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!

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.

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.

flex the positive thinking muscle

flex the positive thinking muscle

It’s not lost on me how there are more posts in the “relationship with self” category than any other on this blog. It’s because I’m introspective and want to always move toward being happier with myself. If you’re reading this, you probably want the same.

I’m more consistent than ever with implementing good habits. This helps show my unconscious mind I’m capable of accomplishing the things I’ve set out to do. The other evening I was in bed working on my writing, and a flash of feeling like my future self washed over me; it was as if I was experiencing the beginnings of that future self in the present. This future self is humbly confident, focused, independent, and moving forward with intention. Currently, I am that person in many aspects, but still in the process of extricating myself from the past.

That’s where it gets tricky… past thoughts, past ways of living, past relationships, past experiences… and I’ve had a good life, but I haven’t experienced freedom and joy to the extent I’ve wanted to… so my mind sometimes tries to slyly slide into a more greyish, negative undertone, perhaps from underlying anxiety, particularly in the beginning of the day, even if I’ve had a stellar week of staying focused on my goals! What’s this about? Seems to me it’s from years of habitually allowing the negative undertone to be the boss. The cool thing is, now I realize, I have a choice! Instead, I can flex the positive thinking muscle. 

How do we continue to move on from the past?

We reframe our thinking patterns and focus on what we want rather than on what we don’t want.

We focus on what is working in our lives rather than what isn’t, but we’re honest about the things in our lives that aren’t working, so we can change them… but remember, there are pros and cons to most change, so hopefully it betters the situation overall.

We take the valuable lessons from the past, the situations that gave us insight, and hold them close, while the rest of what didn’t serve us disinigrates to ash and blows away.

It took a really long time for me to understand positive thinking is more than just a cliché. We’ve heard it so many times, it can be difficult to take a step back and implement positive thinking into our lives through practice.

I like this Healthline article because it gives us concrete actions we can take, to practice positivity. The article tells us we can do the following to practice positive thinking:

1) focus on the good things

2) practice gratitude

3) keep a gratitude journal

4) open up to humor

5) spend time with positive people

6) practice positive self-talk

For me, number 6, practice positive self-talk, is huge. It’s the one I’ve failed at the most when working toward becoming version 2.0! Which means I haven’t had my own back nearly enough. This is definitely changing, and I hope it does for you, too. The next time we’re tempted to put ourselves down, let’s reframe it in a positive light, encourage ourselves, and have our own backs.

I also like how this article tells us, “Positive thinking isn’t about burying every negative thought or emotion you have or avoiding difficult feelings. The lowest points in our lives are often the ones that motivate us to move on and make positive changes.”

Brilliant! This isn’t about being fake. This is about facing what is real, working through it, and then training our minds to focus on the positive, to help move us forward quicker.

Click here to read the article!

becoming version 2.0 after a breakup

becoming version 2.0 after a breakup

Re-wiring our thought patterns after a breakup is challenging, YET imperative for creating a stronger, “better” version of ourselves. Sometimes we think things like, “I’ll go for a walk when I feel better,” or “I’ll work out when I’m not sad,” or “I’ll go to the store and buy my smoothie ingredients when I’m not so blue.” But what I’ve learned lately is we need to change our thoughts FIRST!

Our thoughts are energy that bring new actions that bring new ways of feeling and being in our lives. For example, you could try starting a positive affirmation journal and write your affirmation over and over again for that day until you fill up the page. Something like, “I am going to have a flatter stomach.” Or “Better things lie ahead for me in my future.” Anything that plants the seed for what you want in the future. Focus on that. Retrain your brain to focus on where you want to go rather than on the things you don’t want!

Instead of focusing on how your ex treated you badly, focus on visualizing the person you want to become. Then break it down into actions that will help get you there!

 

I spent y-e-a-r-s communicating with my ex-boyfriend on ways I wanted him to change his texting interactions with me when we were together and when we were just friends. I thought it was something he wasn’t conscious of, but no matter how much I pointed out what I needed, he wouldn’t change. Now I realize, if he wasn’t willing to change it when we were together, why would he when we were friends?

It was only after one incredibly painful texting exchange that I finally gave up. (Pop the confetti!!) During our friendship he texted me that he was at a restaurant where he and I went on one of our  getaway trips, when we were a couple, and I responded to that text, and he didn’t read it for hours.

How could he bring up a sentimental memory and not even check in for my response before we both moved on with our nights? (He’d always done this type of thing while texting me: pop in with a sentence or two, many times asking me how it was going, then disappear for hours. Timeline according to my ex. And if I commented on how long it took for him to check in, he’d say I was impatient.) If I took a poll here, I wonder how many would vote that he’s just inconsiderate.

When he texted about the restaurant that night and didn’t look at my response, I felt like shit. Obviously he’d moved on enough to throw that text at me and let me wonder about when he’d give two shits enough to read it. Didn’t matter it was from the restaurant on one of our first getaways. And I’m pretty sure he had his new girlfriend with him, not that it matters one way or another. 

This helped me dig deeper: since he’s not the right person for me, why was I putting myself through dealing with his inconsiderate texting patterns, even as friends? He shouldn’t have to change how he texts. And I shouldn’t have to change what I need in a relationship as far as someone being considerate with texting. And just for the record, if it were just the texting issue, it would not have been an issue for me. Feeling a lack of support from him in the relationship in general is what exacerbated the texting issue.

I am not a needy person, but our needs were different. And because he was incapable of giving what I needed, my neediness expanded and his distance grew. I will write another post on different types of attachments, but this post is staying focused on the fact I’ve finally accepted him for who he is! And I’ve finally moved on from communicating with him much at all; I’m breaking free of how his texting style made me feel like shit. It doesn’t mean I’m right and he’s wrong; it means we’re different, and I’m on my own side now, looking out for myself.

No one likes to be controlled. He felt I was controlling his texting interactions. I guess I was. But only because his style left me hanging for responses constantly, day after day, year after year. And countless times I rolled with it… only for it to continually keep happening. He got the easy route of usually blaming it on work. I mean, who can argue with the need to work?! But it happened in many more cases where work wasn’t the issue.

Regardless, it doesn’t matter! The lesson I’m trying to pass on here is when patterns that don’t work for you in the relationship don’t change, let the relationship go.

LET THE OTHER PERSON BE WHO HE OR SHE IS and YOU BE YOU! Just go your separate ways and wish each other well!

How liberating is that!!

Yes, it’s painful. It’s hard. But what’s more brutal and damaging is to continually feel like shit because you’re not taking care of yourself.

Holy hell, just recently I came upon (thanks to a Spotify search) this podcast Do You Fucking Mind: the host of this podcast is Alexis Fernandez who has a master’s degree in neuroscience.

I love her style— straight forward and authentic, and she explains the way the brain works in ways that help us live our best lives.

You want tough love that’s gonna help you change? Search it up and start listening! I wish I would have found this podcast sooner; she started it in 2020, I believe.

I’ll be honest… because of the fact she is considerably younger than me and in a different stage of life, I take what she says and run it through my life setup, to make it work for me. I just don’t think some of the realities in your thirties are the same when you’re in your forties or older, particularly when you have a family to think about too. BUT this does not mean make excuses… this means assessing what is important to you, what you value, along with being bold and taking care of yourself.

sidenote: it’s funny, I’m not sure if it’s in this episode or a different one, but she shreds anyone who tries to hurry her along with text responses and I have to say it helped me pull my head out of my ass once and for all and realize what I wrote above: that he shouldn’t have to change his texting patterns for me and if he doesn’t, he’s free to be him and I’m free to move on and be me.

boundaries

boundaries

The biggest lesson I’ve learned, after letting go of my ex-love, is this: my lack of boundaries with him cost me incredible amounts of pain.

When we were together, I gave myself to him on a level I’d never given anyone, and when we moved into a friendship, even though he’d withheld emotionally or disregarded many of my requests to communicate differently in the relationship, I somehow assumed, in a friendship, we would do alright. 

What actually happened was his pre-occupation with his own life and his withholding emotionally increased. While he was busy getting his life back on track after our breakup (while still sleeping with me, if the opportunity provided), I was on the same track for my own life (while still sleeping with him, if the opportunity provided), yet those times together, after the breakup, were times I remained open to possibility, and I allowed things to unfold. And what happened was I allowed myself to fall in love even more, from a realistic standpoint, while he continued to exclude me from what he felt he needed, from a realistic standpoint.

He’d given me plenty of red flags about dating other people again in the future. And slept with me, then said it was unrealistic to be together. Part of me thought I should put my boundaries up and walk away. The other part wanted to remain friends.

And that’s what I did, I remained his friend, while continually trying to untangle my deeper heart strings from him.

And now I’m in a situation where he’s dating again and it’s a bitch. Not because I don’t want him to be happy. I do. For one thing, it was the way he handled letting me know about his first date. He was so flippant, then away from his phone much of that day. I’d responded to his text, asking about the date, and it took him hours to respond. Yes, I know he was out and about, but it was a first-time, sensitive situation.

He didn’t handle it with care. Only more flippancy and absence. I’d been his “little bit of sunshine” he could put in his back pocket and take out again whenever he wanted. At least that’s how it felt that day. But if I’m honest, it’s also a bitch because while remaining his friend, my feelings grew while his waned.

“Why did he owe you anything?” you ask. “You were broken up!” (I won’t insert the famous Ross quote, from Friends…)

Because, despite being broken up, we were friends with a lot of depth between us. And this is exactly my point: I thought the depth would translate to him somehow letting me know the special person I was in his life, even though he was dating again. But instead, the way he mentioned it so nonchalantly made me feel insignificant in his life. And then later, on get-aways with her, he’d shut his phone completely off until the next day. I was an outsider.

I had embodied the phrase “fool for love.” I had believed he’d take care of my heart, if we were to remain friends. Somehow I believed if I kept a sacred space for him in my heart, despite breaking up, that he would too. But that’s not how it played out. I guess it seems obvious… if he wouldn’t meet me halfway emotionally in a relationship, why would he in a friendship? I just thought a friendship would be less complicated… maybe it would have been if my heart strings weren’t still tangled up. 

We were both confused and terrible at defining the boundaries… which didn’t help avoid hurt feelings. I felt used and not truly cared for quite often. Truth is, he hasn’t been in love with me for a long time, even when sleeping with me, but I didn’t realize how unbalanced it was until far too late, and I ended up hurt.

I’ve learned, even with those we love, when we see red flags and continuous patterns of behavior that don’t work for us, they are there for a reason, and we need to be responsible for protecting ourselves so our hearts don’t become mashed up globs of bloody mush.

It’s difficult to remain friends when feelings are at different levels. But I can honestly say I’ve tried my best.

Maybe he’ll always see me as the woman from our past relationship rather than finding ways to make a friendship work for both of us. 

But maybe not.

Yeah, like I said, “fool for love.”

First off, I need to pull a quote from this article that made me laugh at loud:

“From an Attachment Theory perspective, victims tend to be anxious-attachment types, and savers tend to be avoidant-attachment types. Or as I like to call them: crazy people and assholes. Both often push away secure-attachment types.”

Yeah, that would sum me and my ex-love up! I was the crazy one, he was the asshole.

The author goes on to say, “For the victim, the hardest thing to do in the world is to hold themselves accountable for their feelings and their life rather than others. They’ve spent their whole existence believing they must blame others in order to feel any intimacy or love, so letting that go is terrifying.

For the saver, the hardest thing to do in the world is to stop fixing other people’s problems and trying to force them to be happy and satisfied. For them, they’ve spent their whole lives only feeling valued and loved when they were fixing a problem or providing a use to someone, so letting go of this need is terrifying to them as well.”

If you read my two sections above, you are fully clued into how unhealthy this relationship with my ex-love was. There are many healthy, thriving parts in my ex-love and me separately, but somehow, putting us together, with our different communication styles and love languages, we were a disaster, time and again.

The article tells us personal boundaries and self-esteem go hand in hand. People with high self-esteem have high boundaries… but wait a minute… I’ve worked hard on my self-esteem and feel it’s pretty good, yet my boundary with my ex-love was so flimsy! How could that have been?

After analyzing it, I realize it’s because my boundaries tend to weaken with those I truly love. This should not be the case, and I’m working on it. In this case, I wanted his heart to change, for him to want to be together again, even while trying to be friends. Meanwhile, I was getting bruised and battered emotionally, while waiting for something to change… instead, I should have put up my boundary when he indicated he didn’t want to try again. I should have walked away instead of being friends because my feelings were too invested in wanting more.

Better late than never.

The article tells us to accept who we are (none of us are perfect), while working on ourselves. And if we’re in a relationship where one partner wants us to do something, like, for example, call the other person everyday for three minutes, etc., we should only do it if it’s something we’re willing to do, to make the other person happy. We shouldn’t do it if it will cause resentment on our end or if we’re afraid of their reaction if we don’t.

The article wraps up by telling us, “A person with strong boundaries understands that a healthy relationship is not controlling one another’s emotions, but rather each partner supporting each other in their growth and path to self-actualization.”

Side note: I texted him, to let him know I’m working on my boundaries and that I realized I should have left long ago. Instead of saying something in return like, “Wish I could have handled that convo about my lunch date with that girl in a way that didn’t hurt you,” he said, “Thanks for sharing that. And of course I wish you well too.” Then a hug emoji.

At first I was like, “Fuck you!” He couldn’t offer the kind of response I indicated in the previous paragraph, something to show he wished his actions hadn’t hurt me. Then I had a flash of realization. “Of course he didn’t! That’s part of why we didn’t work out!” I’ve realized, even though he’s not responsible for my feelings, I need someone who is more tuned into sharing feelings. And I’m not giving my power away to him anymore, handing over my emotions to him, based on his lack of investment.

Read this article in its entirety, for more on boundaries.