Thursday, May 29, 2008

Dealing with the "LAME"

I hope that you are working on your negative feelings exercise. In a few days, we will incorporate your positive feelings, so keep a look out for that.
Today, I wanted to talk about dealing with difficult people. We all have people that talk badly about us or who say mean things to us. Often we internalize these comments and interactions and let them bring us down. Recently, someone said something mean about me. At first it really hurt my feelings and put me in a bad mood. This person called me lame. Silly word, but it really affected me. Then I got to thinking about it, and I want to share my experience with you.
I sat down and asked, "am I really lame?" Well, yes, there are somethings about me that are kinda silly. For example, I am weird about the way I walk through the grocery store (it has to be in a certain order), and yeah that probably is lame. While, I would personally never use such a derogatory term, I can think of things that others might think are odd about me.
Then, I asked my husband. He told me that I was fantastic and that this other person was just jealous. Probably true. I am always telling my daughter that people often lash out at us because they are insecure about themselves or are jealous of us in some way.
I have a great life. I have a wonderful family. I am almost finished with my master's degree. My children and my husband are all successful. I have a beautiful home, and I am really fortunate to have my life. I am really happy. That makes me not lame no matter what anyone else may think.
Now, there are times when someone may be giving constructive criticism, and I find that helpful, but you have to evaluate the things people say about you to see if they are true or not.
Perhaps more importantly, we should evaluate what we say about others. The next time you want to say something mean about someone else, evaluate your motives. Because bringing others down is not going to make you feel better. So, to the girl who called me lame, I don't think you are lame. In fact, I don't think you are anything bad. I think you just make mistakes. On that note, I think maybe you should evaluate your happiness because you seem unhappy in your life and that is why you are so concerned about mine. If I can help you find your happiness, I will. That goes for all of you. Let me know if I can help you find your happiness.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Self Love--Now the work begins

Before I begin today's post, I want to let you know about what is coming up. It is really exciting. I am working on our first meditation excersice. It is going to be fantasitic and will include audio. Look for this exciting blog coming in the next few days.
To begin today, let's talk about being embarassed. For years, I struggled with low self esteem and a feeling of worthlessness. To be honest, I still have days that I struggle with my sense of self worth. Embarassment prevented me from doing anything about it. I felt silly doing self esteem building excersises. I couldn't talk to myself or try to enhance my life because other people would think I was dumb or would make fun of me. Guess what? Having low self esteem led others to think less of me anyway. Guess what else? No one can see your thoughts. No one has access to your private thinking, so go ahead and think positive things. Instead of sharing a personal story with you today, I want to go through a basic exercise.
Exercise #1
There are things we all dislike about ourselves. That is ok. As long as we see these things as a work in progress. Many of the books I have read encourage people to start by writing a list of things that they like about themselves. I think this is not very helpful as a first step. Don't get me wrong, we will be using this technique, but don't jump ahead because I have a special twist on it.
For this excersise, you will need a pen and a piece of paper. Find a quiet place to sit and have enough time to be introspective.
Step One:
Now begin the list with "things I don't like about myself." This may seem like a harsh excersice focused on being critical, but it is not. Begin to list all the things that you don't like about yourself.
A sample of my list looks like:
Overly Critical
Frizzy hair
Weird Toes
I think you get the idea. List as many things as you can or want to. Try not to dwell on each item. Just write it down and move on.
Step Two:
Look at your list, and divide it into two lists: Things you can change or adapt and things that are unmutable.
Changeable: Procrastination, Overly Critical, Frizzy Hair
Unmutable: Weird Toes, Small Hands
Step Three:
For today, we are going to focus on unmutable items. Look at each unmutable item and think of something positive about it. Write that next to the attribute. Then each day, look at this list and review the positive things about your unmutable items until you no longer feel bad about them.
Weird Toes: encourages me to buy really cool shoes, my husband thinks they are cute, lets me pick up a pencil without bending over
Small Hands: makes me valuable because I can reach into tight spaces, I can purchase cheaper children's gloves, no one could steal my ring because it would be too small, they make my husband's hands seem so strong.
Real World Application:
For those of you who think this is totally off the wall, trust me, it works over time. Remember, no one can see your personal thoughts. So, what you are thinking doesn't really matter to anyone else. This can only help you. I once knew a girl who was mortified by her nose. She always focused on how large it was and that it wasn't dainty, etc. The funny thing is, she would have looked absolutely ridiculous with a smaller nose. No one who knew her ever though twice about her nose. In fact, it was a little irritating to constantly hear her pining away about it. So, I encouraged her to do the above excersice. She made a list, but I have no idea what it said. Often I would see her in the mirror mouthing things, but I don't know what she was affirming to herself. Years later, I asked her about it. She said that she had grown to love her nose because it made her unique and interesting. She said that by stopping focusing on her nose and how much she hated it made her miserable, but focusing on how it complemented her face and how it showed off her heritage made her feel happy. She said she hardly ever even thinks about her nose now. It can make a difference.
Tips for next time:
Keep this list somewhere private and safe. I have a folder that I keep all of my happiness work in. We will use the changeable part of the list in our next excersise. So keep it handy.
Until next time Live, Eat, and Be Well.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Self Love--Time For Yourself

Today, we are going to focus on a simple way to improve your self love. Pampering. Now men, don't stop reading, men pamper themselves too, but often in different ways than women do. Before I get into today's topic, I wanted to mention that self love takes a lot of work, and in this blog, I am going to tackle many of these methods. However, my motto is start small. You don't want to jump into the more complicated aspects of self love and feel overwhelmed or like a failure, so start with something simple, pampering, that feels good and that you will succeed in. As you may have figured out, this blog is a lot about meditation, and I will be showing you some great ways to use meditation to improve your self love in the coming days.
But, let's start with pampering. This has been an incredibly hectic week for me. For the past few days, I have been feeling a little off. I haven't been comfortable with my outfits for important family events, I have been feeling a little bad about myself, and having some really bad negative thoughts. Then yesterday, it hit me--my nails were all chipped and gross because I hadn't had time to do them, and it was making me feel like I wasn't presenting my best self. So, I got to thinking about pampering.

For many of us, we constantly are doing for others or we are sitting around trying to decompress from our stressful lives. Pampering does two things: it allows you to focus on yourself and it feels nice. I know for me, I am always thinking of others and giving them little gifts or pep talks or helping wherever I can, but it is important to also give yourself gifts, and pep talks.

Now, you may be thinking, I don't have the money to pamper myself. But pampering doesn't take any money. You can take a bath or paint your nails. Men, you can fish, work on your car, or do your nails (if you are into that!). It is just about setting a few minutes aside to focus on you.

You won't believe how good you feel after only a few minutes. A fresh coat of paint on the nails really cheers you up, a warm shower ALONE really relaxes you--I think you get the drift. Now, if you do this every couple of days or once a week, you are showing yourself that you love you enough to take the time.

For me, I decided to pamper myself with my nails. Now, I like to go to the nail shop, but I don't have the time or money to do it very often, so I gave myself a free nail update.

I mean look at those horrible toes--who wouldn't feel bad about it. But luckily, I had everything I need at home!You may be thinking, but I don't have all that stuff. That is ok too. You could just throw on a fresh coat of polish or take off the old stuff. You could even just soak your toes in a warm tub of water. It doesn't have to be perfect. It just has to be done.

One thing that really works against us is the thought that you can't do something until you have everything you need or until you can do it just right. I have these types of thoughts all the time, "I can't possible start decorating my room because I can't afford new carpet!" Well those kinds of thoughts just hold us back. Instead you can say, "I may not have the perfect nail kit, but today, I am going to do the best job with what I have.

Now as you can see, they aren't perfect after all my work. There is some polish on my cuticle, and my nail is a little lopsided, but hey, they look good enough. Just taking the time made me feel so much better about myself.

Ok, I know, it sounds so silly. How can painting your nails really lead you to love yourself more and feel more happy? I don't know if it is subconcious or if it really happens just through the time, but it works. You know how you see those little old married couple that are so in love. They love each because they spend time with one another and grow to love each other more each day. The same works for you! The more time you spend with yourself, loving yourself, doing nice things for yourself, the more you will grow to love--yourself.

Now, GO, live, eat, and be well!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Self Love... its more than Self Esteem

So, I spent a lot of time thinking about how I want to work this blog, and I have decided that each month, I am going to have a theme. The month of May is going to be all about self love. Self love? But isn't that a dirty word for ... you know? No, self love is about truly loving yourself the way you love your children or parents. When people talk about self esteem, it simply isn't enough. Self love is more than just self esteem.

I want to spend the month of May discussing ways that we can grow to love ourselves and thereby increase our happiness. There are many important things in this world for us to focus on loving: loving ourselves, loving our family, loving the earth, loving our friends, loving strangers. But each of these begins with loving ourselves. Even if we think we are loving other people or things to the fullest capacity, the truth is that we could all love so much more if we only loved ourselves. Loving ourselves also shows others who love us how much we respect their love.

Each blog this month (expect one every few days) will focus on how to love ourselves more completely. This is a work in progress. As time goes by, you may have to revamp yourself love or take another look at it, but in each step of your journey, you should love yourself first.

NO! Loving yourself is not the same thing as being selfish. It is not about only doing for yourself or thinking only of yourself, but it is about knowing who you are and about being happy with that person.

Don't worry, there will be plenty coming up about how to use meditation to increase that love!

So, go look in the mirror, tell yourself, "I love you," and check back later to learn more about creating and maintaining your self esteem!

Let me introduce.....

Remember that journey I just talked about? Well, none of us journey alone. In fact, if we like it or not, we have many people on our journey with us. Those people include our family, our friends, our colleagues, our enemies, and even those we don't know but who help us everyday (have you ever talked to your grocery store clerk?)
On my journey, the most important people are my friends and my family. The person who falls into both these categories and helps me every step of the way is my husband, Robert.

Robert is the most special man I have ever known, and that is how each person should feel about their life partner. He is a bit quirky, but he is the type of person who is absolutely supportive and wants to see you succeed. He is the coordinator of operations and data control for a railroad, and he really enjoys his work, but he also loves to come home and spend time with his family, work on the house, and play with computers. Do we fight? Yes. Every couple gets in disagreements, but it is how you handle them that is important. In the end, he loves me for who I am and that makes all the difference.

Then, we have three lovely children. Magdelaina, Persephone, and Medea. They are all so special, and they complete my life. I never knew that you could feel so much love, pride, concern, happiness, fear, and compassion before I had my children. Sometimes I get overwhelmed, but who doesn't? My three daughters provide me with a continuous supply of adventure. My oldest daughter is bright and compassionate and socially conscious. My middle child is creative and emotional, and the baby is trouble with a capital T, but she is also interesting and vivacious.

Last, but certainly not least, are my parents. My lovely and wonderful parents, Ruby and Larry, who raised me to be who I am and have always stood by me no matter what horrible mistake or huge success I was making. My parents just moved to live near me, and I am so dog gone lucky that they are here. Both of them are medically retired, and are about to be my guinea pigs for my wellness plan. They are loving parents and loving grandparents. My husband's parents, Bill and Maria, have also played a big role in my life, and I am lucky to have them as well.

Who wouldn't love that face? My dad Larry (pictured above) at a school function is showing off his signature grin.
My mother is doing what she does best... snuggling a baby!

My husband and his parents at the park... ahhh!

Well, now you have met my family, and I am sure I will mention them many more times and will introduce others!

Being the ripe tomato

When I first started on my journey to happiness, I read a book in which the author said you have to be the ripe tomato. She meant if you want people to follow your advice or purchase your services, you have to show how wonderful the product of that advice or services is going to be.
I have spent a great deal of time thinking about the ripe tomato concept. Often before I give someone advice or start standing on my soapbox, I think, "am I already a ripe tomato for this concept."
The truth of the matter is I am not always a ripe tomato, but don't click away just yet. We are all works in progress. There are days when I am cranky, sad, lazy, or just plain stubborn. I have to admit my craft projects aren't organized and I missed a doctor's appointment in January (without canceling--YIKES!) The difference with me, is I am aware of my short comings, and I have the tools to fix them.
When I am cranky, I can say, "I recognize that I am cranky." Then I know what to do to turn that crankiness around. My life's journey has taken me down many down many bumpy and unpleasant roads. While I was traveling down these roads, I often thought of giving up or giving in, but in the end, I have learned something valuable about myself and about navigating life. Now, I am still working on my journey, but I am a lot better off.
I don't just want to help you with your journey through meditation techniques to relive stress and increase focus and happiness or through goal setting techniques and follow through encouragement, I want to be your ripe tomato, so I want to share with you my experiences. I want to use this blog to share with you the ways that I use my techniques to help you improve your life.
I hope that you will take this journey with me, and that you will invite me to be part of yours. Check back often for updates!