New Month Affirmation

Affirmations are wonderful things, and can – quite literally – shift one’s mindset. By so doing, we are then open and able attract the good things we want and need to create our desired reality.

Yes, you can start anew – it’s never too late!

Magic, really. . .

Kindness and Compassion

Kindness and compassion are two traits that I personally value high up on the proverbial moral list. I have the great fortune to be close to many individuals who posses both of these, and the absolute honor to work with children with disabilities and among their communities where they are found in spades.

I sincerely believe that each generation has seen the progression of our species and discovered with it an innate and creeping fear – we manage to embark on new territory with frightening (and seemingly increasing) speed. As a Martial Artist part of me feels that the world has become more dangerous, and there is ever more opportunity to abuse and to bully – the forums are countless, whereas…once upon a time…they did not exist. (Think social media, internet chat rooms, cell phones etc…) It’s hard not to see the glaring negatives.

But…my mind is admittedly wired to be overly optimistic. That doesn’t mean I am not based in reality, or that I don’t take life seriously (whether it be bills or the threat of being car jacked.) But I see the immense value in keeping a positive outlook as much as is humanly possible because I have seen the tangible impact it can have. This week I am completely down for the count with a kidney infection – couldn’t say where it came from, but I confess it has been quite painful and body-rocking. I’m a dreadful bore to be around, slow-moving, and probably not smiling a ton… But I feel thankful. I see the good.

For one thing, I feel blessed to have the help and care that I do from my husband and appreciate feeling love from my family. As importantly, I recognize that I’m not terminally ill! I have all my limbs. I have all my senses. I haven’t been jumping for joy, certainly, but I have not lost sight of the fact that this is a short bout. I have nothing to complain about, and certainly no right to be yelling at anyone, nor taking out my frustration in a negative way. This was an out-of-the-blue lesson, as often they seem to be.

I also think sometimes the Universe wants to say, “I really think you need to slow down for a minute because YOU won’t on your own!” Frustrating that may be for a personality type like mine, I have to accept it. It’s not a fun stroll in the park, but there is value in having to slow down (or flat out rest.) There is an additional benefit in that it reminds me that I need to be kind and compassionate to myself – it’s okay to rest.

Even when I feel horrendous, I know how blessed I am. It’s important to say thank you to my loved ones to express my gratitude for the kindness they show me, or others along the way. For instance, I appreciated that the ladies at the blood lab were as sweet as they were – it was a little thing, but they were kind, and I noticed. I even appreciate the people who make the amazing whole wheat english muffins I’m eating.

The world is a tough place – whether more or less so than the past, who knows… I think each era comes with some pretty challenging circumstances. But we don’t have to be bitter, or treat others unkindly. We don’t have to abort compassion to buffer ourselves, or lash out in response to someone else’s poor understanding of proper human interaction. Lofty it may sound, and perhaps also unrealistically utopian, I truly believe that the more compassion and kindness people show one another, the better off we all would be.

I live in a tough town. Some days I really notice the effect… My DNA defaults to seeing the world from someone else’s lens (or trying to), and to coloring everything with an empathetic heart. But there are days I feel like an angered animal in my own skin and I sincerely chalk it up to the environment (40 years of living with me gives me good insights when engrained M.O.s are changing.) It’s an interesting experiment in a way – incredibly enlightening, and I’ve welcomed the learning. It has taught me just how valuable it is to maintain my own standard of airing on the side of kindness. Why? I don’t want to contribute to the downfall I see around me (and I don’t want to be pulled further into the depths with it.) 

My recent travel was also quite a fiasco, between cancellations, unexpected delays, missing connections… I was tired and frustrated but yelling doesn’t help anyone in a situation like that – it wasn’t the gate agents at the airport who were responsible. It wasn’t the pilot or stewardesses… Various people kept asking why I was smiling and it occurred to me that I guess most people don’t (a fact that actually made me feel sad.)

I didn’t really know who was to be held accountable in all cases (two planes themselves for breaking? A mechanic long gone who maybe could have done a better job? A supervisor who should have triple checked the panel work?) But would it matter if I did know who was at fault? Not really… There was no sense in getting crazy because at that moment all I could do was be resourceful and figure out my next move. I couldn’t control the external circumstances, only how I was going to react to it. I wasn’t trying to catch a flight to Tokyo, I wasn’t stuck in a hostile territory (well…that can be debated!), and I knew I’d figure out a way to get to my destination at least in 24 hours.

Having compassion and kindness for the players involved encouraged them, also, to have the same for me. And they did. They took care of a lot for me, including arranging a long drive to get me to my destination and sending me a credit for inconvenience – I saw them feverishly trying to get my bag pulled at one point… They were legitimately putting in the effort (which we should be honest doesn’t always happen these days even if it is at the common core of a job description.)

I spent 20 minutes on the phone after the fact waiting for a manager so I could commend the key people who helped – I could tell that acknowledgement and appreciation would matter to them, and a kind word can go a long way. I sent an e-mail doing the same just to be sure it got to the right people. Will I ever see those agents again? Probably not. Does it matter? Absolutely not. To spread kindness and compassion doesn’t take a lot – in fact, I’d argue it takes less than to hate, to be angry, and to yell. But it changes lives. It makes people want to return the favor, to work hard…it helps them to feel good about their contribution and to, therefore, continue making a positive one.

If everyone could do the same, the environment would shift dramatically. Though it isn’t realistic to expect everyone to eagerly jump on board with a “love more, hate less!” hippie-like mantra, it doesn’t hurt to live that example as much as we can. And it doesn’t mean we can’t seek out environments which are more in tune with these principles – it is impossible not to feel the shift when compassion and kindness are blooming in spades around you, and when you recognize that there is a choice about what we do with what’s presented to us. 

The Power Of The Mind

I believe deeply in this sentiment – the ability to remain in the present (and upbeat!) is a high-level skill in a fast-paced and stressful world. But when we can tap into the positive, focus on what we can change (not what we can’t), and when we refrain from projecting into worry and fear, a world of opportunity unfolds.

Be open to changing an outdated attitude. Shift your wavelength to a positive tune, and the magic will unfold before you…

 

Commit Your Mind

Until a person invests themselves fully – with a commitment not only in heart and spirit, but also in the mind – his goal will remain just beyond reach. If the mindset isn’t on board, it will be a long, and generally endless road. One cannot expect change when the mind is in opposition.

Along those lines, understand that no one ELSE is going to change unless they want it for themselves.  

That’s the secret.  That‘s the magic. When the mind believes and is committed, the change will occur. . .but never before that. The Universe knows when you are half-assing your beliefs and / or effort. 

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The great news?  If you DO want it…whatever it is…you can have it.  You can create and choose how your story will end. 

Why “Be Positive” Isn’t the Best Advice When You’re Down, By Michael James

This article – Why “Be Positive” Isn’t the Best Advice When You’re Down, By Michael James – came to me via Tiny Buddha and I had to share.

To add a spoiler, I’m not necessarily backing up the article because I think meditation (specifically) is the end-all-be-all necessarily – phenomenal it can be, everyone is different, and meditation is both a highly individual, and incredibly varied practice.  But I DO like a lot of what is said (and do like meditation personally), and I appreciate that Mr. James is willing to say “positivity” isn’t always what’s needed.

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I’m a positive person but that does NOT mean:

  • That I’m peachy 24 / 7
  • That I don’t make judgements
  • That I’m not an inherently flawed human being

Trust me, I am.  I make mistakes ALL the time.  I * try * to see sun and roses, but there’s plenty of rain and storm clouds too.  While I’ve been mistaken as someone who presents only that happy image, I’ve never been anything but honest about the fact that I am as much a tempest as Mother Nature – some days you don’t know what you will get.  I’ve felt badly enough about it in the past to land myself in some very abusive situations, but. . .  While I have a long way to go, I no longer fundamentally think there’s something “wrong with” me because I feel so deeply.  

As an Empath I respect this idea that some days the LAST thing you want to hear is “BE POSITIVE!” (*insert friend with annoyingly feigned smile here*)  While of course I (and anyone who might chime in with the phrase) am *trying* to be helpful, it may not necessarily be the best default. . .

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Sometimes you just don’t damn well feel like it, and that’s MORE than okay.  I’ve had a problem with minimizing, justifying, and avoiding the act of “feeling” in the past – some days it’s more important to sit with the discomfort to get to the root of things. 

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Two of the things stood out most for me from the article: 

“Like Instagram and other forms of social media, this “positive thinking” movement seems to be about living up to an ideal standard of perceived perfection all the time. Not satisfied with looking “perfect,” now you’ve got to think perfectly, too.”

True.  Scary.  Thank you for putting this solidly in verbal terms!

and. . .

“…authentic masters understood that negative thinking is part of the human journey, and that it’s okay to feel less than your best sometimes. And they also knew that it’s a quick route to self-hatred to expect any more of yourself.”

Thank you, again, for reminding that it’s okay to feel whatever emotions we feel.  There is not right, and no wrong.  We are allowed.

So yes. . .I love the designation of “professional cheerer-upper” that some friends and family have given me.  I feel honored and blessed by the compliment – right or wrong, I identify with bringing joy to others.  BUT…  BUT.  I’ve got my sad, grumpy, frustrated, gloomy, and altogether dark days too (article on that, by Madisyn Taylor.)  I’ve had to do a TON of work to recognize that it is not only okay to feel those things…but also to not want to “be positive” for a time.  

If all we ever saw was the sun (or that was all we were TOLD to see) then it wouldn’t be such a glorious thing, would it? There’d be no special positivity associated with its warmth or energy at all – so then what’s the point?  

No….I’ll take some showers along the way, and expose my soul to the rain when I need to.  Sometimes, that’s exactly what it needs – the positivity will find its way, not to worry.

 

No Excuses

I’m not always up for doing my activities every day – I do seven Martial Arts classes a week, and go to the gym, and do cardio…  So honestly, I’m downright exhausted sometimes! 

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But for me, the end result is the important thing – if I truly don’t feel up for training, I give myself a break…  But generally, what I really need is to buck up and push through the sticky “ugh! Do I have to?!”s.  Yep, just a swift kick in the ass, folks!

There IS something to be said for overtraining – having been in that zone far too many times, particularly when training for a competition or event, I know my body…AND when I need to stop.  It is important to recognize that fine “overtraining” line, but ALSO to recognize when you are making excuses.  Be HONEST with yourself – your goals are your own, so the only person you hold back is yourself.

People often ask what I do to get through the tougher days…  My answer?  

  1. I take BABY steps…
  2. I change my language…
  3. And I focus on the goal.

1. BABY STEPS

I tell myself I only have to start.  I don’t think about the fact that I’d like to do eight HIIT sprints, incline walking, and jogs (which add up to about 40 to 50 minutes.) Instead, I tell myself that I just need to hop on, do one or two and see how I feel.  It WORKS.  I take the pressure off myself by not envisioning beyond the moment. Usually once I start, I feel up for more.  And, once I’m done, I am thankful (and thrilled!) that I pushed through.

2. CHANGE YOUR LANGUAGE

Instead of focusing on the tougher aspects of the activity…

  • It’s exhausting
  • I’m tired
  • I don’t feel like it
  • I’m already sore

I choose to focus on the positive.  I change those “negative” comments, whether internally or outwardly verbalized, to the reverse…  

  • I’m going to feel great once I get this done
  • I’m great at pushing through even when it feels tough
  • I know I can do it 
  • This is a perfect opportunity to remind myself I can do anything I put my mind to
  • I GOT this!

Positive language goes a very long way, and it acts as a bit of a hand-hold while you are struggling.  

3. FOCUS ON THE GOALS

I regularly remind myself why I do my sports and activities…  

  1. It’s my PASSION 
  2. I love feeling fit and staying in shape
  3. I love feeling strong, particularly since “strong” includes not just the physical, but the strength of my will and spirit, as well as command of my mindset, and my attitude
  4. I love that I don’t get sick and, on the rare occasion that I do, I bounce back quickly
  5. I feel sexier in my skin
  6. I feel proud of what I can achieve, and love that sense of accomplishment
  7. ….

There are so many great reasons to take up activities, and taking a moment to appreciate why I do what I do…even when the going gets tough…helps me to stick to my plan.

So when you are having one of those tougher moments, and struggling to motivate yourself…try the steps above.  They really DO help…I’m walking proof! You will amaze yourself with what you actually CAN do when you put your mind to it, and your feet where you mouth is. 😉

Excuses are like little devilish phrases that try to commandeer our attitude and mindset – don’t allow it!  They only have power over you if you let them!

For more Fit Jazz…

Look On The Bright Side

Yes, I am one of those…  I am thankful to have a glass, forget whether there is something in it or not (because, it is a glass, and that’s a great deal more than most might have.)

I’m an uber-optimist.  I see the good in everything, beauty in unlikely places, and positive lessons even when faced with Life’s darker depths.  It’s gotten me into trouble on occasion, no doubt – I am also known to be a giver (and not the best receiver.)  Codependents might recognize the ring of that bell!

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But honestly…I’d rather air on the side of seeing the GOOD in things, and forgiving when “hate” implores it is my only option.  

I’m not blissfully unaware.  

Nor am I above having bad days, moody moments, fits of tears, or overall stress.  

Neither are my lenses completely “rosy” in the oblivious sense of the term – I do see rightly, and I will see both sides, for better and for worse…

But my focus?  My FOCUS is going to lean as positively as I can get it to because anger, negativity, hate, and frustration are toxic.  They injure ourselves as much as others – “holding onto poison,” as they say, isn’t so far from the truth.

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So even when I am having a rough day, or I’m disappointed in myself…  Even if something didn’t go “right”...I will do my best to remember I have a glass to begin with, and that’s quite a start, I’d say…  I also have a faucet, and it appears to be a limitless wellspring…how about that?

Blessed, and then some.