A Winter’s Storm

IMG_4647

It is so easy to get caught up in a storm. The winds are blowing, the snow is falling, the roads get icy, and the sky becomes a confusing, white haze. What do you do? Slow down and try to drive through it or stop, pull over and wait it out? Do you fear the winter storm or do you admire its beauty? The grass has turned brown, the trees have lost its leaves, and the once bright and colorful world has turned grey and lifeless. But then, something marvelous happens, the snow peacefully falls and covers it all. The sun glistens off the snow and you can see the individual snowflakes glisten.

I recently sat in my car, at work, as the snow began to fall, and watched one by one as each snow flake landed on my window. Each snowflake was unique and majestic in its own way. I can’t remember the last time I watched the snow fall, so intently, that I was able to see the delicately detailed and intricate design of each one. From far away, the snow falling may appear as little, white, round balls falling from the sky, uniformly, and the same. But this is not the case; not one is the same. As I sat and thought about this amazing miracle, I thought about people and how when grouped together we can appear to be the same, but when looking closely we each have our own unique features, our own personality, and our own path.

It made me wonder…

Why do people try to group each other as one? Why do so many people want to “fit in” and be like everyone else? Why, if I am placed into one group, can I not fit into another group? We fear being different and we fear the differences we see in others. Our egos feed off of feeling superior over one another.

Why can’t we also sit in awe of our uniqueness and celebrate its beauty? A snowflake does not compare itself to the other snowflakes or try to exclude other snowflakes from its natural grouping as it falls. I think it is natural for humans to pick out similarities and differences and come together and that is okay, but why must we be exclusive to others? Our fight-or-flight response kicks in and we feel the need to defend our honor, but in reality, there is no real danger. The only enemy we are usually facing is ourselves, our ego.

I think nature helps to remind us of how things may have been intended. I was grateful for this reminder that we are not groups, we are individuals. I think it is important when thinking this way to also treat people this way. We are not all the same. Just because one person in a certain group chooses to do something you do not agree with does not mean that everyone else is also going to be a threat.

When I was young I was taught in church that we are all sinners and imperfect and that only God is perfect and that we can never be. But now that I am older, I am learning more about who I think God is, and I am realizing that it is not so. We are all perfect just as we are, because we are all created as such.

Sometimes I catch myself going to open mic nights or performing with other singer/songwriters and I start comparing myself to them. My lyrics are better or their guitar skills are way more advanced, or why do they have more fans? I feel really silly later that I let these thoughts enter in my mind. A friend recently reminded me that we are all on our own journey and that where I am today is exactly where I am supposed to be. I know this to be true, but when those thoughts take over, it is difficult to remember and apply these truths when your ego is telling you lies. My ego says things like, “You aren’t good enough” and “they are making it and you are not.” Or “you will never get paid to play your music and “people want to hear covers not your songs.” How awful is that! Why do we listen to these lies? What lies are you telling yourself? How can you change your thoughts? Why do we allow these thoughts and fears to control us?

Then another reminder came from a friend, she said, “You may not be where you want to be, but look how far you’ve come! You’ve got to celebrate your accomplishments and be proud of what you do have, instead of being hard on yourself for what you do not have.” It’s a funny and karmic thing when your friends are feeding you back all of the same advice that you have given them. So from one harsh critic to another, be gentle with yourself and be patient. You can’t accomplish everything overnight and those that do usually find it doesn’t last. You either fall as fast as you arrive or you want more and are never satisfied. So celebrate the now, be grateful for being here, and be happy with what you do have.

My take home point is this: We are all wonderfully made, like delicate and ornate snowflakes and though we may look alike, none of us are the same, not one. We are all made beautiful and special in our own unique way. Cheesy or not, it is true. I forget that from time to time, so I thought I’d remind you as well. You are so extraordinary and you are perfect just as you are. So don’t be so hard on yourself. You are worthy of love and you are enough.

 

R.E.S.T.

relax-and-renew-e1372679309440

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

MindfulneSS

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

accept-yourself-small

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.

De-Clutter Your Life (Part 3)

loneliness

I suppose this is the post where I tell all of my wonderful discoveries and amazing inside secrets that will change your lives forever, right? That is what is expected when there are sequels with anything. Whether it is a book, a movie, or a blog, in the final part, sequel, or section, there is a conclusion, there to wrap everything up in a neat little bow. Well, unfortunately I’m here to report there is no conclusion. Surprised? Me too. Sometimes I have an epiphany and all of a sudden I think I have things all figured out. Life becomes clear and simple, until of course when it doesn’t. Here’s the absolute truth: Life is a process, followed by a process, oh yeah and then there’s a process. It rather kills me to say that, but no matter what, we cannot fight the truth, because it will always be there staring us right in the face. Even if at first we choose to ignore it, it will always just be there patiently waiting for you to arrive.

There are many times in my life where I am learning lessons. This one is that everyone has their own way of being happy, their own process, their own methods to de-clutter. I often seek advice from friends and family, but this time is different. I realized that I need to start to trust my own inner voice and what it is telling me. I need to learn to be still with myself and push away all of the chatter. I need to tell the mean little girl in my head that tells me I am not smart enough or good enough or talented enough to take a hike because I don’t want her in my life anymore. I only want people (including myself) that believe in me and my journey, my process.

In the process of attempting to figure out how to de-clutter my life, I feel like it is happening from the inside out. For the past two weeks, I have felt overly sensitive and emotional. I have felt lonely, angry, and hurt. I have cried more in the last two weeks than I have in a normal year! I know that is my soul yearning for purpose and change. Even though I don’t know exactly what it will look like, I know that I am being blessed everyday and one step closer to my next change, my next process.

I choose what to fill my life with and how to spend my time. I choose what I value and what I don’t, what is good for me and what is not. I choose to listen and dwell in negativity or to look for the good. I choose to be at war or to be at peace. You choose for your own life and if you see someone else struggling, remind them that they always have a choice and remember that you cannot do it for them. You can be supportive for someone else but you cannot live for them, only they can. My analysis, that you have to get through the tough shit to get to the good shit and it is a cycle and it is process. Learn to trust the process. Learn to trust in yourself. Learn to accept yourself for who you are and where you are in life and be excited for what’s to come.

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!

 

Faith

MARTIN~1

I didn’t know I was going to write about Faith, until yesterday. I spent the last two days thinking and writing about FEAR and how it can affect us. But then something happened and I was given a rather unique reminder by a TEDTV clip (that a friend liked on Facebook) about FAITH. Well, it was more about the art of asking; asking for money or asking for help, but to me that translated to faith. By asking for anything you are allowing yourself to become vulnerable and to rely on others. That also means you have to have faith in people, in their goodness, in their desire to help and reach out, etc. It made me think about my own faith; faith in myself and in others.

You see, I have spent my money and time on education for careers that were not really what I wanted and jobs that do not define me or excite me. I worked for a paycheck, not for passion. Through trial and error and my parents (among others) telling me that my dreams were unrealistic and that it would be impossible to get paid to write songs and perform them. So I gave up before I even began. I have kept my hobbies and still enjoy the activities, but I go to work each day unsatisfied and unfulfilled. My parents tell me that “In their day, people went to work to provide for their families, not to find fulfillment in life.” But why do we have to live a life of “have to” or “ought to” instead of “want to” and “love to”?

I have recently been playing out at open mic nights again, where it is an open stage to share your talents. I signed up for some music/hobby related groups and met a few people who now are asking me to play a show at a coffee shop, a restaurant, and even a brewery. I may not be making any money yet, but it gives me hope that I am back on the right path. I lost faith that it was my calling, my destiny. Now, without a ton of effort, these shows are coming to me! I had faith to get back out there and do what I love and hope that others would appreciate my music and my lyrics.

Now that I am getting occasional gigs, I need to send out invites and advertise myself and have faith that my friends and family will show up to see me. When I decide I want to make a CD or start charging a cover, I need to have faith that people will want to pay for the music and entertainment that I provide. On the TEDTV talk Amy Palmer spoke of this giving and receiving and that it is not about making people give you money, it is about asking and knowing that you are giving them something back in return…yourself. I pour my heart and soul into my lyrics. I sing about the lessons I’ve learned, the pain and joy I’ve gone through, and the love I’ve gained and lost. I have enough trust to share my inner most thoughts, so why dont’t I have faith to live it?

I feel like faith or trust is something we have almost immediately from the time we are born. As we get older, we may have experiences where we get hurt, abused, or abandoned, and that faith and that trust is broken. It is hard to do, but in order to live a more fulfilling life I must learn to believe in myself, in my abilities and trust that others will do the same. How can anyone else believe in me and my music if I myself do not? Faith is in our actions. Faith is taking the first step and trusting that the next step will be there when you reach it. Faith is falling into someone’s arms and trusting they will catch you. Faith and love go hand in hand. I believe these are the secrets to living a happy life.

Because You’re Worth It

selflovequote1-300x300

Relationships are tough. Whether it is a work relationship, a friendship, or an intimate relationship with a lover, you may find that you do not always operate on the same page or even the same frequency. I used to be a horrible communicator and someone that could not control my emotions; my emotions controlled me. Until I realized that I am the one in control and I don’t have to hide my emotions, but I can be in charge of them, as well as being in charge of my own actions.

Growing up, I was the youngest, and felt constantly picked on my older siblings (3 older brothers and an older sister). I developed what some might call the “victim role”. I carried that role through my early twenties. I would often think “poor me”, “why do I always get the short end of the stick”, “I always finish last”, etc. These thoughts were very self-defeating. When someone offended me or cut me off in traffic, I skipped right past irritated and upset and immediately went into a rage mode. This was a very unhealthy way of living, with my emotions so extreme. Sometimes, I was super excited and hyper and then really sad and depressed, etc. Some psychologists try to label me bi-polar or depressed or abused or all of these things that gave them a way to deal with me and an excuse to prescribe me medicine and send me out the door. I never bought it for a moment. All I ever needed was someone to listen to what I was going through, to understand and relate, and to appreciate me for who I was, instead of trying to change me.

I have dated a lot. I have gone through some pretty unhealthy and crazy relationships where I learned a lot of bad habits from others who also had emotional tendencies to get out of hand. In my late twenties I took a year off and tried to date again, but I wasn’t ready, so I took two years off. I took the time to get to know myself and better understand why I reacted the way I did and how I could change my reactions and try to be more objective instead. I have come a long way from my early twenties and I am really proud that I can be the master of my own mind, body, and soul. Sometimes, my mind still tries to play tricks on me, telling me things like “you’re not good enough” or “no one is ever going to love you” but I remind myself that these are only my insecurities and that I am worth it.

I guess the biggest lesson I learned is that before I can have a healthy relationship with anyone else, I need to have a healthy relationship with myself. I need to treat myself with love and respect and be my own hero and protector. I can’t expect anyone else to do that for me. I want to love others because of who they are as individuals, not what they can do for me or how they can make me happy. I need to feel happy because of my own inner self, not any external factors.

Many times the reason why people are fighting is because of their own ego. We all have the innate tendency to defend our own beliefs. Our fears bring out all of our insecurities and ugly lies that we tell ourselves. We become defensive, insecure, argumentative, and judgmental. So let’s take the time to be still and find our peace and inner balance so that our egos do not get in the way of our love. Love is the opposite of fear. Love is patient, understanding, a good listener, open-minded, and peaceful. Let’s choose to love ourselves and love others…because we are worth it.

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!

Believing In The Im-Possible

IM POSSIBLE

In the past two years alone, I have started reading more books related to self-development. Many of these books are meant to encourage, inspire, and improve the lives of anyone who reads them. For me, the main focus for reading these types of books has been removing self-doubt and discovering my gifts, along with practicing a lot of self-love. There was a problem I ran into, when first starting to read these amazing books, however; I was not at that point yet where I believed that anything is indeed possible.

From the time we are babies up to our teenage years we are molded into what our teachers and parents lead us to be, but it changes as we get older. For example, when we are little they might encourage us to “follow our dreams” and tell us that “we can be or do anything” we want to in life. As we get older and are nearing the end of our high school career, we are often not being told the same message as when we were younger. Instead, we are encouraged to “go to college” so we can “get a good job” and become “responsible adults” who pay our bills. The focus shifts and we are no longer supposed to dream or believe like we did when we were kids. We are not told to “shoot for the stars” and that “the sky is the limit”. So now, like myself, you may have likely developed a mentality that is self-limiting, self-defeating, and truly believe whole-heartedly that not everything is possible and you must work hard for your money.

My goal here today is to address the idea of how we view ourselves and how we can overcome the barriers that have either been set up for us from a young age or that we ourselves have put in place. How do we get from an “I can’t do anything” standpoint to an “I can do anything I set my mind to” outlook in life? This is where the hard work comes in. The most difficult changes and growth I have experienced in my life have been related to my strong-held beliefs and my old ways of thinking that were molded into me and set in stone as a child. The past several years I have had to chizel away, little by little, until my true self has been broken free and taken shape out of much hard work and dedication. Changing your beliefs does not happen overnight, but over time.

The start can be simple choices like when there is an opportunity that arises that is a little out of your comfort zone and you notice it makes you nervous or even scared. This is when you face that challenge instead of avoiding it or running from it. Whether it is an oppotunity to try something new for the first time or doing something that you love but maybe takes courage. An example in my life is that I love to sing and play guitar. In fact, I write my own songs. When an opportunity comes to me to play in front of a live audience, it excites me and freaks me out at the same time. I start doubting my ability and wonder if anyone will actually enjoy my original songs or what happens if I forget my lyrics in the middle of playing?! How embarrassing that would be! This is the best time to change your thought pattern in each moment like this. Instead of thinking, “this is too much” and “what if I mess up?” I replace those thoughts with “I can totally do this” and “what if I am amazing and everyone loves my music”. Instantly, I feel better and turn my fear into confidence and enthusiasm and my doubts are diminished with more positive emotions. In each choice we make, we can slowly change the way we think from more negative and self-defeating to positive and encouraging. Though I am still a “work-in-progress”, while molding my thoughts each day, I am excited to see the masterpeice that will come out of this wonderful new change in habit. I am choosing to let go of what I am “supposed to look like” and “who I am supposed to be”; no longer having an image in mind of what I want to be, but stay open to the possiblilities (pun intended) to what I will become. I’m possible.