A Blank Canvas

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This past fall, I went out to a group painting event by myself. It was a lot of fun, but at the end of the time, in my last touch up stroke, I added too much water and a single drop, ran down the entire canvas. It took off the paint and I wasn’t able to fix it. I realized how significant that was for me at the time. I had just gone through a breakup and was in the process of simply accepting myself and my life exactly as it is. So I did the same for this painting. I smiled for the picture while proudly holding my painting. I even hung it up in my room for display to say “I did this. It may not be perfect, but it came from me and I’m proud of painting it.” This was exactly the point.

This year, so far has been about letting go. Letting go of being perfect, letting go of control, letting go of my past hurts or guilt and those relationships lost, and as I mentioned in my last post, letting go of who I think I’m supposed to be. This past Sunday, in church, a guest speaker was again touching this on this subject of letting go, but in a new light. She described a U shape. How one end is the letting go end and then you have the middle that is flat, and the other side of the U is for allowing good things to come to you or flow through you (however you want to look at it). I really liked this analogy. She said that after the letting go and before the coming in you have the middle, which is like a clean slate or a blank canvas. This thought almost brought me to tears. So I decided to look inward to explain why it evoked so much emotion. I knew it must have been the words I needed to hear. In life, it is often the case where you cannot go back, you can only move forward. That has always been a tough concept for me. For example, the times when you say things you didn’t really mean or didn’t say things you wanted to say or things you wish you had or had not done. This is why letting go is a huge process for me that I am currently tackling in more than one way.

In fact, two weekends ago, I started a really big project. I have moved four times in the last four years. During this time, I have moved many boxes with me, without really going through anything. So I decided that part of letting go, also needed to be done in the physical world, as well as mentally. I want to let go of my garbage: all those assignments and papers I did in school, the receipts I thought I needed to hang on to, the love letters from my past relationships, the work forms I saved for taxes that are over 7 years old, etc. I knew it was going to be time consuming and even emotional. It had become really bad. I had boxes and boxes of papers and folders and well…junk. It was time to get rid of my junk. Besides recycling or shredding the papers, I donated four giant garbage bags full of items that were just miscellaneous or I did not have a purpose for. I was downstairs for three hours Friday night, three hours on Saturday evening, and about an hour on Sunday. I’m still not done. I have a few more totes to go through until my clutter is gone. One of the hardest ones, I am saving until last. It is photo albums and pictures of my “serious relationship” six years ago. I never look at it, I just didn’t have the heart to get rid of it and the love letters that accompanied them. My ex wrote me letters, gave me cards, and even left little notes in my lunch. I’ve never had anyone show their love for me in that way before. I felt really spoiled. I think I have been holding on to that standard though, expecting the same treatment from others, and being disappointed when it doesn’t happen. I guess I’m afraid that no one will love me like that again or that much. But I have to let go of those expectations and begin again with an open mind, a blank canvas. Once, I let go of this, of what I think I want, I believe the right person will come and be exactly what I need. Isn’t that the case for most things? We have this image in our minds of our perfect job, our perfect partner, our perfect house, and our perfect kids…but how realistic is that? Life doesn’t always go according to our plan and I believe it is important to be open-minded. It is okay to have desires and even standards, but one must be flexible as well and be open to what could be. Sometimes, we don’t even realize that what we want isn’t the same as what is best for us in the moment. So I begin again with a blank canvas, ready to be painted.

I think we can relate this analogy to many things in our life. How amazing is it to think that you can start a new painting, start a new life, start a new thought, and let go of the past and old thinking. This is such a scary, yet exhilarating thing for me. I am already feeling lighter in my life, my mind, and my basement, of course. What in your life, do you not need? What is it that no longer serves you? Is there some aspect that you would like in your life to begin again with a clean canvas, so you can paint whatever picture you want and allow the things that you choose into your life, without all the clutter? De-clutter, renew, and be thankful. I think that is the art of starting over. During the clean canvas time period, it is so important to just be grateful and really appreciate the moment of how amazing it is, to be able to let go of all the “garbage”, so you can let more of the good come into your life.

 

 

 

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Decisions, decisions, decisions…

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Why does it feel so difficult to make a decision sometimes? What is it that stops us or paralyzes us from making one choice over another? This is something that I often struggle with.  I want to dig in deeper and attempt to better understand the reasons why some of us may have a harder time with making decisions. Then I would like to uncover some solutions that could help with being a more confident and effective decision-maker.

One of the life altering decisions that has me feeling paralyzed is the big question of, “What do I want to do with my life?”. I am not one of those people that grew up knowing who I was and what I was meant to do. In high school I played sports and hung out with my friends. I was not thinking of the future or goals. Even after giving it more thought I felt stuck between what I wanted to do and what I ought to do, between my dreams and what was more practical. At the later age of 33, I am still baffled by this question. I  often wonder, “How does everyone else have it all figured out, but me?” or “Why don’t I know what I want to do?”. What am I so afraid of by making a decision? What will that mean for me?

I realized quickly, I am not alone, with this way of thinking. After reading many online articles, I discovered that many people have a difficult time making decisions due to the fear of failure. We are afraid to make the wrong decision. To take it a step further, many people (including myself) tend to have the habit of catastrophicizing, where you think of the worst possible things that could go wrong. This means, in the present moment, there are no real problems. We make them up in our minds, ahead of time, as excuses for why we cannot or should not do something.

Part of our fear of failure has to do with our fear of criticism. Though we are often our own worst critic, we care far too much about what other people think. This is something I have felt from a young age. “What will they say about me if I choose the path less traveled? Will I be more respected if I choose this profession over that one? Will I impress my friends if I am successful? Will they value me more because I have this skill? Will my partner think I am special? Will my parents be proud of me?” These are all questions that (subconsciously or consciously) go through my mind when trying to make a decision about my future career. Why do I care so much about what others think of me? Why do any of us care what others think is special or what their version of success is?

We grow up with our parents telling us what is right or wrong, our teachers telling us what to think, and our friends (in addition to the media) telling us what is cool or uncool and how to act. My older siblings constantly made fun of me; and reminded me often that what I thought was wrong, because I was too young or not smart enough. So all of these influences caused me to be a very insecure person, where I not only doubted my own decision-making ability but I thought I needed others’ approval, as well. I became the person that asked everyone I knew what they thought before making a decision for myself. I thought about the decision a lot, but in the end I trusted others more than myself.

Now, I would like to switch gears. How can we change our thoughts? I have recently read The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. According to Tolle, those thoughts of self-doubt and fear of rejection is due to the “voice in your head” (a.k.a. our ego). The voice that tells you, you are not good enough and criticizes you constantly. This is the same voice you have been listening to since childhood. You believe it and listen to it. How can you begin to trust yourself if the voice in your head or ego is constantly telling you, you will fail? At the end of the day, you are the only one who really has to be okay with the choices you have made. In The Power of Now, Tolle talks about  how living in the now and quieting your mind (your voice) can help you be more aware and present. You see, the voice in your head is in control when you listen to the fears, the doubts, the criticism, and the shame. But if you are in the present moment, you are in control, your senses are heightened and you are making the calls, not your voice (ego).

One simple way that I am learning to quiet the voice or ego, is a form of mindfulness. I sit somewhere quiet and undisturbed, I breathe deeply, and I check in with my body and my senses. What do I hear? What do I feel? When I take my attention off of my thoughts and into the present, the voice is gone and I am only aware of what is now. That is when the answers come, in silence. Then you can learn to trust what you feel instead of what your voice says. Trust your own intuition, instead of caring so much about what other people will think. I’ve learned the hard way that by asking so many people you will get way too many answers. Make a choice in the moment and if it does not end up pleasing to you, then make another choice.

Sometimes I have noticed that just by making a decision, I feel much better mentally, than before when I am feeling unsure. Sometimes, it is the fear of uncertainty that makes us worry, as mentioned above. Trust yourself and your past experiences that guide your intuition. I am someone that values “walking the talk”, so I decided to go back to college at age 33 to earn a bachelor’s degree. I am starting out taking two classes and then I will declare my major. One class is Creative Writing and the other is Psychology. They are both introductory classes and I hope to get a better feel for which profession draws me in. Or maybe I’ll choose both! 🙂 After all, we can always make another choice in each moment. If we are just able to stay present enough to do so, I think we will realize that making a decision is not as scary as the power we once gave it.

R.E.S.T.

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Rest, is the last thing I thought I would write about, this week. Lately, I have been filling my schedule with appointments, open mic nights, and setting up dates with friends and family. Last weekend, for the first time, I didn’t have plans Saturday and Sunday. I did  work Saturday, so I could have Friday off to celebrate Thanksgiving a day later, with my family, who was in town. I came home from work, surprisingly full of energy and in high spirits. I sat down, at the kitchen table, looked around, and realized I had nothing to do.  This was not a common occurrence for me. At first, my brain panicked. I thought to myself, “It is the weekend, I ought to do something!” But when I began to list things that I could do, one by one, I declined them all. I moved to the couch to pet my (adorable and cuddly) cat, Daisy, and just sat there in silence.

So much of my life, I made plans to stay busy; and did things that I thought I needed, in order to be happy. I plan my to-do list, things like going to get groceries or going to the gym (something to be accomplished). I plan creative activities to keep my imagination active (writing, playing music, games, etc.). I plan time for reading, so I am always learning; and I plan time for my relationships (friends, family, partner, etc.). Are these things bad or wrong? No; of course not. However, I do not need all of these things or activities to feel happy. This was a huge revelation for me. I was at home, doing nothing, and I felt great! I had tons of energy, and naturally thought that because of this excess energy, I should make plans with a loved one or should get something done. For the first time, I had a weekend where I did stuff, but there was nothing I had to do. I just sat still and felt my own body’s reaction to each thing and gauged  by that reaction what I wanted. It felt good. It was peaceful. It was stress-free. I did not have ridiculous expectations of things to get done or people to see. I allowed myself to just be.

Winter, as much as some of us dread this season, is the perfect time for rest. The days get shorter and so naturally our bodies feel tired, earlier than usual. Winter, is a time to rest and a time to reflect. Haven’t you noticed how everything seems to slow down during the winter? The rain turns to snow and suddenly the pace at which it falls slows, softens, and becomes almost magical. The traffic, though sometimes frustrating, becomes slower and people are more careful with their driving (hopefully). People often choose to stay in with their families rather than go out. I’m not saying to completely stop your life or stay in and watch Netflix every night, but winter is a nice excuse to give yourselves a break. Allow yourself rest and rejuvenation. Our bodies and our minds need to time to heal, time to renew.

People seem to associate productivity with success. It is the common belief that if we are busy and constantly doing something, then we will accomplish more. While it is good to have goals, this is not necessarily true. People even sacrifice their sleep because they pass it off as a waste of time or believe it will interfere with their productivity. Meanwhile, others are skipping meals and think that as long as they eat one meal or replace it with energy drinks, they will get more accomplished. Unfortunately, the opposite is true. If we are not letting our bodies and minds rest, we are not functioning at full capacity; therefore, we are actually getting less done in a longer amount of time. I know when I get sleep and proper nutrition, I feel fresh and alert. Thoughts and ideas come to me faster, my body feels full of energy and less sore, and even my attitude is improved and ready to take on more.

Typically, my challenges for you to apply to your lives and “take home” often involve taking action. In this case, it is quite the opposite. I challenge (a.k.a. encourage) you to find time each and every day for rest. I am not talking about sleep, though I would hope you are getting your eight or nine hours of sleep every night. I am referring to time where you are doing nothing but sitting and relaxing. This also does not include your TV, phone, radio, or any other electronic device that this world has invented. This is you, being silent, allowing your body and mind to be at peace for at least 30 minutes every day. Are you up for the challenge? Let me know how it goes! Tell me what has changed, once you incorporated this new habit into your schedule? It seems like a silly thing, but I would not be surprised to hear back from several of you, that this activity of doing nothing, became the most favorite part of your day! Whether you are a mother or father or single or married, this is YOUR time. This holiday season, give yourself the gift of REST:

Recover

Energize

Simplify

Take It One Day At A Time

 

Let It Be

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What does it mean to “Let it be”? We have all heard this phrase at one time or another, but do we truly know and fully understand what it means? In my resent re-discovery of this phrase, I have found it to mean, to allow. When I think about letting it be, I think of no longer resisting what is. We are always pushing against something that we do not want, but by this active pushing we are constantly pouring our energy into things that we do not want, instead of allowing what we do want. We give attention to negativity and by doing this we attract more negativity into our lives. I am constantly hearing others complain about everything they dislike, while noticing that not very many people speak praise about what is going well in their lives.

When we are upset, a lot of people may tell us to just let it go and forget about it. This is not easy to do when you’re emotions are high and you are currently feeling hurt or angry. This is why to me it is more important to learn how to let things be. I am learning about mindfulness; and what it teaches me is how to sit with my emotions. It does not say to forget or neglect your feelings, quite the opposite, in fact. Mindfulness challenges us to understand why we are feeling what we are and to dig deeper into those emotions through objective observation. When we can separate ourselves from our feelings and turn into an observer, we can then come to a better understanding of why we feel what we do and how to be okay and sit in that uncomfortable awareness of what is and that which we cannot control. It is an amazing way to learn, grow, and transform your life. Mindfulness is a skill in which you can develop your ability to live your life with more clarity and awareness.

I challenge you to join me in practicing the act of letting it be. Going forward when you feel strong emotions coming on, do not ignore or fear your deep feelings. Instead, observe them and find out what is really going on. If you are in tune with your body, it will tell you what you need. So many times, I have ignored my own intuition or what my body was telling me and the result was that I was resisting what I truly needed for my life or for my health. I believe, that if we have something to learn in life, we cannot move forward until we learn that lesson. If our body is telling us it is in pain, we need to figure out why and how we can change and develop better habits. Letting it be does not mean to do nothing. Yes; we are sitting with our emotions in order to face reality, but mindfulness is an active tool that we use to LIVE our life, not run away from it or avoid it. I am not sure where you are presently or what is currently going on in your life, but I do know that by being mindful and allowing good things to happen in your life by letting the not so good things be. A large part of allowing and letting things be, is trust (or if you are spiritual, faith). You are choosing to trust that everything is as it should be. You are also choosing to trust yourself with how you are feeling and knowing that you can handle what comes your way, but you need to listen and observe.

I would love to hear updates on those of you that are taking up the challenge and practice of mindfulness and letting it be. Feel free to share your thoughts, comments, concerns, insights, etc. As always thanks for reading! 🙂

Facing The Mirror

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Often, in life, we are running so fast to the next thing that we forget to stop and look around where we currently are. Well, my life felt suddenly halted when my relationship ended. I was happy with whom I chose as my partner and I thought this person was going to be my partner for life. Though we had different ways of handling things and communicating, I wanted to work together to figure out our balance and work through our challenges as they arose. Well, it didn’t work out that way. They decided that I wasn’t the one they wanted to be with. In their eyes, it was more stress than happiness and it no longer served them to be with me. This is still not an easy truth for me to grasp, but it is out of my control. What is in my control is how I choose to handle this change in my life. I cannot change their mind or go back in time to make things right, so I am choosing to focus on me, right now, where I am.

Naturally, the necessary lesson I am learning right now, is acceptance. This is a tough one for me. I have often spent time looking behind me at what once was and / or looking forward to what I want or what could be (living in my head). If we are never in the moment, however; we cannot appreciate what is. I have been replaying the past in my mind and wishing that I could have made different choices or learned to respond and not react so that my relationship still existed. This is very unproductive and not reality. So I’ve decided it is time to snap out of it and realize that this is where I am at now. There is nothing I can do to take back what was said or done. All I can do is learn and grow today from whom I was yesterday. I am happy to report that I am learning how to really listen and then respond, instead of becoming defensive and reactive with my emotions. No one else really knows my real heart and my true intentions, so unless I can become a better communicator, then I will remain a mystery or someone that is often misunderstood. Another benefit of acceptance is that it forces me to deal with reality, as mentioned above. So this led me to step two, accepting myself.

Regardless, if you are in an intimate relationship or not, you need to love and accept yourself. When my relationship ended, I blamed myself for everything that went wrong, thinking if only I was different or better, but this only left me feeling worthless and depleted. It didn’t take me long to change those thoughts of “not being good enough” to feeling compassion and love for myself. No one else is going to fill me with love; it is up to me. I decided to be okay with my own flaws and stop comparing myself to others. I can only be better than I was yesterday and I don’t have to be what my partner needed me to be. I am me and there is nothing wrong with that. Even though, I accept myself and where I am at today, I still decided I wanted to look into the dark sides of me and learn how to grow without my partner needing me to. I’m doing it for myself, so that I am okay with or without anyone else, but if I do find a life partner one day, I want to be ready.

It is hard to admit ones flaws and shortcomings. I am taking a hard look at myself and my insecurities that arose in the relationship. One big thing for me is the fear of abandonment. Due to this fear, I have become attached to people in my life and thus have expectations from them. Though I am no longer co-dependent in my relationships (as I was in my 20s), I still lack trust in others due to my fear of them leaving. I question their motives, instead of accepting that it is their reality and realizing that other people’s choices are not about me, but really about them and their life. This concept is still hard for me to grasp. I must realize that my partner leaving was really about my partner, not about me. I felt crushed that they didn’t feel our relationship was worth fighting for, but that was only the story I told myself upon hearing the news. This is also how I felt when my mom left my dad. I was a baby (18 months old) and I grew up feeling like I didn’t have a mom, because she chose to leave us and didn’t feel it was worth the fight to have us in her life. So I developed a story in my head that says “everyone always leaves me” or “I’m not good enough to love” or “I have to earn love”. I am changing that story to “things change and nothing is permanent” and “it is not always about me”. I am learning to detach from things and rely on myself to be strong, to be loved, and to feel like I am enough.

The truth is, life goes on with or without you. I choose to live my life with gratitude, peace, and love in my heart. I don’t want to be bitter, angry, or resentful at the things in which I have no control over. I want to be better tomorrow than I was yesterday and to keep growing and evolving. I am spending a lot of time in solitude and really facing myself in the mirror and facing all of my fears head on. I don’t need others to make me happy, though they add joy to my life; it can only come from within. If you are also struggling with change, please know that you are loved and you are good enough and accept where you are at right now and know that nothing is permanent. Change is constant and your pain will heal if you can walk or even crawl through it. Choose compassion and love always and you will find peace again.

The Road Less Traveled

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(Actual  path – picture taken by me)

“Two roads diverged in a wood and I – I took the one less traveled by.” 

— Robert Frost 

Yesterday, after a rather frustrating day of work, I decided to go to a nearby lake to relax and rejuvenate. I sat near the water, away from others, and watched the water roll into small, rippling waves. I felt the cool breeze on my face and breathed in the fresh air.  Across the street there is a park with a walking path that goes into the woods. When I walk there I typically stay on the paved path, because that is what is set out before me; that is what I know. As I neared the top of the first short hill I found myself at a crossroad, that actually looked more like a piece sign, instead of a “T” or “Y” shape. I looked to my left and there was a shorter paved path that simply looped back to the beginning of the trail, for those who perhaps wanted a quicker loop. Then, to my near right, was a longer paved path which would allow others to keep walking for a bit longer. Finally, to my right, there was a narrow dirt path that led to…Well I don’t know. I often wondered where it went. I decided that I didn’t want to walk the same path I often walk, but to take the new path and explore. So I did.

I began to walk along the dirt path and the first thing I stumbled upon, after going down a small hill, was railroad tracks. This actually reminded me of my childhood when I used to walk along train tracks and think by myself (Yes; even as a child I was pensive). I kept walking onto the trail again and for some reason, being in the middle of the woods, I started getting nervous after hearing rustling sounds and strange noises coming from the trees and the bushes. My thoughts turned to irrational things like being attacked by a wolf or a coyote! All of a sudden I came to a clearing and in someone’s yard a frozen wolf was staring at me! I stopped suddenly (and so did my heart) staring wide eyed back and frozen myself. And then I saw this “scary wolf” was only a yard ornament. Whew! So I started to relax and enjoy my walk full of noises and creatures. I came upon a clearing and saw a couple of bunnies hopping across and one was chasing a bird. I continued to walk on this dirt path, back into the woods until I saw another opening and I realized it was the paved road. Knowing this paved path was less interesting and rather predictable, I decided to turn around and go back the way I came.

The way back on this dirt path was far less scary. I heard the same scary noises and saw the “scary wolf” figurine, but I wasn’t afraid. It turns out the unknown was more fearful in my mind than in reality. Before my walk was over, I paused to watch the flight of a butterfly. It migrated from flower to flower (rather a pretty weed) and flew all around really quickly until it landed on another. I was hypnotized by its bright orange wings and its delicate flight pattern. It was so serene. I finished my walk feeling clear-minded and reflective. I realized I was ready to take a new path, whatever it was and wherever it may lead. I am bored by my routine and safety. Though I may be scared to try something new, I think it will also be beautiful and adventurous along the way. I guess we’ll have to see where this new path will take me, the path less traveled.

De-Clutter Your Life (Part 2)

Hi there. I am back, with only slight progress. I am taking the advice I have received along with my own thoughts and reflections from the past week-and-a-half. So this is where I am at and what I have processed…

First of all, I have realized that lately (the past few months) ALL of my friends and family have become extremely busy and I have been only spending time with my partner (which is normal for most people, but not for me). At first, I felt hurt and lonely that no one was calling me or reaching out to spend time with me. I was contemplating that maybe I reached a new time in my life where I needed to find new friends that matched my current state of life contemplations or develop new hobbies to busy my new-found free time. Now, I am realizing that the Universe is simply allowing me to take time for myself and get back to figuring out what makes me feel complete and happy (even though I was not using this time effectively, until now). It seems I often rely on my connections and relationships with others to feel value or contentment in life; because love and relationships with people is what I value, but it doesn’t have to be what gives ME value.

I have never been good at “being alone”. I grew up as the youngest of three older brothers and an older step-sister. So I often had to play alone (since they always ditched me to hang with their older friends) if my friends were busy. I constantly complained to my step-mom that I was bored and she would offer to have me help with chores or find something else to do. I, of course, most often chose to find another activity (other than chores), but I always felt like it was hard to entertain myself. Why am I telling you all of this? I am telling you because I am in the exact same situation as when I was a child. I feel bored and lonely (as still a very social person who often fills my time with the people I love on a weekly basis) and none of my friends or family members are available to spend time together.

So this brings me to square one. My life stopped being chaotic with plans with people every day and week. I have the opportunity to choose how I want to spend my time. I have lately felt like going to work every day is very unsatisfying and I’m often bored as there are fewer customers that I have to help for the last few hours of my work day. I started poor eating habits when I went home and eating or drinking later and staying up watching Netflix. I realized that leaves me feeling tired and achy all day long. I haven’t been exercising my body or my brain. So while this may fulfill others, I cannot keep going like this.

From the advice I have received thus far, I am learning to meditate on things (situations that leave me feeling a lot of negative emotions) and then trying to let it go. Examples of this is the feeling of being alone and the feeling of abandonment when people are too busy to call me or spend time with me. There is deep rooted pain that comes along with this, that right now is not the time to go into, but trust me, there is more than what it seems. I have to remember to not take it personally and realize that this just happens sometimes people are just busy and they are not avoiding me or abandoning me and it is okay to be alone and rejuvenate. Often, in fact, it is a blessing in disguise.

The second piece of advice I am beginning to practice is to find out what feels good and if it does not feel good to me, I decide to no longer do it. An example of this is that I stay up too late watching Netflix and do not sleep well if I have a glass of wine too late or too much of it. So now, I am beginning to read the last 15 minutes of bedtime and in the morning instead of waking up to check my phone, I eat my breakfast and then read again for about 15 minutes. This way before I sleep and when I start my day, my head is filled with peace and quiet instead of electronics and excitement.

I have not completely de-cluttered my life, of course, and this is a process, so there will be a part 3 next week to sum it up a bit better. This week, I wanted to check in with everyone on my progress and see if anyone else is trying to change their habits, or stop negative thoughts, or de-clutter their personal life.

Thoughts, comments, more advice, shared experiences?

~ Karen

*Thanks again for taking the time to read my blog!

 

De-Clutter Your Life (Part 1)

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Sometimes we all need a break from all of the chaos we call life. How do we sort through everything in our minds so that we can once again think and see clearly? I tend to be overwhelmed when I am thinking about many things at once. I have to almost compartmentalize all of these things into categories or order of importance or sometimes distract myself all together on something meaningless so that my brain will stop hurting. Overthinking is for sure a “killjoy” activity as well as worrying. So how do we solve our chaos without being overwhelmed by it?

Just last week I painted the room I am renting, in a house I moved into recently. The walls were two different tan colors and there were holes and chipped paint from previous wall hangings and decor. I decided on a blue color for the simple fact that it was one of my favorite colors and it was also a calming yet happy color for a bedroom. I had to take everything out of the room and put it all back. I had only been there for a month, yet somehow clutter had already begun to take over my room. To my defense this room is very small and it does not take much to make it look crowded. Nevertheless, I covered the holes, painted the room blue, and organized a bit more as I put everything back. I could not believe the difference it made. My whole mood and attitude toward this once small and dingy room to now beautiful and perfect little room had changed dramatically. My room had a make-over, a fresh start.

So this got me thinking, what do I need to do to de-clutter, to start again? What is necessary and unnecessary in my life? How do I decide what fits and what needs to be thrown out? What does it mean for a person to get a fresh coat of paint? This week, I am tasking myself with this, so this blog entry is to be continued until I decided how I can do this. When I am feeling old, worn out, and small, how do I feel beautiful and perfect again?

 

To be continued….

I welcome all and any thoughts, comments, or suggestion to this topic, “De-Clutter Your Life.”

As always thanks for reading!! 🙂

The Attitude of Gratitude

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This past month, I have experienced a lot of emotionally and physically draining situations. I haven’t been in the best place in terms of my thoughts, moods, and emotions. I am going through so many different transitions in my life, where I am having difficulty seeing “the good” lately. I have moments of clarity and peace, of joy and positivity, and then it fades and I resume to my gloomy and negative outlook. It seems like one thing after another happens that causes me stress and inner conflict. It leaves me feeling like I can’t catch a break. Though, I have learned by now that many things in life are fleeting and that the only constant in life is change, it is still sometimes hard to see the silver lining. So how can I have a better outlook on life and the way I feel about my current situation? Well, many of the books I have been reading have touched on the idea of gratitude and it has peeked my interest. As I looked further into it, I found that many others have discovered the idea how developing the attitude of gratitude can greatly improve one’s overall health and happiness.

It’s strange to think that having a different perspective alone can change our whole feeling and attitude about our life or some aspect of it. An example would be when someone is initially miserable but then experiences a near-death experience and suddenly has a new appreciation and zest for life; now realizing that they have been given a second chance. That same person wakes up excited about their day and happy to be alive. But why should we need to have such a dramatic life altering event in order to see things or life differently? Can we change our attitude without having a near-death experience? If so, how?

Like anything else, the attitude of gratitude is a skill. So how do we get better at something? We practice. While practice doesn’t make perfect, as they try to say, it does make it easier. Remember learning a new skill or sport when you were a kid? It felt awkward and unfamiliar at first, but each time you did it, you got a little better and it became a little easier to do. Well the same can be said for practicing an attitude of gratitude. You get better by doing it and putting it to practice. Many people that have improved their lives through gratitude have all said very similar advice when you first get started. They say before you go to bed at night (or when you get up in the morning) to say one to three things you are grateful for in your life, and to do this daily.

Gradually, your attitude starts to change and you are suddenly putting more focus on what you are grateful for and happy about in your life, instead of the things that you are unhappy about. Many will tell you that when they focus on these grateful thoughts, they start to attract more of these positive things into their life. In return, you get more of what you want and less of what you don’t want. Why does this happen? Perhaps, your change in perspective makes you realize that you are happy with what you have, instead of being in a constant state of wanting more. What a dissatisfying way to live, always wanting more and never having enough. Yet, we all do it. What is wrong with wanting more? Nothing, but by constantly complaining about what you don’t have or how unhappy you are, you are never turning your attention to what you do want, so you’ll just stay in your slump and never find your way out, unless you change your attitude.

Lastly, I want to tell you that I am currently just starting this habit myself. This is why I can only share what I am learning from others at this point. I occasionally stopped to be thankful, but it never became a habit, so I never had the mind altering change of waking up every day grateful to be alive and happy to be exactly where I am in life. It doesn’t have to be this huge, dramatic event in your life, but instead a gradual change of habit and thought pattern. In the end, I believe it will reduce my daily stress, improve my relationships (because I’m appreciating them), help me to sleep better at night (because I’m worrying less), and then I’ll have better overall health (because I won’t be constantly making myself sick with worry). I see only upsides on this. So why don’t you join in starting this practice today, right now.

I’m grateful for the ability to learn new lessons in life and grow every day. I’m grateful for my life and the relationships I am blessed with. I’m grateful for the ability to write and share myself with the world with an open heart and mind. Thank you for taking the time out of your busy life to read my blog and listen to my deepest thoughts each week.

What About Me?

Receving-Love-MLM-Quote

I’ve had many conversations surrounding the same issue or concern, as of late. The issue being, how difficult it can be for someone that considers themself a “giver” to actually give in the same way as they do to others, unto to themself. It also begs the question of when is enough, enough? How long will you put yourself in a situation that is unfair or unhealthy to you, instead of saving yourself or giving unto yourself, what you actually want and need?

I have had jobs, living situations, and intimate relationships in the past that did not fit my current needs and sometimes were even unhealthy for me. Someone recently asked me, if I was wondering how I did it for so long. She begged the question, “What makes us learn to put up with, adapt and cope, instead of choosing to change or get out of our uncomfortable situation?” I wondered that many times myself. Why is it sometimes easier to cope with an unhealthy situation, to settle and make-do, than to make the change for a healthier choice? All my questions seem to lead me to the same answer, self-love.

When I was in a four-year relationship over six years ago, I often only focused on the other person. If they needed something I would bend over backwards to get it and never questioned my choices. I let the other person in the relationship finish school while I paid the bills and set aside my own desire to finish school until the reverse could happen. It felt good to give and help someone I cared about at the time. In the end, however, it only left me resentful and lost when we broke up. I thought I was happy in the small world I made, with just the two of us, that I was blinded and cheated by my own doing. I couldn’t blame anyone else but myself. For four years, I didn’t think about my own identity, what I wanted in life, in my career, and so on. So I spent the next two years healing from all the hurt in that relationship and the next four trying to figure out who I really am without that other person and what I really wanted. What I found out is, I needed to spend a lot more time loving myself and increasing my confidence in who I am and what I have to offer.

We spend so much time trying to fill the void with other things, people, money, hobbies, religious activities, etc. When all we really need to do is love ourselves and appreciate who we are and where we are right now, in each moment. Why are we so hard on ourselves? We often give our loved ones a pass when they make a mistake or do something silly, but when we ourselves do the same things, we often ridicule and resent ourselves. We call ourselves names like “stupid”, “incapable”, “unlovable”, or “unwanted”. That is never true, but we start to believe what we are saying to ourselves and it becomes our personal truth. I guess my whole point in this, is to tell you to be gentle with yourself and talk nicely to yourself. Give yourself a break for once and encourage yourself that you can achieve great things! You are so loveable, worthy of that love, and you are pretty fucking special!