Thanks‘giving’ back: appreciation in action

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Photo by Simon Maage on Unsplash.

First, thank you for stopping by my website. I appreciate you! Secondly, if you haven’t already guessed, this month my focus is all about “giving thanks by giving back.” In fact, I will be donating $1 to a local food bank for each new email subscriber in November. If you’d like to sign up…[read more]

More than thick skin: processing rejection and criticism

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Photo by Jakayla Toney on Unsplash.

Who doesn’t love to receive good news? Or how about the saying: No news is good news? What about when the dreaded rejection arrives for that dream job, much-anticipated date, financial loan or story proposal? For me, the latter hits home…[read more]

Living your best life: an act of balance

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Photo by Loic Leray on Unsplash.

Recently, I updated my profile picture on Facebook. In the photo, I’m standing on the deck of our cabin, the forest in the background. A friend commented: Living your best life. And I had to ask myself: Am I really?…[read more]

Delete, delete, delete: A better way to break free from toxic thinking

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The other day I sat in a messy space of negativity. You could say I wallowed in it (not a pretty picture). The following morning, I began writing an email to a friend listing all the moody details. After about 20 minutes of spewing onto the “page,” I backspaced through the majority of the conversation. At the same time, a lightbulb popped on to reveal an ah-ha moment: If we could visualize ourselves backspacing (or deleting) over a negative script in our minds—hurtful comments received or spoken, limiting beliefs that continue to bombard our thoughts—how would that affect our moods, our days…the quality of our lives? Personally, I prefer to live without any reminders that I “screwed up again” and to focus on the clean page. To fill that space with positive affirmations, words of gratitude and encouragement (to myself and others). And to quickly “backspace” whenever I find myself trapped in another endless loop of toxic thinking.

How do you keep from rehashing negative thoughts?

Finding your support system can make all the difference

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You’ve hit the reset button and started the arduous, oftentimes painful and slow, process of reinventing yourself: your thought patterns, habits, goals. You’ve purged the old to make room for the new, and now you want to share your plans with someone you trust. Someone who will understand (at least) the basics. Beware: those who don’t “get it” may look at you like you’ve sprouted a third eye, and/or say things that challenge your convictions. But, those who generally understand will rally around you to champion your quest. Unfortunately, though, even the most well-meaning friends can inadvertently choke the life from the tender seedlings of progress we’ve begun to nurture. That’s why we must learn to discern our closest allies—the tribal few who know when to provide an ear, or a (virtual) hug or a word of encouragement, when needed. And, of course, to celebrate our successes. Growth isn’t easy, but a support system offers vital nourishment to help us flourish.

Who are your closest go-to allies?

Image courtesy of lekcha at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Letting go doesn’t mean loving less

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At times, it feels like our journey through this one life is fraught with trials and setbacks more so than smooth sailing. Times when we could use an encouraging word, a hug or a shoulder on which to cry. A friend of mine is going through such a time and, earlier this week—despite my attempt to practice mindfulness (see ‘A month of mindfulness…’)—I allowed frustration over a situation out of my control to instead control my tongue. Unfortunately, this resulted in words spouted off between us, words that stung, words that could not be retracted. And, ultimately, a falling out. Although I tried to right it, the damage had been done and I realized the only thing I could do was to let go. To give my friend space. It doesn’t mean I love any less; it means I love enough to allow someone else to take my place. To pick up where I left off.

How do you know when it’s time to let go?

Photo courtesy of usamedeniz at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Lean on me: finding a balance between solitude and fellowship

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I usually hike alone, using the space to reconnect with nature, to work up a sweat and to pray. This past weekend, however, I joined a group of ladies for an unhurried trek in the mountains and I gleaned a few observations along the way: 1) Circumstances might require us to slow down and come alongside others who need encouragement or a helping hand; 2) When is oftentimes less important than how we reach our destinations and 3) Although I enjoy my alone time, I believe humanity was created for fellowship and that two (or more) are better than one: if I fall, someone will be there to pick me up. Whether I fall in the literal or metaphorical sense, my friends are there to lend a hand, a hug or a compassionate ear. It’s good to enjoy our own company, it’s better to surround ourselves with a reliable tribe and it’s best to find a balance between the two.

How do you balance alone time with companionship?

Photo courtesy of Yelloo at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

 

(Re)writing your story: happily-ever-now

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If you ever find yourself in the wrong story, leave.
~ Mo Willems

Everything we might’ve been taught says running away isn’t the solution. That we should look adversity in the face and show it we’re stronger. But what about when quitting means leaving a situation where we’ve tried over and over yet nothing changes? In her post, “You’re Allowed to Leave,” Rania Naim invites us to let toxic friends go, to surround ourselves with love—people who encourage and nurture us—and to pick the kind of energy we need in our lives. “You’re allowed to forgive yourself for your biggest and smallest mistakes and you’re allowed to be kind to yourself, you’re allowed to look in the mirror and actually like the person you see.” Leaving might not mean physically. Letting go could simply mean releasing ourselves from the expectations of others and those expectations we’ve adopted as our own. Don’t wait for Someday to be happy. Be happy now.

What does your happily-ever-now look like?

Image courtesy of dan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Social networking: checking in and out

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Social networking

Social media can be a time waster, yet it has its place. I use various forms to maintain contact with family and friends, as well as promote my writing and sprinkle encouragement. And, social media is how I keep up-to-date as far as world events. But I can’t count the number of times I get sucked into the drama, the recipes and book reviews, music and cat videos, the goofy memes and even the political harangues. Yet I like feeling as if I’m part of something bigger than myself. Plus, I’m thankful for the people I’ve reconnected with, and for instantaneous communications—although not always a good thing when you feel compelled to respond immediately to a text or a private message. I think, like with most things, setting aside allotted time—particularly to check in and catch up on Facebook, email, texting, Twitter, etc.—might be one answer to rein in the day-to-day distractions and simplify life.

Where does social networking fall on your list of distractions?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

When life isn’t perfect

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I think I can

Whether you think you can,
or you think you can’t,
you’re right. ~ Henry Ford

My life isn’t perfect. Surprise! However, when I publicize on social media or speak to others, I attempt to post or express words of affirmation and encouragement. Because a positive, can-do attitude is one that builds up, rather than tears down. Especially when life isn’t perfect. This doesn’t suggest I’m less than genuine or true to myself, but it can sometimes be misleading. Yet I choose to speak life in a society that is consumed with hate and greed. After all, if we attract what we focus on, it makes sense to choose the good things. And that’s just it: it begins with a choice. Not only that, it’s easier to win over the people around us with a smile or kind word than with a complaint or angry look. Plus—even if it’s not a good day, there’s always something good in every day.

What kind of life do you portray to others?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

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