Trials are like fertilizer

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Hello, wonderful readers and bloggers. I have been absent from my blog for pretty much this entire month, which makes me sad, but I am still here, I assure you. I have not fallen off the blogging stratosphere, at least not yet. Blogging isn’t easy, as I’m sure you know. It’s a commitment, like a relationship, one that must be nurtured and constantly fed, and I’ve enjoyed the challenge of holding myself accountable to keeping this blog of mine, ‘the little blog that could’, alive and worthy of your time.

The truth is, and though this is a sappy excuse (I hate excuses), I’ve been battling some personal trials and tribulations these past few weeks (non life-threatening) that have completely taken over my mental, physical, and emotional energy. I will spare you the details because my blog is not a diary or journal; it is meant to be a place of inspiration and thought (at least that’s my hope and intention).

Trials.

As much as they cause pain and discomfort, sadness, confusion, or anger, they are very necessary. We need trials, we need moments of failure, we need our bubbles to burst sometimes. Trials push our mental, spiritual, and emotional development. Without trials, we would remain stagnant, floating on a plateau of ignorance and self-absorption. Trials force us to look inside ourselves, to reexamine what is important to us, what is worth fighting for.

Trials help us recognize the blessings we might have taken for granted were it not for the knife that stabbed the force fields of our comfort zones. Trials test our courage; they make us face our fears. Trials soften our hearts so that we can be more compassionate and empathetic towards others.

We need trials.

Trials are like fertilizer. Though repulsive and unpleasant, they help beautiful things to grow. A tiny, helpless seed must push its way out of darkness, through the thick, heavy soil, in order to reach the sunlight, in order to thrive and transform into a new being with a new purpose.

Every trial has its purpose.

Right now, I am in the thick of it. I am soaked in fertilizer. But the important thing to keep in check as we endure our trials and tribulations… is perspective. No trial lasts forever because nothing lasts forever. Without trials there can be no sigh of relief. Without trials there can be no shaping of character and strength and perspective and inspiration. There would be no tales of heroism—no inspirational autobiographies. No lessons learned.

Yes, I have moments of weakness where I’m in no mood to be positive, to try to trace the silver lining. Sometimes you just need someone to sit with you, hold your hand, listen, and tell you, “yeah, that is pretty bad.” Those moments are okay—they make us human and keep us human.

But after a good night’s rest, after a long, tight hug with someone you love who loves you, after a good cry or punching bag session, after silent reflection, after all the volatile emotions diffuse… it becomes a little easier to invite perspective back into your heart. To realize that, like all the centuries that have gone before you, this too shall pass, this too you shall overcome.

It may seem like the end of your world when you’re in the thick of your trial, but it really isn’t. Life moves on and life moves fast. Our bodies may be destructible but our spirits were built to endure. No matter how big and powerful the storm, sunshine always prevails.

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Giving up and Letting go…

Letting-GoGiving up and letting go are two very different things.

When you give up, you stop believing in your strength, in the essence of possibility. Your fear of failure and disappointment trumps all. You retreat, succumb, decide that effort is futile, and sulking usually follows. Giving up inhibits growth; it stems from fear and lack of passion.

When you let go, you release what is no longer of use to you. You understand that in order to grow, you need to let go. Letting go brings a sense of freedom and relief, a feeling of euphoria mixed with thrill. Letting go is fueled by courage, which is why it takes such a toll on the heart.

Letting go is essential for a balanced life. You can’t possibly carry everything with you.

A fisherman needs patience so as not to miss his catch. If he gives up, he fails to eat. A bird must let go of her nest to learn to fly. If she holds on, she fails to thrive.

where there is life there is hope

Hope is not always as we expect it to be. It does not always shine brilliantly. Sometimes you have to search for it in heaps of rubble. Quiet your mind from the chaos to hear its soft flutter. Hope will always meet you anywhere, but your will to reach for it must be stronger than your fear that it isn’t there.

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The Gift of Good Health

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Me

The human body is an amazing beast. It is beautiful and miraculous, and perfect as much as it is imperfect. The body is built to survive and endure. It is fierce, but also delicate. It is powerful, but not invincible. We forget this, sometimes, I think. We able-bodied, healthy individuals who have been blessed with the gift of good health tend to forget that our bodies work very hard to sustain us in our lifestyles. Good health is a gift. To take care of it is to appreciate it. To appreciate it is to be mindful of the way we treat our bodies.

Health really is the greatest wealth, as Virgil so wisely observed.

The human body is not an endless well into which we can throw whatever our palates or hearts desire. The human body, as I see it, is a temple. The mysterious and miraculous way in which it operates must be respected. We must nurture our bodies the way we strive to nurture our souls, and yet, it seems like we take better care of the things that we buy than our bodies that carry us through our lives. We expect it to perform, to do what it is supposed to do as we take care of our worldly and oh so vital priorities. And only when we fall ill (temporarily or not) do we realize the magnitude of the gift that is good health.

Thank you for these knees that carry me without fail       

Thank you for my heart that keeps my body well

Thank you for my sight that fills my world with hues

Thank you for my breath, for its continuous renewal

It is the nature of the human being to not fully realize or appreciate what he has until it is gone. I am fully guilty of this too. So I challenge you, and I challenge myself, to reflect on the way we treat our bodies, our trusted companions, that carry us through the years and storms and joys of life. I challenge you to reflect on your health and rethink the indulgences that burden your body’s ability to function optimally. We stress our bodies in so many ways, and because it is such a durable beast, we don’t feel the effects of the pressures we inflict on it sometimes until it is too late…

I’m not saying we have to be robots and carry tiny scales in our pockets to make sure we eat the exact portions and calories and food combinations every single time we bring something to our lips. I am the first to admit that food is one of my favorite indulgences! I love food! Food should be savored and enjoyed… we have thousands of taste buds for a reason! The bright colors and scrumptious, juicy flavors of various foods are tantalizing for a reason! But my philosophy is… Everything in moderation. Take time to figure out your philosophy and determine what is best for your body and lifestyle. Each of us has a different body with different needs.

And so I leave you with these questions. Some “food” for thought… 🙂

If we strive to take good care of our homes, our cars, our clothes, our phones, our things… why would we not do the same for our bodies?

We think twice about allowing dirt and grime and poison into our abodes… why not do the same for our bodies?

We make sure to keep our homes clean, to give our cars oil changes, to dry clean our favorite shirts, to not get water on our phones or rain on our suede shoes… why not give the same delicate care and attention to our bodies?

Stay healthy, my fellow humans! In mind, body, and spirit!

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Your PASSION is your assignment in this world

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Courtesy of Moga

We live in such a money-hungry society where success equals money and money equals success. So blinded are we by this notion that we have accepted this as fact, and if not fact, then as unfortunate reality.

I understand that money is a necessary element in this worldly existence of ours. We need it to sustain many basic needs. There’s no denying that. Homes are costly. Food we can’t just reap from the earth ourselves (and nowadays we don’t even have a say in what foods are provided to us; one word: GMO). And education… don’t get me started on that price tag.

But regardless of all these necessary expenses and financial obligations, we cannot allow money to dictate our worth. We cannot allow money to dictate where we place value and how we spend the precious years of our lives. And it’s funny. Even the words worth and value seem to be synonymous with money. We’ve been programmed to think this way and we must transcend this mind-set!

We condemn leaders with dictatorship regimes, and yet here we are allowing ourselves to be ruled by a dictator called money. We spend years chasing money, setting our life’s priorities around what will bring us more money, trying to “stack our chips” to gain purchasing power. And for what? This is the ego’s chase. Not the soul’s. Not the heart’s.

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Things didn’t end well for Walter White.

Money can travel through generations. It does open certain doors. It does act as a safety net. We do need to save for retirement. We do need to cover our health care costs. Life is expensive and money is important. I’m not saying that it’s not. But.

When money becomes all we see, all we live for, when we use money to measure our worth, our success, our happiness, when money trumps all in the realm of important things, therein lies the problem.

It’s a problem because we cannot use something as finite and tangible as money to measure the infinite and intangible aspects of our human experience.

I cannot use a ruler to measure how much I have grown as a person over the last seven years. To measure how much my dog loves me. I cannot use a scale to weigh my happiness. I cannot use Facebook to gauge how many people “like” me. And I cannot use money to determine whether or not I am a successful human being.

As with anything in life, we need to find balance. To recognize our true worth and value—the power of our souls, our passions, our callings, our gifts, our love, our JOY. We need to reflect on what is important to us and live our lives accordingly.

Each person places importance on different things in life. Maybe it is someone’s dream to become CEO of a company or President of a university. That’s okay. But we can’t allow money alone to influence the strings that pull at our hearts. I understand that sometimes sacrifices must be made, but let’s not forsake what our hearts beat for. No one’s dream is too large or too small or too silly. The yearning in your heart is there for a reason.

“Joy is not in things, it is in us.” Richard Wagner

I believe each of us possesses unique gifts and passions for a reason. We spend our lives trying to find “our place” in this world of chaos, in this world that imposes its rules and standards and definitions on us. But we can find our purpose not out there in the world that seeks to categorize us, but in here, in our hearts, in our passions. What we see out there is a mere reflection of what is stirring inside ourselves.

We shouldn’t sweep our passions to a corner—or worse—abandon them, for money. Life is far more precious than that! Money comes and goes but life is like running water, uncontainable. There is nothing worse than waking up one day and realizing that you’ve spent years upon years of the one life you were given, sitting behind a desk counting dollars and vacation hours. Only to retire and be replaced by the next person. Unless you are content with that lifestyle (some people are), don’t be afraid to pursue the life that your soul aches for.

“You can fail at what you don’t love. So you might as well take a chance at doing what you love.” Jim Carrey

I refuse to be a slave to money. Do I want more of it? Of course I do! I am a human being and as human beings we always want more of everything. But do I have all that I NEED? Yes. Will money fulfill my soul? No. Can I live a full life without being a millionaire? Yes.

Create your own definition of success. Do not compare yourself to others. Reflect on your personal values, on what is important to you, and allow your life to flourish from the place in your soul that speaks to you the loudest. Do not bind your spirit for the sake of money. Please don’t be a zombie. We need more passionate people in this world!

And to all the new graduates out there… don’t let the shiny object that is money trump the infinite glow of your soul. Listen to your heart’s calling and build your life’s work around your passion. Therein lies the map to your place in this world. Everything else will fall into place. Believe in your passion. That is your assignment in this world. What a waste it would be to let it go for something as replaceable as money.

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Light up this world with the fires of your passion.

This post was inspired by this comic strip.

the things that truly matter

Thirty years from now, it won’t matter what they thought of you. It won’t matter what things you owned and accumulated, what worries you kept in your pocket.

What will matter are the lessons you learned and how you lived those lessons through.

What will matter are the lives you strived to make better, whether four-legged or two.

What will matter are the relationships you nurtured, and the time you spent trying something new.

What will matter are the fears you conquered and the calling in your heart that you heeded, because that calling makes you you.

What will matter is the knowledge you sought and the wisdom you shared with those younger than you.

Every day, rise with grace, gratitude, and purpose, breathe…

and remember the things that truly matter.

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Deciphering Happiness

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I watched this documentary recently, simply titled: Happy. It’s a thought-provoking examination of life’s most valued human emotion, happiness, and really is a must-watch for everyone. It grapples with the questions: What makes humans happy? And how can we cultivate lasting happiness in our lives?

I learned there are two types of happiness: intrinsic and extrinsic.

Intrinsic happiness has to do with the fulfillment of your soul’s needs. Fulfillment through personal growth, living your passion, knowing your values and aligning your life’s work to them, forging and maintaining meaningful relationships, giving yourself to others (which goes back to the importance of community), nurturing self-esteem, health, and well-being.

Extrinsic happiness has to do with the fulfillment of your ego’s needs (what your mind tells you you want). Fulfillment through obtaining something external (mostly tangible desires): money, success, status, recognition, any kind of “object” that you perceive will make you happy if you could only have it.

Come to think of it, extrinsic happiness is what I realized I was referring to when I wrote “happiness is a unicorn”; it comes from gaining something that you feel was missing from your life—the type of happiness that shapes the attitude: I will be happy if or when I have this.

With extrinsic happiness, we are chasing something outside of ourselves instead of looking inwards. Hence the plight of the human: we always want what we don’t have. Because of this, extrinsic happiness is fleeting. It’s not something we can ever keep or hold.

“Man is a fool. When it’s hot he wants it cool. When it’s cool he wants it hot. Always wanting what is not.”

Intrinsic happiness, on the other hand, stems from the idea that we are the source of our own happiness (“i am the compass”), and that only we can be responsible for our own happiness. As I see it, extrinsic happiness satisfies the ego while intrinsic happiness satisfies the soul. Interestingly, they directly oppose one another, and therein lies the great paradox that we experience in our hearts.

Before watching Happy, I didn’t think real and lasting happiness could be achieved in life; it seemed to me that, like every other human emotion, happiness could never be constant. I believed that happiness was a temporary high, rendering us unable to find a permanent sense of fulfillment, so that we’re constantly on a search for our next dose, the next thing that will make us happy. Each of us carries a hole in our hearts that we try to fill in some way.

But now I see that I was only thinking about extrinsic happiness. Now I see there is a constant happiness that we can achieve in our lives—one that comes from centering ourselves, knowing and being true to ourselves, and giving ourselves to something bigger than our own personal desires and ambitions. Gratitude, appreciation, purpose, a sense of connection with yourself and others… all these things cultivate a steady flow of intrinsic happiness.

I don’t mean to say that personal ambition is wrong or bad. Only that we need to find a balance between fulfilling both mind and spirit. Happiness, as I understand it now, is not just a fleeting human emotion, it’s a state of being, an attitude, a way of life, a deliberate choice to focus on certain aspects of life over others.

The documentary Happy inspires a clairvoyant understanding of this emotion that we all crave and seek. We all want to be happy. We’re all trying to figure out how to be and stay happy. We all think we know what will make us happy. Many people believe the goal and purpose of life is to achieve happiness.

But I don’t believe happiness is a goal or a prize—I believe happiness is a by-product emotion that springs from the heart, that can be achieved and maintained through actions that are driven by the heart. We become what we do every day.

Do what makes you happy and you will be happy; no action or thought is too small to inspire a sense of happiness. Chase what makes you happy and you will forever be in a chase; everything eventually loses its novelty. So what are the things that your heart longs for? And what are the things that light up your heart from the inside out? True happiness is not something to covet, it is something to be.

Watch the documentary and let me know what you think! 🙂

The Monday Frame of Mind

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I get it. Nobody likes Mondays (or whatever day your week begins). Nobody likes waking up early after taking a much needed break from the alarm clock. Nobody likes getting up and going somewhere under the pressures of obligation and responsibility, especially if you don’t particularly like your job.

Bear with me here. I’m going to risk you rolling your eyes at me.

mondayI have grown to really dislike the “Monday blues” attitude. It’s such a cliche, this way of viewing Monday. I dislike sour attitudes in general because they cloud my world and bring me down. There’s enough external junk beyond our control that we have to deal with on the daily, so if there’s one thing I strive to control in my life it’s my attitude—my way of absorbing the world around me. My way of viewing myself in the world.

The way we approach every day really is a matter of choice.

I wasn’t always this person who strove to be happy. I was the opposite. I lived under a veil of pessimism and unhappiness for a long time, but ironically, those years inspired me to find a renewed sense of joy and optimism in my life. I realized nothing was going to change for me if I didn’t change for me.

1004650_495422900533919_350052237_nThat said, I used to be on the “I hate Monday” band wagon too… until I realized that it’s actually pretty silly to hate a day, and it’s actually pretty awesome waking up because you have something to do.

Mondays represent having to go back to work, sure, but they also represent a new beginning, a new week, a new day of being alive. You woke up today, on this day you dread called Monday, but you woke up. Waking up to a new day, Monday or not, is something to be glad about, I think. No?

At least you didn’t wake up as a giant bug? (Kafka, anyone?)

“In your mind, change the name of every day to Saturday… change the name of work to play.” Matt Haig from The Humans

What is it with Mondays?

I’m stubborn and I hate cliches, so I’ve rebelled against this anti-Monday attitude. I don’t want to be another “I hate Monday” zombie who’s only saving grace is a shot of caffeine and the fact that the day will eventually end. And I feel genuinely better now that I’ve changed the way I view and anticipate Mondays.

1345678621940074Yes, I’m that happy person at work on Mondays, but I’m also that happy person (I try my best!) any day of the week. Why? Because I want to be happy no matter what day it is. Because the opposite of happiness sucks, quite frankly. And because happiness is a good kind of contagious. People who are sour will be sour regardless, so people who strive to be happy should strive to be happy regardless.

Changing your attitude about Monday is not about changing your attitude about your job necessarily. (External circumstance rarely brings internal happiness; we will always be wanting of something—it’s our inherent flaw as human beings to believe we’ll be happier if or when _________).  (So if you can’t be happy Now with what you have then you won’t be happy ever.)

Changing your attitude about Monday, rather, is about seeing Monday as simply a new day, as opposed to a day of going back to the reality of work. It’s about seeing Monday as a new beginning, as opposed to the end of the weekend. It’s about seeing Monday as a day you get stuff done, as opposed to a day you have to do stuff.

Monday-12-2Wake up, people! You are alive. You lived to see another day. Who cares if it’s called Monday (or whatever day your week begins)? Let’s see and treat Monday for what it really is—another day of life, the refresh button for a new week. Monday is like New Years Day once a week! (Is this too much? Maybe…)

Bottom line—begin your day blah, and you will be blah; begin your day grateful, and you will be grateful. So choose your frame of mind for every day—and watch your world change, or not change.

Thanks for bearing with me.

Happy Monday, world.

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