acceptance · confidence · relationships · self · spirituality

Faith Takes Many Forms

After the New Year, I wrote about promises. To ourselves and others. This month I focus on the promise of faith.


Faith is a difficult concept to define. For some, it signifies confidence in a spiritual power. For others, it might simply mean placing trust in the unknown. The path can seem clear and straightforward or prove cloudy and unpredictable.

Regardless of how faith is viewed or what method is practiced, it is important to develop a higher level of awareness, connect to a layer beyond the known. A deep belief in something greater than ourselves serves as a guide. It reminds us things will be fine whether we follow the proven course or explore new territory. Faith enhances the lifetime joys while minimizing the challenges of daily living. It celebrates. It cheers. It comforts. It heals. It provides strength when at our weakest and direction if we become lost.

If the idea seems overwhelming, think of faith more as a positive way to approach life, one in which hope and optimism rather than fear and pessimism are the norm. And the good thing is: the more it is practiced, the easier it becomes.

Unsure how to build a solid foundation of faith? There are two basic types that can be drawn upon, no matter the time, situation, or individual.

FAITH IN SELF
Believing in ourselves is faith in its truest form. We hold the power within to push through any obstacle placed in our way. Unfortunately, many of us are the root cause of those obstacles. Negative thoughts, doubt, and critical internal dialogue often lead to self-sabotage. We allow small hurdles to grow and manifest into more than they are, leaving us so unsure of our ability that we become frozen and unable to move forward. It is easier to pity ourselves and give into fear than face adversity and seek solutions. We construct imaginary comfort zones and reasons we cannot succeed to protect us from hurt, disappointment, or failure.

Why inflict unnecessary pain and impose limits when we should be giving ourselves love, compassion, and patience?

The next time you stumble upon a personal roadblock: 1) step out of yourself and think how you would treat a family member or friend in the same situation and then 2) bestow that same kindness upon yourself.

Reclaim the power within.

FAITH IN OTHERS
During times of trouble, it can be easy to fall further into ourselves rather than reach out. And while we often carry the power to solve problems on our own, there will be moments when life proves too much for us to handle. When this happens, do not be afraid to seek help from external sources. Support comes in surprising ways – spouses, children, family, friends, neighbors, employers, school, church, community, and even complete strangers. Asking for assistance may seem daunting but humans are instinctually wired to aid others in crisis. We want to help. We want to be needed. And when given the chance, we want to improve the experiences for others.

No matter how much we try, we cannot do this thing called life alone. We need people throughout our journey.

Open your heart and mind. Listen to ideas other than your own, appreciate advice of those who have gone before, and realize that sharing the struggle has unexpected benefits. Deep bonds are created once we realize we are more alike than different. Limitations become challenges to overcome rather than boundaries we cannot cross. We become reminded of just how wonderful people can be.

We are stronger together.

Believing – in self, in others, in anything – is a unique experience. There is no right or wrong way to believe. If someone imposes opinions or ideas on another, that is not a natural act. It is in the power of personal decision, the devotion to whatever is good for the individual that leads to the very success of one’s faith.

There will be times, however, when we may question the usefulness and purpose of beliefs held for so long. That is okay. Faith tests us – it is only fair we should test it back. If that time ever comes, do not be afraid to dig deeper into the reasons and facets of your conviction. Faith – in any form – should serve us well.

To believe is to hope – for something better, greater, more than what can be seen with the actual eye. It should be exciting and rewarding and above all, fulfilling. The next time Life trips you up … see what is within you, search for what is around you, look beyond the obvious.

Have a little faith.


Join me for A YEAR OF PROMISE!

Follow along as I focus on a different promise each month. This will not be some hard-core, paid program but a gentle exploration of changing how we view (and do) life. And in the end, maybe some parts will remain unchanged while others will be done in an entirely different way. The future is open, it is waiting, and it is all ours …

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Photo by Ray Hennessy on Unsplash

compassion · generosity · kindness · love · relationships

Many Reasons To Love

After the New Year, I wrote about promises. To ourselves and others. This month I focus on the promise of love.

When we think of love, we often think about what it does for us, the way it makes us act and feel. But with the upcoming holiday celebrating the very concept of love I wonder – have we ever considered what our love can do for another? 

LOVE can …

Calm – It provides steadiness in a rocky world.
Lift – It offers support through hardship and trouble.
Soothe – Consistent affection offers peace to the soul.
Elevate – Everything is more enjoyable when shared with another.
Push – It encourages the achievement of goals and dreams.
Pull – It reminds us to interact on a deeper level.
Respect – Everyone needs to feel they are worthy.
Accept – It allows us to simply be ourselves without judgment.
Connect – It suggests we are better together than alone.
Humble – Opening ourselves to others requires compromise.
Reward – Giving a little gives us far more in return.
Trust – It builds confidence in other relationships and experiences.
Heal – The hurt, the pain, it can be eased, possibly erased.
Revive – It carries remarkable strength, energy, and life.

To love. To be loved. No matter how it is done, it is a special gift – one that should be given whenever possible.


Join me for A YEAR OF PROMISE!

Follow along as I focus on a different promise each month. This will not be some hard-core, paid program but a gentle exploration of changing how we view (and do) life. And in the end, maybe some parts will remain unchanged while others will be done in an entirely different way. The future is open, it is waiting, and it is all ours …

SUBSCRIBE to Blog Posts and LIKE on Facebook so you don’t miss out!


Photo by Laura Ockel on Unsplash

family · home · parenting · relationships · technology

How Less Tech Gave My Family More

Parents: we have a problem. Technology is changing our kids.

Of course we know this. Extensive research is conducted. Long-range studies are published. But recently, I witnessed the impact on my own family firsthand. Please realize this is not some comprehensive or organized experiment. It is simply real life – my life – and to be honest, the outcome would vary based on individual situations. But I will say this:

My son has changed. For the better. And it is all because we took his phone away.

Our kid is a good kid. He is smart, kind, hardworking, shy, witty, and an incredible blessing. But at the beginning of February, something occurred in our family that led to a revamp of rules for our son. Access to technology is a privilege not a right in our household which means he has to earn the ability to have and use. And while the trigger for this decision is not important, the results are.

WHAT WE DID:

  1. NO PHONE. Not at school. Not at home. Not anywhere. No calls, texts, internet, music, gaming. Nothing. He does not have access.
  2. NO COMPUTER. He must use a chromebook for school, but he is limited to homework and assigned internet searches.
  3. NO EMAIL. Personal email has been blocked, and school email must be related to assignments.

WHAT WE NOTICED:

  • more conversation
  • more interaction
  • more connection
  • more focus
  • more patience
  • more consideration
  • more creativity
  • more inspiration
  • more laughter
  • more joy
  • more peace
  • more love

Our son has always been amazing, but now he is like a different kid. There is less arguing and mood swings. He plays outside more. Free time is spent reading and writing. If he wants to talk to someone, he must do it in person. If he wants to learn about something, he needs to ask. We have never allowed social media apps but perhaps just the pressure of texting, emailing, and being in the know was too much.

Like many teens, he was addicted. But I also think he was fearful. Of not being cool. Of not keeping up. Of missing out.

These rules might seem harsh but they were necessary for our end goal: a reset. And though there was reluctance by our son, they were agreed upon as a family. It has now been one month, and we are planning to reinstate phone privileges slowly and with time limits. [Note: It would be unfair to abruptly change the rules for a child without thought, discussion, or a valid reason. But if the opportunity arises to make a meaningful change as a way to guide or teach a lesson, take it.]

We are not perfect parents. We are ever-learning. But this experience has taught us to disconnect so we can reconnect.

With the horrors of recent current events, it might feel harder than ever to parent, especially teenagers. But when the outside world begins to overwhelm our children that is a sign for us to take charge of what is happening on their inside. We must not be afraid to follow instincts, make tough decisions, and say no when everyone else seems to be saying yes.

Our kids can do without and survive, but we must take the initiative. More importantly, we need to lead by example – that means logging off more and going screen free as well. There is much to be found online but in the end, the best of life is lived offline.

We have the power to power off.


Photo by Tyler Lastovich on Unsplash

family · happiness · love · relationships · self

Many Reasons To Love

What does love mean to you? Sure, there is a standard definition, but love is not as easily explained when it comes to each one of us.

There is no specific way to love. It is unique to the individual and ours alone to share. What’s more, there are many types of love and infinite ways to express it. It might be private or at times very public. It can seem magical but then leave us heartbroken. And while we may seek a one-true-perfect kind of love, the reality is this: love is quite messy.

It is not meant to be easy – nothing worth having ever is. But too often we become caught up in the “idea” of love – as if we should be doing it differently or better. We complicate matters rather than simplify. Love can be easier if we stop over-analyzing and comparing. Allow it to be what it is meant to be: a feeling of elation and affection. Real and pure.

LOVE IS AT ITS BEST WHEN IT COMES NATURALLY.

Listen to your heart. It is telling you there are many reasons to LOVE …

WHO you are – rather than hide your differences, embrace them
WHO you are with – spend your moments with those who matter
WHAT you do – follow your heart and your dreams
WHEN you can – see the good, be kind, show patience, find the joy
WHERE you are – enjoy the places life takes you and moments it gives you
WHY you love – cherish those around you without conditions
HOW you love – give to others without judgment
HOW you are loved – appreciate those who believe in you and see your value

Love really does make the world go around. It humbles. It connects. It hurts. It heals. It carries purpose, compassion, and a desire for others to find their happiness. And the best part of love is that we cannot help but share it with others.

Look to love. Choose love. Love everything.


Photo by Mara Ket on Unsplash

acceptance · letting go · relationships

When You Are Not Wanted


One of the hardest things I had to do was let go of someone I did not want to release.

I was not ready to have this person leave my life, but they no longer wanted me in theirs. I am not talking about a loss such as divorce or death.

Sometimes people just shut us out.

There might be an obvious reason for the disconnect: argument, betrayal, disrespect, etc. But there might also be a time when someone stops acknowledging us due to no reason at all. At least not one known to us.

The fact there is no defined cause for the break or clear moment to reflect on makes the estrangement that much harder to understand.

Our first instinct is to question our role. What did we say? What did we do? Did we let them down? Hurt them somehow? Where did we fail? What grievous error did we make? What unknown line did we cross?

Why would this person simply let us go without warning?

It is natural to believe we are to blame. Though this might indeed be the case, more often people do things and make decisions that have absolutely nothing to do with us. Maybe they are making big changes or following a new path. Perhaps they are caught in the trappings of daily life.

We may not be the intended target but simply collateral damage.

Once we determine we have not done anything wrong, we can experience a varying range of emotions. We might feel relief if the relationship was toxic or damaging. But if it was someone we care deeply about (a dear friend) or love (a family member), the hurt can run deep and wide.

As with any loss, overcoming the pain can take time. And for some, moving on becomes impossible. The constant wonder of what happened can stall any progress or enlightenment. And in the worst instances, it leaves the person feeling so rejected, they find it difficult to trust or become close to another.

If someone you value no longer cares to connect, there are different ways to approach it:

  1. Be friendly but uncommitted. Politely participate in interactions (no matter how big or small) whenever paths cross. There is no malice or resentment in this approach but little attempt is made to pursue a deeper relationship.
  2. Choose to take the high road. This option is particularly helpful in family or social situations where avoidance is not possible. Interactions with some people are inevitable, and it is unfair to subject others to any falling out. Be present and thoughtful.
  3. Seek to find an answer. This is best handled in a careful manner and environment where no one feels ambushed or attacked. The primary goal? Discover what caused the break. Perhaps it can be mended or maybe it is beyond repair, but at least it is known.
  4. Simply move on. Some people come into our lives for a specific purpose but are not meant to stay forever. Appreciate the time shared together. Look for the lesson. Learn from it. And use the knowledge to create better days and more meaningful connections.

Relationships should not be uncomfortable or forced. And while someone might make us feel unwanted, it may be the universe sending a gentle reminder: focus on those who fulfill our lives and bring us joy.

We may never truly understand the reason someone shuts us out, but perhaps we are not meant to. Sometimes life is simply about letting go of one thing so we can grab onto something else.


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~Inspired ME, Joyful BE

Photo by George Bonev @ Unsplash

acceptance · letting go · obstacles · relationships · self

Expect Less, Live More

SOMETIMES WE EXPECT TOO MUCH

from OTHERS – because we want people to treat us as we would treat them or believe they should think and behave a certain way.

from OURSELVES – because we think we are overly capable or are unable to recognize our limits and become self-critical when we falter.

If the realities of life do not match the expectations in our mind, it is natural to feel:

ANGER (as if we have somehow been disrespected by another or believe we have completely failed ourselves)
RESENTMENT (because others are not giving us what we need or we are unable to fill a void)
FRUSTRATION (when people are not doing what we want or we are not reaching our own objectives)
HURT (if someone does not seem to care about us or we do not care about ourselves)
REJECTION (the belief we are not good enough for others or doubt our personal worth)
FEAR (because we planned for one outcome and now have no idea how to cope with another)
HOPELESS (if nothing goes our way, our efforts begin to appear useless)
DEPRESSED (when everything seems to come easier to others, we believe we are inferior or at fault)

Setting goals and following dreams is vital to creating a purposeful life. And quite often, holding onto hope is the only thing to keep us moving forward in the most difficult of times. But there are enough challenges along the way – imagining or manufacturing problems that do not exist makes everything harder than it needs to be.

Life is never predictable – not for anyone. And we cannot control anything – or anyone.

We must allow others to be unique, true to who they are, and living a life independent of external wants or desires. We also need to give ourselves the same courtesy.

The next time you find yourself upset because things did not go as planned…

PAUSE – BREATHE – REFLECT – SEEK TO UNDERSTAND

If someone has disappointed you, remind yourself it is not intentional or a personal affront. We are human. We make mistakes. We are individuals free to live as we choose.

If you have disappointed yourself, remember it is not the end of all things. In fact, it could signal a new beginning. Be patient. Be compassionate. Be willing to let go or start again.

Bad experiences can carry a hidden good. An opportunity to become more aware – of others or yourself. A much-needed break or relief from unnecessary worry or stress. Or perhaps a second chance to right whatever is wrong. A failed expectation may be nothing more than the universe sending a sign: This is Life, happening as it should.


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~Inspired ME, Joyful BE


Photo by Dawid Zawiła 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