Spring Cleaning: Thought Edition

Even though weather wise it does not quite feel like spring in many places, it has officially been spring for approximately a month. With the change of seasons, many people take the time to engage in a deep cleaning of their personal surroundings. While it is important to make sure our surroundings are relatively clean and clutter-free, there are certainly other areas of our lives that we need to spring clean as well, including the including the clutter in our minds.

 

 

When was the last time that you stopped to really think about your thoughts? (For the brainiacs out there, the term for that is “metacognition”.)  If you are anything like most people (including yours truly!), you may find that when left unchecked, some thought patterns can internally lead us to some places that are not helpful or growth producing. Unfortunately, while it is just as easy to think growth producing thoughts as it is to think other kinds of thoughts, it is often the other kind of thoughts that take up the most space in our minds. These are the kinds of thoughts that include sentiments of unworthiness and unattractiveness. These thoughts also include our beliefs about our ability to change or reach important goals. Over time, such thoughts can clutter out the positive and positive change producing thoughts.

 

So, what are some ways to spring clean our thoughts? To start, we must really begin to take inventory of the kinds of thoughts that make their way into our heads on a regular basis. Which types of thoughts do we find ourselves thinking most often? If those thoughts are mainly healthy and positive, our thoughts are clearly on the right track. If the vast majority of our thoughts are negative, we must figure out some ways to reframe those negative thoughts or use some personal evidence to counter those thoughts. For example, if you often think about how difficult it is for you to stick to your exercise or healthy eating routines, remember the times when you were able to do so to counter those negative thoughts. Using some form of personal affirmations can also help change your thought patterns in important ways. Another important aspect of clearing some mental clutter is to stop focusing on the areas where there is a sense of lack (such as one’s financial situation, employment opportunities, or relational status) and instead focus upon finding areas of life for which to express appreciation. Such areas can include having collaborative co-workers, a well-stocked kitchen pantry, and good friends.

 

Spring cleaning one’s thought life is typically not an easy or brief undertaking. Doing so will certainly take time and consistent efforts. Professional support may be needed to address certain types of negative or growth-blocking thought patterns. Spring cleaning areas such as our residences or vehicles is not typically fun or exciting, but the results are usually worth the effort. Spring cleaning our thoughts will have similar results.

 

Be fabulous…and clean well!

 

Great Expectations

Since my recent birthday, I have been challenging myself in a few major and minor ways. One of the most significant ways in which I’ve challenged myself is regarding my overall attitude about my expectations for the day as I walk out of the door of my residence each day. While most people in my life would consider me as someone who has a relatively positive attitude (on MOST days and in MOST instances), I can honestly say that I have been feeling lately that there was still some shifting that I needed to do regarding my overall perspective of my life.

 

What’s Your Expectation?

 

I have always admired those people for whom it seemed as if good things were ALWAYS happening to them. I’m referring to those people who always seems to get a free upgrade on their travel arrangements, always score unexpected discounts on needed items, and somehow always come into contact with really interesting people who make relevant connections for them with other people or interesting ideas. These are the people who seem to live a “charmed” life and maintain the expectation, even on days that are regular and monotonous feeling for the rest of us that their days are somehow going to be amazingly awesome. And, as a result of that expectation, their days are somehow usually amazingly awesome, even on days where they do encounter some type of hardship or difficulty.

 

 

So, I for the last month or so since my birthday, I have set out to become one of those people where amazing occurrences are my daily norm. I even think or say to myself when I wake up to start my day or before I leave the house that I am going to be blessed by amazing things and people and that I am going to be an amazing blessing to someone else that day. Since being more intentional as I’ve started my days, I’ve been having really cool and out of the ordinary experiences that I try to remember to record in my version of a gratitude journal. Some occurrences would not seem to be all that major to other people, like unexpected and deep discounts on items at the grocery store or finding a parking space during the afternoon rush at the gym, but are important to me. Other occurrences, like unexpected reminders from others that they find me special and beautiful on the inside and outside during low points when I’m feeling overlooked, are also significantly remarkable to me.  As I’ve remembered to have that expectation that some really amazing people and occurrences are going to enter my life on the regular, I’ve yet to be disappointed.

 

Thinking, believing, and expecting my life to be amazing has translated into me feeling even more grateful for just how frequently amazing occurrences happen. Focusing on the “amazingness”, even when less than amazing or even negative events occur in my life have helped me to keep the perspective that amazing is my new normal. I also better understand that I always find what I’m looking for…and I’d rather look for the amazing and the exceptional as opposed to the lackluster and ordinary. My perspective now feels radically better and I engage with each day feeling excited about the cool surprises that I’m going to encounter at some point.

 

I want to challenge all of my many readers to attempt to shift their perspective about their days in similar ways and record the results. I can’t wait to hear the amazing things and people who you encounter and how you bless others during days that used to feel overwhelmingly mundane.

 

Be fabulous…and have great expectations!

Interestingly Unprecedented

It is really hard to find an appropriate adjective to describe some of the historical events of the last couple of years. “Interesting” is an adjective that many of us use in a “tongue in cheek” manner to describe those events (usually events that are not horrific or traumatic) that appear to have absolutely no basis in reality and that we are unable to fully wrap our heads around. “Interesting” is a word that many people are using to describe recent events in American politics, the 2018 NCAA March Madness Tournament (on both the men’s and women’s sides), and the unexpected success of recent blockbuster hits in the theaters.

 

One of the most significant takeaways for me in the last couple of years with all of these “interesting” events is that so many of them are unprecedented and have never happened before and will likely never happen again. All of these unprecedented events serve to remind us that we are living in a time where there are infinite possibilities and no limitations on the things that can be accomplished. As a society, we have witnessed that it does not necessarily take certain qualifications or connections to start businesses or influence people in powerful ways. We have observed that sports teams with the best players and qualifications are not necessarily always the teams that dominate tournaments. We have also watched people of various backgrounds perform feats that would have only been dreamed of many years ago.

 

 

As we progress through 2018, let’s make it a “thing” to live our lives in a manner that is unprecedented (as it relates to our individual lives). In other words, let’s tackle some feats we have not before accomplished in our lives, from the major (such as running a marathon, chatting up a cutie in a coffee shop, or finalizing a business plan) to the minor (such changing our lipstick color, taking a new route to work, or trying a new grocery store). When we attempt to live differently, our lives will likely become REALLY interesting and really good in some significant ways. I’m currently undertaking some unprecedented (for me) steps in my life and I’ll update all of my readers in the near future about those steps.

 

Be fabulous…and unprecedented!

Such a Time as This…

We are living in a time where the news is full of traumatic events, such as natural disasters, wars, and other random scary occurrences. Hatred from a variety of sources is unfortunately very prevalent both in the virtual world and the real world.

 

 

 

This is a time when the world needs to see light, love, and hope from people who desire to have a positive impact on the world. As we have seen in recent weeks, progressive change agents come in all ages and from a variety of backgrounds. Light always overcomes darkness, even when the darkness has been there for a very long time and appears to be permanent.

 

Let’s all work on shining our lights in our homes, communities, schools, workplaces and any and everywhere else in between. Scary circumstances and hurting people improve when we shine our light upon them.

 

Be  fabulous…and know that your light is made for such a time as this!!

Bracket-Busting

One of the coolest things about the NCAA’s “March Madness” basketball games, is that literally and figuratively…ANYTHING can happen. I was out celebrating with a friend this past Friday night and when I got home, I started receiving a ridiculous number of texts about the match-up between UMBC (an Alma matter of mine) and UVA. Friends were telling me via text how “my school was up”. And my reply was something along these lines, “You know I went to UMBC, not UVA, right? There’s no way my school could be winning”. BUT after checking the final scores, the men’s basketball team from my undergraduate program (from a few years ago) had indeed won the game…and had apparently won Twitter and the hearts of many in the country.

 

 

While I thoroughly enjoyed hearing about and seeing the world celebrating my school, a school that is way more renowned for its academic programs than its athletics, I definitely learned some powerful lessons (that have nothing to do with basketball!) that I will apply moving forward. My school’s team made history on March 16, 2018 as being the only number 16 seeded team in the tournament’s history to ever beat (and convincingly so), a number one-seeded team. Literally, everyone, from statisticians of the sport, sports writers, and hard-core fans said it couldn’t be done and even if it could be done, the current men’s team from UMBC was not going to be the ones to do it. However, the stats regarding men’s basketball team performances from the men’s tournament will now include the pictures of a group of young men from a program with a golden retriever as its mascot. So, what are the take-aways here that those of us that aren’t college hoops stars can apply to our own lives?

 

Just because it hasn’t been done before….It’s important to learn from and understand history, but we can’t let history dictate how we conduct ourselves in the present moment. Miracles and victories occur when various elements align in a certain manner and we have to be prepared to take advantage of such moments. Just because something has not been done before, does not mean that the chances of certain events occurring is impossible. Human flying across the world in airplanes was once considered impossible and now on a daily basis, thousands of flights occur around the world. Women competing in sports was once something that had never been done before either as well as many other feats that were once considered unlikely to happen.

 

 

Ignore the statistics. I didn’t get the opportunity to watch all of Friday night’s history making game, but had the men’s basketball team from UMBC ran onto the court weighed down by the statistics that shouted “no way”, history would not have needed to be revised based on their performance. Sometimes, to get where we need to be, we have to ignore certain statistics as it relates to our lives. For those folks looking for work, ignore the stats about unemployment and use your credentials and network to keep grinding until you find your dream career (or at least a good job that can pay the bills while you continue to search!). For the single folks who want their wonderful “plus one” with whom to enter into holy matrimony, ignore the stats about the divorce rates and how supposedly hard it is to find a quality mate. Wonderful people are out there and they are looking for you, right now. And for the people who are tempted to throw in the towel regarding other areas of their life just because the numbers make it appear impossible for you, don’t give up.

 

When it’s time to “dance”, dance your butt off. I love, love, love, how the men’s team from UMBC took total advantage of the school’s first March Madness performance to not only show up, but to show out. They didn’t play like a team who wasn’t supposed to be there and that according to the statistics, was by far the worst team in the tournament. Instead, the team played like they were supposed to be there and not as if they were fearful of being trounced by the team that according to EVERYBODY and their mamas was supposed to legitimately and easily beat them. So, for a practical application of that principle, in our everyday lives, let’s make it a habit of showing up to places and situations like we are supposed to be there…and not as if we feel that we are an afterthought or just got invited in out of pity. Show up in life by looking your best, doing your best, and being your best and trusting that no matter the outcome of a situation or circumstance, you gave it 100%.

 

Let’s do some revising of our personal histories while simultaneously writing awesome next chapters in our life stories.

 

Be fabulous…and “bracket-busting”!

 

Birthdays…

In less than a week’s time, I’ll be another year older, a prospect that is simultaneously both amazing and daunting.

 

As I reflect on the year of my life that I will soon be exiting, there were many relationships or situations that caused me to shed tears or worry about people or circumstances that I could not control. With perspective and time, I can see the amazing ways that God creatively worked to keep me protected from circumstances that would have been less than His best. I am exceedingly grateful for that fact, while still remaining hopeful on the behalf of friends and acquaintances and for certain circumstances to change for the best for them. God taught me a lot about the concept of “control” and how He is in control of all…and thankfully I’m not. But in addition to that harder lesson to learn/swallow about control (that I saw at work in virtually EVERY area of my life), I certainly acknowledge some really amazing growth and insight that occurred during this year.

 

 

In the past year, I’ve started dreaming more or really started dreaming again… about my life and my future. I re-discovered some skills and talents that have been dormant for many years. I re-activated my love of reading through reading books of various genres and (finally!) became acquainted with the world of audiobooks. I learned to become more flexible and understanding when new endeavors that I embarked upon with the best of intentions didn’t work exactly as I envisioned, because some aspects were out of my control. I trained for and ran my first race in many years …and for the first time ever didn’t have a partner on race day or friends cheering me on…and that race was incredible from start to finish. I underwent a NOT fun at all medical procedure and interestingly enough I was not worried about the potential result. I better learned how my spoken words create my reality and how what I consume media-wise can either uplift and inspire or be a total waste of time. I now better understand the importance of focusing on my vision and not being distracted by how other people are achieving similar goals through processes greatly different from my own. I learned to be more grateful for “where” I am and “who” I am because gratitude should be my frame of reference, no matter what is occurring in my life. And all of this is just a mere scratching of the surface of some of the “amazingness” of 36.

 

 

I was reminded, very recently, that God knows when His children need important reminders in life and was astounded when He bought those reminders in creative ways that I would never have imagined. I’ve got some exciting and lofty goals that I won’t be able to achieve without real focus, effort, and support from above and from the people who are rooting for me. So, I’m looking forward to 37 and am ready to be even more amazed at what transpires this year.

 

Be fabulous…and grateful for birthdays!

Some Words to Live By…

I can hardly believe it…but it’s March 2018! As I contemplate moving forward and re-up my commitment to the goals that I have for myself this year, I have drawn on inspirational reminders from various sources. Read below for some inspiration…and then get to work making your goals a reality!

 

 

 

Inspirational Reminders

When I need the reminder to not settle for less for my life in any area…

“Better to live with high aspirations than mediocre realities”. (Cannot recall source.)

 

When I need the reminder that my time-table for life-events is not always accurate…

“Everything will come to you at the right time. Be patient.”  (Cannot recall source.)

 

When I need the reminder that a grateful attitude is of the utmost importance…

“What you appreciate, appreciates.” (Lynne Twist, Author.)

 

When I need the reminder that staying “stuck” in the past, won’t propel me to current goals…

“We can’t feed our history and our destiny at the same time”. (A Pastor, not sure which one.)

 

When I need the reminder to not compare my life to anyone else’s…

“A flower does not compete with the flowers next to it, it just blooms.” (Cannot recall source.)

 

This is just a short sampling of the reminders that I bring to mind when I need inspiration for wherever I happen to be on my journey. I hope they help you in some manner to progress towards your goals.

 

Please be sure to join me next week as I make some important announcements about the blog.

 

 

Be fabulous…and stay inspired!!

 

 

 

 

 

Moments Like This…

As the United States is reeling from and attempting to deal with a recent significant tragedy that has gripped the country, this is a powerful time to take inventory of the people, things, and places that are blessings in our lives.

 

 

 

In those moments when I’m wondering “why” certain events have occurred, all I can do is pray and take whatever actions I’m compelled to take. I also know that it is horrific moments like these where I am also forced to take a long hard look at all of the seemingly major and minor aspects of life that I all too often complain about in my head or to others. Moments like this make me stop and express gratitude regarding the many blessings that I have in life, including the fact that I have been blessed with another day to hopefully be a light shining in a world that so desperately needs illuminating. It is moments like this that remind me to not so selfishly enjoy my extremely comfortable life and ignore the needs of those around me. Moments like this remind me to reach out to the people who always have my back to let them know that they are appreciated just because of their character. It is moments like this that remind to drop a quick line via text or email to those folks that I care about but don’t connect with often due to lives/schedules, etc. Moments like this remind me why I need to press towards those goals that are inside of me, because the work that I am called to do will inspire many to holistically take care of themselves.

 

I implore all of my many readers to not let moments like this be in vain. Moments like this should spur us to some form of action on a both a personal and broader level to have a positive impact on those around us. Clearly, the world needs us.

 

Be fabulous…and never forget moments like this!

“Keys”…

In case you need some inspiration, here’s one of the quotations that I’m keeping at the forefront of my mind for this year. I’m not sure of the author/source of the quotation, but it is one that I’ve seen a few times and it has stuck with me.

 

 

“Old keys won’t open new doors”…

 

 

 

 

As we continue into 2018, it’s important to remember that if we want change in our lives, we can’t keep doing the same things we’ve been doing, maintaining the same mentality and expecting that we will somehow obtain different results. So, get prayed up and make and get some new “keys” for 2018.

 

Be fabulous…and don’t be afraid to try some new “keys”!

Stay Resolved

As we approach the end of January, many people have already significantly eased up on their intentions of achieving certain New Year’s Resolutions. The crowds of people working up sweats at gyms have decreased, budgeting systems may have already been tossed out the figurative window, and attempts to cultivate new routines and relationships may have been replaced with the familiar and ordinary.

 

Where do you fall on the spectrum of people still attempting to achieve their New Year’s Resolutions? Are you still eagerly attempting to achieve certain goals? Or have you already thrown up your hands in defeat because you had not expected the process to be THIS hard? Did you even make any goals? Regardless of where you fall on the spectrum, read below for wisdom to encourage you as we continue along our respective journeys.

Remember that there are no quick fixes. It is 100% okay to admit that most of us did not get to certain undesirable places with our health (physical or mental), finances, relationships, or careers because of one or two choices that we made. Instead, we are figuratively and literally “where” we are because of a long series of choices that we have made over time. With that perspective in mind, we also need to remember that to achieve our resolutions or goals, it will also require us to consistently make better decisions over time. To get “where” we want to be, both figuratively and literally and to maintain, will take work and dedication.

 

Plan a “work around” for any inevitable obstacles. As I mentioned in a previous post, anytime that we attempt to make any changes in our lives, the paradigms and perspectives that we have been operating from (and sometimes even other people!) will attempt to bring us back to what is “normal” and routine for our lives. With that in mind, we have to always be prepared for “stuff” to come up to prevent us from achieving our goals. It may mean preparing our meals for the week over the weekend, creating a monthly budget before we start spending our paychecks, or being prepared to say “no” to any cutie whose core values don’t align with ours.

 

Know your “why”. As we work to achieve our goals, it is essential that we know the rationale for the resolutions or goals that we have. Are doctors telling us that if we don’t decrease our blood pressure through lifestyle changes that we will require medication? Are additional classes or certifications necessary for us to progress to the next level of our careers? Does our dream vacation require funding that we don’t have? Whatever the “why” is, we need to keep those reasons at the forefront of our minds.

 

Stay on your “own yoga mat”. I heard some advice recently about the importance of staying on “own yoga mats” as we work toward achieving our goals. In yoga, complex poses are only mastered through a strict focus on our own bodies and breathing. If we look to see how others are maintaining their poses, it is highly likely that we won’t be able to maintain our own poses. Similarly, in other areas of life, it’s way too easy and tempting to look at the lives and progress of other people and want what or who they have. While it can be helpful to receive wisdom and insight from other people about how they achieved their goals, we still need to find the methods that work best for our lives. We also can’t compare our progress or our journeys with anyone else’s. Let’s stay focused on where we want to go and not on the journeys of others.

 

So …there you have it! Use these reminders to help you “stay resolved” so that your 2018 looks vastly different from your 2017.

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