goals · letting go · self

Simplify The Task Of Living

We hear it all of the time: Life is a journey, not a destination.

Sometimes we have a detailed map to mark the way but more often there is no set course. Throughout our journey, we will have many different paths from which to choose. No perfect route exists for everyone nor is there an easy shortcut to get where we hope to be.

Expect roadblocks or unwelcome surprises around every corner. Assume the road will be littered with unwanted detours and wrong turns. Learn to adjust the direction and adapt as you go.

Blaze your own trail.

And when the travel leaves you weary, stop and rest. Feeling stuck and unable to move is an ideal time to pause and reflect.

WHAT ARE YOU RUNNING FROM?

What has been is a vital part of who we are in the present moment. There is the good (childhood memories, milestones achieved), the bad (disappointments, failures), and the ugly (extreme heartache, loss). We cannot (and should not) discount what has happened to us before today, because it is necessary for creating our current circumstances.

Dwelling in a painful past, however, can foster discontent and self-doubt. And such negativity often leads to disruptive behavior as an attempt to escape or cope. Substance abuse, food addiction, self-harm, dysfunctional relationships, excessive spending, depression, or anger may mask a deeper problem.

If we continue to pick at a wound, it will never heal. And what does not heal, does not change. A lack of learning from what hurt us along with the inability to let go means we cannot truly enjoy the life we deserve. It taints everything, even the happy moments.

It is important to address the discomfort head on – whether on your own or with the support of others (family, friend, professional). By acknowledging the hold the past has on your present, you can begin to overcome whatever has hurt you and live the life you always imagined.

WHAT ARE YOU RUNNING TO?

What might be is an equally vital part of who we are in the present moment. The future shapes our current actions. It influences the people we allow into our lives. Knowing where want to go and who we wish to be defines our choices and decisions, directly and indirectly.

Our personal hopes, dreams, and goals are worthy of our thoughts, but they are also deserving of our time. There is nothing wrong with seeking a different or better life, and we do not owe explanations to anyone other than ourselves. It is ours to live and as long as we do not hurt another, we have every right to pursue it.

The key is to find a balance, a way to manage our wants and desires with the people and things we value. Do not sacrifice the present or precious time with those who matter most for the sole sake of succeeding or reaching some idealized end.

When you look back, look back with pride. Pride that your dedication, hard work, and determination paid off. And while you bask in the glory of your accomplishment, see the people around you who helped make it possible. Those who supported, cheered, listened, advised, lifted you up. For that will be the true measure of your success.

WHY ARE YOU RUNNING AT ALL?

If the challenges of the past, future, and present day are overwhelming, look for ways to lessen the load. Find your voice. Release the guilt. Follow your heart. Practice self-care. Prioritize your time. Say no to non-essential activities. Organize your space. Seek solutions to your problems. Fix what might be broken, once and for all.

Simplify the task of living.

Work towards understanding how the past has affected you and accepting it will always be part of your today. Just be careful of letting it have too much influence over your tomorrow. Life moves fast enough. Slow down and be in the right now. And if there are times you feel the need to run, run toward something worth celebrating rather than from something you cannot change.

Do not fear the journey, live it.


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~Inspired ME, Joyful BE


Photo by Lucas Favre on Unsplash

goals · letting go · obstacles

Giving In vs. Giving It Your All

With two major projects hanging over my head, I am in that all-important stage where I ask: IS IT WORTH IT?

There are countless moments in life when we are put to the test, pushed beyond our limits, and simply overwhelmed. Some of these moments are unavoidable and not meant to be easy. Others can be difficult but are placed in our path for enrichment and purpose. Regardless of the source, these moments challenge and propel us to another level. They show us who we are.

But what about those times when we are not obligated to do something? What about the things we can quit without anyone knowing or without repercussions? ARE THEY WORTH IT?

The answer can be a tricky one. Yes, there are things we waste time and energy on. But on the flip side, there are things we surrender too easily.

Deciding when to give in or give it my all is not something I like to do. Personally, I am not a quitter. I love the idea of crossing something off my list. Accomplishment and productivity provide wonderful warm fuzzies, and I try to get the sensation whenever I can.

However, with these current projects, I am taxed more than I like. I have limits and often those limits show their ugly head in the way of impatience, frustration, procrastination, and indifference. I could let these two tasks go and no one else would ever know or care. Yet, just when I am ready to release them, something pulls me back. Fresh ideas, a new approach, renewed purpose – they all motivate me to stay with them.

So … how do we know when to GIVE IN or GIVE IT OUR ALL? Ask:

WHY are you doing it?
WHAT is the end goal?
WHO are you doing it for?
HOW does it make you feel?
ARE the sacrifices worth the reward?
WHAT does your gut tell you?

Depending on the answers, it may be time to …

  • REST. Every major undertaking has roadblocks. Be careful of using them as an excuse to quit. The desire to step away could simply mean you are overworked. Take a break and see how it feels. You may experience freedom and relief, but there also might be renewed focus, a sense of determination, or a new idea of how to overcome an obstacle.
  • PAUSE. Making a hasty decision to completely drop something can backfire. Redoing everything and getting back into the task may prove difficult, and the time and money involved can never be recovered. Seek a thoughtful balance in your consideration, but be wary of over-thinking as it can lead to indecision and inaction.
  • LET GO. Letting go is not the same as giving up. Too often we hold onto things we should have released and carry the excess weight, baggage, pressure, and stress until it overwhelms. Saying “no more” when something does not fit into your life is a sign of emotional strength. If your heart is not in it, let go.

Still unsure of what to do? Try these tricks:

1) List the Pros and Cons. Seeing the positives and negatives on paper puts things into visual perspective and provides a better view of the whole picture.
2) Live with the Idea. Before making a decision, pretend you have already made it. It is an easy way to determine if a choice is the correct one without actually committing.

If you find your answers lead in the direction of letting go, remember this: giving in does not equal giving up! It simply means you have chosen to follow a different path, one better suited to your current situation and life. But if you discover you really want something and are willing to manage the bumps and bruises along the way, then go for it with everything you’ve got. Give it your all.


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~Inspired ME, Joyful BE


Photo credit: Photo by Kristopher Roller on Unsplash

acceptance · letting go · relationships · self

Learning To Accept Rather Than Expect

I hate when someone hurts my feelings, but I hate it even more when I let them.

Usually, I have a positive attitude toward people. I look for the good. I believe they mean well. I embrace differences and imperfections. And above all, I try not to judge.

But sometimes, I admit that I am overly sensitive.

Recently someone invited a group of friends to a gathering, and I was not included. No big deal, right? Probably a simple oversight. But in my heart, I knew I was intentionally excluded. For reasons I will not go into here, it was obvious this person chose everyone else but me.

At first I thought I was reading into things too much. I tried to ignore it, forget it. But then, I became upset and angry. And the more upset and angry I became, the more frustrated I became that I even cared.

You see, I make an effort to not allow others to influence my emotions and thoughts about myself. Yet, I am human. My interactions with people lead to the creation of deeper connections and bonds. And with those connections and bonds, I form attachments and feelings toward them. I want to like others and be liked in return.

In reality, I was not upset or angry or frustrated … I was hurt. Hurt that someone did not include me. Hurt that I tried to befriend them, and they did not want me in their circle. Hurt that I was not cool enough to be considered friend material.

So why do I even care about this? Because when someone rejects who I am, I begin to believe there is something wrong with me. I wonder why I am not good enough. I question my worth.

The exclusion itself does not bother me … allowing someone else to control my perception of myself does.

And so, I allowed the hurt to happen and then I allowed it to leave.

Others do not validate who I am as a person. Only I can do that. I do not need people in my life who do not value what I have to offer. There are plenty of family and cherished friends who appreciate me. I refuse to surround myself with someone who (intentionally or not) makes me feel like I am less than. I am more than enough.

Everyone does not have to like me. In truth, I do not like everyone I meet. That is why some people are drawn to each other and some are not. I will, however, continue to be kind and friendly toward this person because that is my nature. I will smile and chat and enjoy our time together because I do like them.

But in those moments I will remember: liking myself more is what matters. And I will not surrender that power to anyone.

The takeaway? Too often we expect people to treat us as we would treat them. Expectations in relationships are not necessarily a bad thing. It is good to establish boundaries and set standards. The trouble comes when we invest in a desired result. If an interaction does not meet our idea of what should happen, it is easy to become disillusioned. We turn the failure of a preferred outcome back onto ourselves, as if we are somehow the problem or to blame.

We have no control. There is no surefire way to know how anyone will behave or what will happen. So the best solution may be this: stop trying.

Stop trying to predict what others will say or do.
Stop trying to guess what someone else is thinking.
Stop trying to examine every word spoken or move made.
Stop trying to micro-manage relationships.
Stop trying to do the impossible.

WHEN WE LEARN TO ACCEPT RATHER THAN EXPECT,
WE WILL HAVE FEWER DISAPPOINTMENTS.
~ unknown


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~Inspired ME, Joyful BE

daily life · letting go · simplicity

What We Really Need

I am smack dab in the middle of a family vacation and while I enjoy the quiet moments and downtime with my family, there is a voice in the back of my head screaming I NEED TO 

… set up two orthodontic appointments, make a list for back to school shopping, clean out my inbox, have the oil changed and car washed, write 3 blog posts, finalize a book outline, get back on a full-time writing schedule, arrange a doctor visit, organize my work files, I NEED TO … I NEED TO … I NEED TO!

sigh

Family. Friends. Work. School. Home. Health. Hobbies. These days our plates are so full – overflowing with tasks and responsibilities – it is easy to become overwhelmed, frustrated, and even distracted.

Personally, I do not mind having things to do and a sense of purpose. But when they infringe on my family time, my fun time, my chance-to-relax time, my VACATION where I am supposed to get-away-from-it-all time … I become seriously annoyed.

These days with my husband, son, and extended family are fleeting. They are irreplaceable moments which might become memories. I refuse to allow everyday demands to taint them. I NEED TO …

… focus on my son’s smile when he tells a silly joke, squeeze my husband’s hand a little tighter when we walk side by side, cheer louder as we watch our favorite major league baseball team, linger longer over a delicious dinner and relaxing glass of wine, savor the memory of our recent family reunions.

WE ALL NEED TO …

seek to experience and explore new things
break away from daily demands whenever possible
put down our phones and other technology
give the people we love our full attention
make time to treat ourselves – often

Life NEEDS to be lived on our terms rather than directed by duty. Believe me, the to-dos will still be there – if and whenever we get back to them. The moments, however, will not.


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~Inspired ME, Joyful BE

acceptance · confidence · fears · letting go

When Failure Is The Only Option

Our little family is officially on summer break, but my thoughts are still wrapped around something that happened at the end of the school year. My son had a presentation due in the final weeks of the last quarter – an in-depth, visual, interactive, role-play type of assignment.

Now, while I am a hands-on parent and actively involved in my son’s education, I am also a realist.

He is in middle school so I only help when absolutely necessary. He is responsible for class assignments, school projects, homework, studying, deadlines, teacher communications, library returns, etc. I no longer interfere or assist or remind about his academics because he is old enough to be held accountable.

He needs to succeed on his own which also means he needs to fail on his own.

So it was that his presentation was due in two days, and he had neglected to mention it. I scrambled to purchase the most basic of supplies and offered to proofread his final report (I am a writer; I can’t help myself). And as I did, I realized he was probably not going to do very well. The example the teacher provided as a guide was far more elaborate, very detailed, extremely organized, and painstakingly set up to impress.

After rushing between school and baseball to print, cut, arrange, paste, and label, he declared himself to be finished and ready for the big presentation. I studied his project board – it was neat, organized, easy to understand. It was … presentable. But still, I am a writer, a person who loves to create and research. I enjoy the planning and effort it takes to make a project shine – pop – and wow.

I feared his project would not wow.

To be honest, I did not even care about his grade. What truly worried me was that he would feel inferior to other kids who had cooler projects with interesting props and better information. But as I watched my son gaze over his finished product with pride in its creation and satisfaction in its completion, I let it all go.

This was his and his alone – he would decide whether he did just enough or more than enough. And he would ultimately pay the price or be rewarded with his grade.

The next morning my husband went to the presentation (parents were invited) and texted a picture of my son smiling beside his project board. Over dinner that evening my son said a lot of people stopped at his station to listen to him speak and complimented his interpretation of a young boy from ancient China. He compensated for a lack of decorative props and colorful design with extensive knowledge and sheer confidence.

He proved less was more. He succeeded when I feared he might fail.

Too often we believe we know the right way to a happy ending simply because we have already walked the path ourselves, found how to get there. And because of this, we hope to save others from the pain or struggle, make it easier somehow.

The problem? If another person constantly tries to guarantee our success we will never understand the importance purpose, desire, and determination play in the achievement of goals. We will never experience the incredible sense of accomplishment that comes from difficult work or rough days. We will never know our victory is sweeter because we fell down and then picked ourselves up (as many times as it took).

And while sharing personal experience is important, it is not always the best predictor of success. Sometimes we must heed the advice of others who have been there while subsequently ignoring it. We must jump into something with nothing more than the simple faith we will be okay because we have done all we can do.

We need to rely on our ability, believe our best is good enough until we are told it is not. And if we do fail, we need to learn how to avoid failing again. On our own.

Mapping our own path often means we will stay on it longer. Perhaps more importantly, it might reveal that pushing to be better is not always a marker of success. Just because we try harder does not guarantee we will get what we want. Sometimes, perseverance is simply a reminder we are able to do great things, things we may have believed to be out of reach. Yes, we might reach a little too high and tumble to the ground. But that is the beauty of failure. It reminds us why we want something, makes it more desirable, and helps us determine if it is really worth it.

I still plan to nudge my son, encourage him to try a little harder, work a little more, and go above and beyond the moment when he thinks he is finished. But I am also going to let him make his own mistakes and allow him to fail. In truth, I hope he fails a lot because that would mean he stepped outside his comfort zone, took chances, and pushed the limits.

Perhaps then he will see himself as I do – so amazing and talented and smart and funny and loving and a reflection of all that is possible in this world. Only then will I feel I have succeeded.


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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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acceptance · health · letting go · simplicity

Master The Art Of Letting Go

I have been letting go of a lot lately. In truth, I have been doing it for years. It is not always an easy or smooth process. Too often, I find myself caught up in a cloud of worry. What if I make a bad decision? What if I hurt someone’s feelings? What if I follow the wrong path? What if? What if? What if?

What if we simply let go of…

THINGS: Where is all of your stuff? one friend asked when he visited our home. I am a lover of beautiful, useful, and sentimental things. I am also a minimalist. Letting go of clutter is not as difficult as one might think. With some practice and guidelines, I consistently maintain a large, lovely home and active family without much excess. This is a wide-reaching topic, so stay tuned for a future post.

OBLIGATIONS: I say no whenever necessary. If it does not fit into our family view, I refuse. Sometimes, I must say yes when I want to say no because well, that is just the way of life. But when I do, it is on my terms. Consider the options. Do not agree out of guilt. Say no to certain things so you can say yes to something better.

TO DOS: I am a list maker – daily, work, seasonal, etc. I am also a wish-list maker. I create grand, sweeping, dreamy lists of everything I would like to do. The secret? When I am done, I go line by line and slash and burn. I cross things off without doing them because I understand my reality. In the end, I am left with the priorities, the things that matter, and a lot less pressure.

DREAMS: Sometimes I have to pause and re-evaluate what it is I really want. Daily demands, previous choices, time constraints, finances, and more can have a major influence on what I hope and envision. Taking stock of where I am in the present moment helps determine where I get to be. Dreams can be changed. Dreams can be postponed. Just never, ever stop dreaming.

EXPECTATIONS: I have made the mistake of expecting too much – from myself, my family, my friends. And when I did, I was inevitably disappointed. It is nearly impossible to match the conversations and interactions I create in my mind so I have stopped doing it. Try to take things as they come and be in the moment because when you just do life, it often amazes and exceeds any expectations you could have set.

PERFECTION: I try to do the right thing, make good decisions, and be the best version of me. But I still have moments when I push myself too far, believing I can control A if I just do B and when I do, things will be perfect. Of course, perfection is a myth and once I remind myself of that, I go back to being perfectly imperfect. 

REGRET: There is not much I regret and the things I have regretted, I made an effort to correct. If you struggle with the after-effects of a bad decision, release the guilt and shame. Direct all energy into fixing whatever is wrong. And if you cannot correct the mess you made, lighten the emotional load by giving yourself the gift of forgiveness.

INDECISION: Making a decision can be difficult, especially if the consequences seem high. Once I make a decision, however, I rarely go back. I have the ability to embrace it, move forward, and give everything I have. One tip? Sit with the idea for a bit before actually committing. If your head and heart are good with the prospect of a new direction or change, follow your instinct and go with it.

PEOPLE: This one is difficult. Even when we know someone is harmful or no good, we tend to hold on. It is human nature to believe we can somehow alter a relationship if we simply try harder, do better, explain our side, convince them, or love more. But the hard truth is: some people are not meant to be together, whether in marriage, family, or friendship. If someone is perpetually negative, demeaning, unsupportive, emotionally unavailable, spiteful, mean, or abusive, it is time to leave. Letting go of toxic people is not an act of cruelty, it is an act of self-care.

TIME: With every passing second, I let go of something precious – time. Cancer scared me enough to realize just how important each moment can be. Yes, I still waste too much time doing stupid things. It is impossible to fill every minute of every day with grand experiences. However, I am hyper-aware of how irreplaceable most of my life is and protect my time every chance I get.

There are countless areas where we can learn to let go – fears, self-doubt, judgment, hate, anger, the list goes on. We are all a constant work in progress. Try one area at a time, then tackle another. With practice, it will not only become easier but welcome. You might even enjoy letting go once you feel the weight lift from your shoulders and the ability to focus on what truly matters. And if you ever feel stuck or unsure … listen to your heart. It knows when to let go.


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