Satisfaction isn’t guaranteed

Satisfaction. Contentment. Happiness. Ideals that we are all long for. We are always searching for the next big thing, next phase of life, or next goal. What if we stop the searching and choose to see the contentment in this moment? Would life come to a halt?

Lately it has been raining for days on end. I usually hate the rain. I get annoyed with my clothes getting wet and admittedly, I suck at driving in the rain. But one thing I do love about the rain is listening to the sound it makes as it hits the roof. There is nothing more soothing.  On Sunday, I was sitting on my couch and I found myself listening to this sound. I had my white pumpkin candle burning and I was cuddled in my favorite blanket and in that moment time stood still. I was overcome with the thought, ” in this moment I am really happy”.  I was so satisfied with this feeling of peace. I wasn’t worrying about what else I “should” be doing, I wasn’t preoccupied with thoughts of tomorrow or yesterday, and I wasn’t making plans for the next 5 years of my life (which I am doing most days). I was happy here and now.

Unfortunately, I could not sit in that one spot for the entirety of the day. Normal pace of life took back over and I began catching up on things around the house. But I did carry that sense of contentment around for the remainder of the day. I would smile periodically and think how satisfied I was with being warm and cozy in my home.

These small moments have a vast impact on our mental health. Taking pause of worry and concern for the future is important. Stopping the thoughts of the past is important. We must be here in this moment, now. This is the only moment we have. Being still for short periods of time and existing without any preoccupation is not only necessary, but it gives us clarity to continue throughout the day. When we focus on the now we release anxiety, fear, and expectation.

Today I hope that you will find a moment to pause, take a deep breathe, and focus on the feelings of satisfaction you encounter. That may be a moment of appreciation for the song that popped up on your playlist, it may mean that you pause your thoughts and focus on the sound of your children laughing, or perhaps you stop and listen to the rain drops pitter pattering on your roof. Whatever comes your way today, I hope that you find it satisfying.

Owning My Truth

A major focus of mine in the past year has been owning my truth.  I want to know my  story backwards and forwards. I want every moment of my being to be steeped in my values and personality. I want to unapologetically be ME. Real, unrefined, and raw.

We have countless outside influences that shape us such as relationships, media, societal standards, religion, and ethnic backgrounds. For many years I believed that the labels that describe me were my truth.  Certainly my perspective has shifted and narrowed as a result of these influences, however, they ultimately do not define my essence and have no power to define my reality unless I so choose. My soul exists separately from these descriptors.

The road to self actualization is paved in questions about our innermost selves and truthfully, it can be hard to answer these questions authentically. To know your truth means you face your demons and obstacles, as well as your strengths and victories.

Being open with myself has created a new comfortability that I’ve never known. My life is finally open to a new form of self love and appreciation. For the first time in my life I am able to see my weakness and come to a solution as to how I should over come it. I’m not defined by my obstacles, but rather I choose to allow them to spur me to new levels of growth.  I am walking in my strengths and my heart is open and willing to be vulnerable. This vulnerability has made me feel powerful beyond measure.

I’m learning that part of my truth is the importance of mindfulness and embracing each day as it comes. I am an emotional being, yet I’m learning to feel emotion without being overwhelmed by it. I am truly learning to appreciate the moments of discomfort in my life because they show me what the root of my truest desires are. I am embracing contrast as a learning tool.

I’m so excited to seize the coming years in this awareness of who I truly am. I’m freeing myself of guilt and doubt. I’m releasing my old ways of thinking and being. I’m no longer walking a path of obligation. This life is mine and I have the power to deliberately create the life of my dreams; there is no greater truth than this.

Life Seasons

I sit in my bed and I begin to flip through my journal. Pages of infinite emotion. As I read my last entry, tears stream down my face. I once again feel the hope in my heart for a better tomorrow. Then I am reminded that the tomorrow I hoped for has not come.

I’m left with an emptiness from unfulfilled potential and desire. It is a fact that life is unfair at times. I’m confused and a little lost.

We can not control the way that all things in our lives play out. There is a great deal that completely eludes our awareness as it is unfolding. However, I’ve learned that I am in control of my reaction to life’s twists and turns.

In this moment, I could choose to be swallowed by grief.  I could choose to wallow in my lost dreams, feeling the heavy burden of my emptiness. Instead I choose to direct my emotion and attention to the beauty that is born of my obstacles.

My dream was not fulfilled. However, the journey to my dream created something new in me. I now see the deep love and devotion of the people that I choose to have in my life. I am filled with appreciation for the expansion of our universe that allows for new solutions to century old problems. I am overwhelmed with peace in my ability to shift my thoughts and focus on a new path for the future.  I appreciate the resilience and grit that have been forged in this season of my life.

I don’t have all of the answers, but I know that hope comes with the morning and tomorrow could be the day I dreamed for.

Firsts

My husband and I just got back from our first trip to Mexico together.  I have traveled to Mexico before, but being able to go with him was an incredible and different experience.  I am blessed to have shared new memories with him. We saw breath taking scenery, enjoyed unbelievably delicious  food, and shared lots of laughs with family. By far, my favorite part of the trip was sharing so many new ‘firsts’ with my husband.

When you’ve been with your partner for a few years, it is easy to lose sight of the magic of  first time experiences together. Maybe we recognize that we are eating at a new restaurant for date night, but are we taking in the details of the experience? How is the atmosphere? How does your partner react to their meal? Did you share bites of each other’s entree and discuss what you liked and didn’t like? Did you get dressed up and treat the night as a special occasion? There is a lot to be said for how we view small experiences in our day to day lives.

My trip to Mexico helped me to realize that I need to allow myself to be excited about all of the first time experiences that come my way, not only the ones that happen on vacation.  It’s exhilarating to try out new restaurants and hobbies.  It is good for our soul to share in the excitement of first time experiences in order to fill our need for adventure and creativity.  We encounter something new every day that we are alive. So why not celebrate it as such?  I’m challenging myself to see each day as a ‘first’ and embracing the joy that comes along with that.

New Horizons

Today I found myself lost. I wasn’t lost in a literal sense of the word, but emotionally I was in uncharted territory.

At a crossroads, the trajectory of my life is about to change. A storm is brewing on the horizon and emotional turmoil overwhelms my senses.  Change is hard; inevitable and necessary, but hard nonetheless.

Over the past 2 years I’ve undergone significant growth. While growth is good, it comes with a hearty side of growing pains. Growth has lead me to examine my values and beliefs. And I have discovered that my house of cards is built on a shoddy foundation. I no longer value consumerism.  I’m striving for freedom, rather than the confines of debt. I value passion and creation which seem to be increasingly scarce. Not only am I no longer content with the status quo, I’m completely unable to tolerate it. The constant pursuit of more, to impress others, is no longer my ideal.  The life I have invested years in designing now disgusts me and leaves me in an utter state of discontent. I now know that it is time to keep moving.

Don’t misunderstand, I am grateful for the roof over my head, for my job, and for the stability that has offered me many opportunities and experiences. And for the first time in my life, I’m truly grateful, on a heart wrenching level, for all of my worldly possessions. I am finally feeling the emotional weight of these belongings. I am feeling every hour of work invested in each of these items. I feel the weight of the hands that toiled to make the fabric I’m wearing and picked the food that I eat. I’m feeling the weight of every decision, in a long line of decisions, that has led me to this position. This weight is crushing me.

But there is hope in knowing that this too shall pass. This moment, this year, this way of life shall pass because I will choose intentionally to move in a new direction.

On the horizon I can see freedom. I can feel peace, knowing that my life looking forward will be the epitome of  intentionality. A path leading to a life well curated is sure to be full of surprises and pitfalls, but looking at that horizon, I know where I’m meant to be.

 

Noise, Constant Noise

Noisy honestly doesn’t begin to describe the world we live in. Constant social media notifications, emails, calls and texts, never ending negative news, and modern day metropolis consume our our attention. We live in a world of physical, mental, and emotional noise.

I’ve come to realize over the past 6 months that the more connected I am to the things that create noise in my life, the more disconnected I am from reality.

Social media, is the largest source of noise in my life.  I know I am not the only one who feels this way. Social media lends to the perception that others’ lives are better than our own. Reality is that life will always have ups and downs. The current trend in our world is to view everyone’s highlights on social media and then compare it to our day to day monotony or moments that are less than perfect. We have our own highlights, but our perception is so disconnected from reality that our focus is on the comparison of our lives to others’, not on the whole picture.

I’ve also come to realize how much of my stress stems from the news. I don’t believe in being completely uninformed with what is going on in the world, however, I also don’t need to absorb the negativity of the news on a daily basis. As someone who is highly empathetic, it is difficult for me to watch harsh realities multiple times, especially in cases where I have no power or control to improve those situations. It wears on my emotions and therefore wears on my ability to stay focused and centered throughout the day. 

I also struggle with the expectation to be in constant communication with others via email and text messages. There is an unhealthy and unrealistic expectation to answer every ping as quickly as possible. If you are always answering to forms of communication then you are never present in the moment. You are allowing your life to pass you by in order to appease someone else’s expectations.

It’s no secret that over time, all of these forms of noise will leave you drained. When does it end? Where will we draw the line?  Bottom line, focusing on noise means I’m not focusing on my purpose!  Almost everyone I know talks about being anxious and overwhelmed. In the past I have spent an excessive amount of time and energy focusing on this anxiety. Striving to live intentionally is changing my focus away from the symptoms of anxiety, and instead to my daily actions that contribute to it.

I have found a few antidotes to help shut out the noise so that my soul can recharge:

  1. freestocks-org-139132I read a book for 15 mins in the morning while I drink my coffee instead ofwatching the news. Sometimes I read a devotional, sometimes a blog, and sometimes a personal growth book. I find that not allowing anything negative into my mind first thing, helps me to set the day off on a positive foot and helps me stay centered throughout the day.
  2. I installed an app  on my phone called Moment, that tracks my screen time daily. If you start tracking something then you raise awareness of your actions and this almost always helps decrease your consumption. I will admit, I still have room to improve in this area, but  progress and awareness are the goal, not perfection.
  3. I moved Facebook and Instagram to the last page of apps on my phone. It takes me more time to get to those apps now. This way I am choosing to get on them rather than accessing them out of habit.
  4. I will do a 48 hour social media detox from time to time. Every once in a while, taking a couple of days to disconnect completely helps me to refocus. Deleting the apps from my phone helps me not to fall into the habit of checking social media out of boredom.
  5. I spend at least 5 minutes on my lunch break in either prayer or meditation.  Shutting ben-white-132978 my mind off for a few minutes in the middle of the day allows me to refocus and relax.
  6. I’ve started doing a few short sessions of yoga per week. I use the Down Dog app and I really like it. You can select the difficulty of your practice as well as the length of the practice. If you are a beginner, like me, then you will appreciate the pictures and spoken guidance that the app gives.
  7. I set really clear boundaries with myself as to what time to shut the tv off at night and go to sleep. Rest is crucial for our productivity and our emotional stability. We all know this, yet it can evade us at times. Continued noise is the last thing that we need to wrap up our day.

I hope that you will give some thought to what the loudest noises are in your life. What small steps can you take to quiet your world and let your soul recharge?  I love hearing what others find valuable and what creates a quiet, and purposeful life for them.

Gratitude is a Chosen Attitude

Gratitude grants us the ability to shape our perception of the world around us and empowers us to experience life through a different lens. When we live in a first world society, where we have everything we could ever need, then we tend to become unaware of our blessings (I saw this ad recently that is a perfect representation of our first world way of thinking). We never feel the pain of going without so we take much for granted. We also focus on what is missing instead of what is in front of us.

At times I find myself annoyed with the upkeep of my house. Life gets busy and there often seem too few hours in the day.  I don’t particularly enjoy spending an hour ridding my home of pet hair and  I don’t particularly enjoy dusting, washing dishes, and putting away laundry. I can think of more enjoyable ways to be spending my time. But when I pause and look at the big picture, I think of all of the people on this earth that would gladly trade places with me. I guarantee you that a complaint, like mine, would never cross the lips of a person that has lived the past year of their life in a refugee camp or living on the streets.  With these thoughts I  become aware of my lack of gratitude, and for that I feel ashamed. I think about how blessed I am to own any home at all and how blessed I am to have a fur babies worth cleaning up after. I think of how many women bend over a stream to wash their children’s clothes or dishes by hand. I find myself thinking that some people never sweep their floor  because they have floors of dirt.

As I shift my thoughts and put into perspective the things I’m annoyed by, I am overcome with gratitude. My entire perception of cleaning shifts. I don’t feel annoyed by the expense of my time, instead I am overwhelmed by gratitude for the life I am able to live, even when every moment of it may not be pleasant. We take for granted so many things that we are blessed to have in this day and age. The great news is that we can shift our negative and ungrateful thoughts. We can choose to see every moment of our lives with a heart of gratitude instead.

What have you taken for granted today? Are you annoyed by your commute to work? How blessed you are to have transportation and employment. You are tired of wearing the same shirt? How amazing that you have clothes to wear on a daily basis. Was the line at Starbucks too long?  How lucky you are to afford a cup of  specialty coffee. Perspective is everything! One thought at a time we can shift our perception of our world from negative to positive.

Changing our habits of thinking can be difficult.  In the past I  found myself constantly in a state of want and not being in touch with what I currently have. I am in no short supply of possessions, relationships, or experiences that I should be overwhelmingly grateful for. Starting a gratitude journal helped me to focus my thoughts on my blessings. I wrote down just 3 things a day that I was grateful for.  It took me less than 3 minutes and it put my mind in a positive position for the start of the day. If you struggle with changing your thought patterns, then I encourage you to give it a try. I love being able to look back at the blessings that have poured into my life over the past weeks and months.

Today I am grateful to you reader. I am grateful that you are willing to read my thoughts and maybe even share yours with me in return. I am grateful for my ability to shift my perspective. I am grateful to exist with purpose today and every day.

Purposefully Exist

Purposeful existence is living a life of deep meaning. Living each day with intention. Identifying your values and beliefs. Choosing deliberately the people, companies, and causes that you support. Leaving a legacy for the ones you love. Chasing your passions instead of a dollar. Running full speed after the desires of your heart. Being unapologetically authentic. Spending your resources: time, money, and energy on people and causes that align with your values and beliefs. 
Living a purposeful existence means you embrace life with vigor and tenacity, dreaming of better tomorrows. Finding adventure, even if only in your back yard and even if only for five minutes. Creating a better world. Embracing differences of others. Contributing beyond yourself and seeking growth opportunities that stretch you. Living a grateful life. 
Living a purposeful existence means living with no regrets. Harmonizing the good with the bad. Experiencing emotions fully. Appreciating learning lessons. Forgiving the ones who have wronged you, and forgiving yourself. Praying and meditating. Listening to your body and nourishing it properly. Moving your body in ways that bring you joy.
Living a purposeful existence means being aware of the world you live in. Protecting our planet and its inhabitants, empathizing with all beings. Experiencing the awe of the intricate world we live in.
Today and everyday I hope that you exist purposefully. I hope that you make small, but intentional choices that will compound into the life you’ve always wanted. And more than anything, I hope you find contentment in who you are and the life you are choosing to live.