Archive for June, 2010

11 jun

Making Up My Mind

JoAnnaBoccardI started writing for myself about 15 years ago. At that time I had started three novels and a child’s book, contacted a writing instructor and editor and received very positive feedback from him. He was impressed, told me to do nothing but keep writing. I was not to take a class, not even his and not worry about the editing, not at this time anyway. Doing the editing would slow down my creative energy. He met with me a few times, to answer questions I had, and then I quit writing.

I got involved in my job and didn’t find a lot of time to write. When I did start up again, I called him and found out that he was no longer teaching or editing. He had a few writing assignments that he was involved with and building a house for his wife and her son was more than enough to keep him busy.

I sputtered, started and stopped with my writing and never made it into anything concrete. I did finish one novel, but was not really pleased with it, and let it go. I started several non-fiction pieces and even worked on scripts, nothing completed. Actually completing any of my writing meant that I needed to believe that what I was doing was really good. I also had to believe that I could and would give up working at a job. It became a real lack of confidence, even with the positive feedback from my editor.

IT’S WHAT I WANT

This time it’s different. I think it is because I feel more in control of what I want to do with my life. I know I have the talent to write, and now I intend to do something with this talent. Writing also has the potential to give me everything I want from freedom, independence, working from my home and setting my own schedule, to the possibility of earning an abundance of money.

I knew all this before, but I think I didn’t believe I could possibly make all this happen. Now I am taking a more realistic look at the way my life has been. It is a continuous line of degrading and miserable low-paying dead-end jobs. What I see is what I get.

In order to make this change I had to, without a doubt, make sure I understood this completely. I had to understand that I will never have what I want by working for someone else, not ever. It has helped that with the job I have now my hours have decreased so that I would not miss the income if I quit tomorrow.

WHAT I KNOW

I realize now that whatever I was told about not being enough, or not having what it takes were just words that my father repeated from his past. I understand this because even though my father said unkind things to me he also wanted the best for me. He wanted me to have the work that allowed me independence and wealth. I am willing to let go of the derogatory things he said. There are more than enough positive things that will give me the self-esteem boost I want, and remind me that my father and mother loved me.

IT’S A WRAP

I started writing again, because I never completely stopped. I was always making notes and writing in a tablet whether I was driving, at work or putting on make-up. I could continue this way or actually decide to do something with it. I decided that even though I had a full time job, I always woke up very early in the morning. This was the time that the world was quiet and even to this day I still write early in the morning. I’ve found that I am no longer rigidly set to writing just in the morning and will sit down to write anytime of the day.

I’ve made a promise that I will give myself the life I want and in order to do this I have to make changes to the way I think and the way I do things. My choices and the methods in which I plan to make a change are now a way of life for me. I no longer am wishy-washy in my thinking about ending my job, of knowing I will have to adapt to a different way of being paid, by results rather than hourly. It has become a way of believing in me and my abilities.

What do I want? Freedom, independence and wealth. I believe I have all this in being a writer. I believe that I have the courage, power and ability to make this happen for me.

I have had to rework the way I think about me. Instead of a woman who keeps everyone around me happy, I am the woman who makes me happy first of all and still have room for others. I will never have what I want or even what I need by working at a job for someone else. For me to be happy I must have freedom, independence and wealth, but I also must be happy and fulfilled. It is a package deal, but a package that I wrap for me.

A change can never happen if you don’t really want it. I not only want this change to take place I am also willing to do whatever it takes to make it happen. I can make this change only by believing that I deserve to have what I want, and also believing that I am worthy. I now have an editor, who is fabulous, working with me to fine-tune my writing.

Making a change is facilitated by making it a habit that you repeat constantly. I now mentally focus on my writing all day every day. I click on the delete button in my mind extinguishing all thoughts about my job and the people I work with. At this point my writing is in the limelight, brightly beaming and my job is fading into obscurity.

EXERCISE

What changes have you wanted to make, but never carried through?

Think of the messages that may have caused this pattern.

Allow yourself to forgive those in your past who may have discouraged you from achieving what you wanted.

Take control of the changes you want to make.

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Posted by JoAnna Boccard on June 11th, 2010 in Uncategorized | No comments

07 jun

Choices

MonicaGomezI once heard Ingrid Bergman say, “if I had my life to live over again and I had the memory of what I had passed, then I would avoid certain mistakes. But if I didn’t have the memory I would do exacty the same because I’m happy with my life and I see no reason why I shouldn’t live it over again.”

I guess not many people can say that. What’s the secret of being happy with our lives? I think it lies in choosing, in being aware of what choices we make. Many times, when facing a decision, we let ourselves be influenced by outside voices: The musts and shoulds, what is socially correct, what our parent/partners/children are expecting form us. We don’t realize that we’re leaving ourselves behind. We’re not being honest with ourselves. It’s as if we don’t trust our internal knowledge.

How many times have you acted upon a feeling that came from your gut? Unfortunately, we’re not taught to look inside. On the contrary, we are encouraged to focus outside, on other people’s thoughts and considerations. And that’s how we make our own choices, based on opinions and preferences that do not belong to us. In fact, we barely know ourselves, so we can hardly see what we really want. Then we feel disappointed, injured, lost and, of course, we blame everybody else. In a way, we’re right because it was their opinions which led us astray. However, we forget that the choice was made by us. Nobody is pointing a gun at us. We have free choice. Maybe you’re thinking that in some cases you are not free to choose. Let me give you an example from my own life experience.

My Down Syndrome baby was four months old. I had a lot of family problems and I was really feeling overwhelmed with the responsibility of caring for the baby on my own. I missed my job, my friends, my freedom. I felt like a victim. One day, a friend of mine told me, “well, it’s only a matter of choosing.” I defended myself. “No,” I said. “I have a disabled kid and I can’t choose. I can’t send him back, right?” He retorted, “You’re right. All I’m saying is that perhaps you can choose to put him in an institution and work hard in order to pay for all his needs.” I was speechless. He was right! I had a choice, nobody was forcing me to do anything. I was obviously choosing to be close to my baby, but I became aware that I was not a victim. I was choosing.

It is my experience that if I choose carefully and consciously, I never regret what I have done. Precisely because I chose it, I thought about it, I dealt with it and I chose what I considered was the best. It’s true that maybe later I found out I had made a mistake. But that’s fine. It was just that: I made a mistake because I didn’t know, of course. No guilt, no blame, no resentment. Just human nature!

If we can acknowledge the choices we make, we can get closer to Bergman’s statement. Choose consciously, from your heart, and be responsible for that. It’ll help you build self confidence and peace of mind.

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Monica Gomez on June 7th, 2010 in Health, Personal Stories, Spirituality | 1 comment Read related posts in ,

07 jun

We Are not Victims

MonicaGomezFebruary 14, 1998. A woman gives birth to her son, Tomas. At the moment of birth, the baby is diagnosed with Down’s Syndrome. A real shock for the mother. As you can imagine, nobody wants to have a disabled child. The baby´s father cannot cope with this reality and leaves. The woman is an only child, and has the support of her parents but when the baby is only 20 days old, this lady´s mother is diagnosed with pancreas cancer.

What’s this I’m telling you? Is it the plot of a new soap opera? Not at all. I’m telling you a moment in my own life. That woman I am talking about is me. In less than a month, I lost my husband, I lost my job (I had to quit) and was alone with a Downs child and a Mum with cancer. Do you think I felt like a victim? Of course, you bet I did!

Some years before, in a Personal Growth Seminar, I had learned that we’re never victims. The idea was that we always create, cause or permit whatever happens to us. Now, what had I done to create this crisis in my life? We could split hairs and say that I hadn’t wanted to have genetic tests done during the pregnancy because I was not ready to abort in case of problems, so in a way I had allowed this child to be born with a disability. OK, we could say that.
However, what had I done as regards my Mum´s cancer? In that case, I could find no explanation of how I had permitted that to happen to me. I felt a real victim.

Let’s have a look at other examples, at a bigger scale. What did the Jewish people do for the holocaust to happen? What did the people who died in the World Trade Center do to deserve that horrible death? Or their families, for that matter. What did African kids do to be born with AIDS?

Some people who believe in reincarnation, find comfort believing that the answer to all this is that they bring karma from past lives. Maybe. Who knows? Maybe my situation was karma, but I didn’t feel any comfort!

Yesterday I saw on TV a survivor of the atomic bombs of Nagasaki and Hiroshima. This Japanese man was saying something that really surprised me. He stated that Japan had been responsible for the bombing attacks, because the U.S. had been urging to end the war and the Japanese leaders refused. He believed that in that way, the Japanese had caused the tragedies. That is, he thought that even though the use of the atomic bomb was not justified at all, there existed a part of responsibility from the part of Japan. He concluded his speech saying that both the American and Japanese governments should express their regret publicly for the atrocities they had caused.

All this confirmed in me that we’re not really victims. But let’s leave aside these drastic cases and come back to my humble story. There was a moment when I realized that I could choose how to react, how to face whatever was happening to me. What was I going to do with this situation that life was bringing me? It was my choice.

I remembered Christopher Reeve, the former Superman who suffered an accident and was paralyzed. Here’s what he wrote about his own tragedy:
“It’s not about what happened to you, but whatever you do with what happened. A true test for a human being is what you do after the catastrophe. It’s what you do with it. This is not a road I’d have picked but a lot of times things get picked for you. Either I give in, or I say, ‘All right, let’s make the best out of this.’”

So, what could I do with my situation? I could really get depressed. Of course. I remember my own therapist telling me that any other person in my situation would spend their days crying in bed. Well, I felt I couldn’t even “afford the luxury” of doing that, as I had a baby and a sick mum to look after, which reinforced my feeling of being a victim.

All this went on until I started becoming aware that I had a choice. I could give up or I could try to survive. I had no idea how to, but it was a question of ATTITUDE. It was like choosing between dying or staying alive.

The film Castaway shows this very clearly when Tom Hanks’ character says, “Keep breathing. You never know what the tide might bring in tomorrow.”

Another example is that of Viktor Frankl, a psychologist whose whole family died in the holocaust. He was part of that as well, and in the worst moments of suffering, he tried to make sense of what he was going through. He said, “you can deprive me of everything, even of my dignity, but the only thing that can’t be taken away from me is my capacity of choosing the attitude with which I’m going to face the things that happen to me.” He stated, “that which doesn’t kill me, makes me stronger.”

The point that I´d like to make clear is that you can choose how to react, you have the power to choose your own attitude toward your predicaments. You can’t choose what happens to you, but nobody can deprive you of your free will to choose your own attitude. You can despair and give up (even commit suicide!) or—while you go through your pain—you can go on breathing and open up to that  magic door that appears when you give your intention to survive, move forward and try to make the best of it.

To conclude with my experience, those who know me know that that magical door opened up and took me along ways I would never have even imagined: exactly five years after my crisis, I got married to a wonderful man who adopted Tomas and with whom we adventured out of our native Argentina, in search of a better future in Italy. If I had given in, I would never be telling you this story right now!

So, remember: we’re not really victims. Whenever we have to undergo a tragedy, we have the great power and the wonderful freedom to choose how we’re going to deal with that.

Bear it in mind. It’s up to you. You’re always the master of your life!

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Monica Gomez on June 7th, 2010 in New Directions, Personal Stories, Relationships, Things We Love | No comments

07 jun

When Is It Your Turn to Step Up?

JayFortePersonal accountability and responsibility seems rare today. Some step up and take ownership of their work, lives and the needs of others, but many more don’t. This isn’t a criticism – it is an observation.

So, here are several situations – how would you respond?

- You see an elderly woman walking around a parking lot, looking lost and disoriented.
- A toddler walks over to the front door of the coffee shop and opens it, intending to walk out to a busy street; you see the parent is in the store.
- The girl scouts are selling cookies. The marching band is selling candy. The military is collecting in the street corner for wounded soldiers.
- A homeless man is drinking what is left of a soft drink he found in a cup in the trash.
- A tornado rips through a town making hundreds of people homeless – in the next town.
- A drought creates a food shortage for thousands of people – thousands of miles away from you.
- Your kids run the water constantly while they brush their teeth.
- Your favorite restaurant serves very large portions that are mostly trashed.
- At the airport you watch as a traveler throws a plastic bottle in the rubbish, though the recycle bin is immediately adjacent to it (or far away from it).

Your responses are your choice. For these situations, when do you say something – or do you say anything? When do you do something- or do you do anything?

What if the situations were reversed and you were the victim or the person needing help in these situations? What would you like to have happen?

I do not believe the difficult or bad things in life happen as part of some pre-determined plan or divine retribution. Life just happens – both the good and the bad. The planet goes through its cycles without any specific awareness to where we live, or with any malicious intent – it does what it has always done. Sometimes there are sunny days; others times there are hurricanes, earthquakes and droughts. Sometimes we have positive events; sometimes we have negative events. It is the way of our world.

But regardless of what happens, we are here. It is my belief that we are social creatures to help, guide, learn from and support each other. Sometimes we help; sometimes we need help. The flux of the world teaches us to discover our greater selves – to see the magnitude of the gifts we received (talents, aptitudes and passions) and to activate them in us. If things in our world were always fine, we would never be challenged to develop our greatness – to see our true capabilities. In challenge, we see qualities we did not realize we possess; we access our greatness.

I believe that each of us is unique, and this uniqueness is part of a greater plan. This uniqueness is exhibited in the specific gifts (talents, aptitudes and personality) we received. It is our responsibility is to become acquainted with these gifts to bring them to the world – because there will be some time when the world will you’re your best and mine. To respond we must know our areas of greatness. Not knowing misses an opportunity to make the difference the world may need.

President Woodrow Wilson said, “You are not here to merely make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand.” You are here for you and for things greater than you.

When an earthquake strikes, (because it is part of what our Earth does), it may be up to us to respond and help. When a drought impacts another part of the world, something we are great at may be what the victims need. We step in. We help. Because we share this world with others. Because we share our best with others. And maybe what this particular event needs is what we do best. Then it is our turn to step up. Not always, just when what is needed is what we do best. Our turn.

And when life happens to us – we have a hurricane, a fire, or a personal tragedy – because this is part of life – we look to the greatness of others to help us through our tough times. Then it is their turn to step up.

Sometimes it is up to us; some times it is up to others. Sometimes the world is calm, sometimes it is not.

We have the resources to survive – we have them in each other. And trauma and challenge help us learn about them. When each of us knows our inventory of talents and strengths, we can then decide when it is our time to step up to a situation that needs what we do best. We can respond.

Our world is becoming more interconnected and interdependent. Events like global warming, the Middle East conflict, nuclear weapons, diseases and natural disasters have universal impact – we are all affected by these. Robert Wright presents in his book, Non Zero; The Logic of Human Destiny, that when we work together to settle and respond (in an interdependent world), we create “win-win” outcomes. When we disregard, disrespect, refuse to help, or do not understand the needs, challenges and values of others (in an interdependent world), we set ourselves up for a “lose-lose” outcome. We have the ability to achieve “win-win” when we bring our best to the complex world we live in; we settle for “lose-lose” when we don’t commit our best – when we don’t step up.

Consider these four ways to be an active player in a world that needs you to be your best and to step up when it is your turn:

- Know yourself – know what you are good at, what moves you and what are your best areas to support others.

– Stay connected to your world. Your world is larger than you. Know what others need to help them on their journey.

– Commit to action when called on. Have the courage to step up and take responsibility when others need you. Don’t wait to be asked.

– Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need others to do their share. We all need help some time.

We have the collective genius, intellect, energy and passion to help when others are in need. We have the ability to handle complex issues, understand our planet and keep people healthy, safe and valued. This can happen when we are responsible and accountable to know how to contribute our best, and when our best is needed. We must know when and how to step up, and when it is fair to ask it from others.

So back to the situations I offered at the start of this post. What do you choose to do? When is it your turn to step up? And when do you need others to step up for you?

Jay Forte is a motivational speaker and performance consultant. He is the author of Fire Up! Your Employees and Smoke Your Competition, and the on-line resources, Stand Out and Get Hired, and The Hunt for Opportunities Success Manual. He has just completed his new book, Happiness Matters; Know Yourself, Find Your Fit and Transform Your World; chapter downloads will soon be available on his website. He works to connect people to their talents and passions to live fired up! More information at www.LiveFiredUp.com.

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Jay Forte on June 7th, 2010 in Family, Global/Social Change, New Directions, Personal Stories, Relationships, Spirituality | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , , , , , , ,

05 jun

Be Your Own Cheerleader

MikeRobbins96I recently saw a wonderful video on YouTube that has been making its way around the internet of a little girl passionately affirming herself and her life in the bathroom mirror (”My whole house is great, I like my hair, I can do anything, I like my family,” etc.) If you haven’t had a chance to see it, check it out – it’s adorable, funny, and a beautiful example of appreciation in action.

I showed it to my four year old daughter Samantha (who is close to the same age as the girl in the video). Samantha loved it and asked me if she could do the same thing herself. She ran into the bathroom, got up on the counter, and began to do her own affirmations in the mirror. It was beautiful, hilarious, and quite heartwarming to see her cheering about herself and her life in such a positive and passionate way.

Not only was Samantha excited about doing this, there was no shame, guilt, or embarrassment on her part as she did it. Her baby sister, Rosie (who is almost two now), is a big fan of laughing, smiling, and kissing herself in the full length mirror we have in our bedroom. So cute! I’m amazed and inspired by how many little ones seem to have an innate sense of appreciation for themselves, as if it’s hardwired into them at birth.

Sadly, this high regard many of us have for ourselves and our lives as babies, toddlers, and even little kids, is often “trained” out of us as we learn the ways of the “real” world. Directly and indirectly we hear and see things that lead us to believe that we are not good enough, need to be fixed, and are fundamentally flawed. We also learn early on that it’s not cool, socially acceptable, or even appropriate to act, think, or speak about ourselves in ways that may be perceived as overly positive or downright arrogant.

Even for those of us, like me and most of you reading this article, who understand the importance of self appreciation and self love, the act of expressing and experiencing love for ourselves can be tricky. Once we get over the negative stigma or our fear of being judged (which is often an ongoing process), we then have to deal with our own obsession with criticizing ourselves, as well as the fact that we may not actually know how to love and appreciate ourselves in an authentic way.

However, when we truly love ourselves, most of what we worry about and even much of what we strive for in life becomes meaningless. We may still have some worries, and we’ll definitely continue to have goals, dreams and desires. However, from a place of true self appreciation and self love, the fear behind our worries and the motivation for our goals dramatically changes from something we have to avoid or produce in order to be accepted and valued to something we’re genuinely concerned about or really want to accomplish.

In other words, when we wait for other people, the accomplishment of specific goals, or the manifestation of ideal circumstances to create the excitement, joy, and inspiration for our lives – we give away our personal power and live in an insatiable way. Cheering for ourselves with passion, and with a true sense of love and appreciation is not arrogant, it’s actually required if we’re going to live a life of fulfillment, gratitude, and meaning.

Arrogance is based on fear and insecurity. Whenever I catch myself doing or saying anything arrogant (which I do on a pretty regular basis), it’s because I’m feeling insecure, wanting someone to like me or be impressed with me, or trying to compensate for some perceived “lack” within or about myself. There’s nothing “evil” about us being arrogant, it’s just not all that much fun for us or others – and living our life from a place of arrogance can cause a great deal of pain, suffering, and hurt for ourselves and those around us.

Authentic self appreciation is about loving, valuing, and honoring ourselves, our gifts, and all of who we are – both light and dark. The words, thoughts, and feelings may seem similar to arrogance, however, they’re not. Energetically, self appreciation comes from a very different place within us than arrogance does. The more we practice loving and appreciating ourselves, the easier it is for us to tell the difference.

Here is a list of some things you can do to practice loving, appreciating, and cheering for yourself in an authentic and powerful way:

  • Speak about yourself positively
  • When someone compliments you – breathe, let it in, and say “thank you” (don’t discount it)
  • Say affirmations to yourself in the mirror, and use your first name (i.e. “I love you, Mike”)
  • Write down things you appreciate about yourself in your journal on a regular basis
  • Send yourself an email or card of appreciation – from you, to you
  • Buy yourself flowers or some token of appreciation that makes you feel good
  • Ask for the acknowledgment you’d like
  • Make requests of others (remember that you don’t have to do it all yourself)
  • Take time for yourself and by yourself
  • Celebrate your successes (big and small) and pat yourself on the back regularly

Many of the things on this list fall into the category of “simple but not easy” for most of us. And, there are clearly many more things each of us can do and practice as we enhance our capacity for self love and appreciation. The key is our intention, not what we do specifically.

If we start to think of ourselves as our most important ally, friend, and, ultimately, cheerleader, we can alter our own internal relationship and begin to count on ourselves in new, inspiring, and important ways.

Being our own cheerleader is not about bragging, boasting, or being better than anyone else – it’s about honoring, appreciating, and loving ourselves in a real way. On this journey of life we are with ourselves in every moment – the more capacity we have to love ourselves, the more ability we have in turn to love others and share our gifts with the world.

Mike Robbins is a sought-after motivational keynote speaker, coach, and the bestselling author of Focus on the Good Stuff (Wiley) and Be Yourself, Everyone Else is Already Taken (Wiley). More info – www.Mike-Robbins.com

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Mike Robbins on June 5th, 2010 in Uncategorized | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , , ,