find the light side in the everyday

find the light side in the everyday

The solar eclipse occurs today, and, in Colorado, we’ll see a partial solar eclipse between 11:30 am and 1:30 pm MST with a max partial eclipse around 12:30 pm. Cool stuff, and, in connection to this eclipse of solar energy, the post today focuses on finding light in the everyday.

Morning is my favorite time of the day. (I know, some of you groan at how this can be.) But it’s a fresh start, and I wake up, pop in my earbuds, and listen to a meditation on my phone app. Usually, the meditation is helpful, sometimes it isn’t, but I like the structure it provides for me ten to fifteen minutes every morning before I get out of bed.

Whatever it is I’m feeling during meditation, I pinpoint it, breathe into it, hold it, then exhale. If it’s a negative feeling or thought, it’s usually associated with fear. My thoughts can include I don’t have enough time to do everything I want to do, or I’m out of practice on traveling overseas (yes, some of us get anxious over travel even though we love it), to I’m not sure what I need today. When I think the last thought, I rest and accept what I’m thinking and feeling, and then the next right step unfolds. It’s all about total self-acceptance.

Right now, I’m on the final print edit of a book I’ve worked on for a long time. For those of you who know me well, it feels like it’s “the book edit that never ends.” That’s how it feels to me, too, but I’m almost there!  (The ebook is done!) But I wake up and tend to feel mired in the mud of the everyday task of finishing the print edit. Only four more chapters to go!

And then, after that, marketing the book. Sometimes the marketing aspect feels like a total eclipse on my energy, but for the most part, I’ve trained my thoughts to view marketing the book as a positive thing, and I’m able to move into the lighter side of life by focusing on the positives regarding marketing: I’ll learn new marketing strategies and creative ways to implement social media. And I have a day job (that I like, even) that affords me the luxury of tweaking marketing strategies without feeling financially strapped. Lots of good things there.

Still, the tough parts of life are real. Just like when you wake up, and, yes, you’re thankful for the good things, but it doesn’t take away the tough things that come to mind because let’s face it, life is a challenge.

There’s so much negativity out there and within. It’s what we choose to listen to that makes the difference for us. We decide who we are, not someone else. There’s so much positive, too, and it doesn’t mean we’re denying our truthful, pained parts when we focus on the joyful aspects.

Just like this upcoming eclipse, our negative thoughts can momentarily block the light, but when we look for the positive thoughts, it’s a simple truth that leads us out of the darkness.

This article talks about the reality of stress in our lives and gives us tips on how to find joy.

Here are the main points but if you want to read the whole piece, it’s a quick, helpful article. Here’s the link!

1. Over 75% of us experienced at least one stress-related symptom in the last month, like headache, fatigue, nervousness or feeling depressed.

2.“Happiness is an emotion, whereas joy is more a state of being,” says Rebekkah Frunzac, M.D., general surgeon and chief wellness officer at Mayo Clinic Health System in Austin, TX.

3. Joy isn’t experienced in a vacuum. Most of the time, it’s a feeling or sentiment that spreads to others through our attitudes and actions.

4. Tips for discovering joy:

Focus on what we can control:

Many possible stressors in life are outside of our control. The weather, how others treat us, our past, natural disasters, our relatives, and other aspects of our lives exist without our input. While building joy, focus time and attention on things we can control.

Express Gratitude

Assume Good Intent:

I’m learning to assume good intent even if I don’t see eye to eye with another person. This comes into play bigtime with extended family. Just because another person may have good intentions, it doesn’t need to work for me, whatever the situation may be, but I can still assume good intent on their end. I once heard a woman say that assuming another person is doing their best keeps her focused on her path ahead. That stuck with me.

Concentrate on Building Relationships

Keep Perspective

 

Here’s the link to the article for more details under each tip!

helping our young adults live in fullness

helping our young adults live in fullness

This morning another full moon filled our skies— at 1 am MST to be precise. Some of the full moons in 2024 are named Wolf Moon, Hunter’s Moon, and Cold Moon… but this one is named Worm Moon… not exactly an inspiring name, if you ask me, but perfect for the topic of this post.

My oldest son is nineteen, not a child, not yet a man, and he’s dealing with challenges. What concerns me most lately are the types of thoughts that worm their way into his mind. Thoughts where he discounts himself, tells himself he should be more, do more, without giving himself credit for what he’s accomplished.

For years, he poured his heart and soul into musical aspirations with his band which recently lost an important member… causing my son to lose a lot of his inspiration and juice. All of the socializing after the shows takes a toll on him, too, and he’s in a place where he’s wondering if music is really what he wants to do after all. He said it like he’s boxed into a corner and doesn’t have other options. And I looked at him and said, “You’re nineteen. You’re young! Let your mind work for you, not against you. If you want to try something else, do it and see where it takes you.”

He has mad skills on the guitar and would go far if he’s willing to put energy into it. But right now I’m not sure what he’s going to do. In fact, he quit the band last night. It was tough but sometimes you have to quit what you know isn’t right before you’re able to feel your way into the next right thing. It’s scary. But there are no guarantees. This is life. So he’ll continue to take a few classes and figure out the next right thing.

He told me he wanted to be significant. I said, “You are significant, just by being here.” He said, “Well, that’s a new way of looking at it.”

Our society does place a lot of our worth in what we accomplish, and accomplishing our goals does build self-esteem. But accomplishments don’t make us more or less valuable. They do put us in a better position to thrive.

And he’s accomplished a lot already in music yet battles with not feeling good enough. What does he need to accomplish to feel good enough? It’s an elusive end goal and probably can’t be reached unless he gives himself credit for what he’s accomplished already and is at peace with who he is now. It’s like he’s caught between thinking, “I’m too invested to start over with something new” and “I’m not good enough to make it in music.” Well, yeah, I’d feel shitty, too, stuck between those two thoughts.

We’ll see what the future holds. I just want to see him pursue his path but not from a place of striving. Instead, from a place of thriving.

It can be unnerving having kids. Seeing them struggle. Witnessing their self-doubt. Touching base with the self-doubt you’ve experienced in your own life and grew from, too. Knowing it’s impossible to transfer your years of growth in this area to your child.
You can relay nuggets of truth. You can be an example. But you can’t walk the path for them. They must come into their fullness on their own.

The other night, while driving, I was filled with angst over my son’s turmoil. But straight ahead, through the windshield what appeared to be a full moon blazed above in the night sky. Apparently, not quite as full as this morning’s moon, but full and bright to my common eye… and immediately, within my angst, I was moved by the moon’s beauty and felt a connectedness and appreciation for having more time to practice coming into fullness, just like that moon. And another day to be here for my son as he practices coming into his fullness, too.

The most important element I took away from this article is this: from now on, when I talk to my nineteen-year-old, I’ll ask him, “What would you like to see happen next?”

This is important because I’m realizing more and more, I can’t control the outcome of my son’s life. Only he can do that. What I can do is listen and then ask the question, which puts the next step back into his court and helps him visualize what he would like to see happen. Sometimes things fall into place. Sometimes they don’t. Here are the main tips from the article and you can click the link to read more detail.

How to Help Your Young Adult When They’re Struggling

1. This is normal.

In his book, Emptying the Nest: Launching Your Young Adult Toward Success and Self-Reliance, Dr. Brad Sachs states, “No amount of education, care or effort is going to inoculate you or your young adult against disappointment and disillusionment, challenge and complexity.”

2. Don’t freak out.

If you freak out, your young adult is more likely to freak out.

3. Don’t catastrophize.

Predicting the worst is never helpful. There’s a good chance your young adult will get through it okay when they’ve experienced a set back. (I personally translate this to FOCUS ON WHAT YOU WANT not what you don’t want.)

4. Let your spouse or grandma take the call once in awhile. (This one makes a smile… we all need a break sometimes.)

5. Ask questions like, “How can I help?” or “What would you like to see happen next?”

6. Remind yourself: their future is not in your hands.

7. Don’t take it personally if they curse at you.

8. But, do consider it could be about you.

9. Offer reasonable support.

10. Consider if the issue with your young adult is related to substance abuse or mental illness.

For mental health issues, National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is a good parent resource.

11. Realize you cannot fix everything.

“In education, they have a term, scaffolding, which means supporting kids just enough to get them to where they can learn or do the next thing on their own.”

12. Young adulthood can be a challenging time of life. Most young adults will be fine.

To read the article in its entirety, click here.

the barbie nominations debate

the barbie nominations debate

It’s hard to miss the controversy surrounding the Oscar nominations this year in regard to the movie, Barbie. Or should I say lack of nominations for lead actress Margo Robbie and director Greta Gerwig.

Like many others, I was pissed when I heard the news. How is it the lead actress and director don’t receive nominations, yet the movie is nominated for best picture? Barbie was the highest grossing film in 2023, earning over $1.4 billion at the box office, and, no, that doesn’t guarantee an Oscar, but it does say something about its appeal.

I think I speak for most us that we’re happy to see America Ferrera receive her first nomination for best supporting actress and Ryan Gosling best supporting actor… yet, the sting remains… how the lead actress doesn’t receive a nomination as Barbie in the movie Barbie, and neither does the woman director. A movie about the Patriarchy ruling the world seems to carry its very theme into this year’s nominations.

I read up on it, expecting to find articles in line with my thoughts on the issue, but, for the most part, that was not the case. I was encouraged to take a step back and look at it through a larger lens.

To make it a quick read, I highlighted my main takeaways from each article and posted them below. If you want to read the article itself, just click on NPR, PBS or The Hollywood Reporter.

My personal rebuttal to Ann Hornaday’s comments is, “Greta Gerwig’s movie may not be auteurist, but it is rigorous and ambitious work. And, yes, Poor Things is a comedy that made the cut, but it is directed by a man.  (I plan to watch it soon.)

 

 If you want to check out this additional Hollywood Reporter article, click here. It combines articles from The New York Times, The Daily Beast, Slate, and others on the topic. Be prepared, some of it is snarky and of the opinion Barbie is lucky to receive attention at all. Other bits of the article make good points, and it’s worth a read if you want more coverage on the topic.

Margo Robbie is delighted about the amount of attention the movie is receiving, and if you’d like to read the Vanity Fair article, where she is interviewed on the topic, click here!

The 96th Oscars are coming up! The program airs live on ABC coast to coast this Sunday, March 10, at the Dolby Theatre at Ovation Hollywood in a new earlier time slot (7-10:30 p.m. ET/4-7:30 p.m. PT), with Jimmy Kimmel returning as host for a fourth time.

 

Photo Illustration Courtesy of Warner Bros.

self love, tangible action to increase it

self love, tangible action to increase it

Earlier this week I interviewed a legend.

I’ve listened to his podcast for years, read some of his books, took a few of his creative courses, and saw him speak a few years ago… so when he extended the invitation recently, on his podcast, to reach out to him for an interview, I jumped on it! How could I not? 

Of course it was scary. And because the reason for the interview was to promote his latest book, that meant I had to read the book, take notes, then organize the notes, then set up a time for a Zoom call… all of it my main goal for the first part of January 2024. Happy to say Mission Accomplished! Now it’s a matter of splintering the interview to create valuable content for you, the reader… keep an eye out in February for that content! 

So. All of the above is good news. And something for me to celebrate… but I’m here today to tell you about the harder shit that came along with it. The stuff that twists a knife in your gut and makes you grow.

It can be hard to put ourselves out there.

But I forced myself to reach out this legend for an interview because I knew it was the right next move for me and it pushed me out of my comfort zone.

Of course I was nervous. Of course it was difficult because it was my first interview via Zoom and with someone I respect and adore. I had notes, yet I was doing my best to “not try too hard.” I wanted to be in the flow. Needless to say, I came away from the experience with a new respect for people who interview others and make it look easy on a consistent basis.

I felt good when the call ended. I’d done a good job.

B-

Which isn’t bad considering it was my first time interviewing someone I respect and adore, live.

But the next day was a lot harder…

It’s interesting because I’m the only adult here in the house this week, which gives me space to really live in my own energy and observe what’s moving in and out of my mind.

And in moved the negative self talk…

“You came across airheaded when you said that, you’re technical finesse was amateur, you shouldn’t have worn your glasses— they made your eyes look too big…”

But yesterday, for the first time, I was able to take a step back, as the negative self talk began to come into my mind, and I was able to observe it while feeling the pain from it.

I went for a walk, feeling the pain, and realized, yes, this is why it’s been hard for me to put myself out there. Because underlying, there’s been a voice in me that hasn’t had my own back. Because, while growing up, I wasn’t given a lot of support when I expressed different ways of seeing things. An unfortunate learned behavior.

Part of coming into our own is laying aside what’s held us back and continuing on our paths.

I haven’t let my past hold me back for quite awhile now. I’ve been writing and expressing things the way I see them. But yet, sometimes not without flighty, pestering thoughts over how I’ll be perceived, as much as I try to let that go. The bottom line here is, would I rather have artificial love, being someone I’m not, or real love, from myself and those who know the real me?

So yesterday, my growth was in observing the negative self talk but not believing it. Negative self talk, the culprit that’s held me back, and, instead of believing those thoughts, I had the chance to observe them and pick new ones:

“I’m proud of myself. I stepped out of my comfort zone. I am here for me always. I have my own back. This was another step in my evolution…”

Really put it into practice, not just writing about it or reading it on the page.

By the time my head hit the pillow last night, I had my own back again. And today I’ll write the things I can improve on for next time, with constructive self-love energy.

I went through the valley of negative thoughts and came through it without abandoning myself! Finally!

That’s why we step out of our comfort zones. Because afterward, it may be difficult to work through the negative self talk, but it’s in stepping back from it, not accepting it, and seeing how it’s held us back in the past, that it then becomes just a CONCEPT— something we can categorize as negative thoughts that aren’t true, and we can dismiss them, wrap our arms around ourselves, and say, “Good job!”

Yesterday I re-listened (for the third time) to this episode with guest Tracee Ellis Ross on We Can Do Hard Things, as a way of being there for myself. Truly healing. That’s why it’s today’s resource.

You can also find this podcast on Spotify or here.

connect with your cause

connect with your cause

I’m a really private person. Yes, I like to talk with others, but it usually depends on the day, topic, relationship I have with the other person, etc. When I stop and think about it, I’m more reserved than I thought I’d be as an adult, considering I minored in Theatre Arts and played music in a live band in my twenties.

But I’ve also come from a background where rigid beliefs were held by my family and passed down, most of them rejected by me at an early age. Yet, I felt a sense of shame for rejecting those beliefs which transformed into an outward defiance from assuming I wouldn’t be accepted by those around me. After all, my family isn’t accepting me for who I am, so why should I assume others will?

I no longer think or feel this way. I stand in my truth and validate myself. And I hope to do the same for others. But I think partly what makes it difficult for me to want to give myself to a cause or volunteer for an ecological organization, for example, is that people who have their causes can many times hold their own set of rigid beliefs around those causes.

I’ve had it up to my eyeballs with people who, even for the sake of a good cause, think it’s their way or the highway.

Can we connect with causes (such as recycling, sustainable farming, etc.), that ignite us, while trusting we’ll be given space to be ourselves, not a cookie cutter version of other people passionate about the same cause? I think I’m entering a phase of life where I’m ready to give more of myself while being myself. I’m no longer afraid if someone validates any of my beliefs because, more than ever, I’ve learned to validate myself, while remaining open to hearing other points of view.

Just because we connect with like-minded people on our causes doesn’t mean we have to be identical in every belief, even within that cause. What are we so afraid of? As long as we’re promoting healing and well-being for our planet, that’s the important thing.

Sometimes we feel overwhelmed, it seems there are so many causes in need of our attention. Where to start?

By taking small steps. What areas interest you? Make a list, Google them, start reading, and let the process unfold. Maybe we give an hour a week or a month. Whatever we can do… but, at least for me, the overwhelm from all the causes out there is lessened if I’m doing my little part to make the world a better place.

Cliche? Yes.

Truth? Most definitely. 

Over the course of her life, Joanna has given much thought to the moral and psychological challenges presented by nuclear weapons and energy production. If you visit her website, you’ll see the books she’s written and what she’s been involved in. What struck a cord for me is her workbook Coming Back to Life – The Updated Guide to the Work That Reconnects. 

This workbook is a form of group work designed to foster the desire and ability to take part in the healing of our world.

It works off the premise that,”instead of privatizing, repressing and pathologizing our pain for the world (be it fear, grief, outrage or despair), we honor it. We learn to re-frame it as suffering-with our compassion. This brings us back to life.” In other words, we’re no longer overwhelmed by what is going wrong in the world and we can do our part to change something for the better. See the image below, illustrating the cycle involved:

 

Starting with gratitude, these consecutive stages reflect a natural sequence  common to psychological growth and spiritual transformation. The Spiral is like a fractal, governing the overall structure of the workshop while also arising in its component parts. Within a given workshop, we can move through the Spiral more than once, and become aware that with every cycling through, each stage can yield new and deeper meanings.

 

Taken from Coming Back to Life – The Updated Guide to the Work That Reconnects, here are a few questions to think about:

If there was NOTHING to stop you, what would you do as your unique contribution to the healing of our world?

What are the resources you already have to bring this gift of yours to the world?

How would you stop sabotaging yourself from doing it? How would you overcome this?

Click here to check out Joanna’s website and click here to buy her book if it strikes a cord with you! (The link connects to goodreads.com, but, if you Google the book, you can find it other places, too.) I plan to buy the book. There are group workshops to take part in, too.

validate yourself

validate yourself

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, validation means the following: to recognize, establish, or illustrate the worthiness or legitimacy of

With that in mind, the let’s delve further into this topic of validation. We hear alot these days about how we need to validate ourselves, and that’s a good thing. It means we’re growing, becoming more self-actualized, not relying on anyone else’s opinion of us! This is how we find true freedom. Of course we do the things, like take a refresher course or interview an expert, to give us the chops to offer legitimate support, too.

But what about the times others criticize us, when we’ve offered our best, and it gets us down? I remember once, after I played a piano piece I’d written for my friend’s wedding, a woman I didn’t know came up to me afterward and said in a snarky tone, “But are you classically trained?” I guess she’d seen my satisfaction since I’d played the piece beautifully. It’s like she wanted to swoop in and wash away the sense of accomplishment I’d felt.

And you know what? It worked. Her comment slid right under my skin because, no, I’m not classically trained. As if that’s a prerequisite for writing and performing a piece of music beautifully at a friend’s wedding! I’d co-written many songs prior to that, but this woman’s comment made me feel my performance had been subpar. Mission accomplished: she’d made herself feel better and me worse.

From a young age we develop how we feel and think about what we have to offer. Depending on a plethora of factors, we either decide we can give our gifts to the world or we can’t. It’s amazing how many ways the mind tries to focus on the negatives, the reasons why we’re not good enough, rather than on the things we want. But this is something we can and must work on so we can live true to what we want to put out there.

It’s a no-brainer! We’re born with certain things we love to do, things we’re drawn to, and this is what we’ll benefit from most when we allow ourselves freedom to pursue it! Cherry on top, this is what the world will benefit most from, too!

Other people’s ideas of perfection don’t matter; let it be something that holds them back, not you. It’s unfortunate we have those who stand on the sidelines criticizing others, but it’s only because they’re not allowing themselves the freedom and building bravery to express themselves. They’re not validating others or themselves. And anyone who is expressing themselves, yet sits back on their laurels and criticizes others, is deluded by their sense of self-importance.

Let’s do ourselves and the world a favor, and offer our gifts. I’ll write future posts on how to unearth our gifts and use them. Today’s resource is focused on self-validation basics.

This article does a good job in relaying what healthy validation is and how to give it to ourselves.

In our world of social media, I’ve thought a lot on this topic of validation. Before I post anything, I run it through my validation meter: is this something I enjoy sharing with others or am I need approval after posting it? Of course we all want “likes” on our posts, but if it’s going to affect how I feel about myself one way or the other, depending on the number of “likes” I get, I don’t post it.

Basically validating ourselves is treating ourselves like we would our favorite friend. According to the article, “Self-validation is a skill that takes practice. It won’t be easy at first.”

Wow! That alone should make anyone feel validated! Who knew self-validation is a skill we need to practice?! That means the norm for us is to go negative with ourselves rather than focus on our positive aspects.

The article tells us the four steps to validating ourselves are as follows:

1. Notice how you feel and what you need.

Example: I feel angry. I need time alone.

2. Accept your feelings and needs without judgment.

Example: Its okay to feel angry. Anyone would feel angry in this situation. Taking time alone will help me sort out my feelings. That’s a good thing.

3. Don’t over-identify with your feelings. We want to accept our feelings and also remember that they don’t define us. Notice the subtle, but important, difference when you say I feel angry vs. I am angry or I feel jealous vs. I am jealous. Our feelings are temporary, they come and go.

4. Remember, practice is an important part of learning self-validation!

The article goes on to give us examples of self-validation and tips for giving it to ourselves. Click here to read the article! I believe it all starts here: validating ourselves. When we can master this skill, we’ll have more streamlined success with giving others the best of ourselves.