Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Setting Goals...and Limitations

I have noticed a common thread in several success and motivational articles. No matter what the message many of them hammer in the notion that you have to work really really hard for a really really long time.  I am an advocate for a strong work ethic, sticking to your dreams and paying your dues. I am also a strong believer in creating your own path which is only limited by your imagination.

I believe that what we create follows the prescription we give it including the degree of difficulty and time needed to succeed. If we tell ourselves, "This is going to take years to get off the ground," then it likely will. That is a stipulation we have set in the process of our creation. If we say it is going to be difficult, stressful, lonely, time consuming, take time away from family, we are going to have to make tremendous sacrifices then that is what will be.

Our lives experience ups and downs. We come to know our truths by not only experiencingwhat we are but also what we are not. No road is without curves and sharp turns, but why do we have to sell ourselves short?

What if we focus on the incredible possibilities instead of what may or may not make the process harder? What we focus on and speak of is what becomes our reality of the moment. Keeping that in mind, I want to create a path of adventure, excitement, progress, and ultimately success as I define it. What happens in between is ever changing and never set in stone. I chose to focus on my goals and be thankful for each stepping stone I pass.

I think that if we take a chance on trying something without putting emphasis on the limitations (personal or otherwise) we could see amazing results. Why not give it a try? You might find yourself surprised by the results.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Life after Life

Like so many women today, I have my plate full, my hands full, and my pockets full. And sometimes it seems to be getter harder and harder to carry it all. It is at these times I try to remember where I came from and that I am in control of where I go from here.

Four years ago I returned from a year in Afghanistan. Within the month I was pregnant with my first child. Though it was a blessing, it was a rather large adjustment to add to the already complicated process of readjusting to life back home.

Less than three months later, my husband who is also in the military, was sent to North Carolina (I live in Oklahoma) for the next two years. I had already started school and so was left to attend to my academics and my pregnancy alone. Fast forward six months, my beautiful baby girl, Emma, is born. A month later I was finally able to reunite with my husband and true to form I am pregnant again!!!

In the time since (my daughter is now two and my son, Aiden, is one) my life has been spent raising my children and working around my husband's schedule, which keeps him traveling six to nine months out of the year. I was left with the task of building a life with a practical stranger, working when I could, and raising my kids in a new unfamiliar city.

Gradually, I left myself behind more and more until I felt nearly hollow. I was stressed out beyond coping, lonely, angry, meloncholly and guilt ridden for feeling all of the above. "I am no one so special, that I should be feeling this way." I would tell myself. I am certainly not alone in my plight as a military spouse. Still I was left wanting.

Since then I have been on the search, not quite knowing what for. And two months ago, it found me in the form of a DVD, The Secret. . I was not immediately revived. But I was certainly given a slap in the face, which was exactly what I needed. I was suddenly very thirsty and have been diving into the crazy notion of nurturing myself as well as my family. It is still a constant struggle.

Each day brings new questions, new challenges to face, and yet another obstacle to climb. But at least now I feel as though I have a safety net.

This is a continuous journey, and one that I want to share in hopes that it will inspire someone else. Then perhaps we can go together, daring to believe our dreams can come true, even when life happens.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Moving Past the Past of Others

We spend so much of our lives in search for release from our past; the regrets, the guilt, the pain, the anger. I spent years continuously replaying the events of my past, secretly hoping that somehow they would change. That they could miraculously disappear. Until finally, I learned to accept them. I learned how to understand that I was only robbing myself of my potential by focusing on the past instead of the future.
I had lunch with my mother the other day. And in our conversation we came to some issues of the past. One in particular regarding some rough times between my husband and I. And she asked me if I was okay about it all. The answer was honestly, yes. The more we spoke about it the more I started to realize how often we, especially women, hold onto the actions of others.

When I was going through these hard times with my husband, I finally had to make a choice. I was tired of being mad all the time. I was exhausted from all the negative energy bouncing back and forth between us. I decided to really look at the situation, and something I never expected happened. The one I was really questioning, was ME. Now, being the person who felt they had been wronged, I was surprised that I would chose myself to "interrogate". Yet, it was absolutely correct! The questions that were calling to be answered were all there in my own heart. By focusing on my reasons for holding onto this event ,which I played no direct part in, I was facilitating the stagnation of my own personal growth.

The task of truly examining the situation was not easy. These were hard questions to face. What did I honestly know and how did it affect me, on every level? Was this something that I can learn from? Was this something I could forgive and move beyond? The answer for me was yes. I knew that despite everything, my husband and I love each other greatly. That we had both learned a hard lesson about ourselves and each other. That the hurt was amendable and most importantly forgivable. So I allowed myself to let go and facilitate a stronger bond between my husband and I, as well as within myself. This brings me to my topic.

Clinging to the past is draining and counterproductive to our personal path in life. But to do the same with someone else's past, is truly harmful. There are lessons to be learned everywhere. Yet, at some point one must realize the difference between focusing on growth and enabling our own struggles. We are the only ones who control the direction of our destination. No matter the actions of others, we are the ones who chose whether or not to use it as a stepping stone or a stone that weighs us down. "To be or not to be a victim".

My choice may not have been the same for someone else if they had been in my shoes. I made a decision that was right for me and my marriage at the time, and have never looked back. Our happiness is too important to hold on to the past actions of someone else. So often, the greatest lessons we learn are from letting go of the questions, cutting away the knots we have tied, and moving beyond the past; no matter who it belongs to.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Be Selfish to Be Selfless

Like so many, I have once again come to a point in my life where I am having to make some decisions in regards to which direction I plan on taking my life from this moment on. Everything changes. Children grow older, we grow older, jobs change, school ends. It can be  difficult to handle watching what you have grown so accustomed to melt away. And whether this melting is caused by a poor economy, too high tuition, or just plain gravity we so often feel helpless.

Photo by Maisie Duncan
The fear of the unknown is so great we are often paralyzed by indecision. As a result we lose our ability to fight the urge to resist. We resist so hard and so long we can no longer move forward, adapt, accept, celebrate, appreciate. We refuse the change so greatly that the world just leaves us behind and changes with out us.

I don't like this idea at all. 

I like my routine. I like my nightly rituals and chocolate habits and a good general idea of what is going to happen the next day and the day after that. But I don't like it so much that I am willing to give up the future.

I want to live. Really live! I want to be in the moment and know it is inconstant and revel in the fact that a new moment is happening and it is overflowing with possibility.

And so much of this depends on our health. Not our bodily health, although that is important. But our spiritual health. Putting a dried up flower in the warmth of the sun isn't going to do anything. Not if the flower isn't properly watered, nourished, and cared for. We understand this. We water our gardens and feed our dogs and tend to our children and our husbands. But so many times we forget to take care of our most vital component. Us.

How many times have I been so busy taking care of family affairs and the business of others I didn't even give myself time to eat? Finally, it's 10:30p.m. and I'm shoveling a bowl of cereal in my mouth over the sink. This is crazy! And I know I am not alone.

So, to tie this all together here, I have made my first decision in my little crossroads. And I encourage you all to make this same promise.

I am making the decision to remember that change is necessary for progress, and that I can not take on the challenges of this change or accept the benefits of progress if I am beaten down. So for this moment and every moment from now on I am going to be at least a little selfish so that I may be selfless.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Happy Hol... err...Chris...err...Oh, forget it.

I received a sales add in my e-mail today offering a dictionary of politically correct terms. I thought, "wow. There is a need for an entire dictionary!"

Before I go any further, I want to say that I am all for considering the feelings of others and being all inclusive. But I think that, as we do with so many things in this country, we just take it too far. The trend seems to be moving away from being considerate to being fearful. And not only fearful but extremely possessive.

Plus it seems that being politically correct is only okay when it works for the one trying to enforce it. Like this whole Holiday vs. Christmas thing. 

Personally it doesn't bother me if some one says Happy Holidays or Merry Christmas. I don't understand why so many get upset about it. It is the holiday season because so many holidays fall into this time of year, so it is just easy to say "happy holidays". Plus Christmas isn't the only religious holiday that is celebrated at this time.

So, I don't feel it's taking Christ out of Christmas, as so many argue, but including all religions that celebrate the season of love, forgiveness, and faith in their own way. Isn't that the point? Not just the point of being politically correct, but also in celebrating Christmas? Not just Jesus' birth but what he stood for? What so many believe he died for?

This season doesn't belong to Christmas alone. And I think if the big guy were here he would say something along the lines of "celbrate the purpose and the meaning not the title and commercialization". Let's remember what it's really about, people!

If we concern ourselves with being truthful, kind, and generous all the rest will fall into place and we won't have to worry so hard to about what and how we say things. Maybe I'm oversimplifying, but it seems to me, those who really care are those that don't want it to be a two way street.

No one is trying to take over Christmas. Santa has taken care of that. We want to commercialize everything then complain when it happens. We celebrate a fat old man more often than the actual purpose of the holiday, but get steamed if someone puts 'X' in place of 'Christ' in Christmas.

Bottom line, no matter what you call it, it's about love. Let's not forget that.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Photo by Maisie Duncan
I posted this photo on my writer's blog in regards to how a good book can inspire and change lives, even if it is primarily pictures. But I thought this photo was also very relevant to those of you who may read this blog and not my other.

The book depicts photos and captions of different women in similar cultures, as well as their own, who had broken the mold and made great achievements. I loved being able to be a part of that experience and watch as they looked over the photos and maybe even got a few ideas of their own.

These girls live in a third world country that in many ways is still in the state it was a thousand years ago. Poverty is an understatement, and women have it especially rough. But I learned something very significant from these girls.

They showed me true courage can exist in the form of an 10year old girl. That no matter how hard it gets, faith is the strongest foundation to build any life upon. They showed me how to be grateful for even the smallest of things, like a bag of rice. They showed me that a dream is more powerful than any other motivator in this world.

I learned a lot from my deployment, but nothing made as much of an impact as the young women of Sharan. I pray their dreams come true.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Truth Always Haunts

The Truth always haunts.

Someone posted this on Facebook a little while ago, and it has stuck with me ever since.

Curious. Such a simple statement, I found it incredibly profound. How the truth always haunts. But why?

When I think about truths, I think about all of the wrongs I've committed, all of the "bad" things I have done throughout my life. Funny that the word truth automatically holds connotations of atonement or guilt. Maybe I am going way out on a limb here, but I think that is just the opposite of what truth should mean to people.

So what then?

Okay, you messed up. So have I. A lot. So what? 

We all make mistakes don't we? Isn't that part of the point? so that we can find our...wait for it...Truth.

The truth isn't about those haunting memories of things we regret. Truth is what we discover upon experiencing those things. When we do something that is so awful or shameful or embarrassing, well, it sucks, yeah. But let me just throw something at you...It's okay.

We teach our children that making mistakes is part of growing up. It's how we learn to get back up and what we're made of, how to face life head on. We look at their short comings as stepping stones in their journey and try to show them this. But somewhere along the way we forget to remind ourselves of this.

The fact of the matter is, Truth has nothing to do with our past or the things we do. The Truth is far more simple than that.

The Truth beyond perfection, or rather imperfection. The Truth is you already are everything you need to be. Nothing needs to be accomplished or seen or completed. All you need to do to find your Truth as it really is, pure and simple, is to let go.

The Truth is all of these things are part of the experience. That's it. You are here to experience this world and discover who you really are; not just by things that reinforce this idea but especially from things that show you what you are not. Hot from cold and all that.

So maybe from now on we can start giving ourselves a break. Then maybe the truth of it all will be more releasing than haunting. After all, looking back, if I could go back and change anything...I would enjoy the ride a little more.