Wednesday, April 29, 2015

We are Like Flowers; and Bloom Only, When the Sun, Kisses Us

Where Do You Come From?

I come from sweltering heat, tumbleweeds,
and barren land.
Listening to stories of places I’ve never seen,
inspiring my love of travel.

I come from a world of climbing trees,
jumping from heights, fearlessly.
Playing in the rain, riding bicycles,
running free in the neighborhood until my parents called me home.

I come from grumpy mornings,
an alarm clock's obscene beeping awakening me.
I come from hiding under the covers,
as the light streamed in from cracks in heavy curtains.

I come from make-believe scenarios,
played out in detail with my brother and sisters.
Walking on my tippy toes,
pretending I was wearing high heels.

I come from homemade fresh bread,
smothered in melted butter.
It was sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar,
I enjoyed every single bite.

I come from burgers and fries,
steak and potatoes smothered in gravy,
salty snacks, salsa and dips,
and breakfast for dinner, because cereal is best enjoyed at night.

I come from an older brother and two younger sisters,
and family within a few feet from the home we lived in.
I come from a history I’ve learned in fragments,
with so many questions and daydreams about the past.

I come from a grandfather who worked with his hands,
and would sit on the porch, rifle beside him.
I come from a grandmother who loved people,
and gave her grandchildren a place to stay in the summer months.

I come from “I trust you, that's why I limit the rules”,
but also “you have to be careful, not everyone has the best of intentions”.
I come from a religious upbringing that did not include church,
my father taught Sunday school in the comfort of our home.

I come from a father with twinkling, kind eyes and a weird sense of humor,
who taught me to read using signs on the streets every time we went for a drive.
I come from a father who tells silly stories, tall-tales with unbelievable endings,
and took in neighborhood children when they needed a home.

Where do you come from?
And how does it shape your life?

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Figure Out What You Hope For

I think it's a common misconception that there comes a point in everyone's life when it is too late to change your life's path and follow your dreams.  I've heard it countless times from family, from friends, and from people that I have worked with. 

I'm sure everyone has heard their version of excuses, justifying a person's unwillingness to try.

“I can’t go back to school. What's the point of learning something new?  I’m too old to start a new career.”

“I’ll never get married. I can't find someone to date now.  By the time I meet someone, it'll be too late in the game for marriage.”

“I can’t possibly start exercising. I'm too out of shape.  I have this condition.  That’s for people much younger and more fit than me.”

I'm sure we all chalk up our excuses to laziness.  I'm sure fear is a factor as well.  Personally, I feel like we choose arbitrary windows of time when we imagine we should have tried and succeeded at something and then believe it’s not possible once those days have passed.

What saddens me with this way of thinking is that we genuinely believe the excuses we tell ourselves. Not because these things are impossible to accomplish, but because we trick ourselves into believing that we can't do them.  We let our mind emphasize the 'can't', and then let our fear of failure get the best of us.  Because we believe in the impossibility, we never give ourselves permission to try.

If you tell yourself it’s not possible to begin a new profession, chances are you won’t take the time to learn the ins and outs of the new career you dream of having.  How likely are you to send out resumes?  How likely are you to reach out and make the connections you need to succeed, if you don't believe it's possible?

If you don't believe it is possible for you to fall in love, or for someone to fall in love with you, then chances are you won’t put yourself out there.  If you don't believe in love, then you probably won't open your heart wide enough to let someone in.

If you tell yourself that your body is not capable of getting stronger, leaner, faster, more resilient, and more flexible; you’ll likely convince yourself that it is better to stay seated on your couch, watching television.  Chances are you'll never try a class at your local gym.   You'll never hit the pavement in a brand new pair of running shoes.  You won't get out of bed thirty minutes early with plans to hit the weights before you start your day.  You'll never learn how to be gentle and kind with yourself while your body is making progress.

Instead of taking the time to learn the necessary steps that would ultimately lead you to the feeling of accomplishment and pride in yourself, you simply sit back—feeling frustrated, regretful, and maybe even a little jealous of other people who choose to live their lives making their own rules.

Barring physical limitations, it is never too late, in anyone's life, to follow the path that leads to your dreams. It doesn't matter what you did yesterday.  It doesn't matter the type of person you’ve been, or the mistakes you've made in life.  You can wake up any day and decide who and what you want to be. It's not about changing yourself to suit society's version of who you should be. It is about living in a way that leaves you feeling happy and fulfilled.

You may not accomplish in your remaining time what someone who started decades earlier will, but you won’t accomplish anything if you refuse to start.  More importantly, with each day that passes, you’ll feel a greater disconnect between the life you’re living and the life you dream about.

What you’re seeking isn’t necessarily the end goal you think you need years to reach.  It’s a life aligned with who you want to be.  You can be that person right now.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Love's a Peaceful Feeling, Like a Flower Hugging a Butterfly

'Excuses are the nooses upon which many a dying dream is hung. So the first thing you need to do is to bury your excuses. They can destroy you, especially in the midst of your small beginnings, when your dream is most vulnerable.' - Unknown

Our destiny is created by our thoughts and actions.

It is my personal belief that success in life is the result of many bad choices, wrong judgments, and failed results that we were able to learn from and finally create our desired result. Those who succeed in achieving their dreams, are the ones that dare to try and don't quit when they have failed.

In my opinion, if you are passionate about something and can apply that passion to create an income, then with a lot of hard work everything will eventually fall into place. 

Success will not happen overnight.  Success happens when it is meant to happen.  It will happen after you have applied all of your best efforts to achieving your dreams.  It will happen after you've sacrificed your time and invested all of your energy into your passion.  It will happen after you have failed enough times that your head hits the palms of your hands, shaking in disbelief that you have failed yet again, and you are probably ready to cry; shouting into a void of emptiness that you are ready to give up.  Success usually happens when you are at the end of your rope, thoroughly discouraged by your lack of results, and ready to give up.

Only the individual can decide what he/she wants to believe is possible for them when it comes down to their dreams, goals, and life wishes.  All the things a person dreams for themselves can come into existence, being that we (men and women) are the one's who create them, but that does not mean we are exempt from working toward them.

You can read a million self-help books.  There are a plethora of books and articles geared toward success.  Self improvement information, just like any other information, will mean something different to each and every one of us.  We do not all think alike.  If you have a goal or dream, the only way to create it is to take action toward it and not give up until you attain it (if that's what you decide to commit to).  If you don't see your dream as possible, you will never try to achieve it.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

I Keep Dreaming of a Future

I was asked today, what do you know well enough to teach others?  This question got me thinking, and ultimately sparked happiness in me, because it woke up an awareness that I do in fact know something that I can teach others.  I know many somethings, actually.  I've had some hard times.  I've had some great times.  Good or bad, life has treated me to some unique experiences, some of which have challenged my beliefs.

I believe that just when you think you cannot survive another day, something so tiny inside of you sits up and yells "you can do it" and that teeny tiny voice is what propels you forward.  That voice allows you to take the smallest, almost imperceptible step in the right direction.

I believe that learning to love yourself is a far harder journey then loving someone else, and once you can do it unconditionally and without judgment, everything else just falls into place.

I think, too often, doubt is a camouflage to fear which means it is fear and not doubt that is stopping us from moving forward.  Fear often stops us from making any decisions, but most especially those decisions that would benefit our future.

I also think that we are far more triumphant than we allow ourselves or think ourselves to be.  And that grace is on our side.  So, even if we make a decision, proceeding past doubt and then discover it was the wrong decision, we are always at choice.  That's why I like the saying "Make a decision. And then make the decision right".  Because sometimes we find out something about ourselves that is equally transformative, after we make a "wrong" decision.  I don't think there are any rights or wrongs here. I think there is growth anyway you decide to work with it.

I believe that the more action you take, the more free you will feel.  I've faced a lot of fears this way.  I think most procrastination, when it comes to major life decision, is out of fear.

I think perfection isn’t perfection as we have learned it by definition. I think it is a person's flaws, mistakes, talents, and anything that sets them apart from the rest of humanity, that makes them perfect. You see, you’ll never find anyone who is, by dictionary definition, perfect.  However, when you come to love someone enough; you begin to see their flaws, and the things that make them different, as their true perfection.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Give Light and People Will Find the Way

When I was in school, my Creative Writing Professor once gave me an assignment that at the time was extremely uncomfortable for me.  In fact, I was actually hesitant to do the assignment, not that I had much of a choice if I wanted to pass the class. 

My professor instructed the class to divide a piece of paper into two columns. 

In column one, I was instructed to write down all of the things I like about myself.  These would be my personal strengths, difficult situations I've overcome, people's lives I've touched, personal accomplishments, and the values I have obtained throughout my life that increased my feelings of self-respect. 

In the second column, I was instructed to make a list of my personal short-comings, weaknesses, or issues that I still struggle with.  In his words--perhaps you’re selfish sometimes, or maybe you avoid taking responsibility, or is it possible you haven’t followed through with commitments you made to yourself or others.

Whatever these issues were, he wanted us to bring them out into the light of day to be examined.  He said that they would automatically feel less shameful if we acknowledge their existence.

At the end of the exercise, he had us read both our strength column and our weakness column aloud for the entire class to hear. 

Next, he told us to put your hand on your heart and tell yourself, “I am strong. I am weak. I am flawed.  I am broken.  I am learning.  I am vulnerable.  I am human.  And despite all of this, I give myself permission to love myself unconditionally.  I am a growing, evolving being who uses past mistakes as fuel for my journey of growth.  I accept myself as I am, and I set an intention to become the best version of ME."
Ironically, the assignment I had the most trouble with, I found it personally invasive, is now basically what I journal about publicly.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Some Things are Destined to Be

So that the stones that you'd step on
Aching your feet....
And the curbs you would trip down
Putting you in the street...
Become less of a burden
And less of a chore
And the light of love's embracing
Protects you ever more...

Luckily time doesn't only heal wounds, it also opens our eyes to what we didn't see before and it helps guide us to new paths. 

My ex-husband for example, he wasn't a bad guy, but I've learned that that relationship wasn't what I thought it was.  I was in a state of denial and in some sort of desperation, and a bit of stubbornness I guess, I lost myself in an unhealthy relationship and began to doubt my own abilities. 

The biggest lesson I learned from that relationship was to trust myself and listen to my instincts.  Surprisingly, or maybe not so surprisingly, I would do it all over again because without the difficulties and tears, I wouldn't be who and where I am today.  Sometimes you have to be knocked to your knees and left breathless before you can really stand up on your own two feet, catch your breath and see things with new eyes and with a new attitude. 

I know, sometimes it feels like things will never get better, but they will.  We seem to give our power to other people to the point that we feel completely powerless to live our own lives. 

I finally wiped the dust from my eyes and began to see that I am the only one in control of my life.  My life is my own creation and although it can be impacted by others, it doesn't have to be destroyed by negative people and experiences.  I can take the mistakes, the hurt and the tears and turn them into something useful and empowering. 

I am a work in progress, but the path ahead of me is so much brighter and happier than anything I previously had.  Heartache can really bring with it blessings and opportunities you could never imagine.  No matter how awful it feels at first over time the pain eventually gives way to acceptance and understanding.  If you're lucky and can let go and forgive you free yourself from carrying the burden of anger, frustration and unhappiness.  Just have faith.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Our Truest Life is When We are in Dreams Awake

As an introvert, (my warmth and people skills are often mistaken for extroversion), I find that whether I want to or not, when it's quiet and I've been overly stimulated for long stretches of time without enough of a break, my brain pretty much insists that I shut down.  For me that means little contact with the outside world, no computer, no writing, etc.  In these moments, I focus all of my attention on no-brainer activities and meditation.

I can live on moments of adrenaline, for a while, when I need to.  I can keep working past my comfort zone, even when the situation I am in is not overly stressful in the grander scheme of things. But there comes a moment when it is as if that fun, creative, engaged part of my brain says, "Nope, you have got to rest or there won't be anymore output."  At this point I'm useless.  I know I need to get back into adrenaline mode, but I'm mentally exhausted. 

I had hermit moments today after a week of non-stop work.  I did nothing special.  I just spent the day doing boring household things that required little or no thought.  I did the mindless mechanical tasks that I don't normally do when I'm feeling more like my normal, focused, productive self. 

Now, at the end of the day, I already feel a multitude of new ideas welling up inside my brain.  Sometimes, all it takes is a short break to rejuvenate my thoughts.  My desire to engage is coming back.  Had I skipped today and forced the issue, I would have still had a day like this sometime in the near future, like it or not.  

I think for us introverted types, being a hermit is a vital part of refilling the proverbial cup now and then.  It has never seemed to me that I have a choice in whether or not to do the hermit thing.  I feel it's more of an instinctual part of me.  I think, for me, those moments of being a hermit had more to do with my upbringing.  I've come to accept that part of my personality needs alone time.  I have never felt guilty, not once, for taking care of my needs.  When I don't, my work suffers and I get moody -- who needs that?

I am a huge bookworm.  One of my favorite things to do to decompress in these I want to be alone moments is to curl up with a good book and just get lost in it.  Combine that with a nice hot bath and a glass of good wine, and I'm lost to the world for quite some time.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Blue Air, Love, and Flowers

Life is a pretty amazing teacher.

It never stops providing us with opportunities to learn, grow, and become the people it knows we can be.

One of the most important lessons I have learned from this one great teacher called Life, is that happiness is not a destination.

Happiness is not something that is out of reach, it isn’t reserved for the rich and famous, and it definitely does not come with dual side airbags, a swimming pool, or a side order of fries.  Happiness is much deeper than any of that.

Take a moment to really think about what makes you happy.

What makes you feel whole?

What, or who, brings joy into your life?

What makes your heart smile?

For me, my happiest moments are those filled with laughter, creativity, inspiration and love, and are often spent with the people who know me best, and love me most.

I’m happiest when I’m laughing, writing, reading, listening to music, exercising, walking/running in nature, window shopping, or just sharing random thoughtful moments with the people I love.

Those are pretty simple things, and most are always readily available to me no matter where I am or how much money I have sitting in the bank.

All of those things can bring me happiness right now, in this moment, and in every moment.

I've always known what I needed to do in order to maintain my happiness.

Which brings me to another important lesson Life has taught me, ever so persistently.

Happiness needs to be noticed, chosen, and nurtured, so that it can grow into a way of life.

Think of all the time you spend maintaining your body; showering, washing your hair, brushing your teeth, eating healthy foods, and exercising. These are all things that the body needs to stay healthy, invigorated, and energized.  We know what our body needs.  We choose to fulfill those needs every day, and take care of it so that we may grow into healthy people.  Happiness is no different.

Our mental, emotional and spiritual health needs just as much care and maintenance as our physical health.  Sometimes it's just harder to see that.

I think it's important to take the time to notice and acknowledge when you are happy.  From those moments you can figure out what you need to do more of to keep that happiness flowing.