This is about having the courage in life to be authentic and create sustainability.
What does it mean to have courage? To be truly courageous? How can I step out of my comfort zone and make a difference in my life? Can I make a difference in the lives of others? I want to take the next step. And the next one after that. Are you ready to really break free and do something with your life? I am! How do we start?
Allow me to introduce you to some inspiring people who have shown how a little courage can transform not only their own life, but by sharing their stories and experiences touches the lives of countless others along the way. At some point while reading this – click on this link – and consider helping to ensure that these stories get told.
Here is What I Believe
In my heart of hearts I am fearless. I am an adventuress. I love to experience new things. In my mind I believe I can do it. I can do anything I set my sights on. I am bold. I am free. Reality sets in. I have to buy groceries. I should do some laundry. I am getting behind on my bills. I need to exercise. I digress. We tend to slip into old habits and just do what we can to finish the week. Who has time to make a difference? Madonna. She can do it. She has time. She has resources. Not me.
But, there are normal people, like me, who do amazing things and manage to still get their laundry done. There are courageous, adventurous people who make a difference in the lives of others and are facing the same daily challenges that I face, some much more challenging than mine. They inspire me. (Madonna inspires me too, she always has!)
“Help Humaira build her school! Education is not a luxury ! It’s a basic human right” -Madonna said at the Sound of Change concert in London on Saturday, June 1, 2013.
I may never have the intrepid boldness to take a stand, drop everything, and leave the country to help others – but I can support those who do.
My friend (and fellow blogger) nomadic minimalist, Raam Dev, suggests that we all come into this world a tourist. The challenge is to leave an explorer. When my son’s friend from school announced that he was going on a trip around the world with his family junior year, I was amazed and intrigued. I can’t even imagine how a person would start planning a trip like that. I could see myself and my family doing it, but I shake my head in disbelief because it would be so hard to execute such a plan. And the expense. The thought of it is overwhelming! I can only imagine the wealth of life experience my family would gain if we could ever embark on such a journey. Mark and Carrie Pullen had this pearl of wisdom for their children after broadening their horizons for nine months:
“You can live any life you choose.” ~ Carrie Pullen
Meet Jody Temple White. Meet her and her courageous family. If you have ever wondered what an ordinary person can do to make a change in the world, here is your answer. There is a documentary in the works about this bold family and their courageous travel adventure around the globe. You can help get it seen and help to inspire others. The Courage Vibe is a movement. It is inspiration. It is about transformation. It is about having the courage in life to be authentic and create sustainability; for ourselves, for others, for the World.
“When a seed of inspiration strikes, believe it is possible. It may take years to grow and become real, but some form of it is meant for you.” ~Jody Temple White
How can I find the meaning in my life?
Be a traveler.
What is the difference between being a tourist and being a traveler? Ask Jody, John, Riley and Allison White. They realized and lived the difference on their trip around the world when they were enriched as a family while helping others as they went. I often say I am an adventuress. I am an explorer. For now on, I consider myself a traveler. I am on a journey. It is the journey of my life. I am not just visiting. I am taking an active role. I am a traveler not a tourist.
For the White family being travelers means living simply in each place they visit, immersing themselves in the culture, and meeting and helping people and animals along the way. This experience has brought them joy and enriched their relationships with each other and is shaping their lives in a way unimaginable for most families.
“Be brave and face your fears. ~ Allison White
How can we find joy in helping others? Who can we help?
Keep it simple. Think about what is truly important to you. What gets your heart beating? Living simply means getting along with fewer complications. What are the top things you could not live without? Doesn’t everyone deserve to have these things? What can you do to help make that possible for others who are less fortunate than you?
Think about what you love doing and who you love being with. What better way to express your love than to share that joy with others? How lovely it would be to help someone else to experience that joy. What a beautiful gift it would be to care about someone else’s basic needs.
What are you good at?
Are you skilled at something that you might take for granted that someone else might benefit from learning? What do you want to learn about? Sharing knowledge and learning from our experiences is an invaluable step in life’s journey.
I hear my fears saying things to hold me back. . . “How can I possibly help when I need help? My family needs help. My life is hard. I have health challenges. I am in debt. I can barely make ends meet. My family is not that supportive. I care about the world and I want to make a difference, but I am struggling right now.”
Life is daunting at times. If you make a list of all the challenges you are facing it would be as long as the list of things you would do to change the world. Life is challenging. Getting along in this world is hard. It’s scary. That’s why it takes courage to tackle these issues. Facing our fears, dealing with the obstacles, and being willing to make a change despite the challenges is why it takes bravery and fortitude to embark on a journey like this. Giving of yourself in service to others is a sacrifice.
Why should you do it?
Going outside your comfort zone is not easy to do! It takes commitment. Breaking free and making a difference in your life involves spirit. If you strive for a better life, a better human condition, if you hope to make the world a better place for future generations, or if you just aren’t satisfied with the way things are then it is time for you to make a change. You might find that in helping others, you can help yourself. The very act of making a difference in the life of another person may be the very thing you need to make a positive impact in your own life.
Doing this takes faith. Faith in yourself and your abilities. It takes faith in humanity and in the human spirit. I am not just talking about big round the world trips and building schools and digging wells kind of commitments. Any change you are willing to take to make a positive difference in your life takes faith. Faith is the belief of the uncertain. It’s what you know in your heart.
Making a leap of faith to break your habits and face your fears takes hope. Hope for a better life. Hope for a positive outcome. Having a real desire in your heart to do something new and to make a difference is having hope. It’s the inspiration, the drive, the catalyst that will see you through. Never give up hope. Any little thing you do is important. Everything you do is valuable. Everything you do makes a difference.
Embracing the courage to make a change in your life takes love. If you start with love, the possibilities are endless. It starts with loving yourself. Believe in yourself. You can do this! Love grows and continues to grow forever. If you have love in your heart you can do anything.
Transforming your life takes perseverance. It may not happen overnight. If you were to take a trip around the world, putting your life on hold for a year, giving up all of life’s conveniences and comforts, it would take a tremendous amount of planning, time, money, and support. Any change takes time to happen.
“…courage as a muscle that you can begin exercising and slowly strengthen over time.” ~Marquita Herald
Thank you Dona Donato, and the owners and founders of Giggling Gorilla Productions, Inc. GGP is a company dedicated to creating media and live events that support enhanced living, wildlife conservation, sustainability and a holistic way of life. It is because of their belief in the courage of families who can make a difference that this blog post and others like it are being written. With their help, millions of people will be inspired and hopefully donate to the Living the Courage Vibe documentary project.
“I truly believe that we all have this kind of courage and bravery hiding somewhere inside us. And if you just take the time to look, you will find that you do too.” ~Chris Lemig
If you want to read more about my adventures, click here: The Next Step
Be an explorer of life. Be a traveler on your journey. Don’t just observe the world around you like a tourist. Get active and engage yourself. Immerse yourself along the way. Life is an adventure!
If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?
I’ve been meeting a lot of angels lately! Kindred spirits who come and sit next to me, we get to talking and before I know it we have an instant bond, we are in to the same thing, we have a similar purpose. And in a crowded room there is no reason we would ever talk or meet or even be introduced, but as fate would have it, I find myself seated next to an accomplished author, an aspiring poet, a fellow adventuress. It never happened to me as frequently or as obviously in the past as it has been happening lately.
Have you ever asked for a sign from God that you are doing the right thing? Please Lord, show me the way! This is how He answers me. It’s as though I am walking my path and the light posts along the way are turning on and everything is brightly lit ahead of me. I can walk on without worry because I know it is a safe route. I know I am being supported. I will not walk alone. Even though my friends and family may not understand what I am doing and even though I didn’t know anyone else personally who has done what I want to do, I do not walk alone.
It is not that I am lacking the confidence to do it. I am not afraid to turn the corner on a dimly lit path, but for some reason the lights are being turned on. It is as if I am being pulled in that direction, lead actually. It feels so right and I want it so much. I have never felt this level of confidence and self assuredness before. I can do this. I am doing it. My vision is coming true. I am making it happen.
This weekend I attended a Masquerade Ball. I planned to write about it. It was a 50th birthday celebration of a friend who I recently met through my son. It was quite magical. I enjoy a dress up party and having been an event designer, I looked forward to this for the mere joy of attending a well executed party and I hoped it would be. It far exceeded my expectations! It was completely enjoyable and lots of fun. There was amazing food and drink. The venue and service was exquisite. The guests were lively and genuinely nice. The entertainment was perfectly planned, in sync, modest, and served the purpose of highlighting the life of the guest of honor without going over the top. It truly was magical.
It was magical for me in a very special way. I had been working on writing my book this weekend. I am turning the outline of my Life Balance Workshop into an ebook. Even though I have multiple writing projects currently in the works, I thought I would give the Kindle ebook upload a try with this idea first. That way, I can have it in time for the Spa Retreat that I am speaking at in October. (That I am typing these words in reference to my own life is HUGE and very magical! I can hardly believe it!)
I am loving the experience of piecing my book together and cannot wait to get it finished so I can get it online, and I relished having a three day weekend to work on it. Yet, I found myself spending the day at an auto dealership and taking care of important family business and did not have a chance to get back to it before needing to get ready for the party. I was trying not to have any really groundbreaking thoughts about the book so I could enjoy the party, hopefully you get what I mean by that! I really wanted to enjoy myself and be mindful of the moment at hand. I took lots of pictures and I spoke to everyone at the table. I was trying hard not to talk about the writing. I was just being a great mom and wife and enjoying the fantastic cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, when I began talking to the lady seated next to me. Guess what! She is an author, who has around forty books published on Amazon for Kindle! She was nice enough to tell me to contact her if I had any questions. We really connected and it was over the top coincidence that we met because she is in my genre and we have similar interests! When she began to tell me the topics that she has written about, it was as though she was reading the list of topics that I write about! Spirituality, self development, life, love.
I used to be the person at a table of strangers who did not speak unless spoken to. How many amazing people did I miss connecting with all those years that I was so self absorbed, so worried about making the right impression, concerned about exposing myself as imperfect, less than, not accomplished, under-educated, and so on? What was my problem? I was insecure. Immature. Inadequate. No more. No way!
I love to hear people’s stories and I love that I can Google most people and find out more about them!! Every outing is an adventure when I know that if I open the door and ask to enter, people will invite me in. I have learned so many wonderful things when given that opportunity. I am so grateful for
that gift. I am so amazed that the angels will talk to me!
Here is a challenge for you, next time you are at a party and sit next to someone you have never met – really talk to them. They could be there to guide you! They could be the sign you asked for.
but by simply noticing how I am imprisoning myself
in the very moment in which I am imprisoning myself.
I have been freed!
May 28, 2012
This weekend, Memorial Day Weekend, I am thrilled to celebrate the 100th post on my blog: http://mizmeliz.com!
I have learned so much and have met so many amazing people in the past six months! It has been a remarkable journey, so far. I want to pause and reflect on all the people who have paved the way and who have stood by and cheered me on. I know there is much, much more in store for me. I want to take a moment and really thank all of you for making this a reality for me!
This is a chronicle of the experiences I have had since I started blogging. I know it’s small beans relatively speaking but they are my experiences and I treasure them and I believe in celebrating each moment. This is how I have made a mark on my tiny corner of the Universe. These first few months have made a positive change in my life. Indulge me if I get carried away here. . .
The First Steps
I wouldn’t have continued with blogging seriously if it weren’t for the nudging of a fellow school parent and church friend, Ricca Frances 1. Who invited me to the group So Cal Lady Bloggersin October 2011. Ricca, who writes at http://www.sprmama.blogspot.com/ further encouraged me when she told me that she reads my blog and she considers me to be a prolific writer! Thanks to Ricca’s faith in me, I have been accepted by some wonderful communities and influential groups in the blogging world.
I cannot thank these ladies enough! Megan McClain 2, Carolyn West 3, Sidney Patrick 4, Wendy Nielson 5, Meagan Elliott 6, Beverly Diehl 7, Trina Finton 8, and AJ Feuerman 9 (and everyone at So Cal Lady Bloggers) for their advice and encouragement. I have enjoyed the meet ups, the conversations, the laughs and the education that they have gifted me with during our brief interludes. Thanks to all of them for showing me the ropes and for including me in their endeavors. It can only get better! I am looking forward to my induction into the wonderful world of blogging conferences and spending more time with you all IRL!
Megan, who writes at http://sunshinewonderland.com was the first person who asked me “What is your niche?” I realize now what a difference knowing the answer to that question makes.
Thanks to Carolyn, who writes at http://thistalkaintcheap.com I had the opportunity to attend a book signing and appearance of Jenny Lawson 10/http://thebloggess.com/hosted by Soleil Moon Frye 11 of http://moonfrye.com/ that made me laugh like crazy, buy the book, and enjoy every minute of reading it which inspired me to further pursue my own desire to write a book!
Sidney, of http://www.milbetweenus.com/ , will always be remembered for organizing the first meet up I attended. I was concerned about the first impression I made after having suggested she add time for cocktails (because I knew I would be nervous and would need a drink) and after exchanging our business cards, realizing we both had the same exact design. After the initial shock of the “showing up in the same dress” feeling wore off, I felt validated that I had a really cool business card just like Sidney’s!
Beverly, from http://writinginflow.blogspot.com/ has inspired me to write what I love. I love her because she is in a niche that I wish I had the balls to be in and she inspires me to be myself when I write and to let the creativity flow freely.
I am grateful for Trina, from http://www.shesgeekyinc.com who thoughtfully dressed in yellow, showed me the way, and gave me direction – quite literally – when I got lost in Beverly Hills while looking for the The Blogess! She was so kind and watched out for me, a total stranger!
AJ, who writes http://confessionsofafatgirl.typepad.com/ is my soul mate in many ways and I am so proud of her because she articulates thoughts and feelings that I have had my entire life that I still have not dared to write about as candidly as she has on her blog.
I am grateful for the opportunity to express myself creatively through writing and photography and I am much happier since I decided to take this turn in the road. In the past six months I have jumped around and explored many of my lifelong interests. I have been especially creative and I have had so much fun with it! From making jewelry, crocheting scarfs, making key chains and bookmarks with feathers, scrapbooking, drawing, face painting, sewing costumes, and decorating Easter eggs, to making videos and editing pictures using digital photography and iPhone apps – my hobbies and interests are extensive. There have been quite a few bumps in the road, but as any adventurer/thrill-seeker knows, that is what makes things interesting.
Special thanks to all the creatives who have accepted me into their fold, added me to their closed and secret Facebook groups and made me feel like a crafter, an artist, a photographer, a writer, a super mom, a super wife, a super friend, even a muse – – all of the things that I know I am, but now have incorporated into my bio. Because of you, I am being recognized outwardly for the things that I have cherished inside of me for so long!
I am proud to have had the pleasure of exploring the crazy avenues of life online as a member of some special groups on Facebook. Because of this I have found myself having heart to heart chats with the most talented and creative people I have ever met and would never have met if it weren’t for the “inter webs!”
It all started with Sue Dribben-Dicksen 15 (Abingdon) who I didn’t know in high school to unknowingly mentor me as a writer on Create a Story and Book Talk. http://aspiefolks.blogspot.com/
Sue then referred me to Susanne Bal Balyemez 16 http://peppysposts.com (Philadelphia) who made me a member of her Girl’s Treehouse Advisory Board and allowed me to share my inner thoughts and advice with a group blessed with so many spiritual, caring and thoughtful women.
Susanne then refered me to The Atelierwhere I found myself amongst some of the most incredible artists like Amy Kalabsa-Garcia 17 (Chicago) http://amykgarciaart.wordpress.com/ and Harold Rantasa 18 (Austria) http://www.art-rantasa.com/ who have shared their original works of art with me and allowed me to use it freely on my newly designed blog site.
Susanne also referred me to The Cooks Cornerwhere I pretend that I can cook so I can hang out with my BFIRL (best friend in real life) Holly Markman 19, private chef and owner of Holly’s Homemade. Holly has used some of my pictures on her website and I help to promote her endeavors. (So, shameless plug here – if you need a chef, a consultation or would like to take classes stop by http://www.hollyshomemade.com/)
Returning to a Familiar Territory
Somewhere around this time I started taking pictures of flowers and food while on all of my adventures. Shortly after I got married (about a million years ago) I took a college extension course in photography. I loved taking pictures and considered photo journalism as an area of interest. My mother-in-law gave me a beautiful Nikon SLR and I learned about aperture, depth of field and the basics of amateur photography. I put the passion for photography on hold for a while and only recently re-discovered it when I began taking pictures with my cell phone.
I joined Instagram, Flickrand Tumblr. I post my pictures of flowers that I edit and I enjoy looking at them as much as I enjoy taking them.
I met a photographer/artist who had inspired me years ago at an event and thanks to my new-found confidence; I introduced myself as a blogger/photographer. Now I have a mentor and I am collaborating with the inspirational and talented Elizabeth Thoman, CHM 20. Liz has a made a beautiful contribution to healing the sick by using her photography of flowers to help people in hospitals pray and enjoy their beauty http://healingpetals.com/. Liz has been recognized for her lifetime of work and exemplary leadership in various roles, including writer/editor of Media & Values magazine, Executive Director of the Center for Media Literacy (CML), and co-founder of NAMLE, the National Association for Media Literacy Education. http://namle.net/2009/08/31/meritorious-service-award-honors-longtime-leader/
Recently, I found myself in a group called Picture This where I was suddenly immersed in the world of photography. Jamie Gall 21 and Kristin Boyle McGuire 22 http://crazykwistin.wordpress.com/ both members of So Cal Lady Bloggers, are in this group. Jamie included my photos on her cell phone photography blog post http://mngirlinla.com/2012/04/09/week-2-of-cell-phone-photography-entries/. I am challenged on a weekly basis to post pictures with specific themes or in certain categories. Many of the other participants are professional photographers. It’s such a blast!
My article about decorating Lithuanian Easter Eggs got alike from Charlie 23 and Tom 24, two brothers, at http://photobotos.com/. I am hoping to be acknowledged for some of my work on that majestic site which highlights photography from around the globe.
Navigating My Way on the Road to Success
I could not have gone this far on my journey without the support and encouragement of my family and my friends. In January 2012 I was given a special gift by fellow blogger and spiritualist, Joy Detor Holland 25, http://facetsofjoy.com/ who sent me an email in regards to a writing initiative called A Year With Myself. One of my first blog posts was actually a response to a blog that I read by a friend of Joy’s, Raam Dev 26. Raam inspired me to write in the moment and consider a minimalist outlook. http://raamdev.com/
Writing in response to the prompts from A Year with Myself has caused me to examine my core values, my true passions, my talents and my goals. Following the prompts and committing to writing on my blog once a week is what made me believe that I could be a writer. Having the support of the creator and instigators of A Year with Myself has been a blessing beyond words. It has been an honor to get comments and ongoing encouragement from these writers who are experts in their fields.
I have been influenced by Patti Digh27, who describes how living in a liminal space, the ‘in between’ space, is the moment that there is nothing to hold on to where I can be the most present, most alive, most vulnerable, and most human. http://www.37days.com/
C.A. Kabu 32 (the creator of A Year with Myself) defined authenticity for me, asking me to think about my character, values, strengths, and their intersections while relating this to having a sense of who I am and sharing it with the world without reservations. http://ayearwithmyself.com/
Karen Caterson 33 taught me that knowing my differences—and living them is what makes me authentic, and how being authentic can lead to making a difference in the world. http://www.squarepegpeople.com/index.php
Abby Kerr 34 showed me that vision is having the ability or capacity to apprehend what I really want and believe I can do. http://abbykerrink.com/
Sue Mitchell 35 revealed how the relationship of adventure, serendipity and creativity and how being adventurous helps me in my creative projects. She talks about building self-confidence and finding life’s meaning through being adventurous and how inviting more adventure into your life, awakens the adventurer in you. http://www.yourmuseiscalling.com/
Dyanna Valentine 36 beckoned me to proclaim the things that I am not sorry for and to own who I am and what I stand for. http://dyanavalentine.com/
Thanks to A Year With Myself, I have had contact with other writers who are on this journey of self discovery and empowerment as well. One person in particular is Wing Pauh 37 (Singapore) whose website is http://www.wingvantagepoint.com/ at 22 years old, only half of my age, she has a deep insight and understanding of where she fits in the world that I truly admire. I just got a text from her about wanting to appeal to her company’s corporate social responsibility and provide donations for an animal shelter. She is such a remarkable young lady and I would never have met her if it weren’t for the broadening of my horizons through writing online.
I have also had a chance to help out other bloggers with my writing by having a guest post on their blog. When Tiffany 38 at http://stuffparentsneed.com/ was going to be away for a few weeks having her second child, she worked it out to treat her readers to articles from other bloggers. I heard about this on Facebook and I submitted a request to help her out. I was so excited when Tiffany accepted my proposal to do an interview of a new parent asking what item they couldn’t live without.
After that post, I was accepted as a member of the California Mom Bloggers by Teresa Olivera 39, who I would categorize as a blogging media mogul (or overachiever) http://teresaolvera.com/other-blogs/ Teresa is also a member of the So Cal Lady Bloggers and creator of Geo Moms. In a serendipitous swoop Teresa accepted my offer to review and post a weekly recap of The Bachelorette at http://californiamomblogs.com/! Now I have a weekly guest spot and I am reviewing a TV show!
My latest endeavor is my association with the Latina Lifestyle Bloggershttp://llbloggers.com/. I am very proud to have been accepted into this fine group of women. I met the founder and moderator of this group, Ana Lydia Monaco, 40 through So Cal Lady Bloggers, too! My favorite comment after announcing my acceptance to this particular group was from my brother who said, “So now you are Latina – congratulations!” In the next few weeks, I will uncover my deep seeded perceptions as to why I never embraced my heritage in this way until now. I have already begun writing about some issues that come to mind having to do with segregation, racial profiling, stereotypes, ethnicity and environment.
Road Signs and Mile Posts
One thing that every blogger knows about is the importance of knowing your numbers. For whatever reason, I have started to look at my stats and have forced myself to learn a bit about analytics just to keep up on the conversation! The purpose of this becomes important when joining groups, in applying to be a contributor and in the hopes of proving yourself worthy of being sponsored or picked up by an advertiser. For me, it is a fun way to see the potential and growth that I have engaged in as a blogger and I look at it like a map of my journey.
Speaking of numbers, there are some folks that I would like to THANK but it is impossible for me to list. I am grateful for their attention and love!
43+ writers who have influenced me (listed with their links above)
3988 people to date who have visited my blog, from over 60 countries!
89 comments people have made on my blog
16 people willing to subscribe to my blog
82 (and counting) likes on my Facebook Fan Page
424 followers on Twitter
274 people who have connected with me on LinkedIn
25 people who have viewed my vlog on my YouTube Channel
49 people who have viewed my Photostream on Flickr
38 followers on Instagram
67 people in my circles on Google+
76 people who follow my boards on Pinterest
And I am extremely grateful for my two followers on Tumblr!
You for reading the 3306 words in this post!
I am thrilled by the fact that I know these connections have been made by real people and not all my husband just clicking like on everything just to make me feel better! I love each and every person out there who has made a connection with me and I pray for them everyday! I do hope to have more success with my writing. I humbly hope to reach more people, to be inspired by them and to inspire them to live an authentic life. The only way I know this is happening online is to measure my success by using numbers. I think about how each of these sets of numbers represents real people all the time. I hope to add zeros to the ends of all the numbers above the next time I look at these statistics. But honestly, if the numbers do not increase at all, I would continue this path. It is so rewarding to share my thoughts with all of you who care about me.
The main thing I want to express to you (especially to those of you who are still actually reading this!) is that what makes this experience so incredible is all of the influence and support of all the people I am meeting along the way. I took the time to list them and give them credit because I am so very grateful for the way they have touched my life.
Each of the elements I have experienced so far alone would have been enriching and exciting for me to explore, but having them all happen together is life enhancing. It has been like falling in love with life. When you fall in love, you just know. When you are doing something that makes you happy and feel good, everything just falls into place. It feels like I know my way around here and I like the direction this road is leading! For now, I have enjoyed stopping and taking a look at the amazing scenery which surrounds me each and every day.
My husband and I have been married for twenty years now. We are totally in love and we are a “happily married couple” in every sense of the phrase. When people ask me how we stay happily married I usually give them the spiel about communication and being friends first, it takes an equal partnership, yadda, yada, yada. All of those things are true of any healthy relationship. With close friends, family and even at work things run smoothly if you follow one rule – If you don’t understand something, ask. I believe what makes a happily married couple is two people who are happy to begin with that are willing to stay together.
There have been plenty of times when either one have us have been unhappy for one reason or another. So far, we have been lucky to never be unhappy at the same time. Sad at the same time, yes. Distressed, worried, yes. We have always been able to support each other through difficult times. Generally, my husband is a pretty happy guy! When he has been unhappy about our marriage or about me, he was willing to work through it and he has always been very devoted to me. Even at the worst of times, I have supported him and been able to stick with it.
I am an optimistic person for the most part. I have suffered through clinical depression. When I feel like the world is closing in on me, I begin to count my blessings and being married to this man is always at the top of the list! Gratitude goes a long way on the path to happiness. When I am truly happy with myself and my situation, my love flows freely. When I am able to truly love, and be loving, the feeling spreads to those around me. My beloved responds and showers me with his love. The root of my happiness starts with what is in my own heart.
My husband is my “true love.” But, I have been in love before. I had a crush on an upper classmen in high school and after he graduated, he came back to volunteer! I was determined to get a date with him. We became friends and did start dating. I was trying to play things cool and was open to dating other people. I thought I was doing the mature thing and that would keep him interested. I had already begun dating the person I eventually married. My big crush took the “high road” and stepped back to let me decide what (or who) I really wanted and he joined the Air Force. When he left he said, “You’ll always be my girl.”
We wrote to each other for awhile and as would be expected, my relationship with the boy who stayed around got stronger. After awhile, I lost touch with my crush. But, in my heart, I was waiting for him to come home to me and sweep me off my feet. Instead, I got a call from him to tell me he was getting married. I was heartbroken!! I asked him, “If we had kept writing to each other would I be the one making the wedding plans?” He said simply, “You will always be my girl!” That didn’t help!
Every few years, he would come home to visit family and friends. No matter where I was living or working, he would find me. Many times I would get a call out of the blue and it would be his deep distinctive voice saying, “Hey girl.” My heart would sink. I would get that tingly nervous feeling. We would get caught up on each other’s lives. When I saw him, I always had a feeling that I lost him when I had the chance and that he came around to see me because he wanted me to make a move. I never had the nerve. Besides, I was married to a wonderful guy! Then, as both of our families grew, we lost touch again. I hadn’t heard from him for a very long time. We were friends on Facebook, but I really didn’t even follow or keep up on him anymore. He had stayed in the Air Force as a career and had travelled the world. It had been about six years since I heard from him. Then I got a call at work.
He had retired, was divorced, and was planning to move back to the area. What was that middle part? And he wanted to know if we could get together when he was in town. Was he back to sweep me off my feet? It’s been twenty-five years since we had a romance and I was still thinking he could be coming back for me. Well, not really. The teenage girl trapped inside me who was still pining for him heard that he was coming back. The sensible me did the right things and asked questions. But that sneaky little girl was still curious!
He came to my office and took me out to lunch. He was still handsome and interesting and was everything I had remembered him to be. He told me all about how he and his wife split up. He told me he needed to take care of his ailing parents. He asked me about my life, family and work. We talked for hours. I decided to ask him what made him think of me and if he still had any feelings for me after all this time. To be honest, I have no idea what he said. He spoke. It sounded positive. He said the right things, tactfully, sweetly, honestly. I am sure of it. But all I could think about was, “What the heck do I think I am doing?”
The adult me answered, “You are flattering yourself.” True that! I needed it and deserved it, everyone does! After all, it was flattering. He was coming for a visit down memory lane and he thought of me. But it definitely wasn’t at all because he wanted to see if I was willing to take him back after all these years. Don’t think it’s because he is that much of a stand up guy that he wouldn’t break up my marriage. Of course he wouldn’t. But I’ll never know for sure. No, it is because he was already seeing someone!! It turns out that he was networking for job connections so that he could move here to be closer to his girlfriend!
I just want you to know that all of this nonsense taught me some lessons. First, love never dies. First love, school girl crushes, puppy love, it lasts as long as you remember how it felt to love someone. Like a flower, you can tend to it and it can take root and grow and grow and eventually branch into new directions and last forever. Or, you can pluck it and put it in water. It may last awhile that way and be beautiful. You can preserve the memory of its beauty and press it in a book. It will remind you of your youth and how you were once someone’s girl. But if you take it out and touch it and try and make it grow after all that time, it will crumble and fall apart. Some things are just not meant to be.
That doesn’t mean it was a waste of time! The other thing I learned is that an idea trapped in one’s mind fades away quite easily. All you have to do is let go. It took seeing him again to make that happen. It took thinking about it and planning and evaluating all the what if’s and could I evers. Could I have seduced him and begged him to come back to me? Would he have? Could I have a chance to start over? I guess not or I would be writing a heated love connection story right now rather than giving advice on what to do about unrequited love! The point is, I let go of the pipe dream. I was the stand up girl. I was in love with my husband. I did not go looking for this guy! I helped him get an interview at my work and put in a good word. I was relieved when he didn’t get the job. I’ll bet my husband was relieved, too!
AYWM 9: “Authenticity: Emphasizing What Makes You Different”
In the past few weeks I have evaluated my strengths and looked at the things that I am passionate about. This week I am thinking about what it means to be authentic and what makes me different.
I agree with C.A. Kabu who says that authenticity is a funny thing. She says, “You know it if it’s there, and you definitely know when it’s not. Defining authenticity requires much introspection. You have to think about your character, your values, your strengths, and their intersections. Eventually, you realize that the definition of authenticity is perhaps simpler than you expected. You can, for instance, reach the conclusion that being authentic is actually related to having a sense of who you are and sharing it with the world without reservations.”
Considering this helped me to determine why I should care about being authentic, how I can fully embrace my uniqueness, and how my life can change when I remain true to myself.
As I mentioned in a previous post, I have a kinda “been here, done this” feeling as I go through these exercises. I have been enjoying going through old journals and comparing my perceptions of my life from ten years ago to now. Some of the questions I asked myself back in 2001 are very similar to the introspective I am working on now. What fascinates me most is that even though I am most definitely in a different place now than I was back then, and I have changed and matured in many ways, the core of my being, my beliefs and values are very much the same. I do live an authentic life. It is when I lose sight of who I am and who I strive to be, that things get difficult.
In 2001, I asked myself the following questions at the beginning of a journal that I called. “I Love My Life.” By answering these questions, I was able to determine who I was and who I wanted to be. I believe this is when I embraced authenticity and learned to love myself.
Is my overall outlook on life marked by hope and optimism?
Are there things in my life that I am passionate about?
At the conclusion of a day or week, do I often have a warm sense of satisfaction about my accomplishments and contributions?
Can I become very still and experience a sense of peace?
Do some parts of my life bring me a healthy sense of pride?
You Are a Snowflake, Right?
By Karen Caterson
Hi, Snowflake. You are a snowflake, right?
We all are! I mean, we’re all unique, beautiful, one-of-a-kind—just like snowflakes.
Of course, all of us gorgeous, individual snowflakes are also part of our culture, our society—our SNOW.
And there are a lot of wonderful things about SNOW. Joining with other snowflakes can be fun (think snow forts, snow fights, snow angels, and snowmen).
In our culture most of the emphasis is on the SNOW, way less on our uniqueness— our individual snowflake beauty.
We can even lose our snowflake-ness to the SNOW.
We all are snowflakes (unique and beautiful), but we’re not always comfortable with that.
Sometimes even thinking about our snowflake qualities (our differences, our beauty) makes us squirm—we can feel more like a flake than a snowflake.
But knowing our differences—and living them is what makes us authentic. And being authentic leads to making a difference in the world as we share our unique offerings!
So, how do we emphasize what makes us different—when we’re not always comfortable with our uniqueness (our snowflake-ness)?
It starts with awareness, mindfulness.
We can allow ourselves to get curious about the times when we feel or think differently than SNOW (than whatever is status quo at the time).
Many of us really enjoy connection, so we intuitively look for ways that we’re like others—ways we agree.
Purposely looking for how we think and feel differently can seem very odd, but continued mindfulness and curious reflection about our differences (our uniqueness) will grow into being more comfortable with our snowflake-ness… and that will grow into our snowflake beauty being emphasized naturally.
There is no one in this world that is exactly like me. My thoughts and feelings are entirely my own. Sometimes I feel like there are no original ideas. I strive to be different. I want to stand out. I want to shine. If I have an idea, I Google it. I am always disappointed, but not surprised, that someone somewhere has already thought of it. As a young person, I thought I was a trend-setter. Truthfully, I was trendy. But I spent a lot of time with people who weren’t so they thought I was the fashion-forward person. Did that make me a poser? No way! I always knew what I liked and I was not afraid to be me. I think that is what being authentic means. Not being afraid to stand up for oneself and being courageous enough to show your true colors.
I would say that I am off the charts when it comes to living my life authentically. Do I sound conceited? Why shouldn’t I have a sense of self-pride? I just did some serious soul-searching about what makes me unique and special. I can’t get over my bad self right now! I am on this! Right? Well, okay. The truth is sometimes, it fluctuates. I feel that lost feeling, like I am feeling my way through a forest. Things don’t always go my way. I resist or try to control things. I fall short of my potential. I start to listen to that critical inner voice. When I remember how good things truly are and I remember my focus, I can find my path fairly easily.
Right now the path is illuminated with those new bulbs that are supposed to last six times as long as the old kind and be more energy-efficient. . . and I see where I am going. It’s a lovely road that includes a lot of fun stops along the way. In six months from now I would like to be writing regularly and maintaining my blog while maintaining the balance of managing a home with three teen boys and working full-time. My goal for this period of time is to give each area of my life my all. Mostly, I want to be happy, keep up the energy that I am experiencing now, and stay true to myself. And as C.A. Kobu says, “When you are in touch with who you really are and welcome your authentic self with open arms, your life acquires a different and marvelous flow, and you feel oh so good!” Oh yeah! I sure do!