Starting out strong: face meets brick wall

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The title of this post pretty much describes how 2021 started out in my world. Running (okay, power walking) on a full tank and starting out strong. And then face planting. Nothing says “new year” like a boatload of resolutions, goals and aspirations, right? Herein lies the struggle: tackling #allthethings and maintaining momentum. I remember my excitement while planning out my goals for the year—divided into quarters, broken down into months and weeks—with each month comprising categories, such as personal growth, work/vocation, health & fitness, etc. But here’s where face meets brick wall: expecting (and doing) too much (too soon!). Once again, that requires taking my own advice. As listed in goal-setting tips + trips, a good rule of thumb can be found by practicing SMART planning. However, it also means setting no more than 1-3 important goals each morning—and then tackling the task(s) likely to have the biggest positive impact on your life—or “eating the frog.”

How does your year look thus far?

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I quit.

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One day, you wake up and just know it’s time to say, “I quit.” I quit the negative self-talk. I quit complaining. I quit obsessing (see “A time for everything…). I quit whatever no longer serves me—the toxic behaviors that harm vs. heal, the co-dependent relationships that eclipse vs. edify, saying “yes” when I mean “no.” I quit making excuses and, instead, take ownership of my decisions, my goals, my commitments, my successes—and my failures. I quit piling on the unrealistic expectations, and replace them with my victories, big and small. I quit dreaming new dreams without attaching wings: the tangible steps I must take to create the reality my heart envisions. One day, you wake up and just know it’s time to say, “I begin.” And embrace every thrill ride, every bump, bruise and disappointment because it means you’re alive and present in this moment. That you’re breathing and you were created for a purpose.

What do you need to quit in order to begin?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Setting the bar: Think it. Believe it. Speak it.

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For years, I attempted to live by Kratos’ quote: Keep your expectations low and you will never be disappointed. However, if it’s true that you are what you think, and that “Words we speak about an experience become the experience,” then we must set the bar for who we are and what we expect. Our minds and our words should be used to attract positive results. OK, at this point I may lose a reader or four. Hear me, though: I know about the cancer diagnosis. I know about (near) fatal accidents, deadly catastrophes, etc. Truth be told: I don’t view the world through rose-colored glasses. But when the bad stuff happens—because it will—let’s turn the script on its head and, rather than fear the worst, expect the best. Where do we begin? With an attitude of gratitude. And an expectation of favor in the midst of life’s storms. Think it. Believe it. Speak it. And watch favor unfold.

Are you ready to set the bar?

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Taming the monkeys with practical tips: how to ‘unstick’ yourself

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Thirty-seven days ago I felt stuck. Questions like: What am I doing with my life? Where do I even begin? wrestled each other in a mind full of monkeys. And then a new friend I met during a recent writers’ retreat—I’ll call her KM—“checked in” with me online. I dumped. She listened. And then she “counseled” me with sage guidance and a personal challenge—with contract—if I chose to accept. Although only eight days remain in my challenge, I’ll continue practicing the advice KM shared. I’m not only more grounded and less anxious overall, but the gains have spilled over into my daily habits and interactions. I knew the retreat was life-changing. But with my limited experience and expectations, I never could have guessed to what extent. Stay tuned as I share, over the next several posts, how to get unstuck by incorporating two practical tips into your daily routine… and change your life. If you accept the challenge.

Do you need to get unstuck?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

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?

(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?

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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?

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Turn the page to begin anew

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Turn the page begin

The first blank page of 2016 arrives with good intentions: Simplicity. Balance. Happiness, health and wellness. Just when we thought it was safe, in creeps remnants of discouragement. Wait, didn’t we leave that behind at 11:59 p.m. on New Year’s Eve? As I folded and put away a couple days’ worth of clean laundry this morning, I reflected on how, when not managed immediately (or within a reasonable amount of time), the wash and myriad household tasks pile up much like the residual of unkind words, broken promises and unrealized expectations—all of which weigh us down with disappointment, regrets or hurt. I suggest, instead, we do what we can in an allotted period of time; i.e., spend XX minutes each day working on housekeeping tasks or making an effort to right a wrong, and then be done with it. Let it go, whatever it is. And with intention, choose to travel lighter, unburdened. Then turn the page to begin anew.

How did your New Year’s Day transpire?

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A rebirth of sorts: happiness at last

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Re-birth
As the year draws to a close, and as I grasp tightly (kicking and screaming) the vestiges of my forties for a few days longer, I reflect on that for which I’m grateful: Those friends who have come and gone from my life—the ones who bless me daily, and those who served the sole purpose of teaching me (sometimes painful) lessons; the second chances I’ve been gifted, a new path to traverse—a clean slate, if you will. I’m energized by the possibilities, my heart lighter than ever. And as I step into this new season, I can honestly say I’ve discovered what I’ve been searching for all this time. The funny thing is it’s been right under my nose all along. Because when I finally stopped focusing on me—my needs, my expectations, my self—I understood for the first time what it means to be happy. So happy rebirthday to me… a fresh beginning to sparkle where I’m planted.

Where could you use a rebirth?

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Permission to flourish

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Permission to flourish

Believe you will succeed, and you will.
~ Dale Carnegie

My last post, “No more apologies,” was about just that. Instead, I’ve been letting [aka training] the people in my life to know it’s essential I have my “writing time” each day, no questions asked. Unless someone is bleeding, I want no interruptions. The first day, I briefed my family before I shut the door to the outside world (except for my cats). For one hour I revised an essay, as well as rambled for 168 words in my personal blog. The 60 minutes flew by (proving the theory once again that time does fly when you’re having fun) and, when my timer chimed, I felt refreshed and happy—nourished. And the more I write, the more I want to write. It seems my muse has been waiting for permission to flourish unhindered by expectations, boundaries and guilt. To reign free. I’m excited to see where it takes me.

What do you need to make regular time for?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

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