Looking within: discovering plenty amidst the lack

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As I mentioned in my post, “Another way to look at the pandemic ‘pause,’” I’m discovering new things about myself since 2020 took a major detour. While much becomes ingrained in our habits and thought processes simply because “that’s the way I’ve always done it,” the current COVID-19 climate has required a mandatory “pivoting” of our mindsets. One shining example: When my daughter’s gym temporarily closed due to the social-distancing order, it crushed her. Although she knew it afforded a minor inconvenience overall, she dreaded a derailment of her fitness goals. However, after a short-lived pity party, she soon realized that everything she needed to maintain her daily practice stared her in the face. In fact, she recently conquered—and exceeded—her goals. But not without inner resolve, a dash of creativity and a boatload of fierce grit. I couldn’t be prouder of her. It’s heartening how a global crisis can reveal the best within us. If we let it.

Where have you discovered plenty amidst the lack?

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How to determine if you’re an amateur or a professional

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In a recent post, I talk about taking massive action to fight for your goals. The article I reference focuses on the importance of changing our mindsets. And that it isn’t just trying something once, or trying and failing and then quitting. It means trying until we get the results we want; i.e., mastering daily habits that ultimately lead to success. According to James Clear, author of Atomic Habits and the creator of the Habits Academy, it’s about the power of schedule and creating a daily routine. Clear says, “Stop waiting for motivation or creative inspiration to strike you and set a schedule for your habits. This is the difference between professionals and amateurs. Professionals set a schedule and stick to it. Amateurs wait until they feel inspired or motivated.” Further, give yourself permission to deliver a less-than-average outcome. “The only way to be consistent enough to make a masterpiece is to give yourself permission to create junk along the way.”

So what’s the verdict—amateur or pro?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

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.

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?

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When you feel like a failure: don’t look back

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You know when the perfect opportunity to offer words of wisdom and insightful advice to your child—adult or otherwise—takes on the appearance of a train wreck versus the motherly win you strive for? Even with a quarter century of parenting experience under my belt, I still bomb (and not the fizzled-out kind), the recent fail an up-close-and-personal affront at my ability to think before I speak—to mindfully build up rather than fight fire with fire. Tears ensued. Hugs suspended. Hours later, my mom ego bruised, I waved a white flag in the form of a text: Do-over? My treat. My faith life on display, it had revealed a mind and heart polluted by the demons I refer to in “Fighting the demons…:” old habits repeated, past choices tendered. But I have a choice now: I can allow the mistakes of yesterday to define today, or I can choose not to look back. Because that’s not the direction I’m headed.

How do you respond to failure?

Photo source: http://www.passionpluspurpose.com.

Defeating the demons: pressing in to get your head (and heart) unstuck

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In my recent post, “Make peace with the past…” I contemplate the choice to salvage the Someday mentality [“Someday my dreams will come true, I’ll accomplish X, Y and Z or fill-in-the-blank”]—or to let go of the one-sided dreams. You know the type—where the outcome centers on circumstances beyond your control. Today, I’m at a crossroads as I fight a few familiar demons: rehashing old habits, rethinking past choices, dwelling on the old. Yet the only way to reclaim my reality is to dig deeper, to press in to those areas which best define me: my passion and my purpose. To pursue, with greater intent, life’s simple pleasures and the transformative power of prayer, the mindful practice of gratitude and self-compassion. And to finally release those things which I cannot change in order to appreciate the life that’s smack dab in front of me. Not a million miles away. Not within the pages of a fairytale. But here, and now.

How do you defeat the demons?

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It’s just the beginning

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The beginning

At some point you need to take your life into your own hands. And make your own decisions. Start living the life you want now. Texted to me from a friend after listening to the broken record of my life again, I read these words nestled between a bit of well-deserved derision, and then returned to my safety net (see “Habits are choices…”). As expected, I woke up puffy and sad, no closer to any resolution. Except at some point I need to take my life into my own hands. And make my own decisions. And start living the life I want now. Not tomorrow. Not Someday. Today. This means committing to a few tough choices, making mistakes, disappointing people, feeling discomfort instead of stuffing it. And forgiving myself for waiting so long. Because my heart is heavy, burdened, by conforming to a life that no longer fits—the caterpillar who believes her world is over. Yet it’s only beginning.

Is this the life you want to live?

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Habits are choices… good or bad

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habits are choices...

I’ve got a bad habit. Okay, numerous bad habits. As I engage in these harmful rituals, however, I realize the resounding reason why stems from fear. Oftentimes when I am challenged to step outside of my comfort zone, when change is inevitable or painful and/or I desire to avoid a certain situation, I seek solace in habitual patterns—even if these patterns are not good for me. I create a panacea for the unknown with something known, a temporary fix that is all-too-often self-destructive. In particular, I excel at stuffing my feelings with junk food and drink and then cursing myself the next morning when I awaken puffy, sad and no closer to a resolution. I sabotage any strides I might experience because it’s easier to fall back into my safety net of familiarity. And then I wonder why my life doesn’t change. But today is a new day. Time to make better choices.

What is a bad habit you can replace today with a better one?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

More of the same

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More of the same

[Image credit: Stuart Miles]

My 30-day challenge has come and gone … the one where I committed to a month of Bikram Yoga without intermission, and also omitted alcohol, sweets, caffeine and anything non-Vegan from my diet.  As fabulous as I felt on my “final” day, I made the decision not to make a decision on how I’d spend day 31.  At one point, I thought I may be standing at the Keurig first thing.  Or be counting the minutes until I could mix my favorite aperitif.  But rather than craving old habits, I’m leaning toward the new.  So even though I don’t have to attend daily practice, I want to spend 90 minutes in my happy place.  A friend of mine said he simply gets sick of any given “preoccupation” — whether it’s a food or an activity.   But for me, what I focus on expands [see 9/18/2012 post].  Which means it’s time to get back to my writing.

Do you crave more of whatever you focus on, or prefer change instead?