Sunday, July 26, 2020

How to Create the Life You've Always Wanted

Life isn’t about finding yourself.  Life is about creating yourself.”-  George Bernard Shaw

Have you ever heard people say, “I need to find myself?” 
I think I’ve made this statement a time or two.  Usually when I was feeling particularly lost or unsure of myself.   
What does “finding yourself” even mean? Aren’t you “you” at any given time?   Is finding yourself similar to being on a scavenger hunt, but instead of collecting items, you are collecting life experiences?    Is the prize and end goal to find the real you? 
Life isn’t about finding the finished you, it’s about creating and growing the best you every day.  Stating the need to “find yourself” is like going on a journey you have no control over. 
But you do have control.  You have the ability to create, grow and change yourself daily.  In fact, we are the only thing we truly have control over. 
So, now that you realize you are not going to find the golden ticket to the real you—what do you do?  Let’s start by defining what you want to be. 
Remember when you were a little kid and you were asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”  It was always something cool like professional baseball player, ballerina, veterinarian, or in my little brother’s case—rock star.  It never crossed our minds that we couldn’t be any of these professions, it’s just that perhaps our interests changed as we grew older. 
Through our experiences in life we are able to eliminate things that we don’t like and begin to create a life that we want.  Along the way though, we might experience failures, tragedy, heartache and other disappointments that makes us question who we are and what we are doing.  That doubt and uncertainty in ourselves will often create this need for clarity in who we are and what we want, thus the need to “find oneself.”
And sometimes on this quest to find oneself, we will take a detour on the highway to hell and find that the self we were looking for—we don’t like so much.  
This is where emotional maturity comes in.  Those who are not emotionally mature with not take accountability for their actions or will blame others for their wrong turn.  An emotionally mature person will realize their mistakes and use them as lessons for identifying what they don’t want to do or who they don’t want to be.
Who you want to be will change, just like what you wanted to be when you grew up changed.  That is why finding yourself is an impossible task.  Instead, create the person you want to be by concentrating on the things you are passionate about—the things that bring you joy.   
1. Don’t be afraid to try out new things—even if it is outside of your comfort zone.  
2. Don’t follow someone else’s path when pursuing interests. 
3. Never stop learning through educational, professional and personal pursuits.
4. Be open to new challenges, experiences and ideas.
5. Surround yourself with people who inspire and encourage you.
6. Be still at times so that you can reflect on where you’ve been and where you want to go.
On your journey of discovery know that you have control over your destiny.  You have the opportunity to create the life you want, but it will take hard work.  It is never too late to get started because there is no expiration date on this journey of becoming the person you would be proud to state is—the real me.   
Let's embrace Mondays, and everyday, with excitement.  We will do it together, each Monday —for a moment. 

Monday, July 20, 2020

Don't Close Your Book Early- Learning How to Cope

"Embrace uncertainty.  Some of the most beautiful chapters in our lives won't have a title until much later."- Unknown

If you ever believed you had complete control over everything in your life, recent events have proved otherwise.  How many times have we been told that we do not have control over anything except for how we react to it?  Well, I’m a believer now! 

COVID-19 is like a riddle without an answer.  We keep trying to make sense of it, but can’t quite figure it out.  Will this ever end?  When will we go back to normal?  Will we ever be normal again?

Living with the uncertainty and fear is a part of life, but the recent pandemic has taken it to a new level.  It has stripped many of us of our sense of safety, security and hope.   It certainly has me. 

After several months of boredom and stress eating—and drinking, all I have to show for it is a 10-pound weight gain and a bunch of cute summer clothes that I can’t fit into and wouldn’t have anywhere to wear them to if I could.  Wow, that was a mouth full.  See, I can’t even talk without filling my mouth!

Any who, my regular go to coping mechanisms to deal with my anxiety and depression have lost some of their mojo.  Bouncing back from the ups and downs of our current “new normal” has become increasingly difficult for me—as I’m sure it has been for many of you—and I’ve had to incorporate some new ways to cope, such as:

Take Bite-Sized Portions.  And I’m not talking about food.  Although that certainly wouldn’t hurt!  Cutting down my worrying and wondering to a 24-hour period of time has made dealing with the uncertainty more manageable.  If I have a good day, it’s a win.  If I have an especially difficult day, there is always tomorrow.  Worrying and stressing about the unknown or things you can’t control is not only a time-waster, but a waist-expander.  See how I did that?   Laughing at myself is another way I cope.

Find Inspiration.  I have been reading more self-help books about self-care, self-esteem and self-awareness.  I’m a huge believer is self-healing and taking responsibility for your own growth.  If you don’t love to read, you can gather motivation and inspiration from others who share their insight on blogs, websites, YouTube Channels and other social media platforms. 

Tik Tok has been my addiction during these past quarantine months.  You can follow life coaches, therapists, or just regular Joe’s who want to share their journey with you in short 60-second spots.  I save my favorites and watch them again when I need that little jolt of motivation. 

One I came across the other day when I was having a rough day really touched me.  It was a lady who was giving the message to not give up.  She was recognizing the pain, despair and suffering of those on the channel who were posting messages of just wanting to give up on life.  She said, sometimes we close our book too early.  We don’t finish reading the book that was already written for us.  She reminds us that no matter how hard things are—those difficulties are part of our testimony, part of our story.  “Keep your book open,” she says.  “You have more story to tell.”  Words to live by.

Change Your Scenery.   I realize we are in isolation and our scope of people we can be around and places we can go are limited.  But, if you are feeling down, drag yourself from that spot and move close to a window that has sun shining through it, sit outside under a tree or jump in your car and go for a ride.  I love to turn on the radio, have my dog on my lap and drive to the coast to see my mom.  I use that time to think, reflect and do positive self-talk.

Do Something New.   Find something new to do like a new hobby or a house project.  Other than writing, reading and exercising, I don’t have a lot of hobbies or activities to do at home.  And cleaning is NOT a hobby.   Instead, I started going through my closets and to my utter shock, I found that someone has a shopping addiction and has been cramming my closets and drawers full of clothes, purses, shoes, hats and accessories.   In order to allow them to continue, I’ve pulled anything that is too small (pretty much everything) or that I no longer wear and will be posting for sale online.  I’ve already sold several pieces.  It gives me something to occupy my mind and I get to make some money at the same time.

However you are dealing with the uncertainty of our current world, just know you are not alone.  There are millions of people who feel exactly like you do and may even be suffering with additional pre-COVID-19 stressors and health conditions. 

For those of you struggling, don’t give up.  Remember:  Don’t close your book too early.  You have more story to live and more story to tell. 

Let's embrace Mondays, and everyday, with excitement.  We will do it together, each Monday —for a moment. 

Monday, July 13, 2020

A Monday Moment- "Remember When You Wanted What You Currently Have?"

“Remember when you wanted what you currently have?” - Unknown

I remember when I was young, I would always add the ½ to my age.  Instead of saying I was 15, I would say I was 15 ½.  Adding that ½, in my mind, got me just that much closer to be able to date and drive.   I was always looking toward the next life milestone and once I got there, I was on to the next.

I realized this was a pattern that I would follow into adulthood.  Of course I quit adding the ½ to my age years ago—for obvious reasons.  But the habit of planning my next goal while in the midst of meeting the previous one continued.

Restless, bored and in need of constant movement, I never stopped long enough to enjoy what I earned or achieved.  It was, “What’s Next?”

On paper it seems impressive. I checked off each milestone or goal according to the plan that I created in my mind, but allowed little time to celebrate or be in the moment.   Some would say I was determined, but the reality is—I feared being still.

We live in a society of keep up, or be left behind.  How can we know how to be still when we live in a world that demands instant gratification, quick response and access to the next best thing as soon as we got the last best thing?

The reality is that most of us are incapable of being still without distractions.

I did a little experiment the other day to test this theory.  I purposely left my cell phone at home while I ran down to the neighborhood grocery store.  After I completed my socially distant shopping, I got into line behind two other shoppers at the check-out counter.  It took me about 15 seconds before I started to rummage through my purse looking for my purposely left behind cell phone.

Am I alone in this?

I was thirty-six years old when I got my first cell phone and I can’t stand in line for 10 minutes without reaching for it?  I might have even started to twitch a little…

COVID-19 and its shelter-in-place mandate forced all of us to slow down and be still at times.  This has been incredibly difficult for a society that is fast-pace driven.  In fact, depression and anxiety has skyrocketed since the pandemic.

So, why is it Important to be still?

It’s important because it allows us time to be quiet in our thoughts and in our bodies.  That quiet connects us to what is underneath all that busy work and helps us to identify stressors in our lives or reflect on our accomplishments.   It allows us to experience peace.

The why is simple—the how is what is going to take a little more mindfulness.  How do we slow our minds down and experience living in the moment when everything around us is turned up?

Take Baby Steps- It’s hard to make a hard break, so take it slow.   Everyone can carve out five minutes a day to sit alone in a quiet space without any distractions, right?  This will be hard for me as well. Sitting still for me usually involves watching television while I fold clothes.  But, I’m going to give it a try. It also doesn’t mean you have to pull out any yoga moves or Om chanting.  It just means being still in a place with no distractions.

Okay, I carve out five minutes to be still. Then what?

Be Still with Intention- Pay attention to what is happening around you.  Visualize your life in that moment and also the lives of those around you.  Paint the picture in your mind of what is happening now.  Not yesterday.  Not tomorrow.  Now.  By paying attention and acknowledging the present, you are able to uncover the good and the bad of what you might be unintentionally or purposefully avoiding.  This allows you to experience the joy-filled moments that you might have overlooked.  At the same time, it may allow you to deal with some issues you’ve tried to avoid.

Let’s take back control of our mind.  Let’s use it to contemplate, listen and observe what’s inside our hearts.  Let’s use it to connect with the essence of who we really are and allow for us to savor those triumphed moments and moments of peace.

Let's embrace Mondays, and everyday, with excitement.  We will do it together, each Monday —for a moment. 

Monday, July 6, 2020

How To Be a Knock-Out When Life Tries to Set You Back


“Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.”- Charles R. Swindoll

Have you ever felt like you won the fight only to be knocked down again?  The glory can feel so fleeting.  It’s as if the universe doesn’t want you to get too comfortable with the win. 

For some, they take hit after hit and still get fists up ready to go at it again.  But for others, the continuous hits drop them to their knees where they can’t seem to steady themselves enough to get back on their feet. 

I would be the latter. . .

They feel invincible:  How California’s coronavirus plan went wrong- The Guardian

How did we get here?  California struggling to stay on top of pandemic- San Francisco Chronicle

‘We opened the floodgate’:  Doctor explains why California COVID-19 cases keep going up- ABC 7

These are just a few of the recent headlines touting the recent surge in COVID-19 cases in California after reopening efforts. 

It’s as if we were celebrating the knock out—turning our heads just for a moment to enjoy the crowd’s cheer—when our opponent suddenly jumps to his feet for another round. 

Just when a semblance of normalcy appears and you begin to celebrate life as you once remember—eating at your favorite restaurants on date night, getting a much needed pedicure and planning a surprise birthday party for your best friend—the universe says, “Not so fast!”

How you handle setbacks—like California scaling back its reopening efforts—has a lot to do with your adaptability, coping mechanisms and ability to roll with the punches.   

I wish that I could proudly state that I hold various world champion titles in the art of handling life’s disappointments —but that would be a lie. 

My go-to response to most things that don’t go my way is similar to a small child being told, “No.”   I typically respond first—think later.  Responses vary from flat out denial, anger and refusal—to pouting, complaining and feeling sorry for myself.  Laila Ali, I am not. 

Seeing the glimmer of hope that things were getting better—only to have it stripped away—could cause even the greatest of fighters to thrown in the towel.  

I typically need a long warm up before I jump in the ring again.  I need to stretch my emotions, condition my responses and work out any negative self-talk before I tackle unwanted setbacks.  But I always jump back in.  Always.

Developing coping mechanisms to deal with my depression and anxiety has been a life-long journey of acknowledgment, discovery, patience and forgiveness.  I realized long ago that lying to myself and others about my struggles doesn’t make me a winner.  Championing for others—and myself, does. 

We all deal with setbacks in our lives—the COVID-19 setback in California’s efforts to reopen is just one of many.  Some people deal with setbacks like born champs—going for the KO.   Others—like myself—duck and weave to stay out of harm’s way until we can get our footing. 

The following are a few tips to get you in fighting shape to square off to life’s challenges:

1.     Don’t Beat Yourself Up- This is something I am working daily on.  When I experience a challenge, disappointment or setback, I typically let it affect my self-esteem and self-worth.  Negative self-talk is on autopilot and I have to work extremely hard to beat down the voice in my head that says, “You are not good enough.” Or, “You can’t handle this.”  This takes a lot of practice.  It’s not easy to flip the switch to life-long negative conditioning, but you can do it!  Surrounding yourself with encouraging people who are positive and supportive is key to giving you that little push you need to start being kind to yourself after a setback.

2.     Accept the Pain- The worst thing you can do when dealing with a setback or challenge is avoid it or deny it.  Acknowledging that in life you will experience disappointments will offer you the ability to plan accordingly.  Have a strong foundation and support system that you can lean on with life throws you a right hook.

3.      Focus on What You Can Control- You can play a part in getting things back to normal by controlling how you behave.  You have zero control over anything but yourself.  Concentrate on how you can make a change in your life and learn from any setbacks that come your way.  Be a part of the solution, not the problem.  Example:  If we are struggling with reopening because people are not adhering to social distancing and wearing masks; you concentrate on how you can influence others to adhere to safety guidelines.  If each of us does our part, we will get one step closer to getting back to normal.

4.      Don’t Give Up- No matter how dire things are in your life, I’m here to tell you someone has it worst.  Two of the strongest people I have ever met went through hardships I would never want to imagine.  One fought cancer.  He ultimately lost, but never gave up hope and never stopped fighting.  The other lost back-to-back loved ones.  She is resilient.  She is a leader.  She never gives up.  She is my best friend.   Learn from others and gain strength knowing that if they can fight, so can you.

Let's embrace Mondays, and everyday, with excitement.  We will do it together, each Monday —for a moment. 

Fa La La Funk- Dealing With the Holiday Blues

  Dear Workplace Wonda,  Each winter, when the holiday season rushes upon me like a crowd at a Bad Bunny concert, instead of feeling excitem...