#1 way to grow in every area of your life

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At my last acupuncture appointment, my practitioner inquired about a trip my husband and I took up north to celebrate our wedding anniversary. I told her the getaway proved a magical way to usher in our 30th year of marriage. I also shared that, in retrospect, the majority of our married life had always seemed effortless. This insight struck my husband and me recently after we experienced a falling out and realized that, over the past several years, we’d stopped investing: in each other. In us. Bottom line: When we begin to pursue separate interests more and communicate less, we invite apathy. When we fail to faithfully plant seeds of kindness and love, we foster discontent. But when we afford effort to make together time a priority, we cultivate connection. Here’s the takeaway, friends: what we feed (invest in) grows—whether it’s our vocation, education, bank account, spiritual life, health or relationships. Or even an addiction. And what we starve dies.

Where do you invest the most effort?

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

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Effecting change: love harder, forgive more

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During my lifetime, I’ve met basically two kinds of people: The ones who are grateful simply because they are alive and breathing, equipped with the ability to contribute to society in some way; and the ones who greet you with, “It’s going to be a bad day” and proceed to tick off a barrage of superficial complaints. In my own experience, each set of people exhibits certain stereotypical qualities. The former kind seeks to put others’ needs first, walks his/her talk, leads by example and always looks for the good in humanity. The latter kind tends to obsess over messages of hate and judgment, holds grudges and finds fault with (seemingly) every little thing. Oh, how my heart aches for storm-ravaged Texas, the condition of our world, for the division that separates. My deepest desire is to collectively become one kind of people who learn to dismiss the small stuff, love harder, forgive more and unite to make a radical difference.

What can you do to effect change?

Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Loving yourself: a lesson on self-worth

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Perhaps, we should love ourselves so fiercely,
that when others see us they know exactly
how it should be done. ~ Rudy Francisco

It’s funny how we can learn how to operate something complex, like a smartphone, in a matter of hours (maybe minutes), but it can take a half century or more to figure out the simplest of truths. My self-worth, for more years than I care to think about, had been wrapped up in how others perceived me: Was I pretty enough? Witty, skinny, engaging, smart, creative, strong… enough? Admittedly, over the years, I have not measured up in my own eyes—whether true or unfounded. To see my value from a higher perspective has required trial and error, (mental) kicking and screaming and a conscientious effort. It means extending grace rather than criticism. And perhaps, instead of labeling our flaws as flaws, we should view them as perfect imperfections that set each of us apart as originals.

What one thing do you love about yourself?

Photo courtesy of Nutdanai Apikhomboonwaroot at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

7 truths on and off the trail

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As I often do while hiking, I pray. I meditate. I search my soul and ask what it longs for most. I plot my goals or a story outline. While trekking through the desert this weekend, it’s as if life made a little more sense to me on and off the trail with these truths: 1) Danger is always possible: prepare for the unexpected and proceed with caution. 2) To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under the sun. 3) Remember where you came from: embrace your roots. 4) Keep your eyes open for love: it can show up in unlikely places. 5) Obstacles [aka mountains] are inevitable: it’s our choice whether to scale or avoid them. 6) If it’s meant to be, new growth finds a way. 7) When we think we’ve made it unscathed, another obstacle looms in our path: if it’s the same one, quit going around it and tackle it head on.

Which truth(s) can you relate to everyday life?

Club 50: it just keeps getting better (wear the tiara)

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My daughter called me the other day and said she’d read an article that seemed like something I’d write: “50 Life Lessons Written by a 50-Year-Old Woman.” I wish I could say I had penned it because it was that good. And perfect. The cool thing is, I’ve already discovered most of these lessons and apply the majority in my own life. There are others I plan to put into practice, and even more that I’d like to add: 51) Pamper yourself often: buy the flowers, new dress or new shoes; splurge on a fresh “do” or mani and pedi. 52) Find something you’re wildly passionate about and pursue it, fearlessly. Or reignite an old passion, boldly. 53) Love others and love yourself; be kind always. 54) Cultivate a healthy body image. But my all-time favorite is the author’s closing tip: wear a tiara whenever you want to (and not just on your birthday). I think this might be my life’s new motto.

What is your life’s motto?

(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.

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. 

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