Category Archives: Self-Empowerment

Coming Home

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Like many Americans I am returning back from a Memorial Day vacation. This time, as I returned to the daily routine of my day I have chosen a more mindful approach when enacting the activities of my day. Taking a personal inventory to ask questions such as “What did I truly miss while I was away or who did I miss when I was away?” are important questions to ask. Of course everyone has things in her or his daily routine that may not be enjoyable per say, however one can agree that if the activities improve the life experience overall, it is worth keeping such actives in the daily routine. For example, doing dishes and laundry,  or taking coursework in a subject that is not one’s strength, are activities that person may not want to return to however, she realizes that they need to be done.  Especially if that person enjoys eating off of clean plates and having clean clothes to wear.

The important part is not to mindlessly return to a routine after vacation. Ask if the typical actions of the day are producing the results that bring feelings of progress, fulfillment, satisfaction, and yes JOY! This life we have is so short and precious if it has become constant drudgery and compromise, instead of being fun and interesting most of the time, than something is out of balance and needs to be addressed.

So As you return from vacation or the stay-cation of a three day weekend I invite you to mindfully reenter your routine and make it a more satisfying one in order for you to have a happy life.

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The secret to a happy marriage

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My husband and I just celebrated our seventh wedding anniversary yesterday. I noticed, during my Facebook morning newsfeed scan that a few others were celebrating their anniversary as well. So I thought to myself what have I learned? This last year has been particularly tumultuous for us and our marriage. Yet, we are still together, in some ways stronger than before. That comes from a decision to stay together. Now, the younger me might have been more resistant about making compromises to stay together more likely to say “If you’re not happy just bail and find someone you can be happy with.” With age comes patience and the ability to step back and say “Is this problem temporary?” Many times it is. I have a three-day rule. If I am really mad I cannot make any permanent decisions for three days. By the third day I often cannot remember what I was mad about, but if I can remember, I am calm enough to talk to my husband about it without being so overly emotional that communication is no longer possible. I focus on what specific behavior or incident bothered me and luckily I am with a man who is willing to listen and who also wants to stay married so we work it out.

This is not to say that we don’t blow our top from time to time. However, one thing we know how to do is to say, “Hey, I was out of line and I’m sorry.” That is an important skill to have, in any relationship, especially in marriage.

The final, piece of advice I’ll write about today that really came to my attention this morning when I asked myself the question “What is different in the way I relate to my relationship now, compared to when my husband and I first started dating?” I wanted to isolate that which makes someone so wonderful in the beginning and then at some point I find my husband reminding me that he “is not the enemy. We are on the same team.” I think this happens a with women who have children and responsibilities around the house in addition to what she had before she came into a relationship. She has career responsibilities for example. Women can begin to feel overloaded and overwhelmed, especially when children are very young. It is the constant demand to place others first and share monetary resources which happens in a marriage and not during dating that can wear on a relationship. It’s important to be vigilant and not let these little things pile up in a memory bank that gets played over and over because it’s not healthy for the relationship. In the beginning the couple looks only for the best in one another and gets amnesia about the negative things. After a few kids it seems to be the other way around, and the couple gets amnesia about the good while focus turns to what the partner isn’t doing “as expected”. That is where marriages start to fall apart. But it’s simple to fix, just start concentrating on the good things again.

I think this is why the tradition of anniversaries continues. To remember the day that we wanted to get married. To remember how beautiful she looked, how handsome he looked, the magic of the day. To get back to that time when our partner could do no wrong. It’s a good thing that keeps a marriage healthy. We re-create that energy and bring it into the present day. That practice is what makes marriages last as intended.

Life isn’t always happy. Plan moments of happiness.

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Happiness and hard times can coexist like cactus and daisies.

 

It may not be shocking news to many of you that life is not always easy. There are times when circumstances of life avalanche a person in challenges leaving them feeling overwhelmed. Many reasons are presented why not to be happy, at peace, to live instead in emotional pain. I am not suggesting that we must numb or hide those feelings. It’s just that at some point a decision must be made because why live a miserable life? To me that seems like wasted time. I don’t want to be miserable do you? To dig myself out of the avalanche I plan moments of happiness.

Plan a small moment of happiness everyday. Make it a ritual. The whole world can go to heck in a hand-basket with things that are out of my control but I will have 5  minutes of happiness darn it! For me I have my morning hug with my youngest daughter. She comes and gives me a big hug and we check in with each other and talk. This is always a moment of happiness for me. We both look forward to it. After a grueling week this week, I loaded up the kids in the car and my cousin in-law came along too and we went to one of my favorite places in Northern Arizona. A place I tend to always feel happy. The picture above came from that place and the idea came to me that life doesn’t have to be one or the other, happiness and times of great challenge can coexist like the cactus and daisies do in this picture. It is possible but sometimes you have to make that happiness happen with planned moments of happiness.

As a side note about this place I learned from a park ranger there that scientists from the local university found that this area is located on a lay line. A lay line is a line of electromagnetic energy in the Earth that causes the ions of the air to become positively charged. These positive ions react with the body and make it feel better, think better, and work better. There was work done to prove this, which I will go into more detail about at another time. The point I’m making here is that by taking action to go to this place, I knew I would feel better. Find a similar place that you can go to. Do an activity you love to do. Be with people that you feel accepted, comfortable and at peace with and hang out. Get some good vibes and create a happy memory, a happy moment. Just one planned moment of happiness can go along way.

Until next time…

 

It’s really simple, but it’s hard.

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My house the night of the fire

My house the night of the fire

Some readers follow me on the social network scene may know that there was a fire at my house last month.

News coverage of fire at my house

My meditation brought me to the place in the Christian Bible, which says “Ye shall know them by their fruit.” and my fruit was pretty good. Because although something bad, scary, completely unfair and wrong happened to me. I was okay, no one was hurt, and I was able to go on thinking in a positive and healthy way about the situation. Now I can share with you what I learned.

Worry. When something happens that is scary, wrong, unfair, and often completely unexpected, a person can take this as an opportunity to worry the rest of their life away. Now here comes the simple, but really hard part about life, especially life after tragedy… (drum-roll please) Are you ready to take notes? Ok here it is…. Live in the moment. Live in right now.

Oh man! How many times have you heard that before? It even comes on cheesy little plaques and everything. The thing is, it’s true. It’s exactly true. And here is another little bit that came to me and this is how it goes:

Several years ago my high school Psychology teacher Mr. Mason asked us a very important question “If something really bad happens to you, how much of your life are you willing to give to it?” I am not willing to give my entire life to something that happened in 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 30 minutes, 1 hour, 4 hours, 1 day, or 1 year. If the bad incident is actually happening in that period, then it is happening and it is out of a person’s control. The question is how much EXTRA beyond the time it took to happen are you willing to give the incident?

This is something a person has to ask themselves BEFORE a bad thing happens, so that when the fear, anxiety, anger flares up inside, when you are human it will flare up inside. The mental mechanism is there to say, “I won’t let it have any more of my life.” Take a deep breath and go back to now. Now is work. Now is hugging my kids. Now is enjoying a beautiful day. Now is doing the dishes. Whatever Now is I go back there and time moves on and things get easier, maybe not easier all the time, however life goes on I survive and even thrive with planned moments of happiness. This is how, despite bad things happening I can still live a satisfying life.

Planned moments of happiness is something I’ll talk about next time.

I wish you all the optimum of happiness in your experience.

Until next time…

I’ll live for you

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 Some songs throughout the ages, as well as poems and sonnets speak of a love so strong that someone says to another “I would die for you.”  It is indeed a strong declaration of love, to place his or her life in harm’s way in order for one’s beloved to live. At the same time and in some ways a more grandiose gesture of love could be to say, “I will live for you.”

A promise to preserve health to the best of one’s ability and to say I will take care of my health so that I may be with you for many years to come when you need me most. I will live so that we can face what the world has to offer––good or bad, together. I will live for you.

There are challenges offered by life that can make living seem like more of a challenge than dying. Getting up everyday trying to figure out the little nuances of life, the questions of life like “Where’s the food going to come from today?” “How is the myriad of things that must be done going to get done?” This reality coupled with the stresses of life that can be so prevalent today that makes living for someone so much more of a declaration of love than dying for them.

This is not to take away from the awesome sacrifice made by a soldier or first responder. People that place themselves on the front-line to protect those they love or die for honor. Yet to forgo the indulgence of destructive vices and excessive behaviors rather than to fight for one’s health in order to be there for those you love when they need you most also holds the hero’s reward that comes with acts of courage and fortitude.

So, if you really love someone, perhaps saying “I’ll die for you” is not the greatest proclamation of love. Maybe that greatest oath of love a person can make is “I’ll live for you.”

More “YES!” moments

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The first week of January. A new year 2012. Turn on the television to all of the weight loss, quit smoking, financial planning and tax preparation ads. Thinking about a resolution. Mine this year is simply more fun, less bs. Yet it wasn’t until a moment ago that I could really pinpoint what I want. I want a tremendous amount of “YES!” moments in my life. Those moments when my fist unconsciously pumps in the air and I yell out “YE-S-S-S!”.  That one magical moment when the Universe aligns in my favor and the harvest comes in for time invested. In order to have YES! moments one has to sew the seeds. Have a goal, place action into it every day, invest in making myself who I want to be.  Making myself who I want to be involves education, attention to the goal and focused action. This is the structure in which the YES! moment flourishes. I want to be happy. I want a satisfying life. I want as many YES! moments as I can have in this lifetime. I haven’t had that many yet, so I must make up for lost time. It is possible though. As a somewhat related side note I would add this little ditty that was posted on Facebook. Nothing is impossible. For if you look at the word itself it says I’m Possible.

Whatever your resolution is, if you even resolve not to have one, remember that all is possible.

Everyone is capable of living a satisfying life.

Happy New Year from Summary of a Happy Life! 🙂

 

 

What are you doing? Manage your time, manage your life.

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Have you ever stopped to ask yourself  “What am I doing?”  Why are you doing a specific action at a particular time?

It’s interesting to break-down how people use time.  What is the difference in actions between the way a transient person uses time and a billionaire? The way a stay-at-home parent uses time and how a corporate executive uses time? How a celebrity uses time and how an office worker uses time?  The way we use our time ultimately defines what kind of life we have to look back on, when we reflect on the life created by these consecutive moments, how time is used can have a major impact in the arena of material success, how a person uses their time is a fundamental  factor in a person’s chances of success.

In the poem I Was Going to Live My Dream But… I illustrate the many little time takers a person encounters in their day. This is written from the point of view of  a wife and mother, however it’s easily transferable to any life and the specific fill-in-the-blanks tasks that make up a  day’s worth of time.

Time is a precious commodity. As we get older time practically vaporizes before us, and once in awhile a moment will happen that causes a person to take note of just how many years have flown by. Those years, all made up of tiny moments, are reflected on, and the question inevitably comes “What did I do with that time?”

So what’s the point? What is the point of the tasks that take up a day? What goals do these actions make happen? What results come from these actions? Is it what you want? Are you happy? It’s  good  to be mindful of questions like these as the day goes by to make sure you are getting the most of every moment. Especially in today’s world of technology with literally thousands of methods of distraction available to us in an instant a person can lose a lot of time without a satisfying return on investment from how that time was spent.  It takes discipline, discipline  in thought and action in order to have satisfying experience of life.  Discipline becomes at the same time the most difficult thing to do and the most important thing to do when achieving goals to live a satisfying life.

Discipline has a negative connotation, as if something is being taken away– Freedom stolen.  This is not the case. Discipline is simply a path, like digging a canal that flows to the life a person wants, time can be much like water. Water can cause a lot of damage when it’s not channeled through a canal, at best it lazily floods and makes a big mess, at its worst it can be highly destructive, but all of that can be avoided with proper channeling of the water flow. Once water is channeled within a canal, it can irrigate a field, or serve as a water source, even create power if attached to a hydro-electric device.  Channeling the water makes it productive and the same is true with time. Daily schedules help combat distraction, and when teamed with a reasonable to-do list which is  marked by priority, a day’s worth of time begins to take shape. Much like a canal,  the schedule gives a path to time that causes something to be produced with it. Consulting  schedules and to-do lists  lends  guidance to decide what activity should be going on in a particular moment in order to reach a goal and feel satisfied at the end of the day.

These are merely guidelines of course,  as the day unfolds its undoubted that the schedule and list will go through alterations,  however there is still a course that can be returned to and priority tasks can be completed.

Make a list of all the time stealers in your schedule. Which stealers can be removed from your schedule by either delegating them, deleting them or managing them more effectively. For example social media like Facebook and Twitter can steal a lot of time if you let it, but with a timer beeping when allotted time is over, and by limiting access to it by only checking at designated times of day (this can apply to email as well), one can have more time for productive work with a good return on time invested.

It is important to make not only financial or material goals but also personal and social goals as well. Spending time with family, having fun, self improvement and care time are included in the list of what must be done. With the guide of a schedule and to-do list and with discipline to channel the use of time, one’s daily actions can produce a very happy and satisfying life.

Like yourself

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Probably one of the most notable treasures of success is being able to look in the mirror and actually like the person looking back at you.

I am not just talking about the basic animalistic type of desire for self-preservation nor the shallow brand of self-love that comes with inflated ego, or narcissism. What I speak of is the same kind of gratification I imagine a sculpture to feel when they take a step back from a completed piece of work and look in wonder as they are able to say “I created that!”.

Each individual creates their life.  The material s are thoughts they think, the decisions they make, the way each person chooses to interact with their environment, and each action  creates something known to us as life. This life is a  self-reflection onto the world.

How a person looks at themselves in the mirror can be very telling about if they genuinely like themselves. Choices are also very telling. People who make healthy decisions  express through those choices that they like themselves.  By putting the appropriate amount of fresh, high nutrient foods in their mouths to satisfy the physical body, consuming enriching thoughts to feed the mind and rich experience of giving, loving and beauty feeds the soul. These actions demonstrate the level to which a person likes themselves.

For some liking themselves is not a problem. Yet, for others who grew up in a critical house as a child it may not be as easy.  For them it is important to make a list of the good things people have said over time. Things like positive job reviews, compliments and other good thoughts and make a list to review when the negative voices from the past want to control the current stream of thoughts. This is how successful, satisfied people are able to push their past back where it belongs and proceed with more confidence into the future.

The artist Pink has a great lyric in her song F***ing Perfect which says “Change the voices in your head. Make them like you instead.” This is so important. Only let the positive self thoughts remain and apply them to daily goals that work toward the outcomes that you wish to make happen in your life. In the end it comes down to you and you can do it.

When you don’t know how to proceed look at others who have succeeded in creating a similar goal to the one you wish to accomplish. Each day work to do at least one task toward achieving this goal. Each small success builds confidence and before you know it, it won’t be a chore to like yourself. The critical voices will become weaker and the confident voices will be the dominant thoughts going forward.

Some people need permission, so if you are one of those people I would like to give you permission today to like yourself. Start out by writing down three strengths that you have and post them where you can see them as you work throughout the day. Add three more the next day and the next for a month and see how long your list can become. If you need to count on people who give you positive support in your life to help add to the list. This will put you on your path to a more gratifying and satisfying life.

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“Since you get more joy out of giving joy to others, you should put a good deal of thought into the happiness that you are able to give.” ~Eleanor Roosevelt


Volunteering. The ability to be the answer to someone else’s prayer. The ability to do something about those insurmountable problems that communities often face can be a very empowering and satisfying thing to do with your time. There is a power in taking on poverty, crime, blight, sadness and desperation and easing it for someone if only in a small way, can have a huge impact.

It is easy to get overwhelmed with the bad news of the day. So much of it is spoon-fed to us through the media. It might be true that the entire problem of poverty cannot be cured overnight, there are things that each individual can do to ease the suffering others feel in turn it is a powerful and somewhat addictive feeling to know that you played a part in making the world a happier and more fair place to be in.

This time of year with children going back to school there are needs in many communities for school supplies to help low-income children have the tools they need to learn and better themselves. When children have the tools they need and positive support from their community, it makes the community a better place. It gives that child hope and higher aspirations to aim for as they grow into adulthood. People who take the time to have an impact on a child’s life can not only be a major inspiration for that child, it is often said by mentors that they feel they get more out of it because they have a healthy and joy-filled relationship with the strong souls that are the children of low-income families. It is a blessing to allow them some time to able to be children.

Our elders are another group that can benefit from a little care and companionship. I remember as a schoolgirl we would go to the retirement home down the street from our elementary school at least once a month to visit. The lady I would meet with was a retired teacher. I would make her laugh and she would teach me how to say things in Latin. Although that was many years ago, I remember her she always had an impact on me. Because both of my grandmothers lived very far away and her family had to live farther away for work as well, we were a good match.  I was able to bring her some happiness while her family was away and she gave me that grandmotherly experience I might not have been able to have if not for her. It was a win-win scenario. So whether delivering meals for people with limited mobility, driving people to their doctors appointments, or simply visiting and helping out one can have a very satisfying experience volunteering.

There are so many ways to give back to community. You don’t have even have to stretch too far out of your comfort zone, just pick something that feels good to you. Coaching youth sports, helping out at the animal shelter, making calls for a politician that you believe in, working in a community garden, donating blood, teaching people while they incarcerated so they can have a better chance at success when they return back to society. There are so many ways to give so many who need help military and their families are another great group to support. So find your place, find your passion, do something, no one can do everything but they can do something.

“What’s in it for me?”, some people want to know. I find that when volunteering many people are able to form wonderful relationships with other great and giving people. I highly recommend volunteering to single people with time on their hands. It’s a better place to meet people than bars. If you are new to a community, it is a good way to begin to be involved in the community and build relationships and feel connected. Giving back and being part of the solution to life’s big problems is a very important part of self-empowerment in order to live a satisfying life. Who knows you might even have fun!

Ways you can get involved:
American Red Cross
Feeding America
United Way
United We Serve

The joy of volunteering.

Focus on the rain or the flowers? It’s all about perception.

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I live in Arizona. A place that doesn’t get much rain but in the late summer we get the monsoon season harsh thunderstorms which usually last less than an hour dumping rain on the desert. In the middle of the night a monsoon blew in. My small girls frightened by the storm cuddled in with me and we rode the storm out and the subsequent power outage together.

Now there are many ways to look back on this event. The negative mind will think about the lack of sleep, the 2 inches of space I was forced to try to get some sleep on and the hogging of the covers by the two little people in my bed. It would think about my five-year-old giving a play-by-play of the storm at 3am as a bother and concentrate on the groggy, grumpiness of the morning and how the day is ruined because of exhaustion. Well that is one negative rain cloud of thought for sure.

The shift comes when one thinks of it as a refreshing much needed storm. The fact that the outside temperature was brought down from 106 degrees Fahrenheit to a much cooler 84. The thought of how nice it is that there are people in the world that look to me for protection. That can cuddle up to me in a storm and how peaceful they looked as they slept. How fortunate I am to have such an intelligent and observant child who was doing her best to be “brave like mommy”. This is the exact same situation with two very different perspectives.

With the negative perspective one becomes grumpy all day spreading the dark gloomy rain cloud of her mood and story to all she meets. Or she can be the sun that comes out after the storm. Focusing on the many blessings and treasures given to her by the storm. The storm brings flowers. Flowers in the mind of the positive blessings that are to be taken from the experience.

Both perceptions can be equally correct or accurate however what realities of the situation a person chooses to focus on will determine their “What next?”. Because that is really what matters isn’t it? When something happens do we take from it negatives that cause even more of life to be negative? Or can a person focus on the positives and even though that specific storm may have brought some discomfort at the time. The negativity can be left there in that moment and more positive productivity and satisfaction can come after. It is up to the one who perceives where they want to take life from that moment on.

Life sends us many storms over the years. The next time life sends you a storm. It is up to you as the one who perceives to decide, will you be focused on the thunder and rain or will you be happy because you know that a good storm is a part of life and from a little rain many beautiful flowers may bloom.