Archive for the ‘inspiration & selfhood’ Category

5 Things Learned By Committing to Something New

Monday, October 27th, 2014

commit to new things graphic

I have a friend who is really good at something. She’s so good that she could, if she wanted, quit her job to do it. Easily. She’s been talking about “just doing it” for a year but still hasn’t just “done it” because she is afraid she’s not ready.

I can relate to her story. For much of my life, I’ve been afraid of branching out and committing to new things, too. Out of this fear, I have often, in my life:

1) Turned down or delayed starting really good opportunities that I didn’t think I was “ready” for

2) Prematurely quit at things that I thought I would one day fail at

3) Engaged in self-sabotaging behavior to control my failure at new things

Writing these truths about myself feels strange and kind of sad. But they are all true for me. And, I realize just in talking to friends and family (who are usually female), so many others.

It was these ugly truths and many others that inspired my commitment this year to courageousness. My vision for a courageous life included this, or a life in which I would be more open to allowing myself to take on new opportunities that I could be good at but that, at the same time, terrified me. I wanted not only to grow myself by branching out and trying new things, I wanted to be bold enough to see them, my new endeavors, through until the end, i.e., not quitting when things get tough.

So a month after declaring allegiance to “courage” for 2014, I got my chance to be courageous with a new opportunity via an email from a client with a long-term writing opportunity.

Without going into too many details, I’ll say that I very reluctantly said “yes” to the offer only after narrowing down all my reasons for why I thought I couldn’t do it (“I don’t have time,” “My kids need me more,” “I am not that experienced”). I told myself then that if anything changed in the future, or if any of my “reasons” really did come to fruition, then I’d stop. But until then I was going to, no, I had to, continue on with it.

I’m writing this almost a year later because I really did “continue on with it.” I stuck with that writing opportunity and learned some valuable things about myself and committing to new things in the process.

1. Most of us are so afraid to fail. I think one of the things that prevented me (and prevents so many others) from taking chances on new opportunities or potentially life changing events is that we’re afraid of failing.  Failure, we think, or perhaps we’ve been told, is a sign of the weak. But, really? Failure is just a part of life. It’s the getting up part that gives context to our great stories. Rather than being afraid to fail, I’ve learned to be afraid not to try.

2. We are often are own biggest critics. I realize now that I’ve often said “no” to new opportunities in my life because I was worried what others would think about me.  Like most, I didn’t want to look unprepared, stupid, or out of my league and more than that, I didn’t want to be called out for any of those things by someone else. But there’s an unfortunate and odd truth about this way of thinking.

Usually all the things we imagine “they’ll” say (with “they” being our bosses, strangers, peers, colleagues, friends, etc) are things that we have already told ourselves. These are things that we believe ourselves. We believe these things to be true, and we live in fear of someone else seeing and believing these things to be true, too.

Instead of being your biggest critic, I’ve learned (and am learning) it pays to be your biggest cheerleader.

3. It’s okay to be vulnerable. So a big part of the failing thing is this desire not to be vulnerable. We, or I, was a perfectionist who was afraid to try new things because I wasn’t comfortable living with vulnerable feelings. I wasn’t comfortable with not knowing everything, with possibly not always being prepared.

But this isn’t life. I’ve learned this year that it’s okay not to have all the answers when you start. It’s okay to admit when you’ve made a mistake or have questions. It’s okay to be imperfect and to work your way through uncertainties in front of others. It’s okay to be human.

4. Don’t count yourself out before you even start. All of my life, I’ve approached each opportunity with a list of conditions that had to be met for me to stay motivated to continue. If things weren’t going according to plan, I’d quit. I’d count myself out likely after a few weeks or months because all along I had in my head that “this opportunity” wasn’t meant for me anyway.

Now instead of focusing my energies on why an opportunity won’t work, I focus on why it will. Not every opportunity that comes your way that seems like a great thing will pan out as a great thing. But….you have to give yourself enough time in actually doing the opportunity to figure that out. You have to allow yourself to commit mentally to doing your best and seeing where your best takes you. If things end up not working out, that’s okay. But only make that determination after you’ve given each new opportunity your very best shot.

5. Patience and longevity bring reward. Because I’ve always been a quitter, I’ve never really had the joy of experiencing the rewards that come when you are patient and stick to things. I’ve always over-anticipated and counted myself out and made excuses. But this year when I decided not to do this anymore, I learned the true value of patience and longevity in life pursuits. And this lesson is one that I carry with me in motherhood, marriage, friendships, and so much more.

The client that I’m working for sent me an email last night saying how happy she is in working with me. I was thrilled to hear this not only because I like hearing nice things being said about my work. I was happy because it was not from being perfect that I earned this feedback. It was from what I’ve done all this year. It was from working hard, counting myself in, making mistakes and fixing them, believing in myself and what I was doing more than not believing.

leaf pic

Over to you. Do share in the comments below something you’ve learned by committing to something new.

Love, Jessica. ♥

PS If you enjoy this post, and you’re so inclined, please share with your friends or online.

 

Plugged In and Doing

Monday, October 6th, 2014

unplug and breathe graphic

I think I’ve always thought of myself as a reluctant participant in the “technologically connected” bandwagon of my generation . I’ve long been resistant to using technology to stay connected because  I’ve always felt more comfortable with the old ways of doing things. Preferring instead in-person conversations, dinner, and coffee dates to see what friends are up to, I hardly had a need or desire to use social media for that purpose.

But as the years have gone by, I’ve changed. The older I get, the more years I spend in blogging, the more my relationship with social media, technology, and”staying connected” has changed. I’ve slowly, over the past five years, come to use technology and social media more.

I thought I’d never say it, but I am a phone person. Ten years ago, being a phone person meant you stayed on the phone talking all day. In 2014, it means I have a smartphone that I use (for mostly not making calls) and rely on far more than I should. Like most in my generation, I check for emails throughout my day, text more than call, download apps, check Facebook status updates, and carry my phone to bed with me.

My transition to using social media and technology more was slow, but I think it was accelerated in this past year with a new phone and other professional obligations necessitating that I be online, connected, plugged in more. I don’t know if I could have said it before this year, but I am now “modernly” connected.

This new status of mine has been been good, for the most part. If you ever need me, my new status as a connected being, has made it all the more possible for you to get me, to know about me without much effort on my part. I am more communicative with the people in my life.  I know more now about friends, about things in my world, faster and more easily than I ever could.

I am connected and I like it…

Kind of.

With every new good there must be some not so good, right?

Well my not so good is that in becoming more immersed in connectivity, I started losing the dying art of being still, of doing nothing, of concerning myself with nothing but what I am doing in this present moment. Since this present moment is all I’ve got, right? I know this, but in my moments of super connectivity, I lose sight, perspective, MYSELF. Easily.

There’s been studies that argue that the more connected we come, the more opportunities we have to connect, the more unhappier, more isolated we feel. I get this. Not all the time, but I do get this.

I think the imperative for being connected is remaining, or feeling like you’re remaining a part of a conversation that is bigger than you. I write this as a person who is not nearly as technologically connected/ involved as most. But still. I get this.

In past months, I’ve been getting better with this, however.

I am checking my email less. Leaving my phone to charge when I go to sleep. Doing “Facebook” and “Twitter” and “Instagram” less.

I am getting better.

But it’s hard. Like any habit, deciding to unplug more when you have gone through any extended amount of time being plugged in can be tough. But I like to think of these kinds of things, of any habit, as a pattern. You don’t unlearn a pattern overnight, but you do, with time. With time, you change by building your “muscle” to be different, to do things differently, to reorient yourself differently by assessing your unique priorities and values and acting accordingly.

So that’s where I am now. Learning to do things differently by changing my fairly new, learned pattern of connectivity use.

I still love my phone and social media and technology for allowing me to more easily stay connected. But I am re-learning, by unplugging more, the intrinsic value of old ways of doing things, of coffee dates, missed emails, and breathing.

How do you balance your need to technologically stay connected with your needs of staying grounded in your real life?

 

 

 

 

 

25 Things To Remember If You’re Having a Bad Day

Friday, September 19th, 2014

Not every day is my best day in life. Some days, I go to sleep in a bad mood, often, inspired by something in my life, and wake up that way in the morning or worse.

I used to feel bad about having bad days. I used to beat myself up for my bad days because I believed that they were my fault, a sign of my inability to handle stresses in my life.

Back then, or when I felt bad about my bad days, rather than attempting to process why I was having a bad day, I immediately would judge myself as being weak. “Normal people don’t have bad days,” I would tell myself. “Happy people don’t have bad days.”

But these statements I’ve been telling myself for years are not true.

Bad days happen to everyone.

Now that I’m older and wiser, I am more able to embrace my bad days as a part of my normal life. I take them in stride, accepting them as temporary and good opportunities for me to grow, reflect, and decide to do things differently.

I think doing this is now easier for me because I have learned the power of positive self talk when times are tough. I don’t run away from my feelings on bad days. I’ve learned that trying to ignore my feelings or numb them only makes things worse. So now I give myself permission to feel them. I feel them and write about them in a journal and keep in mind these 25 important things:

a bad day doesn't mean

1. A bad day doesn’t mean you have a bad life.

2. You are worthy of self-love and compassion.

3. It’s okay to make mistakes, to be uncertain, to not know.

4. Your character is make rich and deep by your hardships.

5.You have a good life, full of blessings that are worthy of your celebration.

6. You are okay.

7. You will be okay.

8. And in the end, it will all be okay.

9. A rain cloud can’t overshadow your beauty.

today was a bad day

 

10. Today was a bad day. Tomorrow will be different.

11. It’s okay to smile in hard times.

12. You can be thankful for today even though it feels hard. Yesterday is gone and tomorrow is not promised.

13. Your happiness does not rest in your circumstances. It’s carried in your hands.

14. You can trust in life’s process.

15. Good things are always on the horizon for those with the vision to see them.

16. Your life is a divine miracle worthy of celebration.

not broken

17. You may be hurt. But you are not broken.

18. The story of your life continues to be written with each breath.

19. The world needs your light to shine.

20. You are bigger than your problems.

21. Nothing is as impossible as it seems.

22.You are here on earth for a reason.

23.You are someone’s sunshine.

24. You are strong.

25. You have much to be grateful for.

What are some things you tell yourself on bad days to keep things in perspective?

Never Let The Fear of Striking Out

Monday, September 8th, 2014

 

never let the fear of striking out

Often in the midst of teaching my children important life lessons, I teach myself, too.

This lesson from Babe Ruth is big in my parenting brain right now because so much of what my children are doing, from walking to reading to climbing slides involves believing in their own abilities enough to continue on even when they fail.

Failure, I’ve learned in “coaching” them through their own mini failures is not a reason to give up. It’s not indicative of your abilities or the possibilities for you should you try again.

I’ve been telling my children this since their births, but it wasn’t until this year that I started to take my own words seriously in my own life. It wasn’t until this year that I started to see just how often I, when faced with adversity, just give up usually with many excuses (made up) for why I gave up.

But then, in committing to courage this year, I decided to undo this habit of mine and be different. And it was in living this lesson that I so desperately want to teach my children, that I got it.

You should try again even when your pitch is rejected, even when you don’t get that requested pay raise, even when you lose, even when “outcomes” are uncertain because it’s worth. You’re worth it.

Not giving up even when you fail or strike out…that’s persistence. Persistence in the face of failure…that defines success.

Do you also find yourself teaching yourself new life skills when teaching your children?

Being Patient

Wednesday, November 6th, 2013

Usually, at any given time, there are a million and one things that I’d like to do in my life.

I would like, at this moment to…

…write a novel.

…start a business.

…be a good mother.

….take a nap.

…pitch an essay on my dad’s death.

…figure out how to integrate this blog with my other blog better.

…become a better cook.

….perhaps, enter a cooking contest.

…post here more often.

…get in shape.

…get a better wardrobe.

But there’s only so much one can do before they do insane, so there’s a necessity for me, for us all, to take things one at a time. Do what we can and be okay with everything that we can’t. We must be patient then as we focus on some things while deciding that others can be saved for later.

STOP.

How do you practice being a patient person when it comes to your dreams, ambitions, and daily desires? Are you like me: Trying and aspiring for 1,000,000 stars at once?