what you lose when you’re busy

12 Nov

we live in a world of movement, of busyness and racing from one moment to the next. we’re taught to be productive and efficient so we learn to multi-task.  we talk on the phone while checking our email with something playing in the background. and when we wake up, we start our days with social media, caffeine, the news, and lists of tasks to accomplish.  i am a person of busyness; i pride myself on being productive, setting goals and achieving them, and structuring my day so that i make the most out of my time. these last few months however, have been especially demanding and it has been through this incessant busyness that i found that all of the things i had to do were keeping me from getting what i wanted most done. and so busy became stress, pressure, and worry.  i began to notice that i wasn’t getting things done so much as i was just doing things. and without even really knowing it, i began looking.  it’s kind of a weird place to be in when you are aware that you are searching, but unsure of what it is that you are looking for.

but if there is one thing for certain, it’s that i’ll know when i find it.

and in my search, here is what i’ve found that i’ve lost:

 1. stillness

it’s hard to be still when you feel pressured to move. when you are pulled by goal setting, self-development, and the pursuance of passions, your focus on the future tends to rob you of today.  what i’ve began to learn is that my pressure is internal; i set personal deadlines and place the high expectations on myself–so part of being still has been learning to let go of the self-imposed stress i tend to create. part of being still has been learning that i don’t always have to move to progress.

for me, stillness is about limiting my internal and external distractions.  putting the phone down and books away; resisting the urge to mindlessly scroll through screens of other people’s lives.  it’s about waking up to live rather than just to do.  it’s about calming my mind and stopping myself from the mental to-do lists, the incessant worries, the getting lost in should-have’s and what-ifs.  stillness is about the ability to become comfortable with uncertainty, the discomfort of limbo, the difficult emotions- to be able to sit alone in a room with the fullness of your being.  i’ve learned that we get so distracted by tasks, material possessions, other people’s opinions and expectations, and unnecessary conflict that we get pulled away from all of the things that are important in our lives.  we get so distracted that we are no longer present in the moment in which we are living in.

i have a habit of coloring stillness as missed time, a lack of motivation, or laziness, and what i’m learning is that stillness is not stagnation. stillness is about slowing down so you don’t miss out on where you are going.  and so i sit, or i stand, or i walk. without having something to do or somewhere to be.  stillness is about breathing and it’s about being- it’s as difficult and simple as that.   i let my mind wander without becoming too attached to thoughts, recollections, or fleeting ideas.  i’ve been trying to make time in my day to pause; letting go of unnecessary details or interactions, distancing myself from mindless distractions, and reflecting on what it is that i am doing and why it is that i am doing it.  it’s by slowing down that we can become energized and opened up to all of life’s possibilities.

 

2.  presence 

i lost presence.

when you are focused on nostalgia- or of moments passed and doors that have long been closed- or when you live in the future – of all the things you’ll do, the person you’ll be, of all the potential situations you cast yourself in-  you rob yourself of the life that you are actually living.  life in the present. i began to notice all of the ways i was unintentionally escaping from and missing out on the only thing i am guaranteed- right now.  i noticed that i wasn’t fully enjoying or appreciating where i was because i’ve been so focused on the next place i needed to be.  the result was a lack of appreciation and gratitude for my  experiences, it was apathy towards how wonderful and magical our moments really are. it was taking encounters and interactions as something i had to do versus something i have the opportunity to enjoy.  and i’ve found that a lack of presence is about forgetting that this is all we have.  this life is the one we get.

 

i’ve been practicing presence in simple ways like putting my phone away when having conversations with friends, in really listening to what others have to say and how they feel when they say it. in breathing deeply and through not trying to escape the moment i’m in by distracting myself. i try and do just one thing at a time. wherever i am, i choose to be all there and i remain very conscious of that decision.  i slow down when i’m eating so i can savor the flavor, i try and walk slower so i can see all of the beauty, and i try not to rush.  i do my best to not wish my days away- to trust in the process and appreciate the steps it takes to get there.  because what i know is that i’d hate to reach the destination to find that i’d missed out on the journey.

i believe that presence with ourselves and when we are with others deepens our connections.  it improves our relationships and fosters greater understanding of our actions. it encourages self-understanding so that we may grow, change, and improve. and when we are truly present with our friends, children, family, and all of the people whose lives we may touch, we have the ability to positively shape and impact who they become.

 

3.  acceptance 

i think of acceptance like the tide coming in. the waves roll into the sand and the ocean takes them back.  like each passing moment we experience, the waves rhythmically come and they go.  acceptance is allowing things to be as they are without adding on a filter of how we hoped they would be.  it removes the expectation, the disappointment, and the longing.  and when your acceptance is like the waves, you don’t get too attached to emotions, objects, thoughts, or other things- knowing that each will return to the ocean; that they are all impermanent.  acceptance is understanding that all things- good or bad- will wax and wane, that emotions and situations are fleeting.

and when we cultivate acceptance into our lives we can allow things to happen without passing judgment- without labeling something as good or bad, positive or negative, but rather, taking things as they come. and in this way we can react to situations as they are presented to us, rather than based off of every past encounter we’ve had. we can respond to challenges and frustrations more compassionately and they can have less of an impact on the flow of our day. through acceptance we allow things to be as they are and we see them as they are, which allows us to react as we are- with compassion, kindness, humility, patience, and grace.

one of the greatest pieces of advice i’ve ever received is, “whatever comes your way- whatever the situation,  be for it.”  i’ll start off by saying that this doesn’t necessarily work in every situation or circumstance.  some of life’s events are too painful, horrific, or devastating to readily accept, much less be on the same side as.  but as for the day to day frustrations, challenges, and bumps in the road, being “for it” has allowed me to accept the challenge and focus on the solution.  it has allowed me to remove the negative energy and emotions i attach to events and rather, just deal with the situation as it is.  a flat tire, a bad day, or a string of small annoyances all at once- by being for the situation i only have to accept the challenge at hand, instead of my reaction to it— if that makes any sense.

and so i’m learning to embrace whatever it is that comes, to surrender to the present moment.  i’m learning to let the tide roll in and the waves crash down without trying to change them.

the ocean is beautiful just as it is, you know.

 

 

4.  intentionality  

and because forward movement is important to me, part of what i’ve lost in my busyness and have been looking for in stillness is intentionality.  when being intentional, you recognize that your time is both limited and abundant.  you decide how you want to spend it rather than wondering where it has gone.  for me, intentionality is realizing that we have time for the things that we make time for.  and being intentional is about using your energy, talents, and time with focus so that your strengths can be offered to others in a way that fulfills your passion.

you decide what you want to cultivate, who you want to become, and what you hope to accomplish.  you are specific so that your actions match your goals. during the past few months i allowed my focus on household chores and work tasks to prevent me from developing the areas of my life that i’m most committed to. realizing that my constant doing was not moving me forward, i began to notice the ways in which i wasting the valuable time that i have.  i recognized my excuses and the distractions that were preventing me from accomplishing what it is that i’ve set out to do.  and so i sat down and prioritized different areas of my life and various goals that i want to be working on.  characteristically, i made out lists and schedules and developed a new rhythm.  i structured my time in ways that allow me both to focus on my goals without taking away from the spontaneity of living freely. it’s been a process.

and when we are intentional, we have the ability to use our lives for our individual missions and purposes.  we can develop ourselves so that we may see our goals, ideas, and dreams through to the end.  and when you make the best use of your time and thus, your life, you may  inadvertently teach and inspire others to do the same.

 

 

5.  gratitude 

you don’t have time to stop when you’re too busy, which means you probably aren’t taking the time to notice and appreciate the magic around you.  you forget that you’re grateful to be employed, to have a steady income, to be able to breathe air into your lungs, and to have the ability to move. you forget to be grateful for all of your child’s questions and sense of wonder- evidence that he/she’s able to learn and grow.  without gratitude, you lose fulfillment,  joy, happiness, and a sense of meaning.  in my constant rush from one task to the next, my focus quickly shifted from all that i have to all of the things i had left to do, how tired i was, how under appreciated i felt.  i focused on the frustrations, the rain clouds, and the negative. it left me feeling rushed, anxious, tired, irritable, and frustrated.  and what i know about myself is when i am feeling this way it’s generally because my priorities and focuses are off balance.  and when you are not in the habit of focusing on all that you are grateful for, doing so can require a conscious shift in thinking and focus.  i believe that gratitude is a choice in perspective- what you decide to look for and what you see.  it’s about contentment and appreciation.  and so with every complaint i attempted to speak, i now stop and try to find the good first.  through slowing down i’ve been able to choose to focus on the light, the positive, and all of the reasons i have to be eternally grateful.  they are there for you too, i promise.

 

and so today, be open to all of the goodness, blessings, and sunshine that comes your way.

it’s not just another day.

it’s the only day that you have right now.

this moment is our only guarantee. 

 

 

 

 

 

photo 2

 

 

 

 

and so here i am, trying to find a balance between the stillness of doing nothing and the intentionality of doing everything.

here i am, learning how to respond as if it were both the first day and very last day that i’ll ever know.

invisible threads.

10 Oct

 

 

IMG_3594

i’ve been thinking a lot about heart strings, invisible threads, and the ways in which people enter your story for a page or a chapter and change the entire ending. regardless of whether people come into your life by fate or chance, i’ve always been the kind of person that believes our interactions result in a connection. and so by the end of our lives, we could have an infinite amount of threads linked to other people’s lives, memories, and stories. and although it’s been grudgingly so, i’ve come to accept that not all people are here to stay; i’ve learned that the lesson and impact they bring often requires an ending.

because of friday, i’ve been thinking about all of the people that come into our lives for different lengths of stay. i like the idea of an invisible thread that links you to all of the people that shape who you become in this life. perhaps it is a ball of tangled string- sometimes tied complicatedly in knots and sometimes loosely bound together- or an uncountable amount of strings that run parallel to one another. but mostly, i just like the idea of an invisible thread that links one person to another; like somehow, our individual life stories are now part of each other’s. and so i’ve been thinking about the people i am bound to. the thread that taught me not to attach my identity to another person.  the thread from high school that formed from an unlikely friendship between myself and an adult in recovery from substance abuse.  the interwoven threads of kindness from people like the frail Chinese woman who prayed over my body in the parking lot or the nurse who walked across the street to the convenience store to buy me reese’s pieces when i had meningitis because it was the only thing i would eat.  a thread that was a lesson in heartache from the boy who taught me about the strength it requires to put yourself back together.  my college chemistry professor who i spent tuesday afternoons with.  the sheepish grin that taught me about hope and what life can be like when you lose it. the thread to your father- the first person to show me what a mandolin sounds like. i’ve been thinking about my invisible threads stretched out across this world;  the attachment to the Egyptian eye doctor and his Polish girlfriend who found us crossing the nile river and took us out to dinner; the new york city taxi driver who coincidentally ended up being our driver for two consecutive nights; the man from Turkey who showed us his grandmother’s rugs over a hot cup of tea.  and maybe it’s so that i could say goodbye, but i like to think about all of the ways in which our lives are now intertwined. in the ways that i’ll see red converse shoes and deep ocean eyes and think of you.

 

so maybe some people don’t come into your life to stay forever.  maybe we will each go off and do a million separate things and maybe our life paths will never cross again, but the thing about threads is that you can’t undo what has already been formed.  i believe that people stay long enough- even if only for a moment- to impact your existence and to help write out your story. like the strangers in the check-out line that teach you about patience or the ordinary people who do extraordinary things in the corner of their world that teach you about humility.  the child on the airplane with an endless amount of questions that reminds you to wonder.  the people you see on the street or wandering through the town that teach you about strength and acceptance.  and if life has taught me anything, it’s that some people’s stay will never be long enough. i don’t have the answer for that, i don’t know why it is that they sometimes leave before we are ready.  all i know is that maybe you don’t get to decide how they leave, but you can choose which parts of them stay with you.  and so on days like today, i remember how important it is to think about the people who have impacted us- both positively and negatively- and to be grateful for those lessons, those threads.  we can only hope to experience this life in it’s entirety and so we take in the good and the bad and every little thing in between.   love intertwined with heartache.  loss accompanied by strength, hope, and growth.  a million failed attempts and one moment of success. endings that become beginnings. the people that teach you about self-discipline, motivation, and perseverance.   a million words and one set of ears that will listen. and when you think about all of the threads that comprise the person that you are, think about the ways in which you have impacted the people around you.  what lessons have you taught?  what message did you send? and are your threads ones of love and kindness?

 

what i know about invisible threads is that if you give people the chance, they will surprise you.  connections are formed when you put your phone down and  lift your head up.  when you offer a smile or change someone’s day. when you look someone in the eye on the elevator or really listen to what people have to say.  they are formed when you realize that at every given moment, your life is being changed by the people around you.  invisible threads link us to unsuspecting people in the most beautiful of ways. you may not get to choose who comes into your life, when they leave, or what lesson they bring, but you do have a say in the way you link yourself to other people in this world.

 

 

and with all of these words, i guess i’m trying to say that i’ve been thinking about how so many parts of my life are not mine alone-  and i’m comforted by the idea that so many parts of our lives are experienced together.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 and so this is for monday mornings and for letting me be a part of your growth.

i like where our stories meet.

a robin williams story.

10 Sep

i can’t remember how old i was, but i remember being in my parents’ room, sitting on their bed with a plate full of snacks.  the moment i started watching the movie, i knew that it had been made just for me. and i’ve always been a little bit selfish when it comes to stumbling across a favorite movie, quote, or  book- of holding on to the stories they contain like treasure- trying to keep all the magic they consist of just for myself.  so i can remember my elementary school self not wanting anyone else to know about “Patch Adams.”  i was going to be him, i remember thinking.  i was going to be  person who brought light to the lives of others, who was attentive to other people’s suffering, and who knew what to do to help make it better. i can distinctly remember not wanting anyone to know about Patch Adams because i thought the world would only need one of him, and i wanted it to be me.  i’ve grown up since then. and i’ve learned that having the tiniest impact on the world is about focusing less on one’s ego and more on one’s understanding of the challenges, solutions, and contributors to a problem. but that movie became the spark that ignited my dream to go to college to become a doctor.

 

like many of you, i have my own Robin William’s story.

 

as you may know, i held tight to the dream of becoming a Patch Adams kind of doctor, until my junior year of college. and as you may also know, i chose to become a social worker instead.  this choice has afforded me the opportunity to work with some of the most remarkable and resilient people i could have ever hoped to meet.  and so in the last few years, i have spent time talking with people who are homeless, people who have a severe and persistent mental illness, people who have been diagnosed with other mental illnesses, people who have endured traumatic life experiences, and people who are struggling to make it through the day. i’ve had the opportunity to get to know people whose lives have been very different from Robin William’s, but perhaps similar in their experience of depression and suicidal ideation.

and in the days, weeks, and month following the initial shock over Robin William’s death, i’ve noticed that the conversations about suicide, depression, stigma, treatment, and mental illness have waned. but it has left me thinking about the friends, family members, consumers, Veterans, and people i’ve come to know who have struggled with depression, addiction, other mental health challenges, or thoughts and plans of suicide.  i’ve never personally experienced depression, but i know that it can feel a lot like darkness, like an unexpected blow to the stomach, or like a heavy feeling of dread that you just can’t seem to shake. i know that depression can mean not feeling anything at all, or being numb to everything you are feeling all at once. it can mean feeling withdrawn or withdrawing yourself from the world. and i know that depression can feel a lot like a sinking hole that you cannot climb out of.

what i know is that suicide is often a symptom of major depressive disorder- a  mental illness caused by a number of biological and environmental factors. what i know is that over 90% of people who die by suicide have a diagnosable mental illness (including bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, personality disorders, anxiety disorders, and eating disorders).  and for people who experience chronic and recurrent symptoms of major depression or other mental illnesses, suicide or thoughts of suicide may come to feel like a comforting solution or viable option to end the pain that no longer feels endurable. depression is not a choice nor a character flaw, and it is not a decision of someone ‘wanting to feel sorry for themselves,’ or not being able to cope with life’s challenges.  suicide is not about being selfish or weak, but rather, it’s about pain. it’s about loss of hope. and i think we forget that it’s human nature to want to end suffering, to find relief.  to be clear, it is not my intention to encourage, promote, or advocate for suicide.   i am however, challenging you to empathize with another person’s experience before making a judgement or criticism about their character.

 

since beginning this profession, i’ve been collecting other people’s stories.  and these stories- their life experiences- have been guiding and shaping my interactions with others. conversations with people who are both chronically homeless and transiently homeless demonstrate to me the complicatedness of poverty, the challenges of locating affordable housing, and the difficulties of maintaing competitive employment while also living with a mental illness and/or addiction. play dates with children in foster care and with children who have been severely abused and neglected remind me of the impact of abuse on cognitive development, emotional regulation, and attachment. and when working with these children when they later become adults, i consider their childhoods and the traumas they’ve endured. i think it’s important to recognize the number of factors that contribute to a person’s behaviors and perception of the world.  i am also aware that some people-regardless of their upbringing, or despite having a ‘healthy’ upbringing- will make poor choices.  and even then, i attempt to understand.  because what i know is that you cannot reduce people to simplistic generalizations based on your limited understanding of their situation.  it is much more complicated than that.

 

and what i know is that there are still so many people in this world who do not understand.  who choose not to understand. and who continue to blame people for the suffering they do not take the time to understand.  and so if your understanding of depression or suicide is one that blames the person who is struggling with the mental illness, i would challenge that your knowledge of their life and experiences is incomplete. i would challenge you to have one conversation with a person who has had thoughts of suicide, attempted suicide, or who struggles with a mental illness. i challenge you to be curious rather than judgmental.  open minded and open hearted. i challenge you to seek to understand rather than assume that you already know. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and so this post is for you.  for those whose suffering feels unnoticed. for those people who feel quietly stuck inside their mind. for those that feel hopeless. for those whose cries for help are mislabeled or misunderstood as cries for attention or flaws in their being. for the people who feel too tired to continue on.  for people who struggle with depression and for people who don’t.  for people who are having a bad day, a bad season, or a rough stretch of life. and for those people who don’t understand the illness but are willing to try.

 

 

 

It’s okay – whatever you need, wherever you are,  however long it takes – it’s okay.

there is still time.

to ask for help. to grow. to heal. to recover.

there is still time for the sunshine to begin to seep through the cracks. for a flower to grow straight from your heart.

 

 

 

 

 

just in case.

  • The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:  1-800-273-TALK (8255). They are available 24/7
  • Talk to someone online through the Lifeline Crisis Chat
  • Teens can get text support from the Crisis Text Line by texting “listen” to 741-741.
  • Veterans in crisis can contact the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255.
  • Call 911.

…because of roadmaps and treasure chests.

29 Jun

as you may know, i am the kind of person that is easily overwhelmed.  by the kindness of a waitress on an ordinary day or the breeze that blows through the summer air. and on a daily basis, i am overwhelmed by the indifference of the world in light of all the suffering that takes place. i get anxious about small things like passing a licensure exam or an interaction that didn’t go as i had hoped. and i’ve always been the kind of person that can be overwhelmed by how much i have left to do and how little i have done.

so it’s no surprise that i was standing in the hair and make-up aisle when i was suddenly overcome by the number of products i was surrounded by.   hair extensions, highlights, blush, foundation, and mascara.  eye shadow, lip liner, and eyelash extensions. age-defying cream and wrinkle prevention lotions.  there are lotions and sprays and tanning beds. straighteners, curling irons, and hair sprays.  the magazines that tell us what we are supposed to look like, the headlines that call on us to be thin, tan, and flawless. the implications that our outward appearance is a determinant of our individual worth.  and all i could think about was how many products tell us that the way we look- the way we are- is not enough.

 

i don’t watch television and i generally don’t skim through magazines, but i hear the messages all the same.  we tell them to ourselves.  we’ve been trained to become insecure about a blemish on our face, a haircut that’s a little too short, stretch marks on our stomaches, or weight gain in all of the wrong places. to be clear, i wear make-up on a daily basis and i work out as often as i can, i reward myself with new clothes and even bought eyelash extension cream once.  in no way am i suggesting that there is anything wrong with wanting to feel beautiful and confident, i just don’t believe that a flawless outward appearance is the only way to get there.

in high school, someone once told me that it didn’t matter whether or not i understood advanced placement calculus because ‘at least i was pretty.’ while i understand that they were trying to be comforting, encouraging, and nice, i can remember my exact feeling of outrage. the anger that arose because i was supposed to feel relieved by someone’s perception of my outward appearance; of the implication that the way i looked would somehow be enough to help me get a scholarship so that i could go to college.  that somehow the way i looked would help to determine whether i would develop enough self-discipline to finish what i started, that somehow my appearance would help me to further my career. and i remember wondering when ‘being pretty’ began to outweigh our intelligence, capabilities, attitude, and our individual contributions to the world.

i find that sometimes we place so much emphasis on what our body looks like that we forget about the amazing things it does for us. your legs- regardless of their length and width- have carried your body for all of these years.  they have held you up on your weakest days and were there with you to jump for joy in moments of celebration.  they’ve ran through the grass during summer nights of hide and seek and they’ve rooted you to this earth. and your arms, they work. they can bend and they can write. they can pick up a child and hold another’s hand.  they’ve helped you to feel objects and to build things, they are your ability to reach out to the world. your mind, it is a wonderful, magical, and complex tool that continues to guide your perception and understanding of the world.  i could go on, but you get the point- each and every one of your body parts has served you in some way. each and every part continues to do something for your life. let’s not forget that every minute detail of your being is made with extraordinary and intricate capabilities.

 

 

i have always believed in not being attached to something as impermanent as our physical appearance.  of being attached to short hair, long hair, thick hair, or thin.  of what color it is or what color it’s not. of not being attached to the number on a scale or the amount of space between your thighs. the way you look can change.  it will change. and it is always changing. i was fortunate enough to be raised by parents who taught me that what i looked like was not who i was.  it has never been my job, responsibility, nor my dream to be beautiful.  i am not alive for that purpose.  we all have so much more to offer the world than our physical appearance.

 

who you are as a person, that’s what matters. that is what is constant.

are you beautiful on the inside?

 

 

i believe in intelligence. i believe in the ever expansion of your mind through books, travel, and new experiences.  i believe in having conversations with people who have a different point of view than yours and in staying current on world events. of challenging yourself to set higher expectations and to dream bigger dreams. and i believe in health. in eating healthy, nourishing your body, and being good to your soul.  i believe in exercising to add longevity to your life, to add strength to your mental and physical abilities, and to foster self-discipline. i believe in pull-ups, cardio, and strength-training.  i believe in getting adequate amounts of sleep so that you are energized throughout the day. i believe in confidence and beauty in the form of a smile to a stranger, of a hand that reaches out to help without question or reservation.  kindness towards others, determination to succeed, and the courage to forgive; that is beauty.  our internal integrity, our ability to respond with grace, the gifting of our time, and the mark we leave on the world- that is the beauty that should define us.

 

 

i believe in beauty that is real.

in the naturalness that can be observed when you become unapolgetically who you are.

 

 

i believe in our bodies serving as road maps to remind us each where we have been.  that scar on my left leg from the bike crash i had as a second grader, the indentation above my left eyebrow where i ran into a door, and the deep stretch marks on my thighs and around my knees when i went through my first big growth spurt in seventh grade. i believe in growing old and your body having all the proof to show it.  i believe in wrinkles.  i believe in flaws, blemishes, and stretch marks.  laugh lines for a life well lived. greying hair for all of the challenges you have overcome.  extra weight around your midsection from the babies you’ve birthed, from the celebrations you’ve had the opportunity to experience, from those delicious desserts you were able to indulge in. worry lines on your forehead for the uncertainty you felt during troubling days. i believe that your body is a treasure chest holding within it all of the goodness you’ve received, the love you’ve given, and the pain you’ve endured.

 

 

you are more than beautiful.  and you are more than something to be looked at.

 

 

 

you are strong. you are brave. you are intelligent.                                                                                                                                      you are kind. you are funny.                                                                                                                                                                              you are a giver, receiver, a dreamer, and a doer.                                                                                                                                        you are an athlete, a thinker, an encourager, a creator.                                                                                                                            you are as bright as the sun and you are so much more than the simplicity of your outward appearance.

 

 

you are so much more.

doubt it .

17 May

it’s amazing how quickly doubt can settle in. it’s like a question mark at the end of a statement, an uncertainty about what you thought you once knew. a tilt of the head or the raise of an eyebrow. it’s a whisper that makes you wonder if you really knew after all. and it can be a series of dominos that start to fall down if you let it.

while i’ve never really had a low self-esteem, i continue to observe situations in which my self-confidence begins to waver. in my ability to complete tasks, accomplish goals, and make decisions. i can feel when it starts to come and i can see what happens when i start to start to listen- when i start to believe it. the stumbling over words, the second guessing, and insecurities. the questions i start to ask of myself; can i pass this test? can i accomplish this goal? am i capable of more? is this good enough? what if i fail?

and i see the self doubt help me to fall. it opens up the door for excuses to slip in, it welcomes discomfort and feelings of uneasiness. it’s that little whisper that tries to tell you that you’ll never make it, so that you give up before you ever do. and part of self-doubt comes from a comparison of yourself to others, of feeling like you don’t measure up to another person’s strengths. self-doubt convinces you that you won’t get to where the other person has already gotten. and maybe it’s that little voice that tells you that what you do, who you are, or what you’re working towards is not enough. and when you start comparing yourself to other people you might start to notice that you begin putting them down, that you begin basing your accomplishments off of other people’s lack of success.  comparing yourself to others seems to  imply that someone is going to be better and someone is going to be worse.  but really, we are just different.  that’s all. 

 

 

and so what do you do when you feel like you are not enough? that you cannot succeed? that someone is better.stronger.smarter.nicer. more talented. capable. than yourself?

 

 

you persevere.

 

and in persevering, you acquire the right perspective.  you change your thinking from the “i’ll never get there” to an “i’m on my way.”  and through this perspective shift, you remember what you do have, what you are capable  of, and where you are going.   part of this perspective is about remembering that you have enough.  you do enough.  and that you are enough.  perspective is about a willingness to see the situation from a different point of view; it’s about changing your attitude and strengthening your resolve.  i’ve also learned that perspective is about gratitude, about feeling grateful for your individual abilities and experiences and for honoring how other people got to where they are at. and perspective is a reminder that there are other ways to look at the situation.  other feelings to feel, other beliefs to believe. other movements to make.

and when you hear that self-doubt;  perseverance is about trying to understand where it is coming from and what is it saying. and to persevere, you plan.   you develop a plan to overcome it.  and while you may have great intentions to persevere, it may be hard to do so when you haven’t considered how you will.  write down the steps.  list out your personal challenges.  address the ways you will get over road blocks, detours, and bumps in the road. and if your self-doubt is telling tell you that you’ll never reach your physical goals, you write out your health plan.  you list out all of the assignments to complete before you graduate from college. you record all of the bills left to pay before you are debt free.  you plan, and you plan, and you plan.  and then you pursue with consistent dedication. and to persevere, you must decide to work harder than your self-doubt is telling you not to.  

 

in times of self-doubt and in times of perseverance, you surround yourself with people who believe in you and who believe in themselves.  surround yourself with people who challenge you to grow, who push you to succeed, and who hope that you’ll get there.  you’ve probably heard that you become similar to the five people you spend the most time with–  spend time with people that you want to be like.  spend time people that believe in your plans.  spend time with people who’ve chosen to persevere despite their own personal insecurities, challenges, and set backs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

self doubt?

 

doubt it.

 

… the things he built.

5 May

my grandpa carried a picture of me in his wallet.

 

and when we used to go to mcdonald’s for breakfast in that small texas town, he would pull it out and show it to the cashiers.  “she’s going to graduate from college,” he’d say.  and when he had the chance, he would introduce me to the people he knew and and even the people he didn’t. “my granddaughter is real smart,” he would tell them.

and when i graduated from college, he wrote an article about me and had it published in his local newspaper so that his entire town would know.  he (with the help of my family) wrote about what i did in college and where i hoped to go from there. he told his community about my volunteer work and travels abroad.  i didn’t go to any form of schooling in texas and i didn’t know anyone outside of my family that lived there so i remember laughing and half-rolling my eyes when my mom told me what my grandfather wanted to do.

i used to think it was silly, but now i realize that he was proud.

and not just of me, or because it was me, but because that is the kind of person my grandfather was.  forever warming your heart. and forever making you believe that anything was possible.

 

35806_10100267912258504_2365126_64308448_2833290_n

 

when my grandfather passed away a few weeks ago, i learned that he helped raise the money needed to build the church where his memorial service was held. i learned that he was the called a guadalupano- the first and only male to be included in the guadalupanas, a group of women in the church who dedicate their time to serving their community. because none of the women had drivers’ licenses at the time, he used to drive them around to ensure they made it to where they needed to be. he was a giver, a doer, and a believer that all things were possible.  the absence of my grandfather in the days following his funeral was surreal. a sadness that overtook you in the most unsuspecting of ways; like when i walked into a room and didn’t hear his normal “hallo jesse” greeting. like the silence of my grandmother’s house because my grandfather was hard of hearing and no longer had the television blaring in the background. it was a feeling in your stomach where you knew that something was missing that could never be replaced.

 

and when my grandfather passed away, that picture of me was still there, in his wallet. 

 

my grandpa was my biggest fan and ultimate cheerleader.  he was the kind of person that made it possible for you to see a better version of yourself.  the kind of person that made you want succeed, just so that he would be able to see it.  and the kind of person that knew how to make everybody feel like they were special. so much so that when he looked at you, you knew that you were. he made up ‘rap songs’ and sang them to us just to hear us laugh.  and his life was an example of what it means to serve others in whatever way that you have to offer.  through music, hard work, kind words, and simple actions, his life was one of giving. and his life was a demonstration of daily celebrations; he always wore his nicest suits, shiniest shoes, and little top hat– a reminder that life is now and not the days that have yet to come. 

 

my grandfather showed me what it means to cheer someone on, to believe in someone so much that they start to believe in themselves.  and in your lifetime, you will have the opportunity to be somebody’s cheerleader. and i hope you remember what an honor that could be. i hope you help someone learn that within themselves, they have everything they need to succeed. and i hope you lead by example, that you demonstrate self-discipline, commitment, and hard-work.  i hope you that you celebrate someone’s small successes and that you choose to pull someone forward long after they have wanted to stop.  i hope you walk into the room and make every single person feel noticed, special, and worthwhile.  and i hope you teach others that someday is now. that today is a reason for your best hat and nicest smelling cologne (or perfume).  and i hope that one day, you can be part of the reason that someone decides to keep going.

my grandfather cheered for me in the quietest of ways.  in small interactions that took place at the check out line and in the little flicker of his eyes as he glanced my way. he cheered for me in his smile and in the words he spoke.  and he cheered for me in the way he lived his life.  my grandfather built a family. a church. and a community. he taught me that the things we build will outlive us when we are gone.

 

today was meaningful because i will live out my life through his example.

today was meaningful because even through this terrible sadness, i’ll continue to cheer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

what i know is that you never know how much you will miss someone until they are gone.

and what i know is that grandpa, it’s a whole lot.

…because of the shoes we’ll wear

14 Apr

IMG_3358-2

we’ll wear many shoes in our lives.

slippers on that rainy day when your heart first got broken and you can’t seem to understand where the love went and where to go from here. maybe you’ll wear blue polka-dot rain boots when you get lost walking on campus in a new state and you’re feeling insecure about your ability to see the next four years through. cowboy boots covered with mud when you are driving down a country road at midnight after dancing in red dirt all summer long. flip flops for those summer days when you spend the entire day outside, blisters on your feet and vowing to yourself that you’ll make the most out of these days. black shoes for when you walk across the stage and grab that diploma. the same shoes for your first professional job. first funeral. first formal dinner. your favorite pair of sneakers on the day where you feel stuck inside and not sure of how to move forward.

and along the way, those shoes will pick up pieces from every place you’ve been. they’ll collect the dust, grit, and particles- all of the necessary steps that it took to get there.  but where will you walk and where will you go?  i probably talk about this too often, but it continues to have relevance in my life.  the person you are isn’t where you say you’ll go or all of the things you say you’ll do;  the person you are is where you have been, the direction you are headed, and what you are doing to get there.  action then, not words or promises, is what defines us.  today, right now.  

and so if your new year’s resolution or personal goal is to live a healthier lifestyle, do you have your gym shoes on? are you lacing them up and going on that walk, jog, or run?  are you choosing to go to the gym, take the stairs, drink more water, or eat nutritiously rich foods?  and if your dream is to graduate from high school, college, or enter in to the workforce, do you have on your comfortable sneakers, workbooks, or dress shoes? are you showing up for class?  putting in the time, effort, and self-discipline to get there? and if you want to travel the world, are you saving money now?  are you making the sacrifices needed to get yourself there?  are you reducing your spending and increasing your work? and if you want to be a writer, do you have on your favorite pair of christmas socks while you develop your characters and story line? and if you want to pass that test or get that promotion are your behaviors leading the way? are you elaborating on your dreams and focusing in on your passion, strengths, and talents?

you get the point.

what i’m asking is if you are taking the individual steps to get you to the finish line you hope to cross.  because we all know you don’t make it to the end with just one step.  races are completed and won after a series of continuous, focused effort.  it’s by adjusting your pace, taking deep breaths, and resolving your mind to finish what you started that we ever get there.

and if the answer is no, it might be useful to determine whether your goals match your priorities. i think one of the hardest questions we can ask ourselves is:  if we aren’t working on what we believe to be most important to our individual lives, then what are we trading our goals for?  maybe its  for comfortable nights filled with our favorite reality television, or sleeping in all afternoon.  maybe it’s the satisfaction of getting that extra dessert, buying that new article of clothing, or staying up all night.  and although i believe that sometimes these things are exactly what we need, i also know how easy it is to stop working on a goal before we actually there. and so i wonder how often we set ourselves up for continued disappointment, dissatisfaction, and  stagnation because our short-term needs and wants get in the way. i wonder how often we get pulled off track because our excuses lead us astray.  are we trading opportunity for comfort?  our success for immediate gratification?  what i know is that every action you take is the result of choice– the choice to move forward or the choice to say where you are at.  what are you choosing?

 

 

and so it comes down to this moment.  can you make that first step today?  with or without motivation, can you find the discipline within your self to take one action that will get you closer to your goal?  can you close your eyes, take a deep breath in, and remind yourself that you can do anything that you will yourself to do?  because the truth is, you are full of possibilities.  full of untapped capabilities and unused resources.  and i think life is about utilizing our inherent potential.  now is always a good time to start.

 

whether it be flip flops, winter boots, sneakers, sandals, or high-heels, put on the shoes you’ll need to get yourself where you want to go. it’s not so much the shoes that matter as it is the person that’s wearing them.

maybe you’ll go barefoot.

but what matters is that you put one foot in front of the other until you get there.

 

 

 

%d bloggers like this: