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

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

celebration · happiness · home · self

Joy To Your World

I hope you are wrapped in the warmth of a magical holiday season.

That your children are amazed and filled with wonder.
And your family is overcome with unbelievable joy.
That you find inspiration in little things so you can go on to do big things.
And you are surrounded by people and things you love.
That you recognize the blessings not only in these days but in the everyday.
And you are in this moment and each one hereafter.

Because although this is THE season of giving gifts, it is also about what we give to ourselves: In self-care. In thoughts. In spirit. In hearts. In time. In purpose.

Spread happiness on the outside, but do not neglect the inside. For while it might seem difficult to make the self a priority … when we give to ourselves we can give more to those around us.

Christmas becomes merrier.

The New Year seems happier.

Traditions shine brighter.

Family feels closer.

Memories linger longer.

May your world be filled with joy. May your family be touched by peace. May you have a very Merry Christmas.

~ INSPIRED ME, JOYFUL BE

letting go · renewal · self · simplicity

The Bright Side Of Going Dark

These past months have been difficult. Not in the crisis-horrible-things-happened kind of difficult. But more in the way of stressful.

Fall is always a busy time for us. My husband resumes heavy work travel, I resume full-time writing, and my son resumes a hectic school and sports schedule. I know I am not special. Everyone, especially parents, struggles with the daily demands of basic living. But the thing I know is this: I can manage extreme multitasking and chaotic days for a while (and thrive!), but there always comes a breaking point. One where I must say no more.

This is when I go dark.

When many people think of the dark, they become anxious and scared of the unknown, fearing what might lurk in the shadows. Others may see it as a depressing state or one where negativity lingers. It is different for everyone but for me, it means stepping back.

I view it as a way to reset.

1. DISCONNECT SO WE CAN RECONNECT
Texts, phone calls, emails, messaging, news feeds, social media, surfing online, television, movies, gaming. We become so caught up in the “keeping up” it can overwhelm and consume precious time that could be better spent elsewhere.

GO DARK: When staying current on news, in touch with family and friends, and up-to-date on my author and writer tasks takes a toll, I step out of the virtual world and into the real one. I go dark online by reducing social media logins, unsubscribing to unnecessary blogs and news feeds, and powering down devices. Decreasing an online presence and replacing it with in person interactions or conversations not only improves relationships, it nourishes the soul. It also allows for activities we love or time to care for ourselves. A few extra unplugged minutes every day can change everything.

2. SAY NO NOW SO WE CAN SAY YES LATER
We all feel guilt for not doing enough – for our family, friends, home, job, church, school, community, ourselves. And thanks to external pressures by society, we begin to believe something is wrong with us, that we are somehow failing when we aren’t doing all the “things.”

GO DARK: I try to weigh the value of each new task or activity and seek to prioritize. But when I become caught up in the doing, I pause and ask what really matters. I go dark socially by putting family needs first, being realistic about my ability as an introvert, and ignoring the fear of missing out. Simplifying schedules by keeping the important things leaves more room for real appreciation and a sense of peace. Being in the moment might seem like a luxury but it is definitely within reach. We can do it all – just not all at once. And if we cannot do it all, let something go so we might fully embrace something else.

3. LET GO SO WE CAN HOLD ON
Too often we place importance on external things – big and small – regardless of their true worth in our lives. It is easy to fall into the trap of making lists and intricate plans or acquiring items in an effort to reach some unrealistic fantasy of how things should be.

GO DARK: I cannot do everything well and when I try, something inevitably suffers. With the holidays and sports ramping up, I know I must release the image of perfection. I go dark personally by freeing myself from unattainable goals, eliminating unnecessary tasks and clutter, and focusing on what brings true joy. By ridding ourselves of the excess we create space for meaningful relationships, cherished memories, and peaceful moments. Strive for imperfection. Decide what goes and what stays. Realize letting go does not mean doing without. Yes, some things might be gone forever but what matters will remain.

It is important to know when to retreat into the dark. And when you do, go willingly and with purpose. Reclaim your time, rediscover who you are and what you want life to be. Do not be afraid to turn out the lights because when you turn them back on, life will shine brighter than ever before.


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~Inspired ME, Joyful BE


Photo by John Silliman on 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

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

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