acceptance · fears · learning · obstacles · self

Choose To Deal Rather Than Dwell

Ten days before my official diagnosis, I already knew I had cancer. Family and close friends remained positive, reminding me the mammogram, ultrasound, and lumpectomy were simply procedure. But something inside – my instinct – told me I was about to face the biggest challenge of my life. So while everyone else pretended all would be fine, I mentally worked it through, toughening myself for what I already knew.

I will admit the first month was the most difficult. It was a time of great sadness and hopelessness. The battle ahead seemed too overwhelming, and there were countless moments of deep despair. Unsure of what was to come, I questioned my ability to persevere. But even more, I feared an unknown end.

There was a turning point, however. A defining moment when the clouds passed and everything became clear. And as I look back, I realize it was when I acknowledged the possibilities. I could not only get through this, I could SURVIVE. There was opportunity for a LIFE AFTER. Yes, it would be forever changed, but it could still be beautiful. And yet I worried … how would I get there?

The answer was within me. I held the power. Cancer was strong, but I could be stronger. And that strength would come in many forms – education, goals, perseverance, diligence, relationships, motivation, and above all, attitude.

I decided to deal rather than dwell.

When we are hurting or fearful of the future, it is easy to become lost in the pain and frozen. Rather than face a hardship head-on, we allow ourselves to remain stuck in one emotion and place. And to be honest, sometimes we must do that before anything else. But it is important to accept reality at the appropriate time so we might regain or live a better life.

We cannot rush or force the process, however. Trust yourself. Pay attention. When the time is right, you will know to stop dwelling. Even the smallest step forward, the tiniest change, the slightest attempt to overcome is dealing.

What helped me through the darkest of times? THE FIVE Ps.

1) PLAN: Determine where you want to be and create a manageable path to get there. This does not need to be detailed or final. Establish baby steps. Be flexible. But have some idea of how to move yourself forward.

For me, this was two-fold. I educated myself about my stage of cancer to lessen the unknown. I also had my oncologist provide an estimated timeline of what treatments, surgeries, tests, etc. I would undergo so I could better visualize what was ahead.

2) PURSUE: Tackle the tasks in your plan. Even simple efforts should seem like a major victory. Celebrate the small things, but remember there are bigger hurdles to overcome if you hope to come out on the other side. Acknowledge them. Act on them. Take satisfaction in every achievement.

I took life day by day (sometimes minute by minute). But even on my hardest days, I focused on the opportunity to do something to advance my situation. I viewed everything – big and small – as necessary to moving me forward and welcomed them.

3) PERFORM: Even if you are not in a good place, act like you are. I do not mean pretend or ignore your feelings. But doing routine everyday tasks like it is a normal day can help you forget the difficulties ahead – even if just for a moment. [NOTE: Depression is very prevalent so please watch for the signs and seek immediate professional help if needed.]

In the first weeks after diagnosis, I fell into a depression which my doctor monitored closely. And once I came through that, I found solace in basic chores around the house, running errands, and maintaining a sense of normalcy for my young son.

4) PAUSE: Managing a major life crisis can be stressful, but it should never be allowed to erase all the joy. Whether it is something you love on your own or being with others, make time to do something that makes your heart happy – every single day.

Chemo and surgeries left me fatigued, sick, and unable to focus. My family and friends found creative ways to engage me socially online and via coffee dates and movie nights. The simple act of getting out of the house always lifted my mood.

5) PURPOSE: When something bad happens, it is common to question why. But there are lessons hidden in the toughest of times – about ourselves and life. Accept your journey will be difficult but also seek to appreciate that you have been granted a gift. To learn, to grow, to perhaps change or begin again. View it as a reminder of what is important or a chance to discover what truly matters.

Whenever I felt lost, I remembered what I was fighting for – this beautiful life and my amazing family. I learned to love everything.

[Bonus] PRAY: A spiritual connection can help to allay pain, worry, or fear. Whatever your belief, a faith-based approach can provide an incredible sense of peace for those who struggle.

It is inevitable – there will be difficult days. But when we are thrust unwillingly into the deepest of depths, we still hold the power. We have a choice. We can either dwell in the dark or we can make our way into the light.

Choose the light.


Photo by Lawrence Walters on Unsplash

change · discovery · learning · obstacles · self

Clear The Roadblocks To Learning About Yourself

I read – a lot. Sometimes too much.

I realize I do not know everything. Most days, I feel like I know nothing. This is why I read. It is also the reason I write.

In fact, the original pull toward becoming a writer was to figure things out. Writing not only keeps me sane in an increasingly crazy world, it helps me navigate the everyday. My NOVELS highlight contemporary women facing the complexities of self, family, love, and daily life. And the basis of this blog is to promote the positive, inspiring moments that can come from personal exploration.

I am not an expert – on anything – which is why I will not proclaim to know everything about any one particular topic.

I am simply a seeker, a searcher, a firm believer in the possibility of all things.

I desire a fuller understanding. I want to know why I am who I am, why others are who they are. I do not expect a final answer or conclusion, however, because I know this is not possible. In truth, part of the fun of the journey is the not knowing. I enjoy the finding of little clues along the way.

Life truly is a puzzle. One where we get only a few pieces to fit at any given time, revealing just part of the actual picture.

Some of my book and blog topics carry hidden lessons I have learned while others are me working to solve this beautiful mystery. I will continue to try one thing, then another, hoping to glimpse the whole picture, even if only for a brief moment.

I am proud to say I have been loved and rejected, succeeded and failed. I have wandered around lost too many times to count and at times, believed I had been found. And when I come upon something that has helped me, I want to share it, possibly ease the struggle for someone else.

But while I might hope to serve as a guide and offer support, I cannot fix what is broken for others. Sometimes I cannot even fix what is broken within myself.

There is no shame in learning about the self. But each of us must learn on our own, in whatever way we can, no matter how long it may take. Yet problems can arise when we …

ARE IMPATIENT WITH OTHERS: sometimes people refuse to change, do not realize they need to change, or are caught in the process of change.
ARE IMPATIENT WITH OURSELVES: we are continuous works-in-progress and any type of improvement or self-realization takes time.

RESENT OTHERS FOR MAKING A CHANGE: if you become jealous when someone else makes a go at a better life, look to understand why.
RESENT OUR NEED FOR CHANGE: change becomes easier when we accept and embrace the idea rather than fight it.

JUDGE OTHERS: hating on someone who has raised themselves up is often due to envy or failure to understand their true situation.
FEEL WE ARE JUDGED: the path to well-being is a very personal thing. Seek people who share your enthusiasm and lift you up rather than tear you down.

MAKE FUN: someone choosing to better understand themselves and improve their outlook is not to be ridiculed or minimized.
NO LONGER HAVE FUN: fixing whatever is broken can be a serious undertaking, but it should not be pursued at the expense of loving life.

SABOTAGE OTHERS: intentionally making an effort to undo the results for another person for your own benefit is never okay.
SABOTAGE OURSELVES: stop and assess whether it is your excuses or the process keeping you from making it to the next step.

FAIL TO ACKNOWLEDGE REALITY: nothing can ever change if we fail to look within and accept we are not always right, not perfect, and not in control.
SUCCEED AT THE EXPENSE OF OTHERS: improving your situation should never be accomplished by exploiting or hurting another.

PUSH OTHERS AWAY: we should never become so caught up in bettering ourselves that we forget to love and appreciate those who matter.
PUSH OURSELVES: everyone has limits. Recognize them, seek to compromise, and find a healthy balance.

Open minds can lead to open hearts – within us and toward others. And when we use what we learn to not only better our lives but the lives of people around us, we begin to change the world. Because in the end, we are all in this together, navigating the bumps and bruises as we go.

Seek to learn. Seek to change. Seek to help. Continue to seek even if you never find what you are looking for …


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~Inspired ME, Joyful BE


Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash

change · discovery · learning · self

Master The Game Of Hide And Seek

Life is a lot like the game of Hide-And-Seek.

THE HIDING
Everyone has moments when they need to be alone, away from anyone and anything. For some people, the solitude and quiet is renewing and welcome. For others, the fear of being alone is so debilitating it overshadows any good that might come from it.

The Ups: It is important to understand that hiding within our own thoughts and spaces is a necessary part of living. Think about it. We all have secrets. We all do things privately we would never do in public. Incredible growth can come from simply being within ourselves and without outside demands or judgment. Diving deep into our heads and spending quality time there can provide clarity, leaving us stronger, more focused, and ready for new challenges.

The Downs: When we prefer to stay hidden, however, there might be a problem. If we constantly shy away from people and places to the point where it makes us uncomfortable, we should look to understand why. There are many possible factors (personality, psychological, social, etc.) that influence our ability to bounce back. And while the reasons may seem impossible to overcome, there are countless resources to help us manage the struggle and realize we are not alone.

The In-Between: Work to create meaningful personal moments and when you do find those pockets of time, place all energies on fixing whatever is broken and clearing away the negative. Nurture you so you can nurture others. And when you are done, be sure to venture back out and share the good with the rest of the world.

THE SEEKING
It is not only human nature to seek solutions to our problems, it is imperative to personal growth. Yes, we may fear the realities of what we might find, but we can never move past the troubles or hardships unless we open our minds and explore the unknown.

The Ups: It can be difficult to admit we might be the one who needs to change, that we are not doing life the best way. The harsh truth? We are not always right. We make mistakes and wrong decisions, hurt others and fail. And when we do, we must own it. Acknowledging our role leads to improved situations and relationships, but more importantly, it leads to self-discovery. Learning more about who we are is an amazing thing. Accepting who we are is even better.

The Downs: If we become so caught up in solving our own problems we might miss out on what is happening around us. We miss out on experiences. We miss out on people. We miss out on joy. We miss out on love. Life is not meant to be easy. Nor is it meant to be figured out all of the time. Sometimes we just have to stop searching, let the questions go unanswered. Finding who we are can be a lifelong process and one without a true end.

The In-Between: We are always changing, ever evolving. The person we are today will not be the same person we are tomorrow. So keep looking, follow the clues, and fix what you can. But as you do, stay steady in the idea we are a mystery that will likely never be solved.

Too often we find fault or blame others for whatever is wrong in our lives when what might be required is time alone, introspective thought, and meaningful change. Hiding may seem deceitful – as if we are avoiding something by staying in the shadows – but when we use that time to better understand ourselves, it can bring us into the light. And if we go to the next level by combining what we learn with the search for improvement, life becomes more fulfilling, more purposeful, more inspired, more everything.


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~Inspired ME, Joyful BE


Photo by Cole Hutson on Unsplash

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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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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