discovery · happiness · learning · love

Learning To Love When The World Wants To Hate

There is a lot of negativity in this world. Ask anyone. We see it on the news, scroll through it on social media, encounter it in public. It surrounds us.

I have tried to embrace every day of my second chance at this crazy life but late last year, I felt something shift inside. I became increasingly angry, frustrated, and impatient. I felt hopeless. In my attempt to stay informed of current events and socialize online, I was inadvertently subjected to the comments of strangers – people who prefer to label, stereotype, name-call, demean, criticize, and spread hate.

Why? Why do so many waste energy and time – precious moments of this life – infecting others with their own personal hurt?

At first I thought the people who prefer to knock others down rather than lift them up were doing it out of spite, a pure hatred for complete strangers who were different or disagreed with their views. And to be honest, I believe a fair number of people are like this and will never change. Then I wondered if maybe there are just that many mean and uncaring people out there and that I was now in the minority.

In actuality, I prefer to believe this: the anger directed at others is an outward expression of their internal pain, fears, and frustrations. They feel ignored and hope to be heard. They feel unappreciated and seek validation. They perceive the world as lacking in compassion for their plight and as such, refuse to give it to anyone else. They are tired (aren’t we all?) and unable to listen, consider another opinion, or try to understand. In their weary impatience, they choose the easy route – they lash out rather than look in.

What we need more of is looking in.

Whenever we are hurting, we should want to dig deep, stare into ourselves, and see what needs help. Yes, I know this sends many people outside of their comfort zone with a spiraling fear of what they might actually discover. But it needs to be done – by everyone.

Because although we may think we can turn away, somehow remain unaffected by the negativity, we cannot. It is contagious. Intolerance, rudeness, bias, and prejudice have a sneaky way about them. Hate compounds more readily than love and the more it is spread, the more it becomes entrenched in our society. We become immune to it. We begin to think it is normal. We accept it. And sadly, we do not see the breakdown until it is too late.

I saw the breakdown and did not like what the negativity was doing to me. I decided to look in.

I am not an expert at happiness. In fact, I fail way more than I succeed in its pursuit. But, I am a problem solver and when I ask myself a question, I become determined to find the answer.

The first step was to work on myself. In an effort to undo the damage, I began Inspired ME, Joyful BE with a simple mission: to spread a positive message and inspire everyday moments.

My original intent was to blog on a personal level and for self-improvement. I want to be a better person. I want to live a better life. My days here are numbered – cancer taught me that – and I want to be sure they are lived on my own terms. More importantly, I want to enjoy them.

I broke life into areas I perceived as important and these became the core topics. Some I hope to improve, others offer a simple reminder of what matters. I included the good and the bad because Life is not only lived on the bright and happy days but also the darkest and saddest, in every moment.

Choosing how to spend those moments is up to us. We can create our own inspiration. And when we do, we find joy.

Once the blog gained a little momentum, I realized something. There is a purpose. There is a desire. Not just for me but others. And although some may not know how to look in or refuse to do so, there is an inherent need for people to share what is good and encourage others to do the same.

I am not alone.

There are many of us who condemn the negative behavior. As such, we should not be ashamed of having the best of intentions and big hearts. Morals and values that advance society should be worn proudly. Despite an appearance of the opposite via news and social media, hope and love and tolerance and compassion are the majority.

It begins with one person. A looking in and shift within the self. Seeking and filling the days with more of what is good soon becomes a habit, something so familiar and welcome that when it is absent, we feel empty. As a result, we realize we are worthy of the joy. We deserve it. We demand it. We feed and nourish the soul with happiness to keep it content. And when we do, it spreads.

The more we embrace and share the good, the better chance we have to erase whatever is bad. Unlike hate which seeks to destroy a person, the virus of love is healing. It can be highly infectious – touching us first and then family, friends, neighbors, churches, schools, communities, cities, states, countries, and finally the world.

It is a slow process, requiring patience and diligence, but there is strength in numbers. Each of us holds the power to alter the course and restore a broken world. We can help the joy go viral. We are the cure.


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~Inspired ME, Joyful BE

confidence · discovery · fears · learning

Sometimes We Fall Before We Fly

Lately, I have been repeating a favorite quote in my mind.

“There is freedom waiting for you,
On the breezes of the sky,
And you ask “What if I fall?”
Oh but my darling,
What if you fly?”
― Erin Hanson

As a writer, I have to deal with many more downs than ups.

It is not uncommon for someone who creates and shares their work to feel this way. The fear of putting myself out there and having no one care. The feeling of being ignored, unappreciated, or unacknowledged. The disappointment. The rejection. They are all part of the business.

Life is much like a roller coaster. Some parts are simply more thrilling than others.

The good? An official book release. The best? Hearing from a reader who loves my work. The worst? A not-so-flattering review. In an industry validated by book sales, viral shares, and best seller lists, it is easy to fall into the trap of negative thought. To somehow believe I am not enough or have failed.

But, there is one thing I believe more: without a little risk, there is no reward.

I can either play it safe where I know the outcome or seize an opportunity and see where life carries me. My choice? Take an enormous, frightening leap outside my comfort zone and fall into the unknown rather than deal with regret. Following my heart is the true measurement. I decide whether I am a success or failure. No one else.

Sometimes, life only gives us one chance.

Anytime we become caught in the web of criticism, missed expectations, or self-defeat, it is natural to turn and place the blame inward. A game lost, a job opportunity or promotion missed, an error of some kind, a broken relationship. Missteps like these and others may seem unfair, especially when we tried our best and believe winning is the only option.

But the perceived losses are actually part of the plan and that plan is always greater than any we could dream for ourselves. As such, a setback – big or small – should never be the deal breaker for quitting. Instead, it should serve as a reminder of how much we want something.

Have a little faith. Muddle through the not-so-glamorous in search of the true beauty. Realize the bumps and bruises we seemingly suffer will not only heal but strengthen and propel us forward. Without the low moments we can never begin the slow, exhilarating ascent to the top. View the struggle, the uphill climb as an integral part of the journey toward something better.

The next time you feel like giving up, stop. Straighten your wings and try again. Yes, you might fall. But you might fly.


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acceptance · daily life · discovery · learning · letting go

Learning To Live A Messy Life

Some days I am amazing. I get all things crossed off my to do list. I am on time for appointments, sports, and errands. I keep my inbox clean. Housework and laundry are caught up. I exercise. I eat healthy. I prepare meals from scratch. I write, edit, or blog. I listen intently as my husband speaks. I have ample time to relax and snuggle with my son. I connect with family and friends.

And then there are days like today when I simply cannot keep up.

You know the day. The one when you have a ton of things to accomplish but each one a) brings unexpected extra tasks along with it, b) hits a roadblock mid-project and does not get completed, or c) is a pipe-dream because life is happening instead.

All of the above happen to me more and more and when they do, I cannot help but wonder what I am doing wrong. I am a minimalist. I am organized. I have an excellent work ethic.

Why can’t I do it all?

Everyone around me seems to have it together. They look great. (I went to the post office this morning in the same pants I slept in last night). They have kids who are up-to-date with tech, clothes, sports equipment. (My son is in his second season of baseball cleats, and I refuse to buy any new clothes until he wears more than the same four outfits to school). They have tons of friends and do cool things. (I work from home and fear I am becoming more introverted by the day). They post, interact, and connect on social media. (Other than work, I have not posted for weeks nor have I read other posts. Notifications=94, Being Social=0).

My list could go on but the hard truth is: I have given up on keeping up.

Ever since my battle with cancer (in remission almost 5 years!), my body and mind have changed. I can go for days with no problem but then suddenly I am overcome by debilitating fatigue, unable to do anything. And my mind? There are times when it simply shuts down, as if the weight of everything is too much so it collapses in defense.

Before cancer, I would have ignored these signs. Pushed through until I was on the edge of oblivion, believing I had to do everything and do it perfectly. I would become physically ill by the stress. I would not sleep well. My temper and patience would be short. I would sacrifice me in order to please others. I wanted to be productive. I wanted to fit in. I wanted to impress.

I wanted to be strong.  I wanted to WOW.

After cancer, I understood how none of that mattered. What matters now is not getting it all done or doing all things. I matter now. If I cannot do it, I either seek help or move on. And when I cannot avoid being over-scheduled, I simply do my best.

My best is all I can ever do. I have learned to live a messy life.

The upside? My time is spent on things of value and importance. My energy is given to the people who deserve and appreciate it. I…

  • avoid over-thinking
  • follow my instinct
  • release guilt and regret
  • no longer have a fear of missing out
  • make better choices
  • enjoy a deeper purpose

I am strong. And I do WOW (even if I only impress myself). I simply do it on my own terms and at my own pace.

I still feel like I am constantly apologizing or explaining myself to those who have not yet learned to release the pressure. Thankfully most of my friends and family understand and encourage it. They have granted me the incredible gift of letting me be me.

My ultimate hope is you might also shed the burden of whatever weighs you down. Realize that you do not have to keep on keeping up. And when you do, you will learn to love the messiness of life.


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celebration · daily life · discovery

3 Ways To Love The Way You Live Life

When we graduate, move away from home, earn a college degree, find a better job, fall in love, get married, buy a bigger house, have children, lose weight, make more money, have more freedom, retire…

The list of “whens” – those major life changes, milestones, and times when we believe everything will fall neatly into place – is endless. The hard truth is this: there will be times when all seems right with the world and it will feel glorious, but those times will be few. More often than not, the days will pass by with overwhelming speed as we attempt to keep up with the demands of school, work, family, relationships, and basic daily needs.

Stop wishing your life away…

1. BE PERFECTLY IMPERFECT – – Everyone wants to be better at something. Striving to improve an aspect of who we are is not only important but strongly encouraged. Whether it be relationships, career, education, health, parenting, sports, home, a hobby or more, self-improvement can be a rewarding source of pride and a path toward happiness.

The problem arises when we begin to obsess over the process, base our worth upon its success, or expect the result to fill some other void. If you want to change something about yourself, do it. Just be sure to love who and where you are now – because you are already pretty amazing.

2. LIVE IN THE MOMENT – – With all of life’s demands pulling us in different directions, this can be difficult to manage. It is not impossible, however. One thing that has helped me is meditation. I am a chronic over-thinker and mind-wanderer but after some persistent attempts, I have finally managed to find a method that works.

Meditation is just one way to learn focus. Anything that encourages quiet or pushes away the outside noise can be beneficial. The key is to find a reliable method to draw upon so the little things – those seemingly insignificant things – can be appreciated for the magical moments they are.

3. CELEBRATE THE EVERYDAY – – Don’t like your picture taken? Take one anyway and share it with the people who love you. Have dishes stashed away in the cupboard for formal occasions? Use them tonight even if you are only serving takeout. Never-worn, pretty outfit hanging in the back of your closet? Wear it!

There are so many reasons to celebrate today. Some may seem obvious, some not so much. The best part is that it does not need to be a grand event, even the simplest, most ridiculous thing can be appreciated. Look for yours. It’s there, just waiting to help make the everyday special.

Quit thinking things will be better “if only.” Open your eyes. Take a good look. Do you see what I see? It is the best part of living, happening right here and right now. Whether you like the reality of your present situation or not, this moment is irreplaceable.

Love. Life. Live.


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discovery · learning · relationships · self

How To Rise Above The Noise

Too often we hear but do not listen. When someone…

  • opposes our opinion, we seek those who agree.
  • loves us, we wonder why.
  • hurts us, we hurt them back.
  • insults us, we believe them.
  • offers praise, we want more.
  • criticizes us, we try to change who we are.
  • rejects us, we think we are the problem.
  • gives judgment, we retreat.
  • compliments us, we don’t believe them.
  • ignores us, we crave their attention.
  • says something we do not like, we try to ignore it.
  • offers to help, we pretend there is no need.

People do become lost in their own pain and often try to heal the wounds by hurting those around them. In an effort to control the uncontrollable, they speak harsh words and spread negativity without realizing the depth of damage left in the wake.

Others, however, are well aware of their actions and say things with a purposeful intent to cause harm. They try to lift themselves up while knocking someone else down.

And what about those times when we are offered a genuine helping hand or positive reinforcement? We question the motive behind the gift or convince ourselves they do not mean what is said.

Words carry power, but our heart holds more.

Allowing others to steer our emotions and reactions in a direction we do not want or deserve can prove toxic. Over time, it corrodes, removing layers of trust, confidence, and self-esteem until there is nothing left but an empty shell. And although we may not be able to stop the dialogue from others, we can change the conversation in our minds.

If someone…

  • opposes your opinion, open your mind.
  • loves you, love them back.
  • hurts you, seek to understand why.
  • insults you, realize your own worth.
  • offers praise, be proud of your accomplishment.
  • criticizes you, view it as opportunity.
  • rejects you, know you matter and are loved.
  • gives judgment, show yourself compassion.
  • compliments you, say thank you.
  • ignores you, give yourself what they will not.
  • says something you do not like, look for the message.
  • offers to help, accept it.

Navigating through this life can be difficult. The paths are bumpy, the signs hard to read. Sometimes it is about others, sometimes it is about us. Decoding the meaning behind everything is not only exhausting but futile.

Rise above the noise. Stop relying on what others tell you. Learn to listen to your heart.


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celebration · daily life · discovery · gratitude · simplicity

The Magic Of Every Day

I was scheduled to write another topic today, but then something happened and I changed my mind. It’s all good, though, because this is the very reason I created the website: to be inspired. More importantly, however, is to recognize the inspiration. Look for it. Appreciate it. And share it.

Before my husband left for another business trip this morning, he pulled me over to our large front windows so we could watch the sunrise. It was glorious – a mixture of molten gold, purple, and hazy magenta burned into the gray clouds above the neighborhood.

This in itself was a lovely gesture by my typically practical and extremely busy husband, but then he did something even better.

Minutes into his drive, he called. Now, the phone ringing at 7:40AM is never a good thing. My thoughts raced – my son just arrived at school and was perhaps sick or hurt, my husband just left and was possibly in an accident, a friend or family member was in urgent need. Seeing the caller id, I knew it was my husband and answered, half-expecting him to say he forgot to pack something. Instead, he instructed me to look out the window again.

I did and noticed a view more magnificent than the one that came before. The blue-gray clouds promised rain and as such battled with the fiery hues of the still-emerging sunrise. But this wasn’t the cool thing. Blurred within was a rainbow. A rare sunrise rainbow.

I wanted to be sure you saw it, my husband said. With a smile, I told him I did. And then we watched it – together but apart – for a few minutes before bidding another farewell.

What is amazing is not so much the sunrise but the shared experience with my husband. I am still thinking about it hours later and know it will be re-visited throughout the day. And when I am missing him tonight, I will snuggle with my son and think of it again.

I have writing to do, laundry waiting, groceries to get, errands to run, a son to parent, and more on my plate today, but there is alwaysalwaystime to discover the magic of every day. Look for it. Appreciate it. Share in it. And if you do it right, it might just make a gray day brighter.


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discovery · fears · health · learning · self

Depression: My Story

Months before I was diagnosed with cancer, I suffered through moderate depression. Living in the Upper Midwest, I often self-treated for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) in the late, gray months of winter, but this episode came early in the fall and it came hard.

DISCLAIMER about depression: There are many different types and causes. More importantly, there are tons of resources available regarding symptoms and treatment, tests to self-diagnose, and articles/tips on how to manage it. I will not pretend to be a resource nor will I provide medical advice. This is my personal experience. Everyone’s situation is unique. If you believe you suffer from any form of depression, please consult your doctor.

I am a fixer. I do not back away from problems and as a result am an avid seeker of solutions. When people confide their troubles, I want to help make it better. I am no different when it comes to myself. So when I realized what I had, I took action. First, I told a few people close to me and while most were supportive, some were unsure how to deal with it. Much like cancer, people become frightened when someone they love is “sick.” As if they might catch it, too. Or perhaps they are just someone who is afraid they will do or say something wrong.

I had this: I confided in someone important, and they essentially avoided me. No appreciation of my honesty, no acknowledgment of how difficult it was to open up. The sad part is I told them in order to improve our relationship. It had been a bit off because of my actions due to the depression, and I hoped to explain and clear the air. Even in my low state, I wanted to make them feel better. As you might expect, their lack of support was not a good reaction to someone who is already at the wobbly edge of a precipice. It made me feel insignificant, unloved, and a bit ridiculous. I knew what I was going though and yet this person made me question myself even more – as if I was making an excuse for my abnormal behavior. As if it was all in my already mixed-up head. As if I could just get over it. I tell you this because even if others do not recognize the pain, your feelings and needs are real – they matter.

And despite those who tried to tell me it was nothing and would soon pass, I knew better. I knew me. I did not want to linger there. And this – whatever it was – was not right. It was not the person I wanted to be. It was not me.

I was sad more than happy and overly emotional to the point of crying daily. I was impatient, lethargic, and extremely self-critical. I was uninterested in anything or anyone. I was anti-social and fearful. I was without purpose or direction.

I believed no one knew I was lost and even worse, that I would never be found.

My college minor was Psychology so I recognized my plight and knew there were options. With my time, budget, and minor symptoms, I chose basic therapy. (ANOTHER DISCLAIMER: Be wary and do your research, especially if considering online therapy: this is a hotbed for scams and unqualified people who claim to be experts. Seek advice from a trusted medical professional before you do anything). My referral came from my own doctor and over the course of our sessions, the therapist gave me in-depth questions to answer and projects to complete. And when it was all done, I came to realize why I was depressed. Turns out it was more mental than biological, and I was able to determine the cause was my reaction and negative thoughts to something that happened earlier in the year. Looking back, I knew this was the reason but while lost in depression, it becomes difficult to find a way out.

Seeking help provided much-needed guidance, a map for me to work through the messiness and discover ways to improve my thoughts and reactions.

That was over five years ago, and I have not suffered from that type of depression since. Even better, we now live in a warmer climate so I no longer get SAD. Yes, I have been down. Yes, I have been sad and melancholy too many times to count. Heck, I even battled cancer. But thanks to the lessons from therapy, I know to dig deeper and prevent myself from falling too hard. I have not only learned to release the negativity, I have chosen to do it. I am unafraid to seek help when I need it. I try not to belittle my feelings – they are not insignificant or ridiculous, they are real. I no longer blame others, but I also do not blame myself. I have compassion for me.

Often we believe life just happens to us, as if we have no control. And although there is much we cannot foresee or prevent, how we approach this life is a choice. Our reactions are up to us. When there is loss or frustration or hurt or rejection, feel the loss, frustration, hurt, or rejection. But as you work through it do not allow yourself to retreat to the point of no return. Make the effort to move forward and eventually past it. Depression is a part of life for many, but it does not have to be the everyday. More importantly, depression is not a weakness and you are never, ever alone! You do not have to do this by yourself. There are people who will understand. And while finding help is easy, working through the problems might be hard … but I promise, it is so worth it.

Rise above the storm, and you will find the sunshine. — Mario Fernandez


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~Inspired ME, Joyful BE