

What Will You Really Do?

I talk about all these subjects in an effort to help people be realistic and joyful about what they will Really Do as against what they’ve been told they should do, what they’ve always wanted to do, and what they believe they have to do. What you Really Do is what counts, but we spend a lot of time dwelling on the other notions because we’ve got a lot of different, partial usses living in our heads, and yet we’re sure that simple will power and maybe a lot of education will get us where we need to go. We need desire to continue to do something, discipline and will power too, but clearing the way internally, getting to know your selves and helping them live together, and getting your brain healthy by healing your body are key to moving forward decisively and with a sense of satisfaction. This era we’re living in is full of innovation and opportunities to solve problems, and everyone has something to bring to the table. Don’t waste a lot of time trying to bring someone else’s thing to the table, though. It just doesn’t work and it’s dang awkward.

Drop me a line if you want a speaker for your event. You may be doing a conference or a webinar that involves changing your life, taking risks, and what goes on in people’s heads, or you may be trying to keep your email list entertained and need some wacky new product to keep them happy that’s not so wacky that it makes you look like an idiot, then you can call on me and expect that I will speak or write absurdly (but pragmatically) on some subjects, intelligently on others, but always with a certain je ne sais quoi.

email: j {at] HowNOTtoGuides <dot] com

Contact Dr. Flower

Dr. Jennifer Flower's earI’m listening.

Maybe you:

  • want to find out what else I’m up to,
  • have some great stories to share about your how-NOT-to experiences,
  • have some ideas for some promotion or project that would be fun and off-beat and that we might do together.

If you do, email me:  j (at} HowNOTtoGuides [dot} com or leave a comment below (shhhhh, no one else will see it before I do and I won’t tell anyone).

I’m pretty busy but if it’s something that we should explore, I’ll get right back to you.

Happy Trails!


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