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

acceptance · renewal · self · simplicity

When You Hit A Wall, Lean Against It

This summer has been a lot tougher than I care to admit. For although we are officially on summer break, much of it hasn’t really felt like summer or a break.

My son loves sports – as in he could practice, play, watch, analyze, and research all day. And because he loves sports, he loves participating in a variety of camps. I register him for some because they are worth the time and cost. They also provide an opportunity to hang with friends, be coached at a different level than during the school year, and simply have fun.

And so it is that my son and I have very different views of summer. He prefers warp speed. I prefer slow and steady. He wants to compete. I want to relax. He likes places to go. I like no schedule. He seeks to be challenged. I seek serenity.

Of course I believe immense value comes from activities and experiences. But I also believe occasional boredom, having absolutely nothing planned, and stepping away from the crazy can be equally rewarding.

Any moment – grand or not – can become a cherished memory.

My struggle? Surviving cancer often makes me believe I should hold onto everything with a grateful heart while at the same time I should let go of whatever is a waste of time and energy and just … live.

I want every moment to matter – both for him and for me – which is why I often do things I do not necessarily want to do. As a parent, my son’s happiness automatically becomes my happiness. In a strange way I have to do things I do not want to do in order to get what I ultimately want … joy in the everyday.

The problem? For the first five weeks of summer we were on a tight schedule. And while I loved seeing my son do the things he enjoys, I tried to do too much. Even worse, when I reached my limit, I (stubbornly) kept going.

I HIT A WALL.

The solution? Pause. Reflect. Remember the magic summer can bring. I will make the most of the next five weeks. Our little family has already enjoyed one vacation – glorious days exploring, relaxing, and simply being together. Up next is another trip filled with family and fun. And in between we will do a little of something and a whole lot of nothing.

I AM LEANING AGAINST THE WALL.

Sometimes we must give in to the demands, feel overwhelmed, and push ourselves to get through busy or difficult days. And other times, we might have to say yes when we really want to say no, especially if it comes to pleasing the people we love. The key is realizing when we have reached maximum capacity. Yes, it takes strength to keep up with it all, but it takes even greater strength to release the guilt, take care of ourselves, and break away.

If you have hit a wall, lean against it.


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~Inspired ME, Joyful BE

change · confidence · goals · self

What To Do When No One Has Your Back

Face it, there will be times when no one supports your decision, when you are on your own, and when it is all on you.

We like to believe we achieve goals or succeed because someone helped us along the way. And to be honest, the majority of the time that is the case. Many of us would never overcome the bumps and bruises of life or exceed our own expectations without the aid of a spouse, family member, friend, neighbor, school, church, or community.

While it is true we pull our strength and motivation from those around us, there will come a time when we have no one to lean on – when no one has our back.

If you find yourself adrift in a sea of doubt and alone in your dream, it might be time to look inward rather than out for the validation and support you need.

3 WAYS TO BE THERE FOR YOURSELF

Become your loudest cheerleader –
When the crowd around you quiets to barely a whisper, that is the perfect time to unleash your inner voice and speak up loud and clear. In the most difficult and darkest of moments, seek whatever is good. Positive affirmations, celebrations for small victories, and personal rewards or incentives can all be the driving catalyst to keep you moving forward. Telling yourself “you got this!” or shouting out an “atta-girl!” (even if you do not completely believe it) may seem silly or insignificant but it can make an incredible difference when it matters most.

Do not give up on yourself (even if others have) –
A goal, particularly a far-reaching one, may take a toll over time. People will come and go and possibly tire of your journey, but that is to be expected. It is not their desire, it is yours. Dreams are tricky things. They can seem awesome and attainable at one moment and then ridiculous and out of reach the next. If living with it 24/7 pushes you beyond your limits, it might be time to reset. When at your lowest, focus your mind and heart on the end game and try to remember how great it will feel to reach the highest point. The ability to say you did it when no one thought you could can be an amazing motivator.

Remember the impossible is possible –
At some point someone will tell you it is a waste time and you should let it go. That is okay, especially if it is something you really want and believe in. A personal passion does not always need to be understood by an outsider. If you want and believe it that should be the key motivator. Some of the greatest inventors, doctors, musicians, artists, leaders, etc. were told they were crazy and wasting their time. But they had a vision, something no one else could understand in its beginning stages because it seemed too abstract and unreal. Even when others may not see it, keep your eyes wide open. Fight for what you know to be true and when you are done, share it in all of its entirety and beauty for the rest of the world to see.

In a world where we gain affirmation from virtual thumbs-up, social likes, and shares, it can be difficult to find and place value on our own thoughts and actions. Support comes from a variety of sources and whatever is given should definitely be appreciated. Just do not forget that sometimes, the most important person to have your back is you.


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daily life · relationships · self

The Legacy We Leave

A few years ago, I posted a book promotion for a complete stranger on my author blog. (You can read the original post but be warned, formatting or links may be off). She was an indie author and warrior who lost her battle with cancer and as a tribute, fellow bloggers were promoting the book on her behalf.

My reason to participate was simple: her story was my story. She was young (like me). A mother (like me). A writer (like me). A woman touched by cancer (like me). It did not matter if her book was good or not (in truth, I didn’t even think of it until now). All I knew was that she deserved a chance to share her story, to shine as a writer.

The only way I could help was to preserve her legacy.

Legacy is the reason I wrote and published my first novella in 2010. The entire purpose was for my son. I wanted him to have a book written by me, something tangible that I created. And as someone who has always been writing or thinking about writing, a book was a no-brainer. It is a clear representation and distinct memory of me. It is another layer of who I am that I wanted to share and preserve for him.

I chose a book but it is important to know there are countless ways to establish a legacy and leave something of us behind. And the best part? it does not need to be a grand gesture or require a lot of effort. Nor does it need to be done to impress or please someone else.

In fact, I can guarantee you have probably created a lasting memory and not even realized it.

HAVE YOU EVER?

loved unconditionally
shown compassion
volunteered time
lent a helping hand
lifted someone up
granted patience
caused a smile
said I love you just because
hugged and refused to let go
offered forgiveness
supported a decision
cheered the loudest
listened, really listened
opened your heart
donated to those in need
provided friendship
cared for another

If you have done any of these things, you have left a legacy, an indelible imprint on the life of another person.

Your time, attention, support, affection – these are the easiest gifts to give. Share them freely and often with those who deserve and appreciate them.

Be with the ones you love. Be present. 

By making the moments – the now – matter, you are providing a lasting impression of your time here on earth. The little things you do and say carry great power.

Leave a legacy.

Impact the lives of others and change the world simply by being here and in doing good things. You do not need a viral post or headline or something tangible to reflect your importance. You live it every day.


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~Inspired ME, Joyful BE

acceptance · confidence · self

Dear Introverts: Stop Apologizing

I am a slow learner. For much of my life I believed I was an extrovert. After all, I enjoy time with friends and family. I love a happy hour stop, glass (or four) of wine, and girl chat. I appreciate a good party or dinner out. I volunteer when possible, attend school and sport events. I socialize and subscribe to the adage “the more the merrier.”

But a while back, I stumbled upon an INTROVERT explanation which completely changed my view. The part that stood out? The use of ENERGY.

For while extroverts gain their energy from stimulating events and being surrounded by other people, introverts derive their energy in the quiet moments and by being alone.

It does not mean introverts are anti-social. It simply suggests they tend to lose energy and become drained more easily than extroverts, and as a result require ample time alone to recharge. In addition, introverts typically enjoy the moments spent on their own and gain satisfaction from solitude.

This. Is. Me.

I do well with groups and crowds and nights away from home … I just cannot do a lot of it, especially in a short time. I need to step back, take a break, renew and recharge – alone. Once I do, I am ready to get out again.

I AM AN INTROVERT. Or, more specifically an outgoing introvert!

Of course as a blogger/author who works hour upon hour from home and in isolation, that might seem obvious. In fact, writer often comes up under suggested professions for those who are introverted.

It is also possible I have changed. As we age, it is natural to simplify our time and surroundings. Perhaps my personality shifted when I embraced the concept of MINIMALISM fifteen years ago. Maybe that was the turning point – the one of filling my life with experiences rather than things? But then again, maybe not.

In truth, I am not concerned about why or how I moved toward the category of introvert. What bothers me is that I somehow made myself believe something was wrong with me.

I try not to be busy every day and night of the week. I avoid over-scheduling. I do not organize tons of interesting kid activities or adult gatherings. I am content to spend time at home. I have not mastered the art of keeping up with calls, texts, emails, and social media.

What is wrong with me?

Turns out, nothing is wrong with me. Once I understood what I was and what it meant, I made the decision to spend my time more efficiently and without explanation. My days are now better tailored to my personality.

I intend to live with purpose.

Yes, I still feel judged once in a while, especially when I meet someone new. And I feel left out at times, though it is often by my own design.

When an introvert says no too often, others stop asking. They are not the first to be invited or asked to help. They are not the person others think to call or text. It is easy to feel forgotten or dropped altogether from the friend list. And for an introvert who does not feel comfortable reaching out, this can be upsetting.

Please know, none of this is a sign that you are unlikable or unloved. It is not a measure of your worth or popularity. And above all, it is not rejection. It is simply a reflection on the business of life.

It is not uncommon to internalize these feelings or believe we are the problem. Society is geared to reward those who are more extroverted. And sadly, there are countless articles on managing introversion as if it is a chronic affliction in need of a cure.

You are not broken.

Even still, people with introverted tendencies often feel the need to explain and inevitably apologize. Stop doing that. Now. If you are content with your life, you do not owe an apology. Not to yourself. Not to anyone.

YOU ARE NOT

  • selfish
  • uncaring
  • lazy
  • inconsiderate
  • rude
  • obligated
  • unworthy of affection
  • boring
  • too serious
  • intense
  • shy
  • reserved
  • anti-social
  • socially inept

Introversion is a character trait, not a problem to be fixed. Do not feel guilty. Do not feel sorry. Do not be ashamed or embarrassed. BE YOU.


WONDER IF YOU ARE AN INTROVERT?

What Is An Introvert

23 Signs You’re Secretly An Introvert

KNOW SOMEONE WHO IS AN INTROVERT?

They are not a label nor do they fall into one category. Many enjoy conversation, socializing, possess an excellent sense of humor, and are generous, compassionate, and willing to help.

10 Ways Introverts Interact Differently With The World

6 Reasons Why You Should Appreciate Introverts

QUICK TIPS

  1. Be patient
  2. Give them a break now and then
  3. Do not pressure
  4. Avoid guilt trips
  5. Do not judge their decisions
  6. Do not try to change them
  7. Keep extending invitations
  8. Welcome them into your circle
  9. Do not make them feel forgotten
  10. Appreciate the time spent together
acceptance · confidence · self · simplicity

7 Ways To Simply BE

Sometimes I wonder what is wrong with me.

In any given day, there is that inevitable moment: the one where I realize I am dropping the proverbial ball.

I want to do all things. BE all things.

A wife who dotes on her husband so he might realize how amazing he is, how much he is loved, and how wonderful life is with him in it.
A mother who expertly walks the delicate balance between tough and pure love while teaching her son how to succeed, fail, respect others, challenge himself, dream big, be realistic, and thrive in this crazy world so he might one day change it for the better.
A daughter who is not too wrapped up in this current life to appreciate the woman who gave it to her.
A sister who never forgets to thank her siblings for the memories, laughter, and unconditional support.
A niece who feels blessed to have funny, loving, caring, and giving women who are not only aunts but friends.
An aunt who loves her nieces and nephews as if they were her own children.
A friend who has time to listen, help, advise, laugh, and simply be there when needed.
A writer who understands the purpose of her words and the need to share them.
A woman who is all things for all people – one who never wavers, has the right answers, provides eternal praise, rarely criticizes, never hurts another, does not judge, always knows what to say, puts herself first, dresses impeccably, maintains a spotless home, prepares gourmet meals, never forgets an appointment/grocery item/to do item, is always on time, and all the while making it seem effortless.

Of course, this is a fantasy. Succeeding in one area of my life often means I am struggling in another. And to be honest, I am okay with that. Struggle is a part of life and as long as I am not failing completely in any given area, then I am fine.

It simply is not possible to be all things to all people all of the time. It is not only unrealistic and exhausting but impossible to perform at top speed and perfection every minute of every day.

I have learned to give myself two beautiful gifts: patience and compassion. And once I willingly accepted those gifts, I realized something: I am everything I hope to be. For even when I am not consciously performing some act to prove it, I am all of those things. They are part of me.

I have not lowered my standards, but I refuse to set too high of expectations. I no longer push myself to work toward something I will never master. More importantly, I do not even want to. I have learned:

7 Ways To Simply BE

  1. FACE REALITY – Take a ruthless look at your schedule and decrease the load wherever possible. Do not be afraid to say no! If letting things go is not an option, work to make it more manageable by simplifying tasks.
  2. BE PROACTIVE – Beware of the trap, the one where you juggle multiple things and seem to be doing well. Inevitably, a ball will drop and when it falls, it will fall hard and possibly shatter. Look for ways to lessen the stress before it is too late.
  3. SET PRIORITIES – Sometimes one area of life will require all of your time and effort. Focus on health, family members, education, career, etc. as needed. And once life is on track, carefully widen the circle to include the people and things you missed.
  4. REACH OUT – Let others know when you are overwhelmed. Ask for patience (or forgiveness). And if someone offers, do not be afraid to accept help.
  5. ANALYZE – Is leisure time being used wisely? Technology can be a huge benefit but it can also be a tool for procrastination or avoidance. Cutting back on screen usage (TV, phone, computer) can free up time for health, quality interactions, a hobby, etc.
  6. DIVIDE AND CONQUER – Consider working on one area of your life and once it is under control, move onto another. The nice thing here is that you completely focus on something you hope to organize and improve for a short time and then once it has become easier to manage, you tackle another one with equal and dedicated attention.
  7. ACKNOWLEDGE – Realize how much you actually accomplish. It is pretty amazing when you look closely at the things you do during one day. Make a comprehensive list – include everything, no matter how small. You will be amazed at all you do. An added bonus? It will show how time is spent and reveal areas to improve or simplify.

Balancing every aspect of life is not easy and as we pass through each new stage, the path only becomes more difficult to navigate. Even when life comes at us fast and hard, however, we can enjoy it. The key?

Show yourself kindness. Be patient and compassionate. Discover how to live this crazy, beautiful life on your own terms. Just BE.


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daily life · happiness · self

A Beginner’s Guide To Happiness

No one true path to happiness exists. There are no step-by-step instructions or checklists to follow, no right or wrong ways to be happy. More importantly, it is not some hidden secret.

Happiness, pure happiness, is not a magical place only open to a lucky few. It welcomes everyone. But to be completely honest, achieving such joy does require effort.

Yes, we need to work to be happy. Everyone has their own definition of happiness and many people do attain it. It is not a place where anyone stays for very long, however. Life happens, stress and demands and troubles keep coming, and the counterpart of sadness (and any other emotion) is equally important to our well-being. The key is to find a healthy balance. If we cannot be perpetually happy, then let us at least be happy most of the time. The way to do this is simple, but the actual implementation is not.

We must seek happiness and continue to seek it as often as we can.

Negative thoughts are needy and possessive. They want us to dwell in the dark along with them. They are also smart and manipulative. Being down is effortless, easy, and because of this a tempting place to stay.

Express and acknowledge the low feelings, but do not linger in the shadows for long. Learn to recognize when the hurt, fear, frustration, or anger have overstayed their welcome. Some signs to watch for: irritability, outbursts, procrastination, avoidance, depression, intolerance, impatience. Recognizing the negativity seeping into daily life and interactions is the first step. The next step is to move toward a solution.

When life pulls you down, reach for whatever lifts you back up. If responsibilities or people push you way past your limitations, step away and fill the time with something you enjoy. And do it until you either forget what bothers you, find a solution, or realize the silliness of it all. In the grand scheme of life, most things are not a big deal. We give them importance because we a) put too much pressure on ourselves b) have pressure put upon us by someone else or c) create drama in an effort to avoid a real problem.

Quick ways to pull back the curtain and let the light in…

  • Take a break from negative news or social media.
  • Breathe in fresh air and soak up sunshine with a brisk walk.
  • Get down on the floor and play with a child.
  • Whip up something comforting in the kitchen.
  • Crank up the music and dance.
  • Take a nap.
  • Read a book.
  • Put your thoughts in a journal.
  • Watch a stupid, lighthearted movie.
  • Reach out to someone who always makes you smile.
  • Go screen free as a family and play board games.
  • Change the scenery – getaway for an hour, day, or weekend.
  • Have a coffee date with a friend.
  • Complete a long-overdue project.
  • Snuggle with a pet.
  • Pamper yourself.
  • Disconnect from toxic people or situations.
  • Solve a puzzle.
  • Engage in a favorite hobby.
  • Hug your partner and kids.
  • Tap into your artistic side and create.
  • Take a class on something you always wanted to learn.

There is no surefire solution and what works today may not work tomorrow. Be flexible. Mix it up. Try new things. Step outside your comfort zone. But above all, be patient and do not give up.

You will find joy. You deserve joy. Happiness is for everyone.


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