Some days, my affirmation or thought for the day keeps thoughts churning in the back of my mind during the day as I focus on the tasks at hand. Today is one of those days. In fact tonight, I’m even wondering what prompted me to create this entry, “My Future is Secure.”
The notion of a secure future is almost laughable on the surface. No one has a crystal ball or can predict what will come to pass. Financial stability is a myth because one never knows what will happen or what will not. We all live day to day hoping for the best and working hard to avoid the worst. Much, if not most of the future lies outside of our control.
I don’t mean to sound like a doomsayer, because I’m not. The reality is, life is unpredictable and uncertain and there are many reasons we have every right to doubt the security of our individual and combined futures.
I can speak from personal experience. I’ve gone from owning a beautiful house to near foreclosure and being thankful for the opportunity to rent and care for my current home and artist’s vessel.
One of the most embarrassing moments of my life was when a Sheriff knocked on my door to serve me papers about my house and the debt owed. I knew it was coming, but I was mortified all the same. Thank goodness I was home and my son, who was 14 at the time, didn’t have to answer the door and wonder.
I’d done everything humanly possible to avoid the situation, but when the money runs out – it runs out, and you are only left with the options offered or allowed by the rules and regulations. If only the options had included compromise and reason instead of legalese and a lack of humanity.
I thought I’d never get past the experience, let alone be able to share it.
I’ve learned that my future isn’t secure or certain in the traditional ways we think of our lives. We’re taught to set SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely). What we’re not taught is how to handle it when things like the housing market crash turn our world upside down.
What has gotten me through the difficult times and keeps me focused on the unbelievable and amazing possibilities the future holds, are the people in my life.
My future is not certain, but it is secure. It’s not secure in that I know where every dollar is coming from or that I have any idea what tomorrow brings, but I know that no matter what tomorrow morning brings my family and friends will be there for me and I will be there for them.
It’s interesting to think about how much easier it is for us to offer help to others than it is to ask for help when we need it. I wonder if it’s because there can be such a fine line between asking for assistance because we’re too scared to try something new and asking for help because what we want to accomplish is bigger than we are when standing alone.
There’s also a fine line between equipping and enabling someone when we extend a helping hand or take care of someone’s problems for them.
Depending on the situation there can be a variety of reasons that we don’t, but should ask for support. We might not ask because we care deeply about the work we do and believe that no one else can do whatever it is we pride ourselves in with the same level of quality. It could be stubborn pride that gets in our way or maybe we fear feeling vulnerable.
Likewise, there are different reasons that it can be difficult to decide whether or not to loan money, ignore irresponsible behavior, or offer guidance as listen for the umpteenth time to the same diatribe of dilemmas and self-inflicted problems.
As humans we’re faced with some difficult questions. How do we know when to ask for help and when to tough it out and solve our problems on our own? When is the right time to loan someone a few, or more than a few dollars so they can make it until their next paycheck? At what point does listening to someone rant change from being supportive to detrimental, both to ourselves and the person who can’t move past the issue?
Like many people, it can be hard for me to ask for help for all of the reasons I mentioned. I guess I have to ask myself a few questions.
Am I reluctant to delegate certain tasks because I’m afraid they won’t be done right or because I’m afraid of becoming big? In other words, am I engineering myself to be small by hanging onto the little tasks and because I’m a little afraid of what it means to be reach my full potential?
It’s a no brainer for me to say that sometimes both stubborn pride and a fear of being seen as vulnerable or weak kept me from reaching out many times. I can say with confidence that I’ve overcome the fear of being seen as weak, but there is still some work that needs to be done when it comes to the stubborn pride.
Knowing when and how to help someone can be equally as challenging. Reality is that sometimes the best way to help someone is to let them figure things out on their own. If we go through life fixing things for people, they never learn how to problem solve and end up in a constant state of needing help.
There’s also a very real part of life, and that is, that sometimes people stumble or bad things happen to them and they have no way out of the situation unless someone reaches out a hand to help them get back on their feet or take the next step.
Honesty, trust, confidence, and communication are key for both the recipient and the provider of help.
Honesty about the cause of the problem or issue so that an individual can either heal or grow as a result. Mutual trust that the assistance offered will be put to good use and not squandered away. There’s a need for confidence that the offer for help is made with the belief that the person receiving it is worthy and will succeed and confidence that the request for help is made with a sincere and open heart.
Last but not least communication; there’s nothing worse than finding out there’s a problem when it may be too late. The earlier and more openly the discussions occur the more likely the problems can be solved.
When things are going well in life, things like self-acceptance and a positive attitude about the future is easy. However, when we go through times that are fraught with setbacks and disappointments it’s difficult to keep feelings of self-doubt at bay.
For whatever reason, the first half of 2014 has come with more than a few challenges that have caused financial strain and stress. Just when I think I’m going to get ahead, another unexpected expense crops up or a deal that seemed promising falls through, there have even been weeks that contained both.
It would be easy for me to focus on the negatives of the first six months of this year. There have certainly been more than a few moments in which I’ve felt desperate about the present and doubtful about the future.
When I look at this year from an objective perspective, I know that the number of good things that have happened far out-number the setbacks. I’ve also never felt better about myself or more certain that I’m on the right path.
Sometimes I think people equate having a positive outlook with not having any negative feelings or fears. There’s no way on earth that we can expect ourselves or anyone else to go through difficult experiences and disappointments without “feeling.”
In fact, when we allow ourselves to feel and express emotions such as anger, doubt, fear, anxiety, and remorse it’s much easier to move onward and upward with confidence. The feelings are real and if we try and ignore them, they only fester and undermine our progress for a longer period of time.
I’ve learned the difference between acknowledging the feelings and sharing them with the intention of seeking support and a helping hand and dwelling on a topic and ranting just to hear myself talk.
Reaching out for help during times of trouble can make us feel vulnerable and can even cause feelings of shame. As human beings, we want to succeed on our own. I don’t know if it’s innate or societal, but it can be hard to admit that we’ve made a mistake, had a lapse in judgment, or that something bad happened to us.
Allowing others to see our vulnerabilities isn’t a sign of weakness; it’s a sign of self-confidence and courage. It takes guts to be honest. We conjure up worst case scenarios as a result of telling the truth. In my experience, they are never as bad as I imagined and usually result in something positive.
A big realization for me has been the importance of accepting myself and that believing I am worthy is the first and most important step to success and happiness.
I have an awesome feeling about the future and believe someday the events during this time will make a great story. While I can’t do it today, there’s no doubt in my mind that the stories will be told with laughter and joy.
Friday night I went to a drum circle. I learned about drum circles a few months ago. Never in a million years did I think that I would be comfortable sitting among a group of strangers while playing a drum or another type of percussion instrument, but I am.
My chiropractor isn’t a doctor you go to see because your back hurts, she’s a person you see because you want to live a full life and understand what it means to accept who you are and how to tap into your potential. She understands a lot about how the mind, the body, and the universe are intertwined.
I know the whole “universe” thing sounds hokey to some people and that’s ok, it’s not important that we all phrase things in the same way or believe in identical concepts. What I think is important is that we all understand that as people, if we band together in a whole-hearted and authentic way we can literally move mountains.
The reason I bring my chiropractor up is that she’s the reason I attended a drum circle on a Friday the 13th when the moon was full and the night air was heavy and wet from the rain earlier in the day. Plus there’s the fact that she’s a master at going with the flow of life.
The original plan for the full moon drum circle was to play our drums, shake tambourines, and laugh like children outside on the lawn. The weather forced us to plan B and we met on the second floor of her office building.
About half-way through the time we had together, the facilitator of the circle selected a small hand-held instrument for many members of the group. He directed each person to stand with an upward sweep of his arm as he handed them a cymbal, a triangle, a shaker, or a gong. When everyone had an instrument we heard him say, “Follow me.”
It was immediately apparent that we were going to “plan C.” Two drums helped keep the beat, mine and one other. With my drum strapped over my shoulder I took my place at the end of our impromptu parade. The parking lot was wet, and my feet were bare.
15 or so grown-ups of varying ages, shapes, sizes, colors, and experiences danced and played instruments while splashing through small puddles on the pavement under a cloud-filled sky that covered, but couldn’t hide the power of a full moon.
We ended the night with a meditative and peaceful walk along the beach. The walk took place behind closed eyes and through relaxed spirits. It didn’t matter that we were sitting in an office building nowhere near a beach; we allowed our minds to take us there.
The event could have been cancelled because it couldn’t be carried out according to the original vision or it moved inside. We still had an amazing time. Moving an event from outside to inside is a very small but meaningful example of the power and value of being open to Plan B and sometimes maybe even plans C through Z.
We think about plan B’s easily when it comes to things like making back-up plans in case it rains, we’re not always so good at coming up with alternatives when our original “life” plans go awry. I believe this is especially true during highly stressful and transitional times. It’s that whole, “can’t see the forest for the trees” thing.
During these times is when it’s most important to listen to our inner voices and pay great attention to what’s happening around us.
Plan B may be right in front of us and opening doors that we never imagined but might miss if we’re spending our time worrying about why our original idea didn’t work out.
I’m a nice person, but that doesn’t mean my head is always filled with nice thoughts. Sometimes my thoughts can be quite mean-spirited and unloving. Over the years, as an avid avoider of conflict I’ve had a tendency to keep my feelings inside to the point of being detrimental both to myself and to the person they were directed at.
When we’re in a relationship of any kind, whether it be personal or business after a while we start having the unrealistic expectation that the other person has somehow become a mind-reader. We can’t understand why they don’t see their actions or hear their words as hurtful or upsetting. It’s most likely true that they wonder the same thing about us.
Being honest about our feelings isn’t always easy and we think it comes with risk. The risk of hurting someone’s feelings or opening the “can of worms” that may lead to an outcome we’re not sure we want or are ready for. So instead we often-times keep those feelings inside, waiting for the “right time” to bring the subject up.
Not being honest comes with a higher risk than being honest. Swallowing our feelings of frustration or anger only makes the size of the emotion bigger, hotter, and more volatile. It stays inside of us until it spews out in angry words and accusations or it stays inside and poisons us.
In recent years I’ve learned that there is a “right time” to be honest. It’s when the problem is the size of a pebble in your shoe and you can easily address the issue and toss the pebble to the side of the road, not when it’s become a boulder that’s too heavy to move.
Timing is always important and so are the words we choose, but unless we share our feelings we can’t expect others to know what they are and we certainly can’t expect them to change. Reality is that they may not change even after we’ve shared openly and honestly with them, but at least our feelings are out in the open and not eating away inside of us.
Honesty, sharing our thoughts with love, gives us choices and opens up doors. Not all of the outcomes are pleasant, but certainly better than the alternative, which going through life carrying the burden of buried feelings.
What do Mahatma Gandhi and Ray Kinsella, the character played by Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams, have in common? One man is real, of great historical significance, and influenced people around the world. The other is a fictional character who hears “a voice,” builds a baseball field in the middle of his farm in a film which is described as fantasy-drama.
Gandhi stood firm in his conviction that the British would leave India, Ray Kinsella followed his instincts and did something that seemed crazy. We all know people who have achieved great things that have nothing to do with being famous or wealthy.
From everyday heroes to world leaders the thing they have in common is that they were not only brave enough to have a dream, they believed in it, they followed it, they inspired people, and they made it happen. I’m sure that even Gandhi had a restless night or two and felt doubt creep in between his head and the pillow, but when morning arrived he was true to his beliefs and didn’t waiver in his pursuits.
On a much smaller and maybe more practical scale, what they do is what I like to think of as creating their own reality, which for me means choosing to look at things in a positive way and not from a negative perspective. If the thoughts that are constantly going through our minds are things such as:
Why is life so hard?
Why do “these things” always happen to me?
I’ll never get ahead”
If only “this” hadn’t happened…
You get the gist. We all know people who are all doom and gloom and on the one hand it maybe seems understandable because they have a lot of bad or difficult things going on in their life. But on the other hand maybe they are creating their own reality.
I actually started experiencing the power of words and how they affect our reality many years ago. I was working at a job in which I was very unhappy, felt overlooked and under-appreciated. I was “hoping for the best” and sitting back and doing nothing to proactively better my situation.
My passwords rotated every 90 days between things like “life sucks,” “my boss is an ass,” and worse. One day I noticed that every time I signed onto my computer using one of these passwords I immediately went into a negative state, even if something positive had just happened.
I’m not sure what prompted it, but I decided to try something new and I changed my password to “new opportunity.” Believe it or not things started to change. I started getting emails from recruiters, which led to interviews. Internally things seemed different as well. People were listening to me and doors were opening.
From that point on I’ve used what I call “the power of the password” to help me create my own reality. It’s gotten more difficult in the age of special characters, capital letters and numbers but I still find a way to keep my passwords focused on the direction I want my life to go and not on what’s wrong with it.
My point isn’t so much about the power of using a positive password as it is about how we create our own reality through our thoughts and the messages we send ourselves throughout the day.
I wonder what people like Mahatma Gandhi did to help them stay positive and focused on their dreams and not on the obstacles in their path. In the end it doesn’t matter what we use to do so, as long as it works for us.
Negative thoughts create a negative reality and positive thoughts create hope and opportunity.
Author’s note: I stole the introductory paragraphs for this post from one I wrote a couple of years ago, they just seemed to fit. 🙂 If you want to read the rest of the post, you’ll find it here.
I’m just about at the half-way point in my daily affirmation project. An affirmation is a positive statement that reinforces the good things in life and about ourselves as individuals. They can be used to help re-frame they way we view the person that looks back at us in the mirror.
I’ve created and shared 50 affirmations; my original intent was to share an inspirational quote by Louise Hay on a daily basis, using the affirmations I circled in the back of her book You Can Heal Your Life. As it turns out, the journal has taken on a life of it’s own and has become a book of personal art and positive statements by your’s truly, inspired by Louise Hay and Julia Cameron.
Today’s affirmation is “I am perfect as I am.”
There’s clearly a trend here in my daily affirmation project and it’s centered around letting go, forgiveness, self approval, and living life fully.
What’s really cool about this body of work is that the source of inspiration for both the art and the words found me at exactly the right time in my life. If we pay close attention this happens far more often than many people realize.
It just dawned on me that the very first entry sums up what this affirmation project is all about, it’s about releasing patterns and behaviors that cause us to feel bad about ourselves and have a negative outlook on life.
One of the major themes is one of self acceptance and seeing yourself through loving eyes.
I don’t know why we’re so hard on ourselves. I think we all have different reasons. In my case, it started when I was a teenager. My first boyfriend liked to tell me things like “you’re lucky that I’m going out with you,” which at the ripe old age of 15, I interpreted as “you are unattractive and undesirable.”
The experience, combined with others resulted in nearly a life-time of self-doubt and low self-esteem. Thankfully, I have had many positive experiences and people come into my world in the past few years who have helped me see myself through their eyes and not the eyes of my doubting and unforgiving self.
The phrase “I am beautiful” does not refer only to physical beauty it also refers to internal beauty. When we look at ourselves in the mirror we do see our physical presence but I think we also see our internal imperfections as well.
Seeing yourself as a beautiful person is part of the process of accepting and approving of yourself. It isn’t vain to recognize our own beauty and magnificence. In fact I think when we do embrace it rather than reject it we can ultimately be more positive and giving to others.
Affirmations can also be a great catalyst for change and personal growth. By creating a positive thought process, we’re more inclined to do the things that contribute to a feeling of well-being. We being to realize that we have the ability to create our own lives.
Creating our own lives doesn’t mean we can control what happens, it’s more about taking responsibility for our actions and reactions. It’s also about letting go of blame, excuses, and being brave enough to live our lives the way we want to and not the way others might expect us to.
In order to create our own lives we need to remove the limitations we place on ourselves and be willing to try new things.
Inspired by: “I go beyond other people’s fears and limitations. I create my life.” Louise Hay
I actually kind of cringe when I read things like “there are no limitations,” the reality is that there are limitations. Age, education, physical ability, intelligence, talent, and economic means do play a role.
It’s unlikely at the age of 52 that I’m going to become the world’s wealthiest woman, a famous artist, or a world-class athlete. But because I’m 52 doesn’t mean that I should limit my options or my exploration of life.
I think that sayings like “there are no limitations,” really mean that we should allow ourselves to explore the unknown and to try things that we might not think we can do and often-times we will be pleasantly surprised.
Many times we don’t try something new because were afraid of failure and we’ve defined our own personal limits based on a false definition of success. It may also be because we’ve allowed ourselves to be limited because of past events. My third grade art teacher told me I couldn’t draw, it took me until the age of 50 consider the possibility that she was wrong.
We, as human beings, are capable of far more than we realize. Many times are limitations are self-imposed.
Don’t define the outcome; enjoy the process of trying something new.
This project is also largely about reinforcing thoughts about having faith, choosing harmony, and being present in the moment. These three ingredients coupled with self-acceptance and forgiveness are the keys to living a full and joyful life.
I can honestly say that this project is having a positive affect in my life. These are things I’ve been working on for a while: self acceptance and self forgiveness, letting go of past mistakes and being kinder to myself in all ways.
One of the most significant shifts inside me is that I’m not obsessively worrying about everything in life. I’m aware of my legitimate fears and concerns, but I’m not constantly focused on it. I feel a greater sense of calm and a stronger feeling of faith that things will all work out just fine with hard work and a focus on doing the right things for the right reasons.
I’m learning to release fear.
It’s not possible to completely remove the worried feelings we have as human beings, but perhaps it’s possible to embrace our worried energy and turn it into creative fuel.
Julia Cameron and others believe that “restlessness is a good omen.” It means that destiny is getting ready to knock and prayers will soon be answered, although not always in the way they think things are going to unfold.
Maybe things do happen for a reason, and maybe that reason is because we finally acknowledge our fears as well as our dreams and in doing so we quit clinging to Plan A and we become open to Plan B or C or even Z.
I know that when I look back at major breakthroughs in my life, they are almost always preceded by a time of doubt, discontent, and fear.
Although we all encounter negative emotions like fear and uncertainty along our own journeys, we can combat them, wait them out, and use them to our creative advantage, and most importantly remember that self-acceptance and self-respect will help lead us to our destination and to embrace life.
Have you ever heard of Sometime Isle? Neither had I until I attended a book signing and luncheon at a small cafe’ in Dorset, Minnesota. The author’s style wasn’t exactly my cup of tea, but her ardent fans clearly loved her story-telling and the God-fearing characters who lived on the plains.
I didn’t connect with the personalities she described from her stories and I was relieved when she moved from her books to her personal experiences because that meant the lecture was drawing to a close.
Suddenly I found myself listening and not daydreaming. She spoke of career, marriage, and motherhood; she revealed the dreams that had been tucked away with prayers that ended in “Sometime I’ll…”
She provided inspiration with her story of taking a risk, attending a writers conference on a whim, and becoming a published author after she turned fifty. I’ve often thought about that day and marveled at the fact that someone so different from me had such a big impact. She planted a seed that day and even I was unaware of it.
Creating your own life is about more than claiming your creativity and following your dreams. It’s also about growing up and taking responsibility for our lives and letting go of blame, excuses, and being brave enough to live our lives the way we want to and not the way others might expect us to.
I was raised during a time and age in which pursuing a practical curriculum followed by an equally practical and hopefully financially rewarding career may not have been expected, but it was encouraged. I attended college during one of the first times in history that a career for a woman was not perceived to be limited to a teacher, nurse, or wife.
Like most seventeen year olds I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and in 1979 anything in the Business College was the degree of choice for those of us without an obvious gift or burning passion.
I let societal expectations guide my choices instead of following my instincts and being true to myself. I don’t regret my choices. I am the mother of three of the most amazing young people I know and I can’t imagine my life without them.
Now the time has come to move off of Sometime Isle and create my own life the way I want it to be.
Listening with an open mind isn’t always easy. As human beings we come into most situations with our own predefined thoughts based on our individual experiences and beliefs. Most of the time we believe that what we think is right and often-times we go into conversations with the intention of changing someone’s mind and not our own.
Listening with an open mind means more than being open to someone else’s opinion or point of view, it means that you are receptive to being influenced by what you hear. It means listening to each and every word without jumping to conclusions and striving to understand what the other person is saying without judging whether or not they are right or wrong.
Hearing with love is partly about listening with empathy but it’s more than that. Empathy helps us understand better where someone else is coming from emotionally and conceptually but it’s not the same as hearing with love.
Hearing with love takes it a step further, hearing with love not only means understanding it also means compassion, kindness, and goodwill. When we listen with love we listen with both an open mind and an open heart.
Our opinions may or may not change as a result of the conversation but if the end result is a greater understanding of the other person and a mutual feeling of acceptance and goodwill, it was a success.
Strive not only to understand another person’s experiences and thoughts, love and embrace them for who they are because of them.