Category Archives: June 2012
Most of the time when we have an idea or a goal, at the beginning there is this wave of excitement and focus. We are able to make the ideas flow, we are able to put a pen to paper, and we’re off. We start on our way. Then all of a sudden it stops. The wave has landed ashore, and we’re stuck out of water. This is one of the most pivotal times when it comes to accomplishing what we’ve set out to accomplish.
It seems like when we look at others, they are on their way and their journey has been nothing but smooth sailing. In reality, it’s extremely unlikely that a tremendous amount of time, frustration and unreturned effort wasn’t put in. We don’t get to most places worth going in life simply by showing up. We have to work to get to where we want to go. If you have something to say, and something worth saying, finding an audience is the most important and most difficult thing you can do. Unfortunately, in life we can only control ourselves. We have no power over others unless they consent. Unless they are willing to show up and say, “Hey, tell me more.” And people aren’t willing to do that until you’ve put in the effort.
Maintaining focus when things are starting to fall, when you realize that the road in front of you is full of hill after hill, mountain after mountain that you have to climb over – when you realize that you are fighting uphill, and there will be times when you feel like you are only losing ground – maintaining focus here is what separates those who achieve their goals from those who let them go. It separates those who become from those who settle. It’s hard. It’s long. It doesn’t go the way we expect it to go or feel that it should go. But it IS the road to success, as long as we choose to stay focused. To find ways when there seem to be none, and to keep working when it feels like nothing is happening. Finding focus when we are hearing nothing at all, when there is only silence is the key to seeing your ideas become a reality.
I went to NYC for the first time in 2006. As a child I had decided since New York was cold and full of people, I wasn’t too interested in going there. I always figured I wouldn’t feel safe, and I would get lost. I decided if I had to pick a big city to live in, I would pick LA. A good portion of this decision was based on the fact that I loved sunny weather, and all of my favorite TV shows were filmed in LA. But, even so, when we were embarking on the trip I was a bit apprehensive.
We were only going to be there for about 48 hours. And my only goal on the trip was to make it to Rockefeller Center to see the tree. I’ve always loved Christmas trees, and when they are all lit up I can sit and look at the lights for hours. It’s calming to me. We drove into New Jersey, and made our way to NYC via the subway, and our train stopped in Grand Central Station. When we got out into the night lights, I found myself feeling unusually comfortable. There were people everywhere. It was three days before Christmas. It was cold and rainy but not freezing out. And the whole time I was there, I was continuously surprised at how at home I felt. There are more people in a two block radius than there are in my entire state. But something about it just fit.
When we got down to the tree I remember just thinking to myself, if it weren’t insanely expensive or I were a millionaire, or I figured out a way to get into Columbia to go to school, I could totally live here. People weren’t rude. They were simply on their way to wherever they were going. And we were as well. We didn’t get lost. Far fewer strangers came up to me and asked me for money than did when I lived in Jackson. In fact, I think only one person did, and that was at the train station. But there was nothing scary about it. When we went to the Top of the Rock and looked out over the city, it was a truly beautiful sight. We could see the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building. The bridges were lit. There were red and green lights for the season. You could see life. For miles and miles. You just knew there was life all around. It was lively, and encouraging, and you could feel the energy in the air. You could see all of the different avenues of possibility that were right at your fingertips. They are simply waiting for you to stroll their way.
Sometimes it’s surprising what we find when we go places we never really wanted to go. I never wanted to go to NYC, yet it took one quick trip for me to fall in love (and I WILL be back one day). I never wanted to write a blog, but this has turned out to be one of the most encouraging experiences I’ve had in a long time. I never wanted to pursue my dreams, because there was a chance I would fail, and I didn’t know how to handle that, yet this journey of writing and publishing and reaching people with something I believe in has been the best experience I’ve had despite its frustrations. Sometimes if we change our point of view, and we try new things – even those we really don’t think we want to, it can change our lives in the most wonderful way. Whether it’s writing a different type of story than we had envisioned, taking a job we didn’t think we wanted to have, traveling somewhere we aren’t really interested in going, there may just be something in those experiences that change our lives for the better. So don’t forget to be open, and try to envision what life could be like with a view from the top.
“Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier” Mother Teresa
I am pretty sure I have quoted this before on this blog, but it’s truly one of my favorite quotes. I just wanted to take a little bit of time tonight to say how thankful I am for all of you who have taken the time to stop by this blog. Your support is truly amazing to me, and I am so thankful that I have had the chance to connect with so many people.
My goal for this blog is to make it so that when people come here they feel uplifted and perhaps find a little bit of insight as well. There are so many things around us that work to easily bring us down, and I think it’s important to have a place of refuge that we can return to lift our spirits up when we want. And I hope that when I write, I write things that do just that. I want the words to be places that can be returned to for moments of encouragement and inspiration.
And when I started out deciding to make a blog like that, I didn’t realize that it would be returned. That I could come here and see such support and such encouragement. It’s overwhelming the community that has formed here sometimes and I am honestly grateful beyond words for it. So I humbly thank you all, for stopping by, and I hope that as you do, you leave happier.
I also wanted to say thank you to the following people for nominating me for awards. Again, it’s incredibly kind of you to take the time to do so!
And a very special thank you for taking the time to read and review my book! It really means a lot to me!! Thank you so much!
The kindle version of my book is now just $.99! (it started at midnight, I am excessively uncomfortable with self-promotion!) Which is very exciting!! One of the reasons I opted to make a kindle version was to keep prices low. I think that we all have to pay attention to how and what we spend our money on, so I’m really excited that I get the chance to do this!
So, if you are interested in changing your life, following your dreams, understanding your relationships, sharing the difficulties of parenting, feeling inspired, motivated, encouraged, and understanding why you really are worthy of all of the wonderful things life has to offer and learning how to achieve them, it truly is a dollar extremely well spent. It’s a short read (it is 260 pages, but it feels so much faster, honestly!) It’s written in the same format as my blog. It’s like we sat down in my living room to have a conversation about everything worthwhile that I’ve learned in my years studying psychology and in my personal life. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry (except those of you who are manly enough to hold it in, but you’ll want to), It’s a chance worth taking, and it costs next to nothing. Give it to someone as a gift. You don’t need a kindle to read it. So please share it with everyone you know. It’s time and a tiny bit of money well spent.
And I want to thank all of you for creating such a wonderful and supportive community here. It really is impressive, this blogging community. Thanks for letting me in, encouraging me, and helping me accomplish my dreams. I hope I help you all do the same!
I also want to thank the following people for nominating me for awards this past week. I appreciate the thought. It means a lot, because I really want people to enjoy this blog and to feel inspired when they read it. So thank you. Check them out:
When I was working on my undergrad I had a class called motivation. In it we talked about something called “flow theory.” Flow theory talks about this thing that happens that people refer to as flow. Basically, you ask people why they like doing the things they like doing and what’s different about the things they like the most. People typically respond with whatever it is that they like the most, and state that “It just flows” for them.
This was a concept I immediately understand. I had always had things that just flowed for me. When I was younger it was sports. Particularly basketball and softball. For some reason, it just flowed when I played them. I had a natural talent for them. So playing them just made sense to me. I also had that flow with writing. There is a connection that happens when I write. And it just flows. It was nice when I was in school, because I could write papers the night before or in the morning when they were due. And well, procrastination flows for me as well!
But I’ve also found that we can use those things that flow for us to focus our minds. I am one of those people (which I honestly think is at least half of all people) whose mind is constantly going. Thousands of thoughts all going in all directions at one time. Spurred on by stressed. Making decisions nearly impossible. And finding a goal or a path in life nearly impossible. Clinically, it’s probably considered a low grade form of ADHD sans hyperactivity (except this morning when I had some coffee for the first time in a year and It was amazing!). When we can’t slow our minds down and we can’t stop the thoughts and focus we have an attention deficit. But like I said, I have found that I can use those things that flow for me to calm my mind. And if I can pay attention to the fact that my mind is calm, I can use that time to work to find a focus. I can prioritize my problems. I can make a list. I can organize my thoughts in a way that seems impossible otherwise.
It’s important that we pay attention to what we are doing with our time. It’s important that we utilize the tools that we do have at our disposal. We all have something (multiple things) that flow for us. If we pay attention and utilize these things, then we can use them to find our focus. We can use them as tools to guide our lives. We can calm our minds. We can find respite. We can search for the right next move. When we need to know where to go, because we can’t see any doors open for us we can use what flows for us. Let it calm us. Let it move us. Think about what flows for you, then try to see if you can use it to organize your thoughts and figure out different roads you can take. Use it to find a way to get to where you want to be. It may take some practice, but the payoff is worth it. And so are you! 🙂
It’s frustrating when you have “nothing to show” for what you do. People fail to see the effort you are putting in, because there is no immediate pay off for doing the work you are trying to do. Sometimes it seems like no one understand just how much you are doing to try to make your work a success.
It’s akin to being a stay-at-home parent. People assume you do nothing all day and that it’s easy when in reality you spend the entire day never having a break, constantly alert to the needs of someone else, trying to remember everything you need to get done, whilst having a helper or two who aren’t necessarily helpful, but at least in between major meltdowns, accidents, and spills they are trying.
It’s hard not to get overwhelmed and frustrated and snap. Or to become isolated because it really feels like no one gets it. No one sees the effort. They only see the outcome. And sometimes that takes a while. It can make you feel underappreciated and negative in general, BUT there is good news!
When all of this happens take a step back and remember, the people who take the chance to follow their dreams are few and far between. Most people won’t know. Most people won’t get it. Most people won’t see what you see. That just means you’re on the right track. So don’t lose heart. Don’t lost faith. Don’t give up.
Unacknowledged effort is often a key ingredient in achieving one’s dreams. So you’re invisible effort is really just your greatest talent of all!
And I think with each realization, I began to release that fear a little bit more, and a little bit more. I tried it again the next day and the next. Until I finally felt like I was able to really let go of all of the angst that I felt about school and the way things happened when I was younger. I decided it was time to try something bigger.
Figuring out a way to forgive someone who I didn’t know, as my uncle’s murder case had gone on unsolved, was a very hard thing to do. I didn’t know his face or his name. I just knew that in a matter of seconds he sent more fear through me than anyone I had ever met. He took away the most precious gift we have. He was callous and cruel. And forgiving that seemed an impossibility and probably not a necessity. But somewhere in me, I knew that I had to find a way to stop letting fear rule over me.
I honestly don’t know that I have completely let go today, although I feel that I have. I’m fairly sure that since forgiveness like most things is probably a continuous process the fear will reemerge from time to time. But what I was able to do by saying that I was letting go of all of the hurt and fear that you’ve caused me over my life was to take back control of who I wanted to be. I was no longer going to be scared with so much of me stuck in place by the actions of that person. I wasn’t saying what happened was okay. It was not. It was and will always be a horrific, unnecessary act. But letting that act interfere in my life by continuing to worry, hate, and fear was no longer going to happen. My uncle was not living in fear and hate anymore. He is no longer bound by such human emotions. He simply exists in love, and to honor him, I should try my best to, as well.
Maybe it’s easier not knowing who to blame. But there was a time when I would look at everyone and think, “It could have been you.” Or I would refuse to look at anyone, because I was completely unwilling to let anyone in at all. To be in the place I am at now, where I’m no longer afraid to live and look people in the eye is amazing to me, because sometimes I was worried I’d never get here. The place I am at would have never been possible without the option of forgiveness. Forgiveness gave me the means to take my life back. It was able to help me restore my joy and my ability to love. It has truly made all of the difference in the world.
Even when I do have moments where I go back and I feel like I did back then, they are fleeting. I know they won’t last even when I’m experiencing them. That is the most wonderful change of all I think. Living in happiness, feeling worthy of what I have is something I hope I never trade in for fear again.
As for the boy I loved, I forgave him initially a long time ago. Maybe it sounds pretentious and maybe sometimes it didn’t seem true, but the day I asked for the rainbow, I had also asked for forgiveness. I wanted it for me and for him. And my experiences with him are the most prominent reminder I have that those moments of unforgiveness do reoccur, but I always have the capacity to utilize my self-control and refuse to allow any of the things either one of us have done in the past to keep me down.
At my very core, I wish him the best. I want him to believe in himself and to experience all of the wonderful things there are to experience here. And although for a time it felt like it was necessary for me to be there and see those things through with him, I did finally get to a point where it doesn’t matter if I ever know. I don’t want those things because I want to be with him. I want those things because I refuse to be angry and upset with him. That only stifles us both. I want them because he’s worthy of feeling this joy and chasing his dreams, too. With forgiveness I can choose love over fear.
When it comes to forgiving myself, it really is a challenge sometimes. What we have when working internally is the insight that we knew better ahead of time. When I made choices that were not consistent with the things I wanted in my life, it was always hard to feel like I should be forgiven for those choices. But when it came to forgiving myself for putting Jack in the position he is in, that was the hardest thing for me to do. We label someone a liar after only one lie, but how many truths must a person tell to be labeled honest. The negative is just so easy to hold on to.
Sometimes I still go back and note that I really did know ahead of time that I could do things differently. I didn’t have to listen to what the people around me were saying. I didn’t have to listen to what his father was saying. I had the chance to say no. And I didn’t. I gave in. I let go. And I hurt the person whose life I was responsible for. I cried many, many times trying to think of how it could even be conceivable to forgive myself for that. I wasn’t asking Jack to. I knew that was far too much to ask of him. But I also realized that keeping that guilt and holding onto that self-contempt was unhealthy for both of us. We both needed me to be the mom he deserved, and the only way to do that was to choose to let go of that pain.
I had to forgive myself, because holding onto something I couldn’t change was irrational and detrimental to our progress. I was determined to love him. I was determined to be the best mother I could for him. And to do that I had to choose to forgive. Sometimes I do still get a little overwhelmed, but I know how to bring myself back to where I need to be for us both. Back to forgiveness. Back to self-worth.
I promise not to publish such long posts again. But I had a lot of people asking me about forgiveness and if they thought it was real, or if it could truly happen, and I felt it would be good to just go ahead and post the chapter, because it does matter. It does happen. It is real. And it makes all the difference.
This post is a little long, I apologize. And it’s the first of two posts on forgiveness, because I’ve had a lot of people asking me about the subject lately. And I touched on it a bit yesterday, but decided to go with the long answer today, and that comes in the form of the first half of chapter 16 which is dedicated to the subject in my book. And here’s the post:
I think there is probably nothing that I have learned that has been as helpful as learning the importance of forgiveness. When I used to look back over my life, the list of people who had treated me unfairly was pretty long. I remembered everything, every conversation, every mean look. I knew who said what, who did what, even back to elementary school. I could go through them in my head, which I did somewhat often while I was in middle school and high school. I held on to the anger and the fear, and I would sit and remember why I was holding onto it.
These were people who were mean to me for no reason. I hadn’t done anything wrong. Or in the case of family incidents, I was right and they were wrong (I can’t help that this is ALWAYS the case – please note my sarcasm here). But there were people and times where our interactions made me feel like absolutely nothing at all. I felt so overlooked, and at times so betrayed, that forgiveness was nowhere on my radar. The things that happened to me were wrong. And I should be angry. I should hate them. But what holding onto that hurt and anger did was keep me right where I was.
Every time I thought about the things that had happened I was that girl, in that moment, feeling that hurt and scared. I never really snapped out of it. I let those things rule over me. I let my emotions get overrun, because I became too afraid to even want to be close to anyone. I felt unworthy, because all of those people on my list wouldn’t have treated me as they had if this weren’t the case. And it wasn’t until I was removed from the situation, I graduated and left for college, that I came to realize that the stuff that happened, for the most part, really did not need to continue to affect me.
As long as I let those thoughts and those actions rule over me I was letting the fear win. I allowed the treatment of kids who felt just as awkward and fearful (otherwise the interactions would have never taken place) to make me feel like I deserved to be treated that way. I had a small, but wonderful group of friends, all of whom I still try to keep in touch with today, but even with them, I didn’t really understand why they were my friends. I felt like they had so much more going for them than I did.
I was lost, because I was fearful. They all had plans, and I was absolutely certain they would fulfill them. I wasn’t the friend I could have been, because I knew they’d probably leave me behind. It’s not a good way to live your life, being that fearful. And the feelings I had were in large part due to my inability to forgive, because I couldn’t forget or overlook how I felt in those moments where I was hurt. Forgiveness is a continuous process. We have to forgive others and forgive ourselves. I used to think one was more difficult to do than the other, but I think they are fairly equal in their difficulty.
When Dr. Eger came and spoke to our Personality Theories class, she talked about forgiveness. She said that every night she prayed for the Nazi members who took her and her family captive, and who killed all but two of them. She and her sister were the only survivors. She told us that feeling guilty, because we didn’t have to go through what she went through was useless. And she was right, although this was very hard for me to comprehend. Comparing our lives to others does nothing but confuse us and give us excuses to stay where we are. She said we all have the option to be happy. But we cannot be happy if we don’t forgive.
I didn’t know how to imagine her forgiving those men for what they put her through. I didn’t know if she really had done so or not. But I believed that if anyone knew what they were talking it about when it came to forgiveness, it was quite likely to be her. That summer after I made the decision that I wanted to be happy, I decided that at 23, I wanted to start forgiving people for what had happened in my life and just try and see where it led me. I didn’t really know how to forgive, so I remember just sitting in my room praying and saying to the universe silently, that I forgive you. I am letting go of all of that fear and hurt. It doesn’t matter anymore, I thought. What good is it doing me to hold on?
We were watching the Queen’s Jubilee Concert tonight, and Paul McCartney was singing “Let It Be” and Jack recognized it as the Beatles. He said that was his favorite Beatles song, and I agreed. Normally I just indulge him, but in this case it was true. I love “Let It Be” and though I find it excessively difficult to distinguish favorites most of the time, and even moreso when there are so many great songs to choose from, “Let It Be” has been my favorite Beatles song since I first heard it.
It was written at a time when there was lots of turmoil going on in their personal and professional lives. They disbanded shortly after, and the song is sort of an anthem to the end. And it got me thinking about how life has to move in waves. Things have to end regularly for us to continue on in our lives. Friendships end. Relationships end. Parental roles change. Jobs change. The tide continuously turns and churns. And we have to be able to let go of those things that will inevitably come to an end. And we need to let go of those things that we are allowing to hold us back. When we look back over the years we can see just how quickly life does move. And if we aren’t moving with it, it’s easy to feel left behind. Our friends and family move on to other things. Our focuses change. They grow as life grows. Our interests change. Our habits change. Life in its nature is full of letting go.
Distinguishing between what to hold onto and what to let be can be difficult. We have to work for the things we want to keep. We have to work on ourselves. Work on our relationships. And work on our careers. But we have to be aware of what it is in our lives that we haven’t let go of that may be holding us back. Sometimes it’s as simple as an argument that we are holding a grudge over. Sometimes it’s a turn down a path we didn’t plan do go down. It can be holding out simply because we don’t want to be wrong. Whatever the case, when we are holding on to things that are holding us back it makes it nearly impossible for us to be happy in our lives. We have to learn to let go and let it be. It’s funny, because there is a tremendous freedom in letting go and letting it be. I have never found more peace in life than when I finally let go of the things that were holding me back the most whether it was through forgiveness or simply no longer holding out and giving up who I wanted to be for a relationship, the freedom that accompanied finally letting go was amazing. We can do things to help ourselves. We can do things to learn to let it be. And it’s important that we take the time to do them. Because no matter what you are searching for or fighting for, there will be an answer, if you just let it be 🙂
I also want to thank the following bloggers for nominating me for the following awards…I do appreciate all of the kindness you all have shared with me on this blog journey! 🙂
The Reader Appreciation Award
Thanks for writing award
“And when you’re in a Slump,
you’re not in for much fun.
is not easily done.
You will come to a place where the streets are not marked.
Some windows are lighted. But mostly they’re darked.
A place you could sprain both your elbow and chin!
Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in?
How much can you lose? How much can you win?
And IF you go in, should you turn left or right…
or right-and-three-quarters? Or, maybe, not quite?
Or go around back and sneak in from behind?
Simple it’s not, I’m afraid you will find,
for a mind-maker-upper to make up his mind.
You can get so confused
that you’ll start in to race
down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace
and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space,
headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.
The Waiting Place…” Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Places You’ll Go!
I bought this book for Jack on Friday. It’s one of my favorite books in general. I hadn’t read it in years, and I was thinking about how frustrating it is to be waiting, when I came across this part of the book. Ironically what I thought about was the fact that Dr. Seuss, who I always imagine as being fun, and not having issues in life in general, he knew how I feel sometimes. He knew how hard it is to get out of a slump. He knew how frustrating it can be when you get stuck in that place where you are just waiting for something to happen. Waiting for something to change. Waiting for someway to figure out what on Earth to do because nothing makes sense anymore and sometimes you don’t even know if you want it to.
It’s easy to get stuck in those places. Stuck in the darkness and end up waiting. I feel like I’ve been waiting a lot lately. And it’s a normal part of life. Now I know that I have to do things and be proactive. But a few years back I had no idea that it was even possible to not be waiting. I didn’t know that there was something I could do. I didn’t really think that there was something I should have to do, because I sort of decided that I was put in the place that I was at because of all the things that had happened to me. So I didn’t understand why someone couldn’t just come along, and see what I had to offer or show me that I had something to offer like these other people I saw had happen to them. So I waited. And I waited. And I waited. And nothing ever changed.
That’s the thing. Nothing changes if we don’t let it, but nothing changes if we don’t make it either. We all have things that we are waiting on, but sometimes we are waiting on everything. And we can’t do that. We have to be able to take control of our minds and our bodies and our souls. We have to get the help we need when we need it. And we have to put in the effort. Because, “You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.”
If you’ve never read it, I highly recommend reading it. You can google it, and find the text. It has good advice. (The urge to rhyme here is really bad, but I’m going to refrain, he’s better at it than me!)
Stop playing the waiting game. Nothing worthwhile can come of it. We have to live each moment. No one can live them for us. We are the makers of our own decisions. And that gives us power beyond measure over our lives!