discovery · goals · happiness · obstacles · self

FALL In Love With Life [2]: Let Nothing Destroy Your Joy

This is the second post in a three-part series FALL IN LOVE WITH LIFE which I hope will inspire you to regain control, discover what matters, embrace change, and get back to living a life you love.

In the previous post STOP PLAYING THE BLAME GAME I shared how viewing our difficulties solely as the result of external circumstances could lead us to believe we have no control. Blaming outside forces for our inability to reach goals is not only unproductive, it can be destructive, particularly if we project our frustration or resentment onto other people. Making and relying on excuses prevents us from gaining insight into what we want and the reasons we are not getting it.

PART TWO: LET NOTHING DESTROY YOUR JOY

We need to go back to the beginning and define What We Want. This can be difficult because our instinct is to make a list of every little thing we wish was different in our lives. That is a trap, a distraction, and unrealistic. Instead, we need to look deep within and diagnose What Is Missing. What is that ONE thing that is not working or broken?

This. This is what we want.

Discovering the core want has two benefits:

  • While it often seems we have many things to repair, there is usually a primary issue disrupting other areas and creating imbalance. Working to correct one can heal and improve others.
  • If we dedicate our thoughts and energy on one topic, the focus becomes clearer, the task appears less daunting, and our success is more likely. We realize real change is possible. We can do this.

First, ASK and ANSWER the tough questions:

1) WHAT WOULD YOU DO?
Think about what is missing. If you had unlimited free time, how would you spend it? On a hobby, travel, education, self-care, a goal, certain people? Write down everything you would do without the worry of a job, caring for others, home projects, etc. Once you see what your heart desires, rank them. What comes out on top? That is your Joy – pursue it.

2) WHAT HOLDS YOU BACK?
Determine what stands in the way. There is something preventing you from getting what you want – people, things/clutter, chores, self-esteem, fear, confidence, guilt, money. Yes, some things are out of your current control. There are people who need you and places you must be. Find the workable things you can simplify, delegate, prioritize, influence, or change.

3) WHAT ARE YOU HIDING BEHIND?
Be realistic but more importantly, be real. Pinpoint the excuses you use to procrastinate, distract, or even sabotage progress. Chronicle your actions for a week. Is it perfectionism, unnecessary tasks, perceived needs of others, your personality? You might be surprised to realize you waste a lot of time. Only when you accept your role and responsibility can you bring about change.

4) WHAT IS THE COST?
When we fail to nurture the person we want to be, we lose something. Frustration and resentment over not getting what we want can lead to broken relationships, poor health, risky behaviors, a lack of purpose, and a desperate search for peace. What do you pay for not doing what you want?

HONESTY is a requirement. When we believe we are stuck and just going through the motions, like our desires are not met, or that we are ignored, rejected, invisible to the outside world … THIS is when we must look inward and find out what lies at the heart of our frustration. Because that is precisely what frustration is: not getting what we want, expect, or need.

For me, it was an inability to make time to write effectively. I battled stress which led to emotional exhaustion which led to physical fatigue, procrastination, unrealistic expectations, and a life out of balance. I was letting go. In most instances letting go can be a positive move. The problem arises when we are constantly required to let go of the things that bring us joy in order to make room for things that do not. I got tired of putting off – my time, my aspirations, my dreams, my life.

LIFE IS NOT SOMETHING WE SHOULD EVER PUT OFF.

I challenge you to figure out what is missing and when you do, do everything in your power to reclaim it. Become committed to giving yourself more of what you want. Find a way. There is always a way.

Research multiple solutions
Develop a flexible plan
Delegate when possible
Let go of what does not matter
Prioritize what does matter
Determine the motivation
Take small steps and reward yourself with big happiness whenever you overcome one

CREATE A LIFE WITH YOU IN IT.

NEXT TIME: Tips for digging deeper.


Photo by Sandis Helvigs at Unsplash

acceptance · change · goals · obstacles · self

FALL In Love With Life [1]: Stop Playing The Blame Game

This is the first post in a three-part series FALL IN LOVE WITH LIFE which I hope will inspire you to regain control, discover what matters, embrace change, and get back to living a life you love.

PART ONE: STOP PLAYING THE BLAME GAME

A new season is fast approaching. I love the changes they bring – to nature, to tradition, to ourselves. This coming fall, however, is a sad reminder of personal goals not met. One year ago, I was scheduled to finish edits and publish my latest novel. That didn’t happen. Then I planned to complete it in spring. That didn’t happen. Now, I intend to publish within months and am fearful I will fail yet again.

The PERCEPTION? Everything was to blame.

Family: It was not an easy year. I spent the majority tackling life’s bumps and bruises for the two people I cherish most – my husband and son. They needed me, I happily delivered. The time, attention, love, care, patience, worry, and stress dedicated to them is not something I regret.

Personality: We introverts require ample time to pause and recharge in preparation for the next day or challenge. And in my perpetually overwhelmed state, I gave myself the necessary moments to reset. But now I wonder … did I really need SO much downtime?

Priorities: There was always something more important. In addition to the family, jobs, home, school, sports, pets, travel, and the simple demands of daily life required my immediate attention, pulled me away from the long stretches of free time needed to work effectively.

Exhaustion: Thanks to cancer, I still suffer from extreme periods of fatigue. I have limited physical energy and once it is spent on the most pressing needs, all else gets pushed aside to the miraculous day when I will feel “better” and have “more time.”

Work: Getting a book to completion is not a simple task. Aside from the writing, editing, and rewrites, there is proofing, formatting, covers, marketing, blogging, launching, promotions, updates, and more. Finishing one step was daunting. Knowing another twenty waited? Sigh.

Every person struggles to manage work and home life. But, the needs of family encroached into such a large part of my day and at an unfair pace that I became overwhelmed and frustrated. There was not enough time set aside for my goals (namely, finish my book). I was last on the list. Heck, I wasn’t even on the list anymore.

The REALITY? Life had become unbalanced.

I am notorious for setting high standards for personal productivity. If I can’t give my best effort, I do not want to do it. So rather than tackle something half-way, I lowered expectations for myself as a writer. Yet even though my standards decreased, my desires and aspirations to improve, be better, and succeed never went away. In fact, they just kept piling on.

I wanted to be the best wife and mother. I needed to recharge. I kept getting more to do. I needed to rest. But amid it all, I still had a book that needed to be finished.

I was stressed and emotionally exhausted. And with so much weighing heavy on my mind and heart, I sought every possible escape, excuse, and method of procrastination.

Oh, and did I mention the enormous guilt? I felt it when I did the things for me (like wrap myself in a cozy cocoon of introversion), and I felt it when I did not (like neglect my passion for writing). I mean seriously, why should I want to do something so demanding and all-consuming that it steals time away from the people who need me, the family I love? Why should I want to publish another book? BECAUSE I DESERVE IT.

We all deserve something of our own. And if we are not getting that something, we need to stop blaming others and take responsibility. Be open to hurt and frustration but also be prepared to accept your role, your choices, and what you can do to change things and move forward.

There is an old saying that perception is reality and in my case, it became true. However, once I realized my perception was negatively impacting my capacity for joy, I sought something else:

PERSPECTIVE…

There will always be too much to do and too little time. There will always be distractions, worries, and reasons to complain. There will always be something holding us back from our hopes and dreams. But rather than search for imaginary scapegoats to everyday problems, we should seek greater insight into what might be wrong and then find workable solutions.

NEXT TIME: I ask (and answer) the tough questions in my quest to get what I want.


Photo by Roman Kraft on Unsplash

daily life · obstacles · simplicity · technology

Seek Loves Rather Than Likes

It is no secret our online lives are consumed with likes. Personal validation often comes in the form of a digital thumbs up or colorful emoji. But amid the lighthearted posts, reactions, and comments, there is a dark side. Insecurity, rejection, jealousy, deception, procrastination, and addiction are negative aspects of logging on and the problem is, we might not realize it until it is too late.

Social media strengthens family bonds, fosters old and new friendships, informs, leads to exciting opportunities, inspires dreams, and even helps people find love. Yet in an ironic twist, the very tools intended to connect and encourage deeper relationships can also create division and a severe sense of loneliness.

Social media is not for everyone.

Like many, social media had become a habit for me. And while some might not view it as a negative experience, time online took over a large part of my day. And the more it did, the less I accomplished – for family, around the home, as a writer. I needed to make a change, a dedicated effort to redirect my energy and purpose.

For the past year, I have been shifting my personal life away from the virtual world, back into the real one. I decreased my screen time, logged on less often, and allowed myself to deal with the discomfort that comes from missing out.

It has been a test that I failed many times. I admit I felt left out knowing others were keeping in touch more. I worried people would no longer think or care about me because I was not posting or commenting enough. I wondered if they would view my absence and lack of interaction as indifference to their own lives. It took a long time to find peace with my decision and in all honesty, I am still working on it.

The longer I stay offline, the more I realize how little it serves my personality. I love seeing photos of my friends, their funny posts, and news about their accomplishments and travels. But I also find it overwhelming. It is too much to process for a mind like mine that single tasks and works methodically. I am simply wired differently, thriving on face to face interactions and deep conversations.

This is not a rail against technology or social media. In fact, as a writer and blogger I am very involved in both. As part of my job, I enjoy staying informed, learning new things, connecting with others, and meeting interesting people. But I also need balance and in seeking that balance, I remember there are many things to love – offline. Nature, home, travel, health, animals, self, people, solitude, companionship, work, and hobbies to name a few.

When we step away from the screen and focus on what is tangible and in front of us, we reclaim a part of ourselves and re-discover the simple joy of being in a moment.

It is okay to give in to modern world expectations and be social. Like your laptop, but seek to love your life more.


A FEW TIPS:

Decide. Does logging on create tension within family or friendships? Does it interfere with work or productivity? Does it keep you from doing what you want? If it does not enhance your current life or future goals, a change may be needed.

Start. Make a conscious and logical decision to log off. Ease into the change and realize it might take time to retrain yourself. Begin with short breaks – one hour, one day, one week – to find what is manageable.

Simplify. If you log on, go back briefly to see what has been shared in your newsfeed. Focus on notifications and private messages. Reach out and connect with those who love hearing from you.

Plan. When you log off, have an idea of what will fill the time. To stay motivated, combine small and large projects so you can feel an immediate sense of accomplishment while working toward a larger goal.

Enjoy. You are giving up online time for something greater. Spend those regained moments pursuing what you love, with people who matter. Making the perceived sacrifice worth it will lead to a successful transition.


Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

celebration · daily life · gratitude · happiness · self

This One Life

Today I celebrate six years cancer free.

At times it has been easy,
easy to forget the fear and struggle that came with diagnosis and treatment.
Other times it has been difficult,
difficult to remember the pockets of hope that come with remission.

For within peace, there lies chaos.

Life loves to stir the pot, rock the boat, press every button.
It gives and takes. Pushes or pulls. Hurts then heals.

Surviving has not made me perfect,
it has made me purposeful.
I have been gifted clearer eyes with which to view my world
and myself.

Parts of me are better than before,
others not so much.
I do not always like what I see,
but I love who I am.

I have changed. There is no doubt I have changed.
It is impossible not to…

I have always been curious,
but cancer gave me insight.
I was always outspoken,
but cancer amplified the voice
within my mind and heart.

Yes, I have changed the way I live and love and spend my time.
Some believe I no longer care enough but the truth is this:
I care too much.
So much that I made the decision to release the hurt, let negativity go –
from people, things, emotions.

I do not have much time.
No one does.

The moments that matter? Limited.
They come in waves and I choose to get lost in them. Swim in their joy.

We all have choices. Whether right or wrong, they are ours to make.
Love them.
We all have this one life. Whether short or long, it is ours to take.
Live it.


Photo by Jude Beck on Unsplash

confidence · fears · happiness · letting go · self

Declare Your Independence

Happy Fourth of July!

Today, I hope you find the courage. Courage to break free from:

HOSTILITY · DEPRESSION · FEAR · ANGER

STRESS · DISTRUST · THINGS · SADNESS · GUILT

JUDGEMENT · COMPARISON · PRESSURE · CRITICISM

HURT · FRUSTRATION · IMPATIENCE · NEGATIVITY

PAIN · INTOLERANCE · DISRESPECT · HATE

Seek all that is good. Celebrate it – by yourself and with those you love.

Live. Liberate. Pursue your happiness.


Photo by Trent Yarnell on Unsplash

confidence · fears · goals · happiness · obstacles

All The Things You Did Not Do: Risk, Reward, And Regret

My son is officially on summer vacation. Over the next few months my heart, energy, and time will be even more focused on family. But this doesn’t mean my mind stops. It never stops. And lately, I have been thinking a lot about regret.

Regret is a funny thing.

For some, there is the fear of missing out on the REWARD. The prospect of learning, improving, or gaining something we have always wanted can be a great motivator. It can push us to open ourselves to new ideas and worlds and experiences as we fear we may never have another chance. If there is something beautiful at the end, we believe the struggle will be worth it.

For others, the RISK can prove too much. The sacrifice required along with a fear of failure can overwhelm to the point of inaction. The perceived cost – relationships, time, energy, money, pride – may prevent us from moving toward something we desire. And sadly, some view life as an ‘either/or’ situation, one where there is limited choice and opportunities are lost forever.

We are only one person, given just one life. Sometimes we have to jump in and have faith everything will come together. Other times, it may require more insight and extensive planning.

Weigh the risk versus the reward. Maybe the reward is worth the risk, maybe it is not. But isn’t it better to be sure before you say no altogether? Perhaps there is a balance to be found. Or there might be a period of chaotic imbalance to get through. Sacrifice is a part of goal seeking. Map it out – the pros and cons, available resources, potential timelines. You might realize it is better to be sorry and try rather than be safe and disappointed. We all have responsibilities – to ourselves and others – but we also deserve to fulfill needs, feel purpose, and find personal happiness.

Live without regret.

FOR ALL YOU DID NOT DO If you wish you would have done things differently, do something today to change the situation. It is never too late to alter the course. Make amends with someone. Rewrite your dream. Start completely over. Sure, you might not get to the exact place you wished for years ago but maybe, just maybe, you will end up somewhere far better.

FOR ALL YOU ARE DOING – If you feel guilt because others make you believe your path is wrong, release the pressure. Pursue the life you envision (as long as it does not hurt someone else) and do so without apology or explanation. We are all unique with different choices and goals. Seek those who put joy over judgment and support your efforts without condition.

FOR ALL YOU HOPE TO DO – Find a way.

Regret nothing.


Photo by Austin Neill on Unsplash

acceptance · change · daily life · obstacles

Life: It’s Just A Phase

Life is hard right now. There is little time to pause, relax, do nothing, or worry about nothing.

This is not the first time I have been overwhelmed, and it will not be the last. I have had many moments in life where everything seemed SO HARD – the sudden death of my father, two rounds of college, new jobs, that first year of motherhood, and a battle against breast cancer come to mind.

Whenever I think I can’t go on, I reflect on the old adage: THIS TOO SHALL PASS.

If a difficult stage in life proves more demanding than my abilities, I remind myself IT IS JUST A PHASE. Whatever is bothering me will not be a bother for long. More importantly, I know I can get through it because I have done so before.

There will always be hardships to overcome – personal loss, bad job, unsatisfying relationship, hectic schedule, major life change. But while these may push our limits and challenge us, we should never allow them to overtake our life or define who we are.

And though many phases begin and end naturally on their own, some grab hold. We may fail to move onto a new and perhaps improved stage of life for various reasons. Perhaps we:

  • form an emotional attachment
  • are in a comfort zone
  • link self-worth to a phase
  • feel guilt for moving on
  • fear the unknown
  • are overwhelmed
  • believe we have no control
  • lack a support system
  • think part of us deserves the struggle

We do not have to stay in one place. All things are temporary unless we refuse to let go and release them. The difficulties in life will eventually leave on their own and it they don’t, there are options. We have the power to A) remove ourselves from the situation B) change the situation or C) accept the situation.

If you are in the midst of a phase like I am, here are some tips to get through it:

  1. LEARN FROM IT – Adversity is a wonderful teacher. Expand on that knowledge to better yourself and future experiences.
  2. DECREASE THE STRUGGLES – Seek ways to prevent undue stress. Simplify, delegate, say no, declutter, etc.
  3. ENJOY THE NOW – Appreciate the value of the moment with this Grounding Technique.
  4. MAKE TIME TO BE – Carve out pockets of time to do something where little effort is required but much joy is gained.
  5. REALIZE THIS IS LIFE – Our days will never be perfect or go our way. Once one challenge is gone, another will soon replace it.
  6. EMBRACE THE CRAZY – Rather than focus on the stress, immerse yourself in the moments and make memories.
  7. EXPRESS YOURSELF – Cry or vent if that is what you need to do. Releasing negativity will improve your health and outlook.
  8. BE PATIENT – Know the discontent will not last and will eventually be replaced with a sense of accomplishment and pride.
  9. FIND GRATITUDE – See the good in the source of frustration. You are likely blessed with family, friends, a home, or career.
  10. PUT YOURSELF FIRST – Get plenty of rest, exercise, and downtime to offset the pressure. And do it without guilt.
  11. SEEK AND ACCEPT HELP – Delegate to share the load and if others offer to help, take it.
  12. GAIN ENERGY – Surround yourself with people who lift you up. Build your inner circle so tight that you never feel alone.
  13. TEND YOUR INNER SPIRIT – Whether through religion, meditation, art, etc., find something to feed your soul.
  14. TEMPORARILY ESCAPE – Step away for an hour, a day, a weekend. Recharge and come back with a new perspective and open heart.

Still overwhelmed? Start with these two questions:
1. What part of your current situation is the most frustrating? Seek to better it.
2. What, above all, is the foremost priority? Focus on it.

There will never be a time when life is easy but there will be moments – glorious, joyful, memorable moments – when life reveals its true beauty and purpose. Look for those. And when you feel caught up and lost in the crazy, remember: nothing is forever unless you allow it to be so.

This Too Shall Pass.


Photo by Aron Visuals on Unsplash