Only you could have done that.

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On October 5, 2011 the world lost Steve Jobs, Apple Founder and technological visionary to his battle with pancreatic cancer. On the same day the world also lost Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth a hero in the battle for Civil Rights in America. One of my friends on Facebook and I were discussing the fact that in some ways Rev. Shuttlesworth may have contributed more to society than Steve Jobs did, but that his passing is going relatively unnoticed because it was overshadowed by Jobs.

The argument was that maybe Steve Jobs didn’t do as much as he could in the way of philanthropy or by helping society the way the Reverend did. I took that information and I meditated with it in mind. Was one man’s contribution in some way more valuable than the other man? What came back to me was this, “Do what you can. Do what only you can do. ”

The thing is there are many people who are not able to come up with the idea of the Macintosh, the iPod, the iPhone, Pixar  or any of the amazing other things that Jobs came up with. The fact is there are other people who are capable of doing the many philanthropic things that need to be done. Now this isn’t meant to be a scapegoat for people to shirk off something they should be doing. This isn’t to say “Someone else will take care of that.” because I think there is too much of that going on in society right now. What I mean to say is, that no one else BUT Steve Jobs could have invented those things, could have inspired others, could have made the technological miracles happen that he created. Many interviews with people who are in the industry say “Only Steve could have done that.”

The fact is our time on Earth is finite. We only have so much of it. No one is able to do all there is available to do in life we have to be discerning with the precious resource of time. In the blog What are you doing? Manage your time, manage your life discussed the importance of time management.

It’s important to take some time to ask “What is it that only I can do?” and not get distracted from that point. Because only you can do that. We should do the best we can to be an asset to the global community but that can manifest itself in many ways and each way is valuable. Only Rev. Shuttlesworth could have withstood the tribulations he did in the fight for civil rights and only Steve Jobs could have done what he did which ended up providing the tools for the Arab Spring, Occupy Wall St., and other revolutions that have taken place because of the iPhone, Google, Facebook and Twitter all things that Jobs in some way influenced.

Be your own kind of hero. Maybe its writing a song, or a blog, or being an awesome mentor to a young person, or inventing technology, or standing up for the civil rights of another. Maybe it will be by creating  a moving piece of art, or just by being that helpful person at work that made life better for others. Find your own version of hero. Do what you can. Do what only you can do.  And in the end when your time on Earth is up people can remember you and the miracles you made happen in your own unique way because only YOU could have done that.

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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.

You must be whole on your own to be in a complete relationship

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I would like to address a myth of the modern world that I feel is prevalent. With fairy tales and romantic comedies there is this assumption that once you are in a committed relationship you will never be alone. Yet in today’s world of business travel, long work hours and transfers to other places for work it is rare that a couple be together all the time. Those who attempt to be in a relationship in order to fill a need that they are not able to fill independently of their partner have a great chance to set themselves up for disappointment.

It is interesting to think about military families in history. Men would go to war sometimes four or more years without seeing their family. There are the modern warriors, not just the military but the business warriors that are away from their families on the road around the globe getting the deal done.

Entertainers, athletes, and others are constantly on the move on tour or promoting their work and their partners need to be strong and complete on their own. This allows a person to be able to enjoy the time they have with the one they love instead of feeling they must be punished in some way for not being present to fulfill the needs of the other.

In order to live a fulfilling and satisfying life one must have a parallel path to the one they love. There are great times when the paths intertwine and are in harmony. Yet, inevitably there will be times when paths become parallel but separate for any number of reasons. That’s why the key to happiness inevitably comes back to self.

Before a person can become a part of a strong relationship, they must first be strong as an individual. They must have an independent sense of place, of self, be able to provide for themselves should that become necessary. This ability changes the dynamic of a relationship from needing to be together, to wanting to be together. Something that often adds the spark and confidence people crave from the dating phase of a relationship. That is a very powerful distinction.

Relationships are a lot like running a three-legged race. The person not only needs to be capable of running quickly on their own, they must also be able to run tied to another which involves communication and team work. When both partners know they can count on the other to hold up their end of the team and keep moving forward together the more successful the couple will be in staying together throughout the journey of life.

You never know whose watching.

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I took my kids to the art museum this week with my mother and brother. It was a fun time. During this time I thought about all the people and the people watching going on. What came to mind is the impact we may have on people while we are out and about that is not always taken into consideration.

It is important to always express your authentic self as a primary part of living a satisfying life. However, have you ever stopped to consider how your behavior in public impacts others observing you?

What if someone was making observations and conclusions about what parenting might be like? Perhaps what being in a relationship would be like? Sometimes people are making conclusions about what a certain person that looks a certain way is like by the way they see others interact in public.

Now are we responsible for these people’s lives and life choices? No of course not. But it does bring pause to say “Am I putting my best self out there? ” Maybe it gives us some motivation to smile a little more, be a little kinder, more patient, put a little more into having a polished appearance when you go out into the crowd. Because others are watching.

When we see people being gruff to one another it may have a negative effect on others. Is it really necessary to bring others down? Sometimes that “fake it until you make it” state of mind is what’s needed. All in all if you are giving your best, that’s all that can be reasonably asked of a person.

It is good to be the best you that you can be. Defining what that looks like is up to you. I remember having that “I don’t care what people think” type of an attitude. Yet, sometimes I wonder if the pendulum has swung too far in that direction. What’s wrong with putting a cordial, friendly attitude and a clean put together appearance out to the world?

Often when a person looks good, they feel good and exude confidence. That positive attitude can be contagious to everyone you meet and that is a good thing. Who knows your well-timed smile for one person might just change their life. That would make the small effort worth a lot.

Sophia Tesch’s blog becomes Summary of a Happy Life

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When I started this blog it was essentially my random thoughts. It will continue to be to some extent however now the blog will be taken to the next level. I will be inviting some guest writers in, sharing resources and opportunities for self-empowerment and creating a more satisfying and fulfilling life. As such the blog has changed from Sophia Tesch’s Blog to Summary of a Happy Life. I hope you enjoy it and find some inspiration from it.
Peace.

Extended family is important to living a fulfilling life.

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In the past century a new phenomenon in Western Culture was to move for employment purposes. The focus was no longer on extended families but the nuclear family being primarily comprised of parents and their children.

Before this happened being human was more of a tribal experience. There were aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, and siblings all near by to spread out the chores, the expenses, to share the joys and ease the burdens. People of like mind, when it worked well they were positive and supportive of family members’ endeavors. They were a source of advice and were there, which could lend to feelings of safety and comfort.

I am lucky. I have a pretty cool family. However, I know that not everyone does. The thing is, everyone needs support and with the way the economy is going and the uncertain future it seems even more important to create a support community around each individual.

Having a support system of people is an important part of having a fulfilling life. To feel the love and support of others emotionally, for advice, and even for other kinds of help during times of trouble. We need community. We need our people.

Now for those who have more of a challenge with their blood family. If they are somehow toxic, abusive, or generally not supportive if they hurt more than help or feel energizing to be with it is possible that the solution is to create a surrogate family.

A surrogate family are people who do support you. Who encourage you and have your best interest at heart. These are people you can share holidays and special times with and feel comfortable to be your authentic self. People who are loving and giving in positive ways. Sometimes friends can be even closer than family. The important part is creating a loving net of people who care to recharge you with positive thoughts and with whom you can live a happy and healthy lifestyle.

Where can I find these people? You may ask. Usually you find them doing the things you do naturally. Look for people with common hobbies, interests and view points. You may also have friends with opposing view points, and that’s ok, as long as the time spent with them is mostly harmonious and not combative and stressful. Find people you work well with when putting together a meal or doing a project together. The kind of people you wouldn’t mind being stuck on a deserted island with. The kind of people you know will have your back and be there to pick you up after a bad day.

Having a sense of belonging and community is something I feel we are sorely lacking in the modern age. We can still be tech savvy and modern while still being able to enjoy the old fashioned tradition of family whether they are related by blood or not the important part is to be connected with love, connected by the heart.

Do your surroundings reflect you or someone else?

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Look around you? Do you like what you see? Who is represented in the space you are in? Is it filled with things that please and empower you? Or is it a physical manifestation of compromise, someone else’s dream?

Having a space that is truly yours is an important part of living a satisfying life. Like a recharging pad for an electronic device humans need a recharge pad a place that is a unique manifestation of them. The colors selected, the style and decor, the little knickknacks and living items should say “This is me, this is who I am in this life.” Not to say that items are who you are in life, it is what is behind the items the picture of the time spent with friends, the t-shirt from a favorite concert or event that you went to. The pet that you may or may not have the books you read the souvenirs from your life journey. It is about the procurement of the objects, the stories to tell, the decisions that make a space uniquely yours that matters.

Every one needs a space that reflect them back to themselves. That reminds you of your humanity and who you are. A place with your favorite music, your favorite food, your favorite textures and scents. These are like a reset where you can walk into a space take a deep breath to blow the hassles and obligations of the world away and just be. This is so vital to a fulfilling life.

Of course it all goes back to the initial work of all human beings, to define self. What do you like? What should or shouldn’t be in your space? What accurately represents you as a person? These questions must be answered before the shopping begins.

Many years ago I saw the perfect example of this experience. Dr. Gladys McGary an amazing accomplished woman, holistic healer, author, speaker, mother, you name it she’s done it. A can do lady. I had the privilege of being invited into her home, her domicile, her space. This is where I learned about this philosophy by example. Being in Dr. Gladys’ home was like a museum of Dr. Gladys’ life. Not pretentious or self involved in any way it was just a physical space that said “This is who I am, this is what I’ve done.”

Most impressive was the skin of a tiger over her couch which she had slain herself in India many years before. She said the tiger had forced her into a position of defense and she was protecting her own life and that of the villagers who had come for medical help. It was the story that was evoked from the tiger rug on the wall that made it even more impressive the tiger lived on through her stories.

When moving in with others we sometimes sacrifice our expression for that of another. The perfect home is one that has a little bit of all the house members represented in the space and that each person has some place even if it is just a small corner that they can call their own a place that is only theirs that they can create their reflecting spot.

If your space does not currently reflect you find out how it can. If you work in a place that doesn’t allow personal belongings what is something temporary that allows you to make the space your own while you are there. If you share a space, how can you have enough of you in your surroundings to truly reflect your time here on Earth? Make your own museum of you, something to share with others and call your own.