Posted in Life

Notes to Friends: You’re Doing Great

2020 has been quite the wild card of epic proportions.  This year forced every single one of us outside our comfort zone.  Many of us had to learn to adapt in situations that were completely out of our hands.  We had to have faith.  We had to trust the process. 

Lots of blood, sweat, and tears were shed.   We had to keep moving forward despite the tremendous amount of anxiety and fear.  We may not be completely out of the woods, but we are, in fact, still here.  It was raw: going back to the basics, and being reminded of what we have and what matters most to us in this world; feeling more connected than ever despite having to remain 6 feet apart.  

2020 forced us to take a long hard look at our lives as we know it and ask ourselves if we like what we see.  The shutdown made it so that many of us had nothing to do but answer the question.  And here were are with 64 days left.  That is 1602 hours, to be exact.

I just want to say to you, friends:

You are doing extremely well persevering through uncertainty, adversity, challenges and sometimes dark moments. You are extremely strong and I’m thankful for you. Whatever lies ahead, you will get through it just the same way you got here!

Posted in Life

Taking Responsibility: The Plank In Our Own Eyes

Being hurt by a loved one or someone we care about is inevitable. When we feel slighted or emotional about a situation, we come from a place of hurt. We defend our feelings and indignation without being able to see the situation at hand and how we arrived to this point. It becomes difficult to acknowledge the side of the party that hurt us and the part we may have played in the situation because, by acknowledging the other side, we feel somehow it may devalue our pain some how. This is not true.

If we truly care about someone who hurt us, it is important to take the time to try to understand how the situation came to pass. Trying to understand the situation and how it came to pass does not necessarily mean taking full responsibility for what happened. It is identifying the key components that contributed to the outcome.

Taking responsibility for our contribution to the situation can open a dialogue that can possibly facilitate and understanding where as the conflict can not only be resolved but wounds can heal with the knowledge that all parties will make a concerted effort not to repeat the situation. Of course, it’s easier said that done, but getting familiar with removing these planks from our own eyes, help cement the relationships that we value most.

We all have our own planks obstructing our ability to see clearly in many situations when it comes to how we interact with others and our relationship dynamics, but with cause and effect, we must realize that before we address how someone behaves toward us, or how they have hurt us, we must examine ourselves. If we still cannot quite understand others’ point of view, then we must put our pride aside and be brave enough to address it with that person – not others. Go straight to the source, and be open enough to listen and receive what the other party has to say regardless of whether we may agree. If we ask someone why they had done something, we must hear them out and not devalue their thoughts and feelings by trying to defend our pain.

Taking responsibility requires the abandonment of our pride, excuses, and need to be right. Nothing loving, positive and fruitful can come from the planks of pride, excuses, and the need to be right.

Thank you for stopping by.

Posted in Life

The Path of Introspection: road least traveled

in·tro·spec·tion/ˌintrəˈspekSH(ə)n/ Learn to pronounce nounnoun: introspection; plural noun: introspections

  1. the examination or observation of one’s own mental and emotional processes. “quiet introspection can be extremely valuable”

The road least traveled is the road into our hearts and minds. Perhaps just as frightening as public speaking, it’s often avoided until we cannot anymore; by that time, we are usually in our twilight years taking inventory of our lives and the impact and purpose that we had throughout or, it could be onset by the death of someone significant that had a huge impact on our identity.

The road can be rocky because along it may be things that we chose not to think about or we may find wounds that had not completely healed. Revisiting these experiences or emotions seem scary because the possibility of having to feel how we felt way back when could be likely. Because of this, we go on in our daily lives living it and ignoring the path. Truth is, when we do this, these experiences and unhealed wounds influence and bleed into our daily lives and relationships. We do things subconsciously to pivot away from feeling or experiencing these things. Many times, how we pivot away is what causes disruption and conflict in our lives. The more we try to avoid pain, disruption, and conflict, the more we bring it about.

The journey of introspection is the most important journey in life.

Whatever it is that we are ignoring or hiding from finds a sneaky way of veering its hideous head in multiple aspects of our lives. This concept isn’t new, but definitely provokes thought; especially if you are interested in growing and evolving. When I think about the path of introspection, I think it is a way to find your whole self. It’s an introduction to aspects of ourselves that need some attention/integration into who we are now. The answers of why we do the things we do are found there. It’s what navigates us through life and the sea of emotions, reactions, and distractions that come with life.

The best thing about the path of introspection, is that we will find a beacon of light and a new understanding of ourselves, where we are, our place in this world and where we want to be or go. Things begin to unfold for us in ways that had not happened before. Gaining understanding of who we are and what we want out of life is a crucial part of the trajectory of our live. As much as it scares us, it is the most valuable journey we will ever take.

Take the path of introspection as many times as you need. Get to know yourself and heal yourself. Purge what’s no longer needed and merge what’s necessary to empower you and make you the best you that you can be.

Posted in Life

Self-care Misconception

Self-care, me time, being selfish: all have very negative connotations; ironically, these negative connotations resonate with those who need it most. Most of us have never learned the sweet spot within the bounds of the selflessness/selfishness continuum and therefore fall somewhere outside of the healthy parameters.

Being out of Bounds

People of a giving and nurturing nature tend to be out of bounds when it comes to the selflessness/selfishness continuum. Why? because of their aversion to selfishness. Perhaps the concept of selfishness may inspire feelings of guilt, or feelings of rejection. It may be a concept that is just completely foreign due to cultural mores that have shaped an individual. Whatever the root of the aversion may be, it can pose a serious health risk (mental, physical, emotional – all of the above).

Continually giving and nurturing without replenishing can have devastating effects, like for example:

  • Stress
  • Decreased Immune System
  • Triggering of Underlying Health Conditions
  • Insomnia
  • Depression/Irritability

These symptoms are all interdependent. When we run on fumes doing what we do, our stress level increases, which over produces hormones like Cortisol – which, in turn, lowers the threshold of our immune system and triggering underlying health issues like: blood pressure, gastric flare ups, migraines, and fatigue. Stress can keep us up at night and if we are awake, our body is not getting sufficient rest needed to strengthen the immune system. Feeling yucky gives us a yucky attitude which is the perfect breeding ground for strife with all who come in contact with us. It’s a vicious cycle and bumpy ride that can go on for years until we reach the point of no return with our health. It is crucial to make sure we are not on this runaway train.

 

Is selfishness a bad thing?

Definition of selfish

1 : concerned excessively or exclusively with oneself : seeking or concentrating on one’s own advantage, pleasure, or well-being without regard for others 2 : arising from concern with one’s own welfare or advantage in disregard of others.

Notice how self-care is no where mentioned in this definition. Why? Because caring for yourself and being selfish are not the same thing! This is a major misconception that inspires all sorts of feelings that avert us from taking care of ourselves. I encourage you all to research for yourselves What Self-Care Is – and What it Isn’t.

 

Caring for self

I could provide a list from 1-10 on how to start caring for yourself, but instead, I will invoke the tried and true K.I.S.S. method. Keep It Simple Stupid. Start small by listening to your body and getting rest by avoiding collapsing into bed and making sleep a priority and before you do anything, have the same exact conversation that you would with someone you love. If you’re about to do something that you would advise your loved one not to do because they have been “burning the candle at both ends,” then don’t do it. Treat yourself as well as you treat your loved ones. If you need a starting point on how to construct a self-care routine, you can start here 14 Tips for Creating a Self-Care Routine to Nourish Your Body and Soul.

 

Posted in Life

Squandered Love?

When a relationship has run its course, the cracks begin to show along with all the energy spent filling the cracks and/or over looking them.  When the relationship comes to an end, it can leave one person feeling as though they may have wasted their time, energy and love on the other because the relationship wasn’t successful.

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Is love ever truly wasted?

We only love as we know how.  We love the way we were taught to love.  Everyone’s experience is different and therefore, love, as a verb (the act of love), is subjective to a degree.  Because love can be subjective, it can cause a great amount of frustration in a relationship and can leave people feeling unloved because the love isn’t reciprocated in the same way it is given.  Simply put:  it’s like waiting for a ship to arrive at an airport.

If you can relate, take The 5 Love Languages Quiz click here.  It will give you an idea of the love language you have.  It can help bridge the gap and fill in those cracks.  At the very least, it can give you a better idea of how you express your feelings through your actions and gain insight on how other loved ones express theirs.

Unstated norms?

Norms – also subjective.  Many of us have this haphazard notion that once we put a label on it, and the status of the relationship changes, our significant other will somehow transform into that ideal of what we believe a relationship partner should look like and act like; moreover, we expect our significant other to just assume the responsibility of making us happy, keeping us happy, and constantly giving us what we want.  It’s a myopic relationship paradigm that frustrates happiness to no end.

A myopic relationship paradigm coupled with convoluted love language equals a devastating deficit when the bottom drops out of relationship.

Why isn’t that a waste?

When a relationship doesn’t work – it hurts – no matter what.  No one enters any relationship expecting it to fail – even when it’s painfully obvious the relationship is not working.

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It is similar to a gambler who keeps losing, but bets bigger each hand in hopes to winning the jackpot.  Why do we do this?  It’s because love hopes all things.  Love and hope go hand in hand.  Where there is one, the other is not far off.  The capacity to feel and express such complex emotions is a blessing within itself.  Relationships are risky and are essentially no different from gambling – that’s true.  If anything, the experience, albeit painful, provides personal growth and ultimately demonstrates the inner strength and resilience we would not otherwise have known existed.  That is never a waste.

Posted in Life

A Perspective on Aging

We have all heard the platitude, “youth is wasted on the young.” At certain point in our life, if we are blessed enough to cross the threshold of 35 years old, the unstated norms begin to seep into our subconscious that we are, in fact, old; this is despite how we may feel.  Or that by society’s standards, we are at the half way mark to retiring.

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Ageism

A few years ago, I was in a doctor’s office with a good friend of mine discussing the things I wanted accomplished by the time I was 30 years old when you are “unofficially old” but are almost put out to pasture (at least) by the advertising industry’s target market standards.  A woman couldn’t help but overhear our conversation and said to us, “if you have already begun to think of yourself as old, what will you think of yourself when you are in your 80’s like me?”  What she said to us was profound.  It is impossible to avert the ways in which society begins to subtly and overtly shape our perspective on age – which is like the a boogie man pursuing you and gaining on you.  Our looks, relevance, usefulness and capabilities will be called into question (in that exact order). Therein, lies a different “ism” we will experience at some point in our lives, should we get to live long.  This “ism” will span all the ways we can categorize ourselves.  Much like illness, aging is indiscriminate.  And like death and taxes, aging is inevitable and we will have to deal with it in some regard.  So why not start now?

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Blessing or Curse?

Examining how we feel about aging is a good idea because it is important to develop our own perspective on a phase of life that we will eventually experience.  When we were children, we thought about when we “grow up” but most of us as adults, do not give enough thought about when we “grow old” … retirement maybe something a lot of us think about and put money away toward that rite of passage, but we don’t really think about how we will fill out our day or what our roles and purposes will be.  Why is this important? Having a role and purpose is crucial to filling out your day and we all need a reason to get up in the morning.  Start the conversation with yourself and contemplate what that might look like for you.  If you would like to have that conversation with me or if you are interested in exploring life mapping options, feel free to reach out.

Be Well.

 

Posted in Life

Thoughts On Being Grounded

It feels like our society is grounded as we address the COVID-19 pandemic.  Many of us must self quarantine at this time.  All the things that fill out our day causing us to be “too busy” are suspended at the moment.  Whilst this has never before occurred – at least not in my 4.1 decade life span, it’s hard to commit to any one emotion at any given time.  Many of us are experiencing fear and anxiety as we recognize this is beyond our control.

What Can We Do?

Aside from following directions of self quarantining – staying home and practicing preventive measures like washing hands and clothes etc., we can really take advantage of this sabbatical by doing the things that we complained we never had time to do.  Rather than firing up that Fire Stick or binge watching Netflix the entire time, we can choose to make memories with out loved one by spending real quality time with them.  We can check in and catch up on what has been going on in each other’s lives.  We can spring clean or read a book or two. Try to learn something new – a recipe or perhaps a language.  YouTube has so many free tutorials.  Take advantage!

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Or, maybe, just maybe we can rest and relax … take naps and enjoy our surroundings.  These are very simple every day luxuries most of us are not afforded normally. A nice hot bath or a long foot soak can do wonders for well being.

Being Grounded

Something positive can come out of all this.  Although we are being socially distant, we don’t have to be emotionally distant.  Although we cannot go to our favorite places, it doesn’t mean that we cannot go places in our minds with a great book or have fun at home with the people we love.  Grounding society can ground us, if we let it.  Every now and again it’s good to take stock of who and what really matters to you.  What matters gives you purpose – the reason why you run the rat race to begin with.  We can get caught up in it, it’s easy to lose sight of why we are are doing it in the first place.  We have an opportunity to ground ourselves – don’t waste it.  Be Well.

 

Posted in Life

Abandoning Bad Habits

Bad habits are the termites in our success.  Bad habits can essentially weaken, or ultimately destroy our progress, success and generally rob us of peace, happiness and fulfillment.  None of this is truly profound.  We are all well aware of this.  Yet, we continue on engaging in certain bad habits that essentially lead us away from our goals.

BONDAGE

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Photo by Engin Akyurt on Pexels.com

Bad habits are bondage.  We are enslaved to them despite being conscious of the negative or fruitless impact they have on us.  It could be a relationship we know we should end.  It could be smoking, binge drinking, or worse.  It could be excessive spending, eating, or staying up way too late.  Whatever it is in our personal lives, we are fully aware that this behavior is simply not going to get us anywhere, positive at least.  In order to change anything, it is imperative to change the way we think about it.  When a bad habit influences the general outcome of our lives in a negative and damaging way, and we continue to engage in it – it is essentially not just a bad habit, but bondage.  We are no longer freely making a decision, but are being self-destructive against our better judgment despite being well aware of the outcome; despite the pain and damage it causes every time, we are compelled to repeat this self- destructive pattern.

CHECKLIST

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

It can be easier to justify a bad habit when it isn’t overtly socially unacceptable like cigarette smoking, illicit drugs, or an abusive relationship; in which case, perhaps doing a quick mental check list can help you discern whether this bad habit is bondage. 

  • Every time I do it, how does the outcome make me feel?
  • How does it affect my life and those around me?
  • Does it set me back in any way?
  • Am I ashamed of it?
  • Do I gain anything positive?

We all struggle in one area or another with a bad habit or two.  As we get older and shoulder more responsibilities and have to contribute more in interpersonal relationships, these bad habits can get in the way of areas in our lives being successful and healthy.  Are there any bad habits you struggle with? 

Posted in Life

Empathy Experience: Aging

Today we discussed what it feels like to be one of the aging population and what is like on an average day for someone who is aging and develops conditions that essentially hinder their ability to function on a daily basis.

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We were given a series of glasses that heavily obstructed and impaired our vision to simulate cataracts, glaucoma and macular degeneration.  We were asked to perform simple tasks.  One of the pairs of glasses had a color tint that made it impossible to distinguish the true color of the star shaped mock capsules.

In Their Shoes

Participating in this exercise for a few minutes with the awareness that there are people out there who live their lives like this on a daily basis was overwhelming.  It was a glimpse in the world of confusion, frustration, helplessness and depression.  It isn’t easy at all – having to depend on others or having to endure the stigma that comes with being elderly.  How difficult it must be for people who had once been independent.  Aging is natural, but the stigma and emphasis placed on youth in our society greatly contributes to the social norm of disdain for the elderly.  Aging is ultimately unfavorable.

Much to Think About

This was a profound exercise.  We don’t think primarily about some of the social norms we have been conditioned to accept until we find ourselves part of said social group.  By that point, it’s just too late.  This exercise was more than just a mere glimpse of what it’s like to be part of the aging population, it was about a tangible onset of empathy.  Taking a moment to explore that mile in someone’s shoes could transform us in ways we didn’t know possible.

Posted in Life

Conversations With Strangers: After You

I stopped at Dunkin’ Donuts to arm myself with coffee for the rush hour madness this morning. As I opened the door, three people were coming toward me and I held the door open for them. A fourth gentlemen appeared and he held the other door opened. We both motioned for the other to go. We smiled. We laughed. Then he said to me, “can I tell you a quick story?” I agreed. He said to me,

“There were two men entering the revolving door it wasn’t wide enough for the both of them. They both motioned for the other to go and it became a stalemate if courteousness. It’s ok to go first.”

Moral of the story

Despite being courteous and polite, every once in a while if you don’t go first… well… nothing moves along!