Taking on 2013 and hoping to revitalize my life

Posts tagged ‘self-reflection’

The Wisdom I’m Bringing Into 2014

2013What a year 2013 has been for me. 

I have always wanted to blog, and guess what? I did it. I blogged for a whole year, 198 blog posts in 2013. Wow!!

And during this blogging adventure I have learned some new things, changed the way I look at some things and really made progress towards living a happier life by myself. Recently, I participated in a Winter Solstice Ritual and because of that I’ve taken a quick review of 2013 (and by quick review, I mean I took 3 days to read every single one of my blog posts). From this review I have taken stock of some of the wisdom I’ve gleaned and will carry forward into 2014 with me.

The whole year was not one big ray of sunshine but I’m starting 2014 with some positive energy and personal strengths that will serve me well in the new year. So here is the Wisdom I’m Bringing into 2014 (and there is a lot of it, 52 weeks worth):

  1. You CAN choose your thoughts – once upon a time I didn’t think this was true and just let my thoughts get carried away on tangents that weren’t all that healthy. Now I know that by simply acknowledging the thoughts and redirecting them, you can change your thinking. It’s a powerful tool that I am happy to have discovered.
  2. Micro-movements or baby steps are the key to success – I have often felt overwhelmed by big tasks and then avoided them or told myself that I couldn’t do them. But this blog is proof that micro-movements can turn into big things. 198 blog posts weren’t written in one day and if I had thought I needed to write 198 blog posts on Jan 1, 2013 I may have given up before I started, but one post at a time brought me to post 199 which I’m writing today :). And SARK has helped me realize that you can break your steps down into tiny, little movements if they aren’t small enough the first time.
  3. Perspective can help you stay positive – not every day is a  bowl full of cherries, but my life is pretty good in the big scheme of things. I have a nice place to live, a regular income, 2 great kids and I’m pretty healthy. Lots of folks don’t have any of those things.
  4. Don’t be afraid to reach out to friends when you need someone to talk to – this one is pretty self-explanatory.
  5. Personal change takes time and effort – change is often not a quick option, it takes practice and effort and commitment.
  6. Take the time to review what you have accomplished – often we are quick to say that we haven’t done anything in our lives but if you really think about it you will find that that isn’t true at all. Sometimes we need reminders.
  7. Be generous – sometimes we get so caught up in our own lives that we forget to help others. It doesn’t take much effort to be nice or lend a helping hand or to donate to a worthy charity. Be generous with your words, thoughts and actions, it helps make the world a better place.
  8. It’s OK to look after yourself – for many years I put my kids first and ignored doing things for myself. This really isn’t good for you. It’s important to pursue your own happiness and joy. No one can live your life for you.
  9. Live in the Now – be present for your experiences. Spend less time regretting your past and worrying about your future. Focus on the beauty that is your life right now.
  10. Always take time for fun – plan fun activities. Plan silly and crazy activities. Plan outrageous activities. Plan adventures. Plan outings. Plan trips. Plan picnics, photo shoots, trips to the beach, walks in the woods, scavenger hunts. Then do them all!!
  11. Confidence, intelligence and a positive attitude is sexy – ‘nuf said.
  12. Unplug – take time to get outside and enjoy nature, your electronic devices will still be there when you get back.
  13. Finding your Passion may be surprising when you really get down to it – I expected my passion to be surrounded by excitement and fervour, it turned out that it was more of a thought that kept trying to get noticed but got pushed back down by “I can’t” and “later”.
  14. Make an effort to keep in touch with friends – they became your friend for a reason in the first place.
  15. Not all friendships are meant to last forever – some people are just passing through your life and teaching you lessons along the way.
  16. Make memories – spend time with friends and families, go on adventures together. The memories are worth more than material items.
  17. I’m ready for a real relationship – I haven’t found that person yet, but I’m no longer scared of making plans with someone or discussing the future. It seems more plausible now than a year ago.
  18. Some things may seem scary and hard but we can do them if we keep trying – perseverance, practice and dedication to a goal is important and when you are on the verge of giving up, try a new approach.
  19. People Will Treat You the Way that You Allow Yourself to be Treatedthis one took a couple of lessons and I’m not 100% sure I have learned it yet. Hopefully it will sink in soon.
  20. Never use the words “We need to talk” – it only makes people jump to bad conclusions.
  21. I like walking – walking makes me thankful for my strong legs. I’m looking forward to more walks in the Spring.
  22. Eating healthier and moving more will make you healthier.
  23. I am enough – I’m smart, I have skills and talents, I’m lovable and I am enough.
  24. Even negative things can have positive aspectslike being unemployed.
  25. Over-thinking causes more issues than it solves – I’m an over-thinker, is there a support group for that? Living more in the present helps with this but it is a learning process.
  26. Secrets can hold us back – let them go, it will lessen their grip on you.
  27. Negative feelings don’t respond to reason – let them pour forth and release them to the universe, you don’t need to be their caretaker.
  28. Sometimes what you ask for shows up in a different form than expected – embrace it and be thankful.
  29. Your inner-wise self has answers – ask her questions, ask her for help and have her write you love notes.
  30. Expressing your words is a form of success – speak up, be heard, write, and be happy that you have written.
  31. I’m creative and imaginative – it often sneaks up on me and I don’t even notice.
  32. I should proof-read my blog posts more – ther seem to be severl typos.
  33. Always move forward – onto new and better chapters.

That is an impressive amount of wisdom for one year! I’ll have to come back and visit this post often to remember what I’ve learned.

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Putting on Some Big Girl Panties

My youngest daughter was talking to her Dad on the phone the other day and his girlfriend was with him. My daughter heard her speaking and wanted to talk to her too. After a brief chat between the two of them my daughter told her “I love you.”

I have to admit that my first reaction in overhearing this was to flinch a bit. I don’t want to say that the statement hurt, it really didn’t, I guess it just caught me off guard.

I’m not concerned that she will replace me or that my girls will love her more than me. I’m their Mom. I have a great relationship with them and they love me a lot, just like I love them a lot. I don’t have any insecurities there.

I think the issue is that my kids are having a relationship with a woman who I have never met. She has been a part of their lives for over a year now. My ex has been with her for somewhere around 2.5 years (although I don’t know the exact dates) so I don’t think she is going anywhere soon, and I have never met her.

I have never asked to meet her and he has never brought it up but I think it’s time.

I’ve looked her up on Facebook before and based on a purely physical evaluation I thought she was prettier and skinnier than me and that made me feel less than. Less than what, I’m not sure, but I guess it had to do with feeling inadequate, feeling feelings about how my ex likes her more than me. I guess that made me not want to meet her. I’ve heard about her. My kids like her and say nice things about her. She sounds like a good person.

I think it is time for me to put on my big girl panties and to meet this woman who spends so much time with my kids. I think it’s time to take another step forward and move onto new chapters of my life.

My First Winter Solstice Ritual

I participated in an online Winter Solstice Ritual tonight. It was conducted by Christine Arylo, Shiloh Sophia and Amy Ahlers.

The premise of the whole thing is to slow down or pause and take the time to review the past year. To see the surprises, successes, failures and wisdom learned. Once you can take stock of everything that happened, it is easier to begin 2014 with a sense of fullness as opposed to a sense of emptiness.

Christine drew a Medicine Wheel or Wheel of Reflection for us. It pretty much looks like a compass with the addition of the thing that you want to reflect on written in the middle.

wheel of reflection

During the process of reflection, you are supposed to start in the East with your surprises and then go clockwise around the wheel, ending up at North with the wisdom that you gained during the year. (The wheel doesn’t have to be used for just this ritual, it can be about anything).

I was lucky, I had this blog to help remind me of my journey during 2013. They did give you a way to try to reflect on what happened throughout the year, but I cheated a bit and looked at my Monthly Reviews. If you want to perform the ritual, you may need to spend some time thinking a bit harder than I did.

Once you have completed your list of items, you are supposed to share them with others. Sharing is supposed to help you remember the learnings from this ritual. Since I have this blog, I guess I’ll share here.

Surprises: 

  • the discovery of the importance of being ‘in the present’ and how it relates to happiness
  • a desire to write
  • a rekindled love of badminton
  • joining a writing course
  • my new job which involves being a minority and working with another culture

Successes: 

  • writing a short story and submitting it to a contest
  • welcoming abundance into my life
  • writing this blog
  • getting a new job
  • teaching my youngest how to ride a bike
  • losing some weight
  • keeping connected with friends

Disappointments:

  • dating the wrong men for me
  • not writing as much as I had hoped
  • multiple failed job interviews
  • continued bad eating habits

(You need to feel your disappointments in order to heal them! )

I’m going to leave WISDOM for now. I think it deserves its own blog post, plus I think I need to think about it a bit more before I can articulate the learnings of the past year. 

After we completed the Wheel of Reflection, they shared that January is known as the “Dreaming Time”. It’s the time to visualize and to look towards your future with the possibilities of what can happen as opposed to looking forward from a place of negativity. And once you’ve given yourself permission to look at your future as a canvas that you can paint, then you start your new year in February.

Finally, they discussed that within the next few weeks you should declare 2013 as being complete and to determine what support you need for 2014.

I really enjoyed this ritual. It just seemed very fitting for 2013 for me. I have grown and learned a lot this past year. And as you can see, my successes outnumbered my disappointments so I’m on the right track. I’d like to pull together some pearls of wisdom before I declare 2013 as complete and then I look forward to considering what I need to make 2014 as successful as 2013.

Feel free to do your own Winter Solstice Ritual, there’s still time. Winter Solstice is actually tomorrow :). And don’t forget to share your reflections! I’d love to read them.

 

 

“We Need to Talk” or 3 Lessons Learned

We Need to Talk My ex left a message on my phone today, “We need to talk.”. How is it that those 4 simple words can strike fear into the heart of anyone who hears them?

When I listened to that message my mind immediately went to a worst-case scenario which was that he wanted to tell me that he was getting engaged or to finalize our divorce.

Upon reflection, I want to know why that is my worst-case scenario, I mean I’m supposed to be over him, right? It’s been 12 years since we started having trouble and 3 1/2 years since we separated the 2nd time… how is this my worst fear realized? Sigh… I know that a part of me will always love him but I am so ready to move on. I’m tired of being alone and would like to have a new partner in life. A better partner, one that will stick with me to the end.

Anyway, he was not calling to tell me that. He was calling to tell me that he is having issues that are health-related in nature, nothing life threatening or that really concerns me but he thought that I should know. I offered an ear in case he wanted to talk but that’s it. Business as usual.

So based on today’s events, I have 3 lessons learned:

  1. People should not use the words “we need to talk” ever. It just makes the recipient of those words think bad things.
  2. My ex getting engaged or us finalizing our divorce is not actually a worst-case scenario for me.
  3. Sometimes my subconscious state is a little slow to catch up to my conscious state.

You Have the Choice

In the process of living life, we often get caught up in a daily routine, so much so that our actions, thoughts and reactions become automatic. At a certain point, several of us begin to want something more than to blindly go through the daily sleep, eat, work, repeat existance. We want to feel something more than a void where our passion used to be. Or we begin to wonder what the real purpose of life is or to try to figure out what we are doing on this planet. This desire to reinvigorate our lives or become more self-aware often means change… and change is hard.

Change requires work. Becoming more vital requires us to become aware and pay attention to our surroundings. We need to see how we process the world currently and also realize that we are not the centre of the universe.

There is nature all around us waiting to be felt, breathed and experienced. There are people that we interact with that have feelings, thoughts and concerns. The person that is annoying us may have problems at home or the distracted guy blocking traffic may have just lost his job.

Revitalizing ourselves needs to start with becoming aware of our own thoughts and feelings and how we process input and how we make choices. For the longest time, I never tried to change my thoughts, if I was in a bad mood, I was in a bad mood. If I was feeling anxious, then I was feeling anxious. I have come to realize that through mindfulness I CAN redirect my thoughts. I can choose to not think about something that is making me tense or worrying about something that I have no control over.

But learning how to unlearn your bad habits is a journey. It is not something that you can change overnight, it takes repetition to create new habits and it takes reminders to keep focusing on being aware until it becomes part of your daily practice. I constantly have to remind myself to live in the present, to not worry about the past or future and the more I do it the better chance I have of choosing my own routine.

This video explains it all more eloquently and more interestingly (nice word, eh?) than I can so watch it, don’t just do what you have always done to cope with life, be more aware and if you are a goldfish in a bowl keep reminding yourself that “This is water, this is water, this is water.”

Nailing Down Some Good Habits

For the last week I have been trying harder to live life by doing things instead of spending all of my time in front of my laptop or constantly consuming self-improvement content. It’s been a great week overall. Lots of walking, exploring, reading and my car even got cleaned on the inside and out. The funny thing is that when I wasn’t totally focused on the whole self-improvement thing I kind of forgot some of the things I had put into place. In fact, I forgot about my little abundance mantra within days of creating it.

scales_of_justiceSo I guess the moral of the story is that life is all about balance. Of course it is, I just seem out of practice when it comes to balancing these days. I seem to be an all or nothing type of personality. Feast or famine. And I guess that is one of the things I am trying to adjust about myself as I revitalize me. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing in terms of relationships, healthy living and finding happiness. None of us are perfect and we need to accept that and figure out what works for us and still leaves us feeling fulfilled on some level.

I’m a little worried that once I actually find a job again I will continue to struggle with balance issues. I really need to discover what works for me soon so that I can implement it and get some positive habits formed that will help me with my life goals as I continue on my journey.

Seeking Balance with my Electronic Life

scales_of_justiceI’ve been taking random short breaks from Facebook during the last couple of weeks and I am surprised at how much more time I have now that I am accessing it less often. I knew that Facebook was turning into a time suck for me but I had no idea how much so. When that little bell bings to let me know there is a message waiting for me I turn into one of Pavlov’s dogs (luckily with a little less drool). That bell has conditioned me to respond… and it’s not just the Facebook bell, it’s also my email notifications, text messages and even the occasional phone call.

The electronics in our lives are conditioning specific responses from all of us with their incessant binging, beeping and ringing. It’s funny how easily and quickly you can get addicted to a little device that allows you to stalk your friends at any time, thus giving you the illusion of interacting with others but rarely giving you the actual connection you crave.

My oldest got an ipod touch two months ago and went from being online on an irregular basis to having to check the device as soon as possible once home from school. The rules about the laptop were easier to enforce than the rules about the portable device that has practically become an extension of the body. But who am I to talk? My device is in my bedroom at night and is the first thing I look at in the morning. But now that I am not the only one with a portable device in the house I am becoming more aware of my own usage habits.

I don’t feel like my devices own me yet but it is a future possibility if I am not vigilant. I’m 44 and I have concerns, what about the youth of today where growing up with personal electronics is just part of the norm? It will become ingrained in their lifestyles and no one will think anything of it.

But over-usage is usually the result of an addiction. In fact in 2010, 61% of people felt they were addicted to the internet. I doubt that number has gone down any since then or if it has then I’m sure that texting has more than made up for any decline.

Perhaps we already need self-help groups on how to live without your device 24/7. Or maybe there will be a future need for teaching moderation and balance when it comes to electronics. If nothing else, maybe we can start by turning off the notifiers that summon our immediate attention every once in awhile. I think that is my next step.

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