Embrace the struggle: every good story contains conflict

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We must let go of the life we have planned,
so as to accept the one that is waiting for us.
~ Joseph Campbell

Nearly 18 months ago, I embarked on a rite of passage: the admittance into “Club 50“—a new season I embraced with enthusiasm, positivity and sparkles. Oh, the places I’ll go, to coin a favorite Dr. Seuss book title. I began to plan this next half century, my hopes and dreams—my bucket list—with gusto and determination. Yet, here I am, a year and a half later, my bucket filled with these same goals, along with a few plot twists along the way: loss, disappointment, unrequited dreams. But, if we release our plans—or, at the very least, loosen the reins—perhaps, in turn, we invite opportunities to build character and deepen relationships through our struggles. In the process, we might even create space to dream a new dream. And to share that dream with others.

What plan(s) do you need to release?

If you knew you’d succeed, what would you do differently?

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In my recent post, “Let go…,” I listed 10 things to release to be happy. What other baggage could we add to this list? The first thing that comes to mind is: envy. Oh, if we’d choose to find gratitude in our hearts for who we are right now. That instead of being critical over our perceived flaws or weaknesses, we would delight in our abilities, strengths and uniqueness. During a recent hike into the mountains, as I often do, I poured out a heavy heart within the solitude of the surrounding desert landscape. While I searched my soul, I left all my unmet expectations and disappointment, hurt and frustrations, right there on the trail. And walked away with this revelation: to change my situation (see #4 in aforementioned post) could simply mean that I change me. Not with the intent to please someone else, but with the hope that any self-improvement trickles into those lives around me.

What situation would you change if you knew you’d succeed?

Staying power: what it is and where it comes from

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staying-power

While nursing a reflective mood recently, I scrolled upon these Facebook gems:

Burning desire to be or do something gives us staying power—a reason to get up every morning or to pick ourselves up and start in again after a disappointment. ~ Marsha Sinetar

True strength doesn’t come from loving yourself when you have your sh*t together, true strength comes when you can stand courageously in your darkest, messiest and weakest moments and still find the strength to love yourself beyond all circumstance and definition. ~ Jannine Murray

Give. But don’t allow yourself to be used. Love. But don’t allow your heart to be abused. Trust. But don’t be naive. Listen. But don’t lose your own voice. ~ Anonymous

I’ve been a little naïve, used, my heart abused. I’ve forgotten how to love myself, and I’m searching for the voice I’ve lost. But my passions afford me strength, staying power—disappointment after disappointment—because I have a reason to rise every day and begin anew.

What gives you staying power?

Image courtesy of photostock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net. 

Acceptance is a choice

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Acceptance

Do you ever find yourself wrestling with a situation, feeling unsettled, heavy in your heart, at odds with yourself and/or the world around you? In reflecting on my post, ‘Four ways to flush out frustration,’ I keep returning to the first way we can absolve ourselves from irritations and disappointments: acceptance. By accepting our reality rather than pretending it doesn’t exist, we make a choice— because we are either choosing a) to live with a particular situation or b) to change ourselves into more of what we seek. Making a choice, for some of us, affords a semblance of control in our lives that might otherwise seem lacking. Yet, when it comes right down to it, each of us entertains a choice every day. We can either allow others and various circumstances to pull us down, or we can choose to rise above. For me, this might comprise sweat, tears, prayers and/or all of the above. Today I choose to be love.

What choice do you make today?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Four ways to flush out frustration

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Flush out frustration

The cure for anything is salt water:
sweat, tears or the sea. ~ Isak Dinesen

Many of my posts are written as reminders: I am good enough, strong enough, life is a journey, blah blah blah. Do I believe any of it? Yes. Do I ascribe to any of it? Sometimes. But let’s face it: I am not sparkly 24/7. I feel frustration, anger, disappointment, rejection. I wake up on the wrong side of the bed, forget to wear my crown, try to do it all and fail. I even manifest expectations onto my friends: Bam, it’s your fault I’m frustrated. Instead of allowing frustration to suck our lifeblood, however, flush it out. 1) Accept reality: if we can’t change it, then either live with it or be the change we wish to see. 2) Shift focus: involve ourselves in our favorite work, pastime, etc. 3) Exercise: exorcise those demons with sweat, tears (or the sea). 4) Journal it and/or talk it out.

What’s your remedy for frustration?

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

How (not) to be miserable for the rest of your life

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How not to be miserable

 

A recent disappointment cast a close family member into a weeklong mopefest, binging on Netflix and junk food. I told her it’s OK to throw a pity party, as long as she doesn’t pitch a tent and take residence. And then there’s Rob, the employee at my neighborhood grocery store who was diagnosed last year with stage three lung cancer. This past week I ran into him and learned his recent CT scan uncovered new growths on his lungs. For the first 24 hours after receiving the news, he holed himself off from the world. Then he picked himself up and said, ‘OK, I don’t want to be miserable for the rest of my life so let’s do this.’ Sometimes my pity parties last a day or two before I adjust my attitude. Because attitude is everything, isn’t it? Or at least half the battle. And our minds believe what we tell them. So remember: every situation is temporary. Now let’s do this.

Does your attitude need adjusting?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Everything is different, yet unchanged

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Different, unchanged

Just because everything is different
doesn’t mean anything has changed. ~
Irene Peter

Irene Peter’s quote strikes me as simple, yet profound. It brings to mind the passage of time—how the seasons vary according to the earth’s rotation; how our looks mature as we age. Yet while outward appearances might seem different to a casual observer, that doesn’t mean that, inwardly speaking, we feel altered. Years ago, my sweet mama told me how she’d regard herself in the mirror and wonder who the little old lady was staring back at her, because inside she still felt like a young girl. Her then mottled skin, faded hair and weakened eyes made no difference to a heart overflowing with childlike wonder, despite surviving life’s disappointments and setbacks. I oftentimes acknowledge the same thought when I gaze upon my own reflection or review the recent transformation I’ve set in motion in my life. Knowing everything is different, but nothing has changed.

How do you relate to Peter’s quote?

Image courtesy of digitalart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

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