If This Doesn’t Scare You, You Aren’t Reading Close Enough

My goal this week has been to do things that scares me as often as possible. It was a goal brought about by an exchange with a virtual stranger on Facebook- I guess you can never tell where inspiration might strike. It started out innocently enough with my giving a cheer to a shared post from Upworthy that had a quote from Mark Twain in it; the quote goes like this:

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw of the bow lines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade minds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

Mark Twain

So a friend shared this post from Upworthy, who really shared it from another source, and then a friend of this friend commented on the post- you follow me?- and then my mind was reeling from the friend of the friend’s comment. Blew me away doesn’t cover it.

The quote by Mark Twain is one I had heard many years ago. It is a good one, and  great one to live your life by. I highly recommend it. I have discovered that not only is it entirely and utterly true, but it is unbelievably freeing and liberating to live life in this manner. So how does one improve upon that way of life? How does a single person -unknown to me- make a casual comment that blows this quote out of the water? What did someone say on Facebook that was actually useful and not negative? What indeed. I am still mulling over the comment and it has been two days. For the sake of privacy I will not call out her name -she probably knows who she is anyway- but this person said the following in response to the Mark Twain quote- I’m paraphrasing a touch for effect here:

Ask yourself this question: If you keep doing things in your life the same way as you are today, what will that look like in 5 years? and more importantly, are you okay with that?

Is your mind blown yet?? Seriously, think about it for a moment. We all have dreams and goals etc. that we are either truly working toward, think we are working toward, or just hope will miraculously happen without us working toward them, but honestly, if you kept doing exactly what you are doing, where would you be? Will you have obtained ANY of those goals? Will anything about you be different? Will anything about your life be different? I don’t know about  you, but I had never thought about life in quiet this way, and while I clearly have adopted the view that living in the NOW can lead to inner peace, clearly there is value in looking forward and realizing that your life may be exactly the same in 5 years as it is right now.

So unless you are Beyoncé, who probably wouldn’t mind a bit if she is still rich and relevant, happily married with a beautiful daughter in 5 years, YOU probably don’t want to be exactly where you are right now in 5 years. Even if you are happy. Even if you have a great job. Even if your family life is wonderful. I highly suspect we all can think of variations of our future we would enjoy more, variables we would like to change. Dreams we would like to chase. So I ask you, if you continue down the path you are on, doing what you have always done, will you be where you want to be in 5 years? I can give you a hint here, you know based in logic and all that silly nonsense… you will likely be almost exactly where you are now.

Okay, so you will be 5 years older, possibly fatter, maybe you will have lost some hair. You might have moved to a new home or your children will clearly get older and their interests will change- meaning trips to karate instead of soccer perhaps- but in the end you will still be you, working the same type of job most likely, living in generally the same area, with the same friends, just mindlessly stumbling through life because I guess it isn’t bad enough for you to do something different, or you don’t know what to do different, or you are convinced that no matter what you do things can’t be different.

I have discovered the secret to ensuring that my life in 5 years will look markedly different. When I ask myself if I continue doing what I am doing, will I like what I see in 5 years, the answer is unequivocally a no. I really don’t think so. I think that is the whole key behind intentional living. If you are living intentionally working toward your own identifiers you can’t possibly be unhappy with the you of tomorrow because you will have reached some of your goals by ding things differently than you are right now. Have I lost you yet? If you just plod along numbly doing what you have always done day in and day out then 5 years from now you are likely to be right where you are today. If you are living intentionally that is probably not good enough for you.

I think the best way to honor yourself and both quotes above is to do something that scares you. Because, if it scares you then you likely aren’t doing it already; and changing your routine in anyway will change the you of tomorrow. Plus, doing something that scares you usually means you are rising to a new challenge, sticking your neck out there, or are willing to take a leap of faith. All things if done regularly, usually, lead to a better life and increased opportunity. Why? Because they allow you to be primed and situated for the opportunities you are hoping for to come your way.  Even if you can’t create the opportunities, you can create an environment where the opportunities would want to live.

And all you have to do is take a risk, do something scary, and be true to yourself. If I continue doing what I am doing right now- my job, my daily life, my hectic pace, my limited time with my husband- I highly suspect I will not like what I see in 5 years. I will probably feel stifled and underappreciated at a job that isn’t my dream. I will probably resent my children because I have remained in this job because I am afraid of losing the good income and great health insurance that having children sort of necessitate (not their fault mind you, but resentment is usually not logical). I might resent my husband for never being home or having time to help with the daily crap of life. It isn’t a given, but if nothing changes in my life, I can easily see it.

I started this blog because I absolutely wanted to change my life. I wanted to find a better way to live. I suppose if scaring the crap out of myself will help me meet that goal, then so be it. I will do it and happily so. So this week I took a chance and applied for a job at Upworthy. It isn’t exactly my dream job, but it is a step in that direction, working for a company I know I would be excited about and proud to tell others about. Applying was scary enough, they didn’t exactly have a job opening for “Enthusiastic Chronic Underachiever”, but writing them an open letter here on the blog for all to see most certainly was scary. What if they didn’t like it? What if the readers didn’t like it? What if you didn’t like it? What if my husband asks me “What is Upworthy?” (true story) It was hard to put myself out there open to judgment and possibly ridicule. But I did it. because if I don’t ever do anything scary, then I will just continue to be a girl with a dream that never comes true. And the me of 5 years from now already judges her. And I can’t have that, now can I?

 

What I’m reading: Seconds by David Ely. I just finished it. I didn’t like it. I wouldn’t recommend I, but I am curious about the movie made from it in 1966 with Rock Hudson. Hm…

What I’m listening to: Frank Turner, If I Ever Stray. I highly suspect if he didn’t have an accent I wouldn’t like being yelled at so much. I wonder if British people think they’d like him better if he only had that Yankee accent?

Now Moment of the week: Riding the water slides at the indoor water park with my son. As I went all to fast down the big one he isn’t allowed on- because daddy forced me too to show my sons how easy it was- I actually experienced this moment of irrational fear. The slide is not that long, steep, or fast, so why was I actually scared? It felt great to get to the bottom. Was that because I was alive? Vindicated? or it was over? I must ride the slide again until I stop having an involuntary adrenaline rush- or for the rush- why can’t I understand this? Grrr…

Inspirations from the ether: 5 Regrets of the Dying. Don’t wait until you are dying to solve these. Make your regrets upon dying that you have no more life to live, period.

How to be Happy in 19 Fairly Painless Steps

 

I may not have found the holy grail of happiness just yet, but I have managed to eek out a little bliss every now and then in these stressful shark filled waters I call my life. So I have decided to take a look back at the things I have done or tried in my journey thus far. It seemed like a good time to sum up the specific steps I’ve taken so I can take stock, move forward, readdress those things that didn’t take the first time, or reassess why things didn’t work at all.

  1. Identify what is great about you. You might be surprised at how awesome you already are. Make a list to see the awesomeness on paper.
  2. Really make those traits of your life a priority or use them more often to shine. If you take what you do well or the traits about you that rock and you do them more often, of course you are going to find more reasons to smile.
  3. Make a conscious choice about who you are. A choice not driven from history or others labels, but one that is truly you, or the you you would like to become. Make the choice of happiness when you do this. Stop blaming others for your position in life and take charge. Blaming others gives them the power, taking charges puts you in the driver’s seat. I prefer power every day of the week.
  4. Formulate your personal identifiers. These are the attributes you want to live by or be known for. This is your chance to chose who you are going to be. This list doesn’t have to be true at this moment, it is a work in progress. Include your current attributes as well as those you are working towards. Many people find happiness in reaching toward goals. Easier to reach for them if you know what you are reaching for.
  5. Review the people in your life and decide if they help or hinder your progress in either happiness or your intentional identifier goals. They may be friends or family and you may love them dearly, but if they don’t get your new life then they may hold you back from truly succeeding. I’m not saying let them go, I’m saying put them in perspective.
  6. Clean up your financial mess, or at least put it all out on the table and in the open so you can start looking at it. Knowledge is half the battle, the truth really can set you free. This is the path to fixing it.
  7. Take action to implement or move toward an intentional identifier. It isn’t enough to make a list, you have to take action. You have to remind yourself everyday of who you want to be and you have to do something to work toward that goal as often as you can.
  8. Let go of all the negative things that draw you down or hold you back. Whether it is people, things, habitual thoughts, or ruminations on your past, let it all go and start new.
  9. Stop patterns of behavior that do not work for you or bring you closer to your goals and happiness. Stop doing everything that negates who you want to be or what you want to have in life. Just stop it.
  10. Adjust your beliefs to allow your goals to be reached. If a belief is preventing you from reaching a positive lace or a remarkable goal it is time to rethink why you are chosing to believe something tat is clearly holding you back.
  11. Live on the edge and do things that scare you; you might be surprised at what you find or discover about yourself. Often living in the safety zone prevents growth and opportunity to make your life the way you really want it to be. You must be bold to move forward and out of your comfort zone and onto the edge. Those who make history or are fabulously happy are out there on the edge, trust me.
  12. Learn to live in and experience the Now- I I know it sounds new agey. Let go of the past and stop worrying about your future. If you live in the now the past is nothing but a memory and the future will only be brighter if you really truly just live in this moment.
  13. Be better to your partner. Give them what you want and they are likely to reciprocate. If not then have them read this. Remember they have value and possibly are right.
  14. Write your best about me. Avoid titles and roles you play in life and instead focus on the true things about you, See mine for inspiration.
  15. Choose to be healthy. Make one small healthy change every week and be surprised at how it catches on and how good you feel.
  16. Be productive. Do things that create peace or simplicity in your life. Do things that need to be done and can shrink your to do list. Do things that instill a great sense of accomplishment. Do the trivial things that get in the way of your greatness.
  17. Get creative! Do something new and creative everyday. This is to get your brain working and firing neurons it usually doesn’t use. Brush your teeth with your opposite hand, paint a mural, bake cookies, make an obstacle course… just do something new and interesting that is totally for fun or nonsensical. There is a lt of brain up there just going to waste.
  18. Exercise, but use your limited time wisely. Moving everyday can make a huge mood shift. If you don’t have time for a big workout just squeeze in something, anything. It will make your mind feel  happy and your body relaxed. This morning I did 20 min of yoga with a two year old on my back. It wasn’t proper, it wasn’t “correct” but I did feel better and he sure laughed a lot. :)
  19. Stop taking on responsibility for others feelings. You cannot control what they choose to feel or what they choose to believe. If you have not been hurtful or intentionally cruel then their emotions are not your responsibility. You will waste a considerable amount of time in life trying to solve the problems of other people. Usually those people have made the decision to be miserable and their beliefs have less to do with you than their own choices to feel unhappy. It will hurt, it will be hard, but you have to realize at some point in your life, you are only responsible for your own reactions and feelings. Not those of others.
  20. Fake it. Fake everything you want to do or be until you reach your goals. You can get where you are going, it just takes a little bit of creativity and embellishment sometimes.

I have now been on this quest to find a better way of life since July of this year. And the really cool, if surprising bit, is that I really do feel better. I really am seeing a difference in my mood, my outlook, and my life. Just imagine if you had been following the journey and doing it to. What might your life look like now? What changes would you have made? How far could you have come?

For those keeping score, or are simply curious. I have accomplished the following by taking the steps above:

  • I’ve lost 5 pounds without dieting
  • I now fit in my pre pregnancy pants, I’m talking the ones before our first child
  • I’ve cleaned up our finances and we can now pay all our bills with a little left over to fix an ailing truck and toddler
  • I can find things in my organized house
  • I’ve sold or given away much of my clutter
  • I’m nicer to my children and we have a lot more silly times together
  • I’m sleeping better
  • My to do list is remarkably shorter
  • I am reading like a fiend
  • I am halfway through a new fiction book I hope will be the winner winner to getting published and being a true writer
  • I have eaten gluten free with only two breaks ( this was for my son’s Celiac Disease, but I won’t lie and say I don’t think I am healthier or that it didn’t improve my mood)
  • I feel more at peace
  • I feel like I have found part of me I thought was forever gone
  • I can cope with the unknown with less anxiety
  • I no longer have ruminating thoughts about things I can’t control

What I am Reading: Heart Shaped Box by Joe Hall a man buys a ghost off the internet… enough said, if that doesn’t make you curious, nothing will.

What I am listening to: Life is Beautiful by Keb Mo.  Thank you Carri, for giving me his voice.

What I am watching: Before you poo poo me… I am a HUGE Star Wars fan (see first edition original movie poster in my house or my son being practically named after Darth Vader), but I am also a huge believer in raising amazing little men. I hope when asked who they liked best they will choose wisely. Food for thought. Honestly though, at 8 years old I chose Chewbacca.

Inspirations from the ether: I clearly didn’t utilize my baby’s sleep time well enough. Must see photos. Seriously,  no really, click it!

Now moment of the week: A potty trained two year old who did it all by himself one day and  hasn’t looked back. Bonus moment, finding out from his special doctor that he only has 6 more months of leg braces! 1 regular doctor visit down! Three more to go!

 

Wholly cow!

It is week 13 of this journey, and I am on vacation. Not a real vacation, I’m still sitting in my house, but I’m not logging into work and I’m doing whatever I darn well please- that my toddlers will allow that is.  I can’t believe this is week 13, really, even just sticking with this blog and sticking to my goal for 13 weeks is amazing to me given all the things I start and never come back to. 13 weeks of dedicated truth finding, fun finding, bliss finding, Zen finding, peace work. I am a work in progress, and if you don’t count my first 38 years of life-which of course I do but not for this- then I have been acting for 13 weeks toward one single goal. Happiness. True unadulterated happiness. Not, gee things in my life are pretty good. Not wow I love my husband and I still think about kissing him when he gets home kind of happy; but pure blissed out, just doing what I do and I have a sense of peace and happiness while I’m doing it.

Let me explain. What I am searching for, what this blog and this 13 week journey has been about is finding the secret to overall happiness. Finding that balance between what life demands we do and what we want to do or feel compelled to do. I want my life to be lived intentionally. I do not want to be a slave to what the world think I should be doing or who others think I should be. I want to live my life exactly as I see fit, and be exactly who I want to be. With no apologies, no regrets. I want to choose happiness, the kind of happiness that is all pervasive and seeps so far into ever crevice of life that I can’t get away from it, and no matter how many terrible things happen, or shoes drop I am still whole and satisfied and strong as I keeping pressing forward propelled by the knowledge that I am happy, I am good.

photo 2

In the past 13 weeks I have been working on myself and my life. I have been researching happiness and peace in corners near and far, resources obvious and hidden. I have found value in the small minutia of life and insight from the grand and spectacular. I have even gained insight and knowledge into my intentional life from the sorrow of life and our culture, our politics, and country’s struggle.  It has felt good to discover that I am not alone. From the blogs of others I have haunted, to the wonderful readers who haunt me here, I have discovered that my quest for more is more common than I suspected, my efforts to find truth and blissfulness not a solitary effort. I have discovered there is strength in numbers and the moment I put myself out there, all my fears and trials, I was welcomed with open arms by a community of people who could relate, who could champion me on, who maybe, finally felt motivated to find their own intentional life and start making their own tough choices.

The goals of the last 13 weeks have varied from a series of letting go efforts- which to be honest were more difficult than I imagined and I had imagined them being near impossible- to identifying what I liked about me, what identifiers I want to work toward and how to truly just feel the moment of now instead of being terrified of the moment next. I have had great successes and I have had crying jags- thank you Children’s Hospital (you bastards). I have found a peace with my children, had tough and long over due confrontations with my husband- which I never do- and made hard decisions for our financial future that seem to have cost us family members we will miss. This journey has been hard, but I will tell you a secret, it has been SO worth it. I feel like I am finally on the road to living intentionally, that I am finally finding a balance between taking care of myself and taking care of others, that I am finally finding the ability to confront when necessary and let go of the things I cannot change. It has been a great ride, an eye-opening journey and I am just getting started. I hope you will continue to take this ride with me. I hope you will share it with friends or family who might be feeling the same kind of stuck, the same kind of always being a passenger of life and never the driver.

So on week 13, because I am lucky enough to avoid work for the whole week, my goal is to do whatever I want, even if that whatever is a whole lot of nothing. I will not make apologies for my actions. I will not be sorry I have taken this time for me and mine. I will laugh much, feed my soul, nourish my spirit and with any luck come back next week with renewed purpose and energy to put toward the next 13 weeks. Thanks for taking this ride with me. I’m honored and excited that you are here. You rock!

What I am reading: Promises to Keep by Jane Green. It makes me wish I had the kind of family that would be by my side in a crisis.

What else I am reading: The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, I’ve highlighted so much in this book I might as well just paint the thing yellow.

What I am listening to: By suggestion from Kerry- and I am so glad she did. I want to make out with this man’s voice. No seriously, I want to do things to his voice that I can’t talk about in public. Hey its okay by Antonio Lulic. Yummy.

Favorite Now Moment: My youngest son’s 2nd birthday. Watching a little boy run,  jump, laugh, and giggle without a care in the world. Finally acting well, finally appearing healed. My heart aches when I think of how far he has come. We have finally gone a whole three weeks without 1 single doctor appointment.  You go little man!

photo 1 (2)

Inspirations from the ether: 23 things every woman should stop doing, I bet you are doing at least 1. And I bet you’ll be happier if you stop.