Igniting a spark of hope: a 10-day challenge

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I don’t know about you, but the discord within the world—our country, our cities, even between many families and friends—wreaks continued havoc on my mental health. And yes, I regularly practice “all the things” I can control. However, it proves harder each day to pull myself out of self-reflection (and, quite honestly, a bit of self-pity) to jump into self-lessness. To pivot my mind away from the senseless deaths, destruction and disrespect; to disengage from the deafening buzz of debates and disillusionment that clambers for attention. And instead, to seek a safe landing place to refocus, and to set the stage for igniting a spark of hope like a sky ablaze with fireworks. A friend of mine recently posted a dare, of sorts, on Facebook: Can you challenge yourself to make a difference in someone’s life once, for 10 days? My first reaction: How do I find time for that? Followed by: How can I not?

Share in the comments how you are making a difference.

Image courtesy of Rattikankeawpun at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Love without condition: begin with yourself

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Today I asked my body what she needed,
Which is a big deal
Considering my journey of
Not really asking that much.

I thought she might need more water.
Or protein.
Or greens.
Or yoga.
Or supplements.
Or movement.

But as I stood in the shower
Reflecting on her stretch marks,
Her roundness where I would like flatness,
Her softness where I would like firmness,
All those conditioned wishes
That form a bundle of
Never-Quite-Right-Ness,
She whispered very gently:

Could you just love me like this?
~ Hollie Holden

I read this poem while scrolling through Facebook and tears welled quickly. For more than a half century, I’ve wrestled with the “bundle of never-quite-right-ness.” When I first joined ‘Club 50,’ I learned how to be comfortable in my own skin, as long as I practiced mindfulness. But what if I could love myself without condition? After all, if I love others this way, then I owe myself the same consideration. And grace.

What do you ask of yourself?

Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Making a fresh start: if the plan doesn’t work, change the plan

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I’ve decided my 2018 will start on Feb. 1.

January is a free trial month.
~ Anonymous

I’ve seen the above quote circulating in my Facebook feed and I am all for the idea. In fact, my 2018 didn’t start out anything like I had planned. In bed at 11:27 with the lights out on NYE, my vision for the New Year resembled anything but hopeful anticipation. Following a series of trials and errors, however, I resolved to start over. While I maintain a mindset focused on the basics of mental, spiritual, emotional and physical health, I intend to begin February with a rough outline—a map of sorts. I’d like to know what I’m striving toward, rather than rising each day to flounder without a plan. It’s OK to let go a little and let life happen, but I’d like to at least have an idea of where I’m headed. If the plan doesn’t work, change the plan. Not the goal.

How is your plan working out?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

When all the butterflies die: look forward to new growth

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While scrolling through Facebook recently, I stumbled upon this quote: “That feeling you get in your stomach when your heart’s broken. It’s like all the butterflies died.” I know a few things about broken hearts and dead butterflies. Hope deferred. Unmet expectations. Loss and emptiness. But during this new season, I am compelled, now more than ever, to make sense of my path. To reclaim that feeling of contentment I talk about in “Try it on for size…” To don happiness as a daily accessory. To welcome new growth. For far too long my attention has been fixated inward on my needs and wants and disappointments. And it’s time for me to look outward and focus on those around me.  To take a break from the distractions and agendas and whatever else thwarts, rather than advances, my purpose. Hopefully, in time, as I breathe and pray, I will discover what makes me tick and who I’m supposed to be.

How do you know you’re on the right path?

You can. End of story.

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On Wednesday I posted an image on Facebook: a cup filled with coffee, the words Happy Hump Day scrawled on its surface and hearts drifting upward from its steam, and added my own message: You can. End of story. What thrills you? You can. What obstacle do you face? You can. What dream persists? You can. I read an article about how society spends more time seeking entertainment and distraction than focusing on learning and creating. And that when we forego the latter, we take a step backward rather than grow into the extraordinary person we’re meant to be. Much of what I read intrigued me: “You are defined by what you’re willing to struggle for.” I believe that. “Most people aren’t willing to really struggle for anything.” I don’t believe that. It might be a struggle simply to rise each day to face your reality. Or perhaps you’re 100 percent satisfied living an ordinary life. Just remember: You can. End of story.

What do you struggle for?

Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

A month of mindfulness: one moment at a time

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Recently I followed a movement in my Facebook feed about a 30-day minimalist challenge: remove one thing (from your life) on the first day that no longer serves you, two the second and so on. At first I was ready to jump on this spring-cleaning twist; however, rather than minimize, I’ve chosen to practice a month of mindfulness. The simple definition: to pay attention on purpose; a conscious direction of our awareness. First, I began to apply this attention to my food choices. Soon it eked into my yoga, the way I interact with my colleagues in the work place, my little family on the home front and my other relationships; how I choose to spend my time. Although it’s only a week into June, I see tangible results from my efforts. And, because mindfulness also involves approaching each moment without judgment, as I become more skilled at the practice, I can better recognize when judgment rears its ugly head. One moment at a time.

How mindful are you?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

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. 

What my first iPhone taught me

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What my iPhone taught me

Last month I became a first-time iPhone owner. I resisted the lure for years and, when I finally decided to make the switch, my adult daughter met me at the store ‘for support.’ Since that evening, ‘B.A.’ has demonstrated infinite patience with my questions, user errors and FaceTime practice. At the beginning, she offered to review various settings with me, yet graciously allowed me to test the waters on my own. And she was notably impressed after I posted my first screenshot on Facebook. In the midst of my burgeoning tech savvy, however, I’ve learned it’s more rewarding to engage in everyday life, each moment—even the teaching kind (thanks B.A.!)—as it unfolds, without worrying about checking in on social media each time I go somewhere, or orchestrating the perfect selfie or posting photos of every meal I cook. Technology means well, keeps us connected. But real people, in real time, can never be upgraded or replaced.

How does technology impact your life?

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.

A self-help junkie finds simplicity

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Self-help junkie

 

I suppose you could call me a self-help junkie. My latest venture is a 33-day path to purpose, passion & joy through Panache Desai’s book: Discovering Your Soul Signature. In my post, “Dialing down the distractions,” I talk about the benefits of tuning out interruptions. Prior to picking up Desai’s guide, I disconnected from the internet for a short hiatus. Although unplugged for a short time, this exercise in self-control removed a bit of the external chatter to allow me to take a step back and focus inward with fewer diversions. To become more connected with myself. I know I can do all that and still keep up with social media but, as an all-or-nothing type of girl, a fast from Facebook helped me move one step closer to the balance I seek in my life. And it reminded me of an important factor I almost forgot: what simple feels like. I’m excited to see where my new venture guides me.

What does simple feel like to you?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

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