Mid-year check-and-balance: planning for the road ahead

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Mid-year: we meet again. Although vastly different than I would guess most of us envisioned at the start of 2020, I still think it’s important to review our aspirations and perform a check-and-balance; in other words, What goals need to stay, pivot (e.g., change) or go? For instance, I learned if I plan to remain in alignment with my vision, I must begin treating my passion for all-things fairytale like a second (albeit part-time) job by sacrificing the necessary time to hone my craft—from participating in writing courses, planning workshops and online readers’ and writers’ groups, to subscribing to craft-related blog pages and podcasts. But I also realized I’ve neglected other areas essential to my vocation. By taking stock, we can better see the big picture, break it down into bite-sized pieces and sprinkle our intentions over the remaining two quarters. And sometimes, we simply need to pencil in “white space” to dream about those happily-ever-afters.

How has the first half of 2020 informed your second half?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Do you really need ‘all the things?’

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Always a planner, even as a young girl, this year started no differently. Although, that soon changed as the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the world. It’s required a shifting—or pivoting—in plans and priorities, goals and mindsets. Some changes have been tough to swallow, while others serve to illustrate that our self-imposed schedules could benefit from extra “white space” for self-care and self-reflection. Personally, I’ve learned I don’t “need” everything I once thought necessary. For example, it turns out I don’t need to practice yoga in a heated room. Although I miss my tribe of Bikram practitioners, I’m content doing my own thing on my own time. And, as much as I coveted my monthly #selfcare of acupuncture and facials, I’ve discovered a coconut mask that, when used weekly, hydrates and brightens. Admittedly, it does require greater discipline for me to continue an at-home #selfcare and exercise regimen, but the time (and money) savings have been worth the effort.

What “luxuries” have you learned to do without?

Picking up the pieces. Together.

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Have you, like me, thought this year could benefit from a collective do-over? Perhaps you’ve read the poem, penned by Leslie Dwight, circulating social media. I’ve always held to the mindset “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Yet it’s obvious that not just our nation—but our world—is broken. Christians call it fallen. And I can’t help wonder if this decade is, indeed, a wake-up call to pick up the pieces. While our choices of action might be limited, our choices of thought are not. We choose to think the best—or the worst. We choose to trust or to fear. To believe lies or to seek out the truth. To love or to hate. Admittedly, it would be less painful to press a restart button on 2020. Because to inform change requires the messy work. Is it so far-fetched to imagine a world where we worked together to pick up the pieces? I choose to think it’s a possibility.

How will you accept Dwight’s challenge?

Image source: today.com.

Inspiration for the long haul: drawing from our inner ‘chutzpah’

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Grain by grain, a loaf;
stone by stone, a castle.
~ Yugoslavian proverb

My emotional barometer oftentimes resembles the ups and downs of a roller coaster. Maybe that’s why I associate life—and its proverbial thrill ride—to the popular amusement attraction. For example, between the peaks and valleys, I’m traveling high on the adrenaline that fuels my passion for the written word—whether I’m composing an interview for a commercial trade publication or crafting a two-sentence writing workshop assignment. Yet, on the opposite spectrum, my stomach drops as I’m awash with tremendous feelings of guilt and derision—berating myself for the time I’m wasting on the pursuit of “pipe dreams.” Thankfully, however, each of us possesses a middle ground—a place in which we can draw from our inner “chutzpah,” to keep on keeping on, rather than plunge into the depths of limiting beliefs and doubts. But it begins, first, by reminding ourselves why we chose our path.

How do you stay inspired for the long haul?

Image courtesy of everydayplus at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Checking in: how’s your mental health?

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Now that countless states in the U.S.—as well as countries all over the world—have begun reopening businesses and services deemed “non-essential,” I wonder how many of us will still choose to wait out the storm before diving back into the waters, so to speak. Much of the media reports prove conflicting, which can make it difficult to plan how to best move forward in the safest way. I, myself, struggle with contradictory emotions, vacillating between, “It’s too soon!” to “I can’t put my life ‘on hold’ forever” to “I need to do what’s right for me and my family.” And that’s where I’ve settled as of this writing. I understand the urgent need to claw our way out of the current economic crisis. But I also realize the necessity to manage my mental health now more than ever before. It’s the well-known air travel instruction to affix your oxygen mask first. When we care for ourselves first, we can care for others.

How’s your mental health?

Image source: https://relishthejourneydotnet.wordpress.com/

Looking within: discovering plenty amidst the lack

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As I mentioned in my post, “Another way to look at the pandemic ‘pause,’” I’m discovering new things about myself since 2020 took a major detour. While much becomes ingrained in our habits and thought processes simply because “that’s the way I’ve always done it,” the current COVID-19 climate has required a mandatory “pivoting” of our mindsets. One shining example: When my daughter’s gym temporarily closed due to the social-distancing order, it crushed her. Although she knew it afforded a minor inconvenience overall, she dreaded a derailment of her fitness goals. However, after a short-lived pity party, she soon realized that everything she needed to maintain her daily practice stared her in the face. In fact, she recently conquered—and exceeded—her goals. But not without inner resolve, a dash of creativity and a boatload of fierce grit. I couldn’t be prouder of her. It’s heartening how a global crisis can reveal the best within us. If we let it.

Where have you discovered plenty amidst the lack?

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Aligning your spirit: a divine appointment

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You seek discernment. Clarity. You toss your cares onto your Creator; catch His peace; invite direction; open yourself to areas in your life that require a good spring cleaning and then wait with expectation for the pieces to fall together. I’d like to think of this as aligning our spirits with the One who formed us. Although our human bodies “fall apart” over time—illness, atrophy, normal aging (i.e., the law of entropy, which suggests systems of change become less organized over time)—our spirits are designed for something greater. Thus, when our spirits are right with a Higher Power (you say universe, I say God)—the pieces fall together—seldom in perfect order, much like a dot-to-dot unveiling the vision of our Creator. Throughout my lifetime, I’ve stumbled upon various tools and teachers to help inform my purpose. And, finally, the proverbial stars and galaxies seem to be lining up. As a new friend recently said: It’s a God thing.

In what area(s) do you seek alignment?

Photo by Graham Holtshausen on Unsplash.

That feeling you can’t label? It’s called grief.

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In my post, “When life is spinning out of control…,” I talk about the new normal; aka status quo. Within the context of all-things global pandemic, for me the biggest transition means comprehending that life as I knew it ceases to exist. Articles on this topic label these “feels” as grief caused by a deep sense of loss. How do we begin to pick up the myriad pieces of our shattered dreams when—across the world—businesses and schools continue to close doors, while the big unknown looms like a giant storm cloud: For how long? Although school and work resumes for some—albeit within a different context—what about beyond our four walls? Those workers on the front lines? And those of us who live with underlying health conditions, waiting in a holding pattern but wonder—if untreated over time—we’re doing more harm than good? Yet life continues—through the lens of a new normal that none of us planned for.

What do you grieve today?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Are you an energy drain? Check your attitude at the door.

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Gratitude and grumbles cannot co-exist. Two words: self-fulfilling prophecy. And it works for both the big and the small stuff. Think about it: When we adopt an attitude of gratitude, we automatically align ourselves to receive a positive outcome. I’m sure you’ve heard this advice: You attract more flies with honey. Same concept. Conversely, grumbling and focusing on everything wrong obscures many of the joys of life and invites cynicism and negativity into our heart space. Plus, it can prove an energy drain on those around us. As with any new habit, or lifestyle change, we must allow ourselves time and patience—beginning with baby steps. For example, start by expecting light traffic… an ideal parking space… a short wait in line… a waived service fee… and give thanks upon receipt. With consistent use, our gratitude “muscles” will grow stronger and it’ll become easier to expect the big(ger) stuff: the job promotion… a healed injury… the published short story… Consistency is key.

What are you grateful for today?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Doing away with limiting beliefs: Faking it, or making it?

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Motivational speaker and author Will Bowen says, “People advise, ‘Fake it ’til you make it.’ In truth, you’re not faking. As soon as you act like the person you aspire to be, you are that person. Over time, this repeated behavior becomes the default version of you. This is how we change—every time.” If you’re sick of a negative life or situation: speak a positive word [aloud] to yourself: while driving, as you walk into work each day, when your alarm goes off in the morning. Begin with something simple: I am strong, I am healthy, I am happy. Then get specific: I am successful at X, Y and/or Z… I am a loving partner and/or friend, etc… And when you begin to doubt: do away with limiting beliefs. For example, if you’re ill, tell yourself: I am getting stronger every day. Or: Something good is going to happen to me today! Changing our focus, changes our outcome. Every time.

What is one of your limiting beliefs?

Image courtesy of Siri Anamwong at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

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