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I've been keeping this story somewhat of a secret to most of the people I encounter in every day life. For far too long, I listened to voices of fear that I would be judged for it rather than my listening to my true voice that is is worth sharing. Although you can treat this story and more in my book, Views from the 13th Floor, it is time to share it with the world. My story follows.
One fall morning, only a few weeks following the devastation we now call 9-11, the piercing sound of my alarm jolted me into reality. Just five more minutes, I thought to myself as I rolled over and commenced the internal battle to convince myself to get out of bed. I struggled to get out of my warm covers, knowing if I didn’t that I’d be late to drama class. The morning was calm and cool as the first crisp days of fall began to hit Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I opened my eyes and did a quick glance about the room. The walls were white and reflecting the rising sun through the large paned windows welcoming the new day. My roommate was curled in a ball beneath her covers in her twin bed on the other side of our shared room. She was lucky to still be sleeping. The old splintered hard wood floors of a deep mahogany hue that nursed the growing dust bunnies beneath our beds beckoned my lazy feet. I gathered my strength, then threw the covers back and sat up. It was a Friday and the day before my mom’s birthday. I had been a little disappointed in myself because I didn’t make the time to get her something and mail it to her. I really wanted to get her a birthday present and show her how much I love her.
I stumbled across the less than smooth hardwoods to our tiny white porcelain tiled bathroom. I commenced my morning routine of brushing my teeth and washing my face. I was thinking about having to walk across campus or maybe even run, because I was going to be late when there was a sudden POP, and I had the instantaneous worst headache of my life hit me like a tiny explosion with deep impact on the right side of my head behind my right eye.
It's that time of year again to set goals and resolutions for the coming year. As I've been thinking about my goals for 2013, I became curious as to how I did on my goals for 2012. Fortunately, I have this blog as a record of my goals from last year.
To recap, I thought I'd review my goals from last year.
1. Love my friends and family completely
2. Make better decisions.
3. Continue to meet new people and grow my circle of friends.
4. Give and experience as much as possible as a marketer and author.
5. Stay healthy and fit.
It is okay to love yourself. I love myself, finally. It's been a long journey to learn self-love. I'm only now embarking on the journey of self-actualization and leaning fully what loving myself means. After thirty plus years of people pleasing and so many repeat occurences of hurt and disappointment, I knew it was time to make a new choice.
I've known for a long time that I needed to learn to be true to myself. My mentor, Rhonda Shasteen, has been teaching me how to be true to myself in baby steps over the years of our mentoring relationship. It didn't really come to a head until earlier this year when I learned The Secret.
The basis of The Secret is love and gratitude. The power of love for self and others and the powerful practice of gratitude have the power to move people, places, and circumstances to change your life. While I knew this was true and had experienced the effects of this practice in tangential areas of my life, it took much longer for self-love to place a firm root into my heart.
I grew up learning to be a people pleaser and serve others. Acts of service is a love language, after all, and there is something romantic in sacrificing yourself for another person. In the end practicing sacrifice projects a feeling of lack and comes back to haunt you.
As all the lessons, memories, pieces of wisdom, and hurt from the past surfaced, I starting to understand what it would take to achieve true love of self. This is a love of self that fosters kindness, compassion and respect, not vanity.
Here are 5 steps I learned to accomplish self-love.
1) Be aware. Tune in and acknowledge your thoughts and feelings. Accept who you are and what you are feeling. Understand that there is nothing wrong with what you like and what you desire. That's what makes you who you are. Some people will like it and others will not. That's ok.
2) Accept yourself as you are. Take care of yourself and give yourself time and space to work though emotions. Accepting things about yourself you've always told yourself you needed to change will not happen in one fell swoop. It is a process. We have managed to conditions ourselves to believe the lies we tell ourselves about who we should be in order to be happy rather than just being happy with who we are.
3) Grow who you are. Allow yourself to be who you are. Tap into your child and teenage selves to reconnect with early joy or hurt. Process it and start making decisions to be who you are. If you love community, be in community. If you prefer to be alone, then be alone. If you need intellectual stimulation, pursue what will bring that into your life. I love to write, and I write from my heart because I have so much love to give, and this provides me with a beautiful creative outlet to be exactly who I am.
4) Establishing boundaries. If you have spent a lot of your life trying to be someone you think others will approve of, then start setting boundaries to make space in the world to be yourself. This can be hard and emotional, especially if you've never made yourself a priority in life. I can tell you from personal experience, the first time I stood up for myself and established boundaries, I cried. I let it out and then felt empowered. The second time I did it, I was more certain I was doing the right thing, but I still cried. I balled and balled, but at the end of it I knew that making a new choice to love myself was the best thing to do. Each time I make that choice, I know it will be easier and less emotionally draining, but the end result will be beautiful. I know we must choose our battles, so choose them wisely. Just have the courage to choose them when you need to.
5) Practice and stay positive. Be happy and love yourself now because it is the fastest way to accomplish change and manifest the happiness you desire in your life. Changing your attitude and choosing to love yourself is the first step to changing your life. Choosing a positive attitude beyond that will be a powerful force in your life.
Love yourself now because you can!
Today I turn 33 years old, and I'm grateful for my life! I feel grateful for my family, my childhood, my friends, my job, my house, my health, and my car. This list can go on and on. I'm truly blessed and feel even happier that it is my choice to be happy and follow my bliss.
In my relatively short lifetime, I've experienced tremendous joy, love, hurt and pain. I've continued to learn and grow every step of the way. I'll share some things I've learned as I reflect on my life.
1. Love yourself and your friends. Choose to love yourself first so you can be there for others. Be there for your friends. Go out of your way for them. That doesn't mean you should sacrifice yourself. Just choose to love them. I've had experiences in life where friends came to my side in love and support and I will never forget them. I've also had friends go by the wayside when I was going through a hard time. I will never forget them either. I want to be remembered in the first group.
Last time, I shared how I spent the first quarter of 2012 learning a lot of lessons. Some were a result of things that happened to me and others were lessons I learned from circumstances that resulted from my own poor decisions. After reaching a rock bottom, I reflected and learned and was esposed to the teachings of The Secret, which changed my attitude towards life. And as a result my life changed too.
After leaning all these things, I spent a lot of time envisioning my hopes and dreams as if they were true. In May, I started a job that I absolutely love, and I feel happy and blessed to go to my place of work each day. Shortly thereafter, I felt completely healthy.
The final joyful change was that I recovered emotionally and spiritually from my former poor decisions, and I entered a wonderful period of self-nurturing and loving. People always say you need to love yourself, and my mentor, Rhonda Shasteen, always taught me to be true to myself. These things are similar, and although I understood them conceptually, it never really clicked...until now. I'm in a wonderful love affair with myself, and enjoying every second of it. This may sound egotistical and selfish, but it's the healthiest place in which to be. It's a place of self-respect, healthy ego, confidence, self-esteem, and gentle assertiveness. It's a place where I can finally listen to myself and be true to myself. If I'm true to myself then I engage better with the world around me.
I've spent so much of my life trying to please other people that every action was out of a motivation to make others happy to a point where I would make myself miserable so as to avoid conflict and saying no. Now I'm listening to that my inner voice and being true to myself and guess what! The reactions, interactions, and engagements I have with others are better and more honest too.
Maybe it's because I'm getting into my mid-thirties and this is something that happens at this age. At least, that's I hear. Whatever it is, it makes me feel happier than I've felt in my life.
Each quarter I go through the exercise of writing down my purpose tournament, from the book, The On-Purpose Person. This exercise gets you to define your top wants in eight major areas of life, like relational, spiritual, financial, etc. In June, I looked at my March purpose tournament only to discover I had absolutely everything I wished for, just like The Secret says. I can't wait to check it out again in September!
Normally, I've been fearful to share my joy with people for fear of it being jinxed. That's putting a wish out there. I'm choosing to face those fears in hopes that my joy will catch on for you too. The combination of a major shift in attitude plus coming into my own brought about the richest period of my life experience, and that's why this is turning out to be a banner year! Be joyful and happy now because you can!
2012 is shaping up to be a banner year! I would never have imagined such a thing on January first of this year. When the year started, I was facing uncertainties in my work life. I was not at the top of my game health wise, and I was emotionally recovering from a few bad personal decisions. Things felt pretty much in shambles except for the family in my life and the roof over my head.
While facing daily stress and uncertainty all around, I kept on praying. Little did I know my life would completely turn around in a matter of months. At the beginning of April, I went to Los Angeles on a business trip. On that trip, I was exposed to The Secret. At this point, enough people had mentioned what a great book it was, so, I broke down and read it. Being the self-help junkie that I am, I'm surprised I didn't jump on it when it came out. I guess the timing wasn't right. However, the book entered my life at just the right time.
The Secret revealed to me how a shift in energy, frequency, and attitude can change the world around you. One of the teachings in the book is to put your wish out there and release it, and then it will come to you. Sounds far fetched, huh? Well, wait and see.
More to come next time on the wonderful things I've learned experienced this year.
As you go through each day, from where does your confidence stem? Does it come from your level of success at work, your bank account, your stuff, your parents' approval, your popularity among your friends, pleasing other people, or something else?
I think a number of things contribute to our level of confidence, feelings of validation and sense of self-worth. I know I've been through times where I allowed certain external factors influence my sense of self worth more than they should. I've been influenced by my sense of belonging or rejection and get off balance. Many times I've let my social life dictate my validation too much. At other times, I've let my tendency to people please rule my sense of validation.
I know it's not true or honest to my core, and eventually I'll hear the words of my mentor, Rhonda Shasteen, ring through. She says, "Be true to yourself." I also hear the words of my dear friend and concert pianist, Yana Reznik, telling me that things didn't start happening in her life and career until she started doing and saying what she was thinking. It's as if removing those filters we place on our lives out of fear, releases a stronger self that lives within us. That stronger self that emerges is one that has been stifled for much of our lives. It has been listening to a voice that tells us to be afraid of what might happen if we do and say what we really think. That doesn't mean you have to be crass or mean. You can be honest with a kind heart.
When it comes to developing self worth and a sense of validation, hose words develop an ever-deeper meaning. When I hear, "be true to yourself," I hear, "be honest with yourself about what you like and don't like. Pay attention to what you really want to do in order to drive the decisions you make." In other words, don't do something just to appease another person if you really don't think you should.
As I've been practicing being true to myself over the last years, I've developed a deeper understanding of my true sense of confidence and self worth. I've learned that I can say yes or no and make decisions to be true to myself. Then, I see how I can make decisions in confidence from the inside out, rather than making decisions to be true to myself from the outside in or becuse I am forcing myself to.
With practice, being true tomyself has become more internalized, so that I'm sensing it come from a true place of confidence and self worth. That's when I realized I'm finally to a place of feeling validation from within. I am the one who validates me and my worth, and not anyone or anything on the outside. It was an amazing jaw dropping moment for me to finally get to this place I had been working towards for so long.
I still have to practice as it isn't completely innate, but I've recognized it. It gets easier to tap into and hold onto every day. Then I feel good that I'm still growing up. I think we all do keep growing up for our entire lives with life experience and self-reflection.
So what validates you? I hope it is you, because you can!
How do you get from where you are to where you want to be? If you're anything like me, you have aspirations and dreams to achieve good things in your career, health, relationships and other things. Those goals I desire to achieve hang out before me as a carrot pushing me forward.
In an effort to achieve my goals as quickly and efficiently as possible, I try to apply logic to real life situations. I figure if I can make sense of how things are done, then I can get through the process faster. Hint, hint, I'm not always the most patient person in the world, though I do make an effort to improve in that area.
As I study the goings on around me to try to apply a formula I can put into action in my life, I learned one simple truth:
There is no formula for life.
I'm sure most of you already knew that, but I insisted on learning it the hard way. Every person is different. Personalities are different as well as life circumstances and stages. As a result you won't find two situations that completely mirror one another.
As I came to accept the simple truth that I can't apply a formula to my life to control it, it helped me understand that the lack of control is where the beauty lies. Releasing the need to control my life allows good things to happen to me. That doesn't mean I don't need to make decisions and listen to the nudge within me telling me what direction to take, but it does mean actually listening to that nudge rather that suppressing it to go head strong into any direction I think is best.
Releasing the need for a formula is a process, and I confess I'm right in the middle of it. It may take a life time, and it may be something I always struggle with. At least I can always return to the truth that there is no formula in life. It reminds me that it is ok if I don't always understand why things are happening around me the way they are.
I hope this helps you find more peace in your daily life. Release the need to know it all right now because you can!
It's officially 2012 and time for those New Year's Resolutions. Last year, I wrote a post about my goals for the year and enjoyed checking in on it every few months
This year I used the amazing book, The On-Purpose Person, as a guide to set my goals for 2012.The book helps you identify goals in 8 major areas of your life: Spiritual; Financial; Mental/ Intellectual/ Educational; Physical/ Health/Recreational; Relationships; Social/Community; Vocational/Career/Work; and Other. I wrote a post on what being on purpose means as well.
The On Purpose person suggests that you revisit your top wants in each category once a quarter. So, for Q1 of 2012, my goals and top wants are as follows:
Spiritual: My top Spiritual want, since I'm of the Christian faith, is to honor God's commandments.
Financial: My financial goal was and remains to stay out of debt. I try to be reasonable and fiscally responsible every day. I hope to continue this trend through 2012.
Mental/Intellectual/Emotional: I learned a lot in the last few years about what it means to guard your heart. I have a tendency to be a bit naive, and am learning daily to guard my heart in a healthy, positive way. For that reason, my top want in this category is to guard my heart, for from there flows the well of life.
Physical/Health/Recreational: Last year proved a little challenging in the health department because I had a knee injury that lasted about 7 months. It's well now, and my goal here is to be completely healthy through sleeping, exercising, eating well and honoring my body.
Relationships: Last year I read a revolutionary book that I've mentioned a few times called The 5 Love Languages. It was so easy to understand and apply, and this year I want to do my best to keep practicing the five love languages in all my relationships. What is your primary love language?
Social/Community: Last year I also had some revelations about the company you keep. I had befriended a few people that I really shouldn't have. You'd think that wouldn't happen as a grown up the way it can for a high school student. I made a decision to regroup my friendships, and I chose to let some people go. Continuing along that theme, my goal in this department is to re-establish and grow quality friendships.
Vocational/Career/Work: Last year proved to be a little rocky in the work sector and I went through a couple of job changes, though I also had some wonderful amazing experiences along the way. I do hope for stability in this area and aim primarily to grow my leadership skills.
Other: This one repeats my Relationships goal, to practice the 5 love languages in my closest relationships.
I feel ready for a new year and a new beginning. 2011 was full of highs and lows. So much of it was out of my control, which tends to be the way of life. I just hope and pray that 2012 brings with it a sense of security, peace, and stability.
What are your goals for 2012, and how will you meet them? You can!