Embrace Bravery over Perfection

Day 2

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One of the things I love about diving into learning more about how to revamp myself and my life was the synergy of it. Every time I started working on one area, it would be reinforced again and again in other programs, teachers, events, books and whatever else I was doing to heal and recover. This workshop was no exception.

On Day 2 I learned more about embracing bravery. Perfect! This was my ultimate goal, because without it I couldn’t get out of my pain cycle. So, I was all ears. First was a focus on gratitude. We know how powerful gratitude can be. Gratitude calms us, reduces stress and puts the brakes on scarcity as the speaker said. The marketing we are bombarded with every day makes us feel like we don’t have enough. This skews our thinking and makes us unhappy. The shift to an abundance mentality is key. Gratitude. Something I learned here was to not to lie to yourself when writing in your gratitude journal. It must be something you know is the truth, because your body will know. I had never thought about this before. Now when I write in my gratitude journal nightly, I make sure I’m honest with myself. Some days are harder than others, but there are ALWAYS five things to be grateful for every single day. This is a game changer to your happiness and attitude. Even when I’m in pain, I can find something to be grateful for .

On to bravery. Bravery is the recognition that things won’t be perfect. I love that! I’ve heard versions of this before but not put this way. I’ve also heard that perfectionism is based in fear! Ahhhhh, that makes a lot of sense doesn’t it? We don’t want to be judged. If we make it perfect, no judgement. I’m guilty of this. Or was. I would avoid doing things for fear of being judged. And now I’m free of that! Like, writing this book/blog! I’m laying it all out there! Some of it is embarrassing and I’m sure I will be judged by some for what i’m saying or how I’m saying it, but in the end I just want to do what I want to do and follow my path. Being brave. It’s new to me and oh so rewarding. I have no idea the outcome of this book or my blog, but I feel the need to do it so out it comes into this world!

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Another note from this presentation was the idea that thinking and helping others is where you transform and become happy. And that our own basic self care needs to be met first. Did you ever see that mom at school volunteering and she’s a bit of a mess, running late, kids half dressed, hasn’t eaten, etc., but she’s there to help at school. But what is she really able to give of herself at this time? If she had taken care of herself first, she would be in a much better state of mind and would be much more productive in her volunteering.

Turning to others and helping is so important to our happiness as it gives us meaning and fulfillment. We need to not do what we think we “should” do. We need to think about what is important to us. I did A LOT of volunteering over the years at my children’s schools. I was on the PTO for four years in addition to helping in both kids classroom and the school library and special events. All very important. But, there were other issues and causes that I felt strongly about but did not spend ANY time volunteering for. That came later on, when I figured out what would be the most satisfying and where was the need the greatest? Volunteering and meaningful volunteering are two different things. Clearing that up has been very rewarding for me.

Are you looking to start a gratitude practice? Try the following:

Write down 5 things you are grateful for every night. Remember to be honest with yourself. Your body will know the truth!

Don’t be a perfectionist! Bravery is the recognition that things won’t be perfect.

Find volunteer opportunities that are meaningful to you. Do what’s meaningful, not what you think you “should” do.

Thanks for being here!


Seasons of Life

Day 13

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Happy Days = Happy Life. So simple, but so true. Increasing my every day happiness had become a goal along with everything else I was doing. It also seemed to just happen naturally when I started focusing on the things that would help me grow and heal. Like Gretchen Rubin says, I was “living in an atmosphere of growth.”

Deepak asked what three things I was doing in my life that made me happy. That was easy:

1 Meditation
2 Exercise
3 Reading

My mainstays. I’ve talked about them before. So, what was making me unhappy and stuck in the past (besides the obvious pain issue)? And for me that was worrying about what other people think. And when I say other people, I mean former “friends” who I considered friends, but turns out were not. I had recently made a big change in my life by removing my daughter from an activity and enrolling her elsewhere. This may sound like a small thing, but she had been spending over 20 hours a week with with the same friends and teachers for over 10 years. And that means I became friends with many of the moms as we watched our children grow over the years. When we left, I assumed I would stay friends with most of them, but that was not the case. Turns out when you make a change that is good for you or your family, not everyone is along for the ride. A major change makes people look at themselves. And then can get judgy. For example, sometimes when I tell someone I eat a Paleo diet, they start telling me all the reasons why they could never do that. I certainly didn’t ask. They just are feeling judged by my changes. This unhappiness due to the changes I made didn’t last. I was upset for a time, but now I’ve moved on and realized I have my tribe and I’m all the better for it. Those were not my people. I will say two of these friends stuck with me and we still see each other often. So, after the fallout I was left with the right people and that’s the way it should be.

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Next I was to look forward to the next 5-10 years at what changes that will be made in my life and some positive outcomes of those changes. Here’s what I wrote:

1 Being empty-nesters (good and sad)
2 Downsizing
3 Volunteering more

The idea of being empty nesters is both thrilling and devastating. On the plus side, we will be done paying for college, I will have more time for all the things I enjoy, I won’t be locked into the “school schedule” when making plans, among other things. Then, there is the obvious sadness that comes when your kids leave. Every time my son comes home from college on break and then leaves I am sad all over again. I’m so proud of him and excited for his future, but I can’t help getting teary eyed when I see a little boy and his mom in the library or at the store. It brings back all those memories of me and my son when he was little.

Downsizing! This is something to get excited about. I can’t wait to downsize our home! I’m so looking forward to a cozy space, not the oversized house we have now. Don’t get me wrong, our house is beautiful and for a time it was functional (although excessive). But this house no longer serves our needs. I’m already giddy about having a smaller mortgage or NO mortgage to speak of. It will be life changing and I can’t wait!

And the third positive outcome I see is the ability to volunteer more. I’m very happy with my volunteering life right now. I’m heavily involved in a cause I care about deeply. I devote quite a bit of my time to it. But I can see how I will be able to do more and step into other causes I care about too in the near future.

Have you thought about how you spend your days to make yourself happier? Try the following:

List 3 or 4 things in this current stage of your life that make you happy.


Is there something in your past that is keeping you stuck and unhappy?


List 3 or 4 things that you see making you happy in the next 5 -10 years.

I’m looking forward to reading your comments! Thanks for being here!


My First 21 Day Meditation Experience

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I’m not sure how I came upon my first 21 Day Meditation Experience with Deepak Chopra, but I do know it came at the right time. Because I was so new to meditation and just began using my new Insight Timer app I was open to learning more. So when I saw this I immediately sign up. If you aren’t familiar with these programs Deepak Chopra offers, they are in collaboration with Oprah and guide you through 21 days of mantras, meditation, self discovery and journaling. I find them to be incredibly useful. I have learned so much about myself from these programs. Oh did I mention they are FREE? Yay! It’s amazing the amount of aha moments that come out of these experiences for me. I have everything written in my notebook and I can see where the learning happened and how I moved forward with it and the changes made in my current life because of it. Pretty powerful stuff! Here are my thoughts and lessons learned throughout the my first 21 Day Experience.

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Day One

Each session has a theme. The first one I did was Time. There were a lot of lessons for me to learn here. First being “making every moment matter.” On Day One Deepak says “If you don’t have enough time, you need to manage it better.” Yes! Of course!

Three things I want to have more time for:

My husband


Volunteering


Having fun

Three things that feel like I lost time or wasted time:

Household Chores

TV

Scrolling on my phone

The goal here was to achieve a more fulfilling use of time while decreasing wasted time. I decided to make use of my early afternoons and early evenings volunteering or doing something fun. I can see now I took those to heart and are now all happening in my life. The doing something fun also took care of spending time with my husband. A two for one! We make a regular habit of going to concerts, as we are both music nerds. He being in a band in a previous life and me as a music lover surrounded by musicians in high school (my husband being one of them!) We have a deep love for music. This is our thing.

Volunteering was the other area I wanted to have more time for in my life. I did a little research and found a meal delivery service for seniors who were home bound. This was a county program where I could make my own schedule. It was a perfect start. I love seniors!! They are the most honest, funny, lovable people! It made my day to deliver their meals and chat a little. Doing for others is so important for both the people you are helping and your overall health. Win-win.

As far as the lost or wasted time, I decided that household chores are inevitable so I make the most of them by listening to a podcast or audio book during this time. No more TV on in the background. I go days without watching tv now. I don’t miss it at all. I have my shows recording and when I schedule the time to watch, I get my fill. You can do anything you want to do if you start taking control of your tv habits. Phone scrolling is the same. I started setting a timer when I would sit down and scroll through my phone in the morning and evening. If I don’t, an hour can go by just like that! I could have been reading, writing, exercising, meditating or any of the other things I want to bring into my life. This is a habit I’m still working on. I still forget to set my timer sometimes. I need to set a reminder for my timer!!

While on the subject of wasted time, I want to mention Laura Vanderkam and her books on time management. I found her work fascinating. She suggests keeping a time log for a few days to see how you are using your time. If you want to know where you are wasting time just try it! My time log was eye opening! Most clearly was my unplanned time scrolling on my phone. It was all there in black and white. I have a lot I want to accomplish and the only way to do that is to manage my time well. This is an area that I have to continually come back to for review and get back on track. Here’s a link to Laura Vanderkam’s TedTalk. https://www.ted.com/talks/laura_vanderkam_how_to_gain_control_of_your_free_time?utm_campaign=tedspread&utm_medium=referral&utm_source=tedcomshare

Do you feel like you have lost or wasted time in your day? Try the following:

  • Keep a log of your time using Laura Vanderkam’s method or choose one of your own.
  • Make a list of things you want to have more time for. Keep it small, three or four things.
  • Make a list of areas of wasted or lost time.
  • Think of ways to use your time more wisely to increase what you want to bring into your life and how to decrease the lost or wasted time.

Can’t wait to hear your comments! Thanks for being here!


Do for Others

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Did you know volunteering has many health benefits?  Not only are you helping someone or a cause in need you are also receiving as much as you are giving.  Studies show volunteering improves the immune system, lowers blood pressure, reduces chronic pain, lowers levels of depression, decreases risk of heart disease and increase longevity by up to 10 years! That’s quite a list! Read more here. https://mayoclinichealthsystem.org/hometown-health/speaking-of-health/helping-people-changing-lives-the-6-health-benefits-of-volunteering

Again, why would I not do this? This was another mental health/coping skill I was determined to work on.  For years, I did some volunteering.  I was very active in my children’s schools, with PTA and in the classroom and I would donate clothes and food to various organizations.  But I never volunteered for something I was truly passionate about.  Obviously, I cared about my children’s school, but I needed to do more. This month’s resolution was:

Do for Others

 My Quotation: “Helping one person might not change the whole world, but it could change the world for one person”

Daily/Weekly Tasks:

Volunteer

Simply volunteer, but in a BIG way.  Later in my journey I work through how I came upon a lot of the groups I’m involved in now and how that became a HUGE part of my life. I will explain that more later.  But at the time of my Happiness Project I immediately thought of working with seniors in some way.  I had met quite a few seniors in my time at the exercise classes I was attending.  They are the most caring, honest people I had ever met.  I loved them!!  So, I researched some opportunities within my county and found a meal delivery service for seniors that cannot get out to a senior center for lunch.  I signed up to deliver meals once a month to start.  This turned out to be just what I needed.  Volunteering is another stress reliever.  I was still in quite a bit of pain at this time and driving was uncomfortable.  But I put it aside when I was delivering.  I loved meeting all the seniors and having a little chat with them about their day.  And I was being USEFUL.  They were helping me and didn’t know it.  Volunteering has come to mean so much more to me now.  I have a greater awareness of myself and my purpose.  At the time, this was just the beginning.  I was thrilled to be doing anything other than focusing on my body and pain. 

Volunteering can be contagious too I think.  Shortly after I started, my Dad then began delivering meals as well and then my mom joined the Red Cross and started working blood drives.  All positive effects, on me, the people I was helping and in my immediate family.  Looking outside myself and my own problems is huge.  When you are volunteering, you are distracted and you thinking of others.  The other benefit for me was the social interaction.  I had interaction now, more than the year before, but I knew I needed more.  This filled that need as well.  Social connection is another indicator of longevity.  We are learning now that low social connection can be as detrimental on our health as smoking or being obese!  Volunteering gets you out into the world for the benefit of all.

Have you thought about volunteering more? Try the following;

Research your local government website for opportunities

Think about what you are interested in and research from there.

Are there opportunities at your church? Or school?

I’d love to hear about how you are volunteering! Please comment below!  Thanks for being here!