Archive for ‘ABC’s of Life’

August 1, 2012

ABC’s of Life… Give Freely

Give freely – what exactly does that mean? I have spent maybe far too much time contemplating this life lesson. Initially, I thought it had to do with us donating and giving to those who have less than we do. By definition, giving does encompass material goods, but that’s a tangible interpretation. The more I thought about it, I realized that even giving something, a gift for example, is not the only thing we have to give; it’s only a piece of it. In reality, when we are giving, even if it is something material, it’s giving a piece of ourselves. That’s the important piece.

It’s easy in our society to get wrapped up in the material giving, but I am beginning to believe the only real thing in this world we have to give isn’t something we can hold in our hands or put in our wallets. It’s ourselves.  Over the past year, I have been observing friends and family, trying to determine what makes for a lasting relationship, because I found myself incredibly curious about how people build meaningful ones. The answer I have come to is we build long lasting and meaningful relationships by opening up our hearts, sharing ourselves, lending a shoulder to a friend, giving our time and energy to a friend in need or even just to have fun. By doing these things it makes it easier for others to open up to us in return, of course only if and when they are ready.

But then what does it mean by giving freely? Sometimes, there’s the expectation of getting something in return when we give and sometimes there isn’t. In order to give freely, then we must not have an expectation to receive anything back. This sets people up to be let down or disappointed, which can make for an unhealthy relationship. If we open our hearts to give ourselves to someone else, the person on the receiving end should only have to accept it graciously and thankfully without having to give back in return. Otherwise, it is only giving something with strings attached and the expectations we have to get something back may never be met or even be met to the standards that were desired. This only adds conflict and sometimes drama to our relationship. One word of caution, we do give to those who are worthy. There are those who might take advantage and all I say to this is be aware of those people and maybe it’s time to re-evaluate how meaningful those relationships might be. Luckily, I have rarely ever come across such a soul, but I do know they exist.

One thing I did decide recently is that I want to give back to society and I decided I want to volunteer. This is something I have talked about doing off and on over the last couple years, but I have already put an application in for a reading program to help children learn how to read. I think it’s time to give to my community, because after all when we are willing to have open hearts and give it freely, our community becomes a better, stronger place just the same way that our relationships do.

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December 29, 2011

ABC’s of Life… Forgive

Over the past year, I have been focusing on forgiving those in my past and even forgiving myself. Some of the people I was forgiving, I told so and others it was just a positive intention I sent out to the universe, knowing that if I ever saw them again, I would either say it or let it be water under the bridge.

I have learned it’s impossible to escape needing to be forgiven or needing to forgive someone for what has been done to us or those we love. It could be a small act or a big one. Sometimes these actions are intentional, mean, or spiteful and sometimes they were unintentional or we are unaware that our behavior hurt someone. These actions have nothing to do with us, instead they are all about the one inflicting them upon us. Even though I know this, it can be difficult not to personalize it. Perhaps by realizing that it is not personal is a key in offering forgiveness.

Forgiveness is something that we always have the option to give freely. Nobody can make us do it and we all have our own time frame for offering it. In a bad situation it can be the only thing we have control of. For some, it feels empowering to not give it because it is the only thing we feel in control of.  Although, it may seem easier to hold onto the anger and the pain that someone has brought on us, the truth is, we only do more harm to ourselves by holding onto that anger or grudge. We only truly heal from being hurt by letting go of that anger. I don’t know any other way of letting go of anger but by offering our forgiveness for what’s been done.

There are things in this world that happen that seem unforgivable, but forgiveness isn’t only for the other person, it’s for us – to take back control and remove ourselves from being the victim. There’s no joy in being a victim. By being a victim we give up the control of our lives and let the one who hurt us rule our lives.

People say forgive and forget. I agree with forgiving, but not with forgetting. Sometimes we have to remember our pain, our sorrows, our anger to learn and grow from it or to keep us safe by making sure to remove ourselves from an unsafe situation or to make a healthier decision in the future. We can let go of the pain, but sometimes our lessons in healing our invaluable to our growth. However, it is important to know that by remembering what we have learned from our past isn’t to let the past rule our present and it is also important to know that just because one person hurt us, it doesn’t mean that all people will. A word of caution, sometimes our past is ruling our lives even when we’re denying that it is. That’s the challenge of letting go.

I can’t tell you how to let go and forgive, it’s something that is found in your own heart. But when I let go, I can tell you it feels amazing to not be carrying around the burden of anger, pain, or sadness. Forgiving is the only way to release it, be free and to move on.

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December 3, 2011

ABC’s of Life….. Express Thanks

It was not intentional that I waited to write about the next ABC of Life – “E” Express Thanks – until Thanksgiving time. It just seemed to happen that way, but it did force my hand a little bit and I’m even a week late, but it’s a topic that I have been trying to focus on a lot this last year, realizing that I have taken so much for granted, from people to things and I realized my attitude towards them were not phenomenal and I was determined to change that. To become thankful for everything I have, no matter if it wasn’t what I thought I wanted. I always thought of myself as a thankful person, but somewhere I forgot and on my journey the past few months has made me realize how much I have and how abundant my life is. I am incredibly grateful for the people in my life.

So, even before I made it to “E”, I have been focusing on expressing thanks to people from now and from my past over the last few months. And I keep wondering how should I express my thanks. I really am grateful for all that I have, it’s just a matter of telling those that I am thankful for about how I feel. I  have decided, just now, that since I love to write handwritten notes, for the holidays, I am going to write thank you letters to all those that I am grateful for no matter how long it takes.

I don’t have words to say how thankful I am to my family and to all of my friends, old and new. You have shared with me so much and you have given me so much from laughter to a shoulder to lean on to motivation to advice to encouragement to love – this list could go on forever. What would we do without the people we love in our lives?

September 15, 2011

ABC of Life… Dream

My post for the ABC’s of life – Dream – is long over due. I could blame it on the amazing Portland weather or my friends or my family that I have been spending time with, but really I wasn’t sure where to start. I feel that I have too many dreams right now, I’m not sure where to begin, but the point is, I have to begin somewhere.

My favorite quote is by Anais Nin, “Dreams are necessary to life.” Dreams are what motivate us, they are what drive us.  Without them, our lives are almost purposeless and I have yet to meet someone who doesn’t have even a single dream. I know I have many dreams running through my head at any given time, but then there are always a million reasons why not to do them. This is why dreams don’t come true – we get in our own way sometimes. Dreams come true when we act in ways to make them come true, not when we don’t believe in ourselves.

I believe we get exactly what we ask for, both negative and positive, but I believe it’s because we act in ways to make it happen. Everything might not look exactly the way we planned it or last as long as we had hoped for, but if we try hard enough and work hard enough then we can have what we want. Some advice I will offer is, be careful what you ask for. Our minds are powerful forces and when used purposefully, positively we can create our lives to be what we want them to be, but when we allow those negative thoughts to intervene, our dreams can stagnate or go away all together.

Of all my childhood dreams, two have come true. I moved to the northwest and I am working in events. I still have some of my dreams, but many of them have changed. As a child I dreamed of becoming a mom and having 7 kids. That is sheer insanity, so am I thankful that this dream did not come true? Absolutely! 7 kids? Was I mad? Now, I have a reasonable dream of having one, possibly two, children with a wonderful man who I have yet to meet and don’t mind waiting, because I have a million other dreams to try to achieve right now. I put a few other dreams to rest from my childhood – I am not an astronaut and I have no intention of becoming the president of the United States anymore. But my dreams of owning my own business, writing a book, volunteering abroad, and traveling the world are all dreams that I still have, but my struggle is, where do I start? Which in reality is exactly why I’ve been avoiding this post.

The answer is, there is no one place to start, we just have to start and take it one step at a time. Here are important things I believer we should keep in mind to make our dreams come true:

  • Take a leap, a step, anything to get started – things in motion tend to stay in motion, it’s physics!
  • Be persistent, because there are always forces that can get in our way, life: friends, family, unforeseen events, ourselves
  • Be resilient, for when those life events happen or we aren’t successful at first, we get knocked down, but we need to pick ourselves up and keep going
  • Stay determined, dreams can die amazingly fast if we aren’t determined to make them happen
  • Believe in ourselves
  • Move through life courageously
  • Maintain flexibility, because sometimes our dreams are meant to shift and change (Otherwise, I’d have 7 kids and that’s just not even an option… ever)

I wish there was some magic formula that we just did x,y, and z and our dreams automatically came true, but our dreams aren’t always easy to make come true. The secret is to never stop having them and never stop working toward them.

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June 13, 2011

Count your Blessings

The next ABC of Life is ‘Count your Blessings’. For me, this was easy, as the realization of how blessed I am struck me over the last few months. I will admit it was one I didn’t think about until recently. All too often, I take for granted the amazing people and things that are in my life. This month I focused on how grateful I was to have those blessings and people in my life. It amazes me how much I have in my life and how recent events have opened my eyes to the things I did not even realize I had. It even now brings tears to know that I did take for granted and could forget what I had and not appreciate it.

I always thought I was an island, emotionally. I thought I could handle anything and everything on my own. I didn’t think I needed to share with anyone when I was upset, sad, angry, and sometimes even happy (this makes me the saddest that I felt I couldn’t even share my joy). But lately, I’ve been crying in front of people, yes actually crying, something I’ve always avoided at all costs, which even included me hiding in a closet as a child when I cried. Accepting my emotions has been relieving. I’ve even been sharing my excitement with people. Instead of running the other way, they listened and to my amazement, they opened up and shared their experiences with me.

I am blessed with an abundance of lessons. I would call my recent experiences as a right of passage. A necessary challenge for me to make it to the next phase of my life. What phase am I moving into? I’m not sure, but it involves a personal journey of self discovery. A journey that I feel I have attempted to undertake for years, but never had much success.

I think it is hard to see our blessings especially when everything becomes challenging. Life can be hard; we lose jobs, get sick, have a loved one get sick, have our hearts broken, get our car broken into, get flat tires, get a ticket, wreck our cars – in my case a UHAUL. What I learned though when I faced my recent challenges, was to laugh through them. This is life and it can break us if we allow it to, but I have watched people that I love and care about face seemingly insurmountable challenges and I am inspired by their strength and courage to do the same in my life; to laugh when I can, cry when I need to, and to realize what I have is invaluable instead of wishing or wanting something else.

I think it is always easy to want more. I don’t think there is anything wrong with wanting more especially when it comes to success and personal growth. Material gain may come along with those things, but should never be the reason why we want more, otherwise we end up in a perpetual cycle of never believing we have enough; when we do get more, we can only see how much more that we need and don’t appreciate what we achieved. When we come from a space that we appreciate what we have, those gains are more valuable to us. When we feel blessed for what we have, we break free of the perpetual “the grass is always greener on the other side” trap as well. Which this is a trap I always fall into. “I know I have this, but what if I had that?” is a constant question on my mind, but it is never satisfying and it always seems that something is missing from my life. Right now, I am content with what I have, for the first time in my life. I still have my goals, but those are what I strive to achieve while being happy with what I have now. It is challenging sometimes to stay in this frame of mind, but it gets easier with practice.

I do feel blessed with an amazing group of people that I know. Thank you for all those that are in my life – friends, family, and co-workers. I am truly blessed. How could one girl be so lucky?

May 22, 2011

Be Kind

Be kind to others and be kind to yourself. Sometimes, we are are own worst enemies. The little voice in our head can say the cruelest things about ourselves. But why do we listen to that little voice in our head? It’s not always speaking the truth. My favorite part is when I argue with that voice when it says something negative about what I did or didn’t do. Instead of being kind to myself over a mistake, that little voice beats me up and I have to stop myself from believing it when it says “You’re a failure,” or “That was stupid”, or “You shouldn’t have done that” or “Why did you say that”. I have to stop myself when I start and say “No ego, I am enough, so cut the verbal abuse”. These doubts and criticisms are just thoughts and yet we can give them so much power and believe them to be truth, when in reality they’re not. We can change those thoughts and by using positive affirmations that are kind and don’t tear us down.

The past couple of months have been hard for me to be kind to myself, especially after a recent breakup. Thoughts of what happened and how we got to that point kept turning over and over again in my head, blame was being placed, not on him or by him, but on myself from myself. A common thought that came to mind was that I was a failure. Coming from a place of strength, I know I’m not and I had many great lessons that I needed to learn, so how could that be failing if I learned that much? It’s not. But every now and then that little voice pops into my head trying to tear me down. People fall in and out of love and it doesn’t have to do with right or wrong, bad or good, it just is what it is and it’s not failure and to judge myself over something I can’t control is not fair. Yet I find myself beating myself up often over many things in my life that I have no control over. But by becoming aware of it, I am kinder to myself and think in more positive terms when my doubts come along.

I had an amazing meditation the night before the breakup. I was completely lost about what to do and had been lost for quite some time. I didn’t know how to fix anything.  I couldn’t fix it though, it was broken in a way that I didn’t have the knowledge to fix. At the time, I felt completely unloved by myself,  and that voice in my head would not stop with the doubts and insecurities, which I’m certain didn’t help my situation. The key to happiness is loving oneself unconditionally. Well no wonder I was so miserable, I was not showing myself the kindness of unconditional love; I was not being compassionate to myself. After realizing this, I knew I needed to find that love deep within myself to prepare for what was to come, what I knew needed to come. As I meditated I asked for guidance on love and I asked for love. Over and over I repeated a simple mantra, “Love”. As the world faded and my mind silenced, I felt my body relax and could only hear the soft repetition of “love”. After some time had passed, I heard the words, “You are loved. You are loved.”  Actually hearing and believing those words made me cry tears of joy. Being kind to oneself is loving oneself. Know that we are each amazing perfect and whole, something my loving mother and aunt always say to me when they know I’m in doubt.

Once we have the loving kindness toward ourselves, it’s easy to love and be kind to those around you. I’m much more pleasant and much more compassionate to even those I meet on the street. A common word for me would already be “sweetheart”, but sometimes I’m not that sweet and may pass judgment too quickly. I’ve been focusing on loving kindness to those in my life that I know and those that I may have never met.

Part of being kind is also the ability to be compassionate towards others which I find rewarding and liberating. By putting myself in others’ shoes and trying to see the world through their eyes, I have been less judgmental. Everything is about perspective and we all have a different story to tell and a different past that brought us to this very moment. That is what makes each and everyone of us unique and beautiful. I realize it is important to release my expectations and let go of judgment because those expectations and judgments are really what leads me to my frustrations, mis-communications and emotional pain. The great part about this is realizing that other peoples’ actions and thoughts have absolutely nothing to do with me, but rather with what is going on with their lives and I have no control over other peoples’ actions, only my own. That is relieving. I feel blessed to share other peoples’ experiences with them, but in order to do that sincerely, I try to see it through their eyes. This makes it a lot easier to be compassionate when someone does something that I don’t necessarily agree with.

One last thought I want to share is that I have learned a sincere smile can go a long way. I’ve been trying to smile more often even to complete strangers or when someone enters the room. It is a welcoming, nice act and immediately makes someone feel comfortable. I have also found that it makes me feel more comfortable. I really like the new, more loving me, but as all growth is spiral and not linear, I know this is an area that I have much to learn about and am looking forward to doing just that.

April 6, 2011

Accept Differences…. my first ABC of life for review

The first ABC of life is Accept Differences. When I first decided to do a blog about the ABC’s of life this first one held me back and I found myself avoiding it. I, at first, told myself that I was unsure how to approach it, because I’m always accepting of differences… or am I? Then it occurred to me, that maybe this is a blind spot that needs to be examined further and hence my strong aversion. Since it is such a difficult one for me, I’ve decided to spend a month of introspection on the topic.

I often tell myself that I love the differences in people, I think it makes the world beautiful. In my core, I believe this statement fully, but still I find myself envious of others who have more than me: bigger personalities, cuter hair, deeper passions, the ability to drop everything and run off at a moments notice, abundance, love, determination and motivation, and the list could go on.

On the flip side, I do find myself more judgmental of others who don’t share my same world views, philosophies, morals and principles. Which is interesting to awaken to this, because growing up I felt that I was being judged and even treated differently because I was different than the norm and I knew that I never wanted anyone else to feel that way, but here I am judging even those who judged me.

So how do I become more accepting of those who I believe have more than me and those who I don’t always agree with? I guess by realizing that we’re all the same. Not one of us is better or worse, more special or less special. We’re all made up of the same basic dna, even though we may look different or see the world differently. We all eat, sleep, cry, laugh, smile, frown. We all come from the same place. What we own and what we don’t own doesn’t define us and it doesn’t define me.

When I catch myself being critical, I now make myself stop and instead of relating it back to me, I become aware of to the other person and what they are saying, judgment free. I don’t make what they say right or wrong, but just let it be. Even though I may not agree that person is entitled to their opinion or way of life. I become grateful for them sharing their life, instead of being critical of them.

I feel like this is a topic that I need to spend much more time on and am going to circle back to it and I feel that it is important that I move on to the next idea sooner rather than later….

March 10, 2011

The ABC’s of Life and My Insights

A couple years back, I was given a gift of a medium, cream marble box. The lid was engraved beautifully with the ABC’s of Life; 26 different sayings for each letter of the alphabet. Each one optimistic, wise, thoughtful and beautiful in its simplicity. There was not one that I did not agree with. At the time I received the gift, I was determined to live my life by these short idioms. As time passed, they became more of an afterthought than a way of life. I thought about them on random occasions, but was never really present to their meaning and impact on my life.

About a week ago, I was pulling out a pair of my once favorite earrings from the box, that I had not worn for quite some time. Trinkets that while I still loved, I had forgotten about. As I was putting on my earrings, my eyes wandered over the engraved words. I found myself nodding as I read each one and even smiling as I envisioned how I had or had not been following them. Examining them forced me to examine my own life in that moment and not to my surprise, I realized how melancholy and apathetic I was about my life and how unpassionate I felt about anything and everything.

I was -less, the suffix meaning lacking. I was joyless. I was hopeless. I was aimless. I was angerless. I was goalless. Okay, you get the point. How did that happen? When did that happen and when did I become so accepting of feeling this way, because I was so clearly not surprised but more unaware of it on a conscious level until that moment. I was happy at one point, I was full of joy and emotion at one point.

Momentarily lost and feeling trapped, by some stroke of divine intervention, I had an idea that I should write about each one of the ABC’s of life and bring it into my life and live that one phrase for a week. I realized it is time to LIVE, to no longer be on the sidelines, but on the playing field of my life.

As it turns out some of these short phrases are perplexing and may cause greater contemplation than I originally anticipated they would need and have decided not to set a time frame for my examination, but rather let it flow until I feel that I have gained some insight and feel that I have opened to a new way of seeing the world and with luck be a little wiser, and feel that I am a little more of everything rather than less.

Here’s to the journey of life…….

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