To You, Who Changed My Life

Dear you,

I guess I should thank you for coming into my life. I’ve been learning a lot about myself since Day 1 and not all of it is easy to stomach. Growing is hard, growing up even harder. You’d think that 25 years of life would have forced that second one on me already but everything I’ve gone through since meeting you has shown me I’m still a child in many ways, clinging to my fantasies and refusing to accept that life is seldom fair. I’ve come face to face with my selfishness, my pride, my sense of superiority. I’ve seen that even though I wouldn’t consider myself entitled, I believe I deserve answers and explanations for everything. In a perfect world I’d get them, but something I’ve learned is that I’ll go crazy if I refuse to move on with life until those answers arrive.

I want to make sense of things, because the world is often nonsensical and confusing. It’s loud and scary and overwhelming and knowing how and why bad things happened to me gives me a sense of security. Maybe if I know, I can avoid the same problem next time.

But sometimes the reason isn’t mine to know. I can’t even tell you how much I don’t understand that, but I know it’s true. Sometimes it’s just not up to me and I have to learn that I can survive in a world I don’t control. It’s terrifying and I hate it but it’s true, and I don’t know if I could have seen that without you.

I’ve been frustrated with myself because I’ve seen so much ugliness in the mirror lately, and sometimes I throw a fit and tell myself there’s no point in changing because I’m tired of other people and they can just deal with me as I am (see how easy it is to duck responsibility? I never knew how good I was at that, before). But I haven’t just scraped away my illusions on your unyielding indifference. You also helped me uncover passions I didn’t know I had, strengths I hadn’t dreamed of, and a sense of belonging I’d nearly given up on finding. Knowing it’s even possible to be that happy makes a huge difference in how I see the world. You clarified a lot of things for me, helped lift the fog for awhile so I could glimpse where I fit in the world.

I’m back in darkness now, but my eyesight is forever changed by the view you showed me. I don’t always remember there’s more out there than what I can see of my immediate surroundings, but the knowledge is there and it shapes my expectations, my actions. When I’m not too afraid to take a step forward, the things I’ve learned because of you are the path I set out on. It’s hard to accept the reality of things at times but I can’t go back to ignorance and in the end, that’s something to be grateful for. I don’t think I could really be as happy as possible if I was still trying to pretend I was more than I was. At least now I can fill myself out, become more of myself.

I still can’t decide if I truly want you to be happy, or if I just want you to be happy with me. But I can at least say I wish you well, because you’ve altered the course of my life in a way only a few things ever will. That wasn’t an easy task. But I believe it was worth it.

Optimal Living Daily [Podcast Rec]

I’ve been getting into podcasts lately as they’re free, simple, and potentially educational (depending on what you listen to). It’s easy to play a podcast on writing tips while I’m washing dishes, or to learn about new books to read while I get ready for school or work. Audio books are also great for the same reason! I can go about my life and still be learning.

One podcast I found during my initial exploration into the various topics people cover was Optimal Living Daily by Justin Malik. Justin scours the internet for blog posts that teach you how to optimize your life, and then reads them to you. This saves a lot of time for those of us who might be busy, or who just don’t want to spend our energy sifting through internet content that may or may not be worth reading. Most of the episodes are about 10 minutes long, with a couple going to 15 minutes. They’re brief, but you get the same benefit that you would from reading the posts.

Another thing I enjoy about the podcast is Justin’s personality. He adds a bit of his own life to the podcast, sharing thoughts on the particular topic he just read, but he uses his voice to highlight and emphasize the great information shared by the original author instead of overshadowing it. He’s brief, professional, and determined to make his podcast valuable to all the listeners.

If you like taking in new information about how to make your life a little better and more efficient, join Justin’s “Life Optimizers” and check out the show!

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Note: I’m independently promoting this podcast and am not being paid for it. I just really like what I’ve found!

How can I impart value to the world?

A big fear of mine is living my entire life without accomplishing anything worthwhile, never doing anything valuable for the people around me. A lot of things I can do feel hollow to me, and I think it’s because they don’t ask anything of me that only I can give. I want to take who I am, and what gifts I have, and use those to create some sort of legacy or positive impact on the world, even if it’s small.

Every time I ask myself questions about what I love doing, what I’m good at, and what I can see myself doing for the rest of my life, I usually come back to some sort of writing. I think that’s what I’m called to do in life, and I’m really happy I know that.

But I’m not sure how exactly to apply that knowledge right now. Yes, I want to write books, but I’m not sure what kind of books I should write. Yes, I enjoy blogging, but I don’t know what kind of blog I can run that is valuable enough for someone to take the time out to read it. What knowledge can I share that someone else hasn’t already said better? Is my life interesting enough to justify asking for someone’s attention, even if only for a few minutes a day?

I really don’t know, and it feels a little overwhelming to think of my small, insignificant self ever making a difference in this world. What can I do that no one else can?

For now, I’m taking the steps that seem best to get me to where I want to go, even if I’m not sure what the particular destination is. Studying English in college and keeping up this blog are two things I know will be beneficial to me as I seek for my mission in life.

I won’t lie, I’ve always felt that being a mother is the most important thing I can ever do with my life and I’ve always known it’s a calling for me. But I don’t know when I’ll be blessed with children and I don’t know how much of my life will be only blessing the family I have, and how much will be using some of my other talents to bless others as well.

I don’t know what my life will actually look like in 10 years, or what my impact in life will be, but I know I can prepare myself to be whoever I need to be in order to make the most of it. I don’t have kids now and I don’t have a popular blog with thousands of followers. I don’t have any books published or even a writing-related career. All I can do, then, is write and develop that skill, and sand off my rough edges while exercising my positive attributes to be a more patient, nurturing, forgiving person for my future children.

I’m grateful I have at least a direction to point myself in. I know so many people my age who have no idea what they want their lives to look like, or what they could do to bless others. They’re just plodding along, not knowing where they’ll end up, hoping the fog will lift and a sign will appear that tells them where to go next. The scary part is, I’m not completely out of the woods yet. I feel that same fog around me quite often, and it’s tempting to give up and simply do whatever seems easiest at any given moment.

But I know each of us has some sort of gift, and a unique ability to make a positive difference. I guess I’ll never be happy as long as I’m ignoring that fact and trying to keep my head down.

On New Year’s Resolutions

New years always bring about a swarm of resolutions, lifestyle changes, and posts about looking forward. Sometimes they only last a few weeks, while sometimes they’re serious commitments that create a positive shift in a person’s life. It can be hard to discern which posts on my Facebook feed are simply “in-the-moment” intentions that won’t last, and which are born of serious introspection and firm dedication to making a change. That’s why I’ve hesitated to post anything on my social media relating to the ending of one year and the beginning of the next. I don’t want to fall into the trap of being too excited about new beginnings and letting the excitement cloud my head.

My blog is titled “Live Intentionally” and last year I focused on “intent” without including much of the “living.” I had so many great ideas to work on, and I started most of them without finishing any of them. I wrote posts about things I was going to do, and ideas I had, but I had no progress reports to back them up.

So, in 2016, I’m not going to post about my intentions, or the resolutions I’ve made for myself. I’m going to post about what I’m doing as I do it, and the end result when I complete a particular challenge or goal of mine. I’ve already started on some life-changing journeys for myself this year and I’m going to finish them.

I can’t wait to share my victories with all of you.

Love Your Body

I’m gonna let you in on a secret: if you’re a girl, Karena and Katrina at Tone It Up are simply brilliant. If you’re a guy, I’m sure you can enjoy them too, but they specifically focus on women’s health and fitness using a fun girlfriend-to-girlfriend approach that makes me feel like I have two great workout partners no matter the weather or how little I feel like getting it done.

I’ve known about them for a year or two, but I started really following along with the fitness challenges and workout routines at the beginning of the year. The current challenge is their Love Your Body challenge combined with 100 miles of cardio by V-Day (or 150 if you want to push yourself further). They post weekly workout schedules, complete with “PM Challenges” to treat yourself and enhance your daily life. They also have monthly calendars with tips and thoughts to help you get your mind to start thinking the way the lifestyle demands.

Continue reading “Love Your Body”

ARGH!

That’s how I feel when I realize I’ve fallen into the trap that is a constant temptation for me: not finishing what I start. I know everyone struggles with this to some degree, but I also know that it’s a particular weakness for my personality type (ie, Sanguine/High I personality from Personality Plus/DISC). I get really excited about starting new things, and enjoy the satisfaction of focusing on a project and getting things done up until the novelty wears off. After that, it’s all too easy to get distracted by the next fun thing and to leave a trail of half-finished projects behind me.

Right now, on the last day of January, I’ve taken a look at some of the things I started at the beginning of the month and genuinely thought I’d been doing well with. It’s frustrating to see the last time I messaged so-and-so was on January 6th, not just a week ago like I thought. And I barely completed 2 of the Blogging 101 assignments, and have failed to regularly post to my blog. I have to email pictures to my grandma like I said I would, mail a picture to a friend that I promised a couple of months ago, and I’m just now getting around to cleaning off all the bedding and the mattresses in my/my brother’s room that have been getting cluttered with junk since he got sick on his bed on Christmas Eve.

The temptation for me is to berate myself for “sucking” at life, and give up on trying because I’ll get to it later anyway. Fortunately, I’ve been surrounding myself with leadership-minded individuals and resources for the past couple of years, with a focus on personal development that’s helped me become aware of my weaknesses and has provided me with methods to turn them into strengths.

So, I’m back. I’m getting stuff done. I may falter and fall off the wagon again, but I’ll keep picking up again until I’m better at stopping the distraction cycle before it gets started. Quitting isn’t an option for me anymore.

The Power of Association

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Association is everything. Do not allow negative influences to have any part of your life beyond what you may have no control over (coworkers, people you live with). Every voluntary association needs to be positive or you will find it impossible to maintain any sort of growth for long.
You become who you spend your time with. Make it a point to find encouragers and forward-thinking individuals to surround yourself with.

On My Struggle to “Let Go”

I’ve been doing well enough to write for a week or so, at this point…I’ve been meaning to do so, but I haven’t been sure what to say. Sometimes, the best writing comes after letting thoughts simmer and stew for a while. At least, I can hope that’s the case.

I always struggled with the concept of “letting go,” especially in practice. It sounded really nice, being able to let a load drop free of my shoulders and move forward with a smile on my face. But whenever I was faced with something difficult, something I couldn’t change that I nonetheless hated, I clung to all the negative feelings with a death grip I couldn’t figure out how to break. Over and over I’d run the same thoughts through my mind, the “whys” and “hows” and “it’s not real, right?” I’d examine the situation from every angle, desperately searching for a way to fix it, to change the outcome, no matter how pointless it was. I would KNOW I was doing something that would make my life harder, but I couldn’t stop.

I’m still that way, for the most part, and I don’t know the “secret” to letting go. But when it came to being dumped by Josh, the breakup led to a breakthrough.

Continue reading “On My Struggle to “Let Go””

I know I’m not strong enough to be everything that I’m supposed to be…But I will be someday.

A couple of weeks ago, I found this 28-Day Squat Challenge and decided I was going to do it. I actually really like squats, probably because my legs are by far the strongest part of my body and it’s easier to squat than to do a push-up. The added benefit of strengthening my lower body is that I might have better luck shopping for shorts and pants in the future, when I actually have something to fill the butt section of the item.

I’ve started other challenges before; there was a 30-day ab challenge that I tried for a little while before I gave up, and a “sexy legs workout” I did a few times. I did stick with the ab challenge for a while, but I couldn’t keep up with the pace it demanded so I had to cut back and take it more slowly, and I can’t do sit-ups at all without something to hold my feet down, which was a problem at the time (I’ve fractured the same bones in the same foot a few separate times over the last decade, and it was still healing from the most recent injury).

Part of this squat challenge is total dedication to getting the form right before moving on. If you don’t complete the full number of squats on any particular day, or if you do all of the squats but you don’t do them properly, you have to start back at the beginning of that 7-day period. I like that, and I figured that stipulation would be beneficial to stick to when doing the challenge on my own.

I expected the physical strain, and the feelings of procrastination I sometimes get, but these challenges have forced me to acknowledge something else that I wasn’t expecting to have to face: I am a very inconsistent human being. I have had to start week 2 of the challenge on two separate occasions because I forgot to do my squats on one of the days. Last night, I remembered I needed to do them after I was already in bed. I sat for a few minutes that felt like hours, debating on whether I should get up and get them done, or just start the week over tomorrow. And I chose to go to sleep. It bothered me that I was in that position.

Continue reading “I know I’m not strong enough to be everything that I’m supposed to be…But I will be someday.”