Effecting change: love harder, forgive more

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During my lifetime, I’ve met basically two kinds of people: The ones who are grateful simply because they are alive and breathing, equipped with the ability to contribute to society in some way; and the ones who greet you with, “It’s going to be a bad day” and proceed to tick off a barrage of superficial complaints. In my own experience, each set of people exhibits certain stereotypical qualities. The former kind seeks to put others’ needs first, walks his/her talk, leads by example and always looks for the good in humanity. The latter kind tends to obsess over messages of hate and judgment, holds grudges and finds fault with (seemingly) every little thing. Oh, how my heart aches for storm-ravaged Texas, the condition of our world, for the division that separates. My deepest desire is to collectively become one kind of people who learn to dismiss the small stuff, love harder, forgive more and unite to make a radical difference.

What can you do to effect change?

Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

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Loneliness: more harmful to our health than smoking, drinking

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It’s a true dichotomy when you can stand in the middle of a crowded room and still feel alone. Or function as a vital player within a family dynamic, yet the connection lacks that certain je ne sais quoi that draws you into the fold. I’ve been there, done that—assumed the role of outsider, if you will. The other night, while I practiced Bikram yoga with my community of yogis, the teacher mentioned an article she read about the negative health implications of loneliness proving greater than smoking cigarettes and consuming alcohol. Consequently, maybe these feelings of loneliness serve as reminders that we’re innately created for fellowship. When I experience disconnect in my own little world, I seek solace from my tribe—of yoga warriors, my church family, and close friends. Perhaps if we begin to “love our neighbor as ourselves,” we can cure the world’s hurts one person at a time. And, hopefully, re-establish the connections right in front of us.

How do you combat loneliness?

Photo courtesy of surasakiStock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

You are not defined by your past: stay rooted in the present

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When you start to make the right decisions and pieces of your life begin to fall into place (see Falling into place… ): beware. This is also when the curve balls (may) start to fly. At least that’s been my experience over the past several weeks. And I don’t believe it’s a coincidence that every time I think I’ve got my bases covered, certain issues continue to bubble to the surface, threatening to define me and, in turn, undermine progress I’ve made in the areas of self-improvement, relational growth and my vocational aspirations. Here’s the scoop: When you’re assaulted with reminders of your past failures, know that you are not the sum of your mistakes, your poor choices or the number of times you’ve been struck out. In fact, each time you replay your past creates a stumbling block—and hinders present and future growth. Don’t allow the past to rob you of today. You’re an MVP: start believing it.

How do you stay rooted in the present?

Photo courtesy of amenic181 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

PSA: One wrong choice *can* change a life forever

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Thirteen years ago, an officer rang my doorbell to inform my 12-year-old daughter and me that a drunk driver ran a red light and T-boned my husband’s vehicle. Rescuers completed fatality paperwork onsite and the Jaws of Life extricated him from the wreckage (pictured above). He flew in a helicopter to a Level 1 trauma hospital where the head of OR performed emergency surgery. My husband sustained a ruptured spleen, cracked ribs, a displaced clavicle, crushed hip, collapsed lung, lacerations, contusions and a diffuse traumatic brain injury. For 59 days, I watched (and cheered) my husband on through a medicated coma, and five weeks of inpatient therapy where he learned how to feed himself again, to write, to walk. Following two months of outpatient therapy, and approximately a half year after the accident, he returned to work full time. His injuries and the subsequent life-long deficits are because someone chose to drive while intoxicated. Do the right thing: call a friend or a taxi. But don’t drive drunk.

Transformative change: finding comfort in your own skin

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On the topic of changing one’s mind (see “It’s okay to begin again…”), there’s a word for that which also encompasses changing one’s heart, self or way of life. According to Merriam-Webster, metanoia is a “transformative change of heart especially: a spiritual conversion.” I like to think it’s validation of where I find myself these days—in part due to the mindfulness journey I embarked on more than two months ago. As a daily exercise between conscious thought and a willing spirit, I’m drawn to life’s simpler things and able to find joy within both the hills and the valleys. Not only has my heart softened toward those closest to me and to the plight of the human condition, but I feel a richer compassion for myself. Although unsure of my next step, I’m okay with that because I’m moving forward. And, for the first time—maybe ever—I’m comfortable in my own skin. Perhaps Club 50 is “the new metanoia.” 

What recent transformative change have you experienced?

 

It’s okay to begin again. And again.

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If you feel like you’re starting over at square one today, pat yourself on the back for starting at all. Lately, I’ve not only begun the process of reinventing myself (again), but I’ve changed my mind countless times on how I envisioned my future—my “Someday.” Lesson number one: How many times do I have to remind myself that I am a work in progress? That means there are days when it looks like I have it all going on but others where I’m a hot mess from head to toe. It means my canvas might be covered in swaths of pinks and purples and a splash of glitter. Or blank when my sparkle needs to recharge. Lesson number two: I recently read that changing your mind equates to self-respect, and that “you owe nothing to your younger self. You are not failing because you are no longer chasing a dream you’ve outgrown.” Even if that younger self was last week.

How do you start over each day?

Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Finding hope in the most unlikely places

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On a Monday morning I drove to work as is my habit, my mind preoccupied with a litany of tasks I hoped to accomplish. In addition to eight hours on the job, I needed to pick up a couple prescriptions for an infection I’m battling, get to yoga to create a little breathing space and decide what color my painter will be painting my kitchen cabinets. Plus make room to practice my Spanish. Underneath the surface, I whispered prayers for close family and friends struggling with illness and grief, those undergoing surgery and others wrestling with financial and spiritual drought. When I pulled into my parking spot, my mind still flitting from thought to thought, a flowering branch caught my attention. Its peachy blossoms, the only blooms noticeable in my row of stalls, encouraged me with its new growth. A simple reminder—in the midst of shadows, hardships and yes, my friends, Monday mornings—that infused my spirit with restored hope.

What is something that renews your hope?

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