Gratitude is More Important Than Resumes

If someone told you, right now, to write a bio about yourself, what would you say? Would you list out your accomplishments? The jobs you’ve held? The places you’ve been? Or would you talk about where you grew up, the colleges you went to, and the degrees you’ve earned? You probably wouldn’t talk about the way you’ve made people feel, or the good you’ve done in your life. Or, if you did, it wouldn’t always be your first thought when you sat down in front of that blank word document. The thing is, we spend a lot of our life amassing things that make us look good on paper, like degrees, careers, companies. We rarely find time to focus on the aspects of life that truly matter though, like who we are as a person. And although that resume is going to be out there in the internet stratosphere long after we’re gone, it won’t be nearly as important as the emotional impact we’ve had on those around us.

Girl Sitting

Photo courtesy of gratisography.com

Yesterday, I read an article about a young woman who wrote a letter to her family right before she passed away from cancer. In it, she tells us to stop worrying about what is inconsequential, that we should let go of small infractions and focus on life as a whole. She tells us that we shouldn’t take our health, our friends, our family, our being for granted, because too often, we all do, and only realize it when it’s too late. Prior to me reading that article, I spent about two hours in horrible traffic (because it rained in SoCal, which might as well have been a snowstorm), and most of that time was spent being frustrated. Pissed at the people who couldn’t seem to get their crap together, pissed at the fact that I was now running late, pissed at the fact that I couldn’t even enjoy the first real rainfall in the five months I’ve been here. Instead of relishing my time in the car – time that I’ll never get back – I wasted it being angry and annoyed about NOTHING. Looking back, is that something I’d want to reflect who I am as a person? Would I EVER write something like that in a bio? Is that how I would want to be memorialized?

Hiding

Photo courtesy of gratisography.com

Of course, we want to be remembered in the way we view ourselves – you know, our secret selves that we never explicitly share but hope people just see. Because we ALL want to be seen as who we truly are. We all secretly want our bios to be about how we brightened up one person’s day, how we loved passionately and forgave willingly, how our words made all the difference in another person’s decision to try harder and persevere. We can’t fully be that sort of person though, if we’re entirely focused on the next level of success. Achievement is wonderful, but if you don’t take the time to enjoy and reflect on the process, it’s purposeless. So today, and tomorrow, and even the next day, take a moment to think about your “bio” – your resiliency, your impact, your character. Most importantly, though, take notice of the things you’re grateful for – and actually be grateful.

Dog and Ice Cream.jpg

Photo courtesy of gratisography.com

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What’s Your Vision?

What’s your vision for 2015 and beyond? A friend of mine purchased a book for another friend, entitled, “One Word That Will Change Your Life”, and, while I haven’t read it (I plan to!), the idea is a novel one. What better way to keep yourself and your goals in sight than to give yourself a theme for your year, and every year going forward? I know that for me personally, my last year was one wrought with many changes. It was a year of heartbreak, shattered dreams, and destroyed goals. But it was also one of self-actualization, acceptance, and perseverance. If I could sum up the last year in one word, it would have to be transition.

Pile of Junk

It’s New Year’s Eve, so of course, many people have created a laundry list of resolutions. For some, that may work, but for me, I’d probably lose the list by the second week of the year! I eliminated my desire to create resolutions long ago and instead resolved to be a better me every day of my life. Sometimes, I move two steps forward, and other times, I take six steps back. However, as long as that backward movement taught me something valuable for my growth, then the regression was inherently worth it.

Sterile Room

For the coming year, I’ve been trying to come up with my one word. I know that I’ll be focused on exploring all of the elements that make me so unique, becoming even more comfortable in my skin, embracing my talents and quirks alike. I want my days to be purposeful, meaningful, and filled with growth and love. For too long, I have allowed my spirit to be stifled. I’ve cared too much in the past about following some generic blueprint for life, being flexible to those who don’t deserve such accommodations. This year will be about me breaking through my oft self-inflicted barriers, about me becoming more organic and authentic, being more free. Hence, my focus for the year will be spent freeing myself of any thing that constrained me in the past. My word for 2015 will be freedom.


Freedom

I Build Walls, and Then I Tear Them Down

Every once in a while, we meet someone who seems to speak to our soul – perhaps even sing to it. And we try so hard to make that person fit into the vision of our future, ignoring the red flags, the doubts, the things we considered deal-breakers with others. For some reason, something in them caused us to let our guard down, to feel a little carefree, to be more ourselves. And then, out of the blue, something happens that causes all of that to come to a screeching halt, causes us to put our walls back up. We somehow find out that the person is actually human.

Spilt Milk

At first, it’s difficult to comprehend. We become confused, misled, maybe even sad. Our plans and goals have been altered, and we begin to feel as though we’ve been duped, deceived. It is at this point that our recovery becomes crucial, because it will tell us whether we’re going to rebuild our wall (this time a little sturdier and with better insulation), or, whether we’re going to put a door in that wall, one we can open at a later time, when we’re ready. Unfortunately, many of us are more apt to do the former, and prevent anyone else from getting in.

Brick Wall

I watched a documentary last night, entitled “Happy” (on Netflix!). One portion discussed the American pursuit of happiness, and how most of us look to money to aid us in achieving said happiness. The study found, though, that although there was a huge increase in happiness between those who made $5k a year and those that made $50k a year, there was no real difference in those who made $50k and those who made $500k (random fun fact!). However, the study discovered that a large indicator of happiness was actually the existence of close interpersonal relationships, which had a direct correlation with how happy people considered themselves to be. All of this to say, if you build that wall, will you potentially be limiting the amount of happiness that can flow into your life?

Closed Shop

I know this is hard to believe, but guess what? People will disappoint you. Over and over and over again. And there’s nothing you can do to prevent it, but there are ways to deal with it. You can take that disappointment, and let it chip away at your spirit, making you miserable and unlovable and unloving, shutting off the world. Or you can accept that disappointment, allowing yourself to wallow in it for an appropriate amount of time, and then…well, and then, you can open your door back up and let the fresh air in.

You’re Not Hungry Enough

A good friend and I were having a very intense conversation late one night (much like the majority of our nightly convos), and this one was about careers and life goals. I was complaining about the lack of creativity in my corporate role, while he was proclaiming his anticipation of finally being able to do what he loves on a full-time basis. I made the mistake of telling him that I wish I felt that way about what I do, and thus, the probing began.

Creative Mind

He asked me to think about what I loved to do; something I would do, even if I didn’t get paid for it. I threw out a couple of things I like doing, but then I said, “If I could do anything full-time, something I absolutely love, it would be to create, to write”. Of course, he says, “There you go. Do that”. And like many people, I began throwing out excuses: no time, kids, this, that, yada yada yada. He quickly and quietly shut down my negativity monologue though. “You don’t want it that bad then. You’re not hungry enough”.

Baby Birds

That comment gave me pause. Because of course, when it comes to work, I try my best, I work hard, so I almost felt offended that someone would insinuate that I wasn’t hungry! I bust my behind with everything I do, because my hunger and competitive spirit doesn’t allow me to be anything but the best. When I really thought about it though, I realized that my work-life really isn’t my best. It’s the best for someone else. It doesn’t give me an extreme sense of satisfaction. It doesn’t make me feel like I’ve contributed anything awesome to society. Essentially, my “best” isn’t bringing value or meaningful growth to ME.

Live Your Best Life

I decided to take that comment as a challenge, and start making goals that would reignite that feeling of competitiveness, of usefulness, of hunger. But not just goals that I’ll write down, walk away from, and barely remember. I want them to make me accountable, not to everyone else, but to myself. Sometimes, we allow circumstances to shift our focus away from where we want to be in life, and we create excuses for that shift, instead of making changes. Excuses are null and void for me now; I’m ready to create change.

 

 

Reflections

Peace

Today, I’ve taken the time to reflect on what has occurred in my life over the past 365 days (and I urge you all to take a few moments between the partying to do the same). This past year has put me through many tests, of my resiliency, my loyalty, and my heart. I’ve learned so much about myself and what I am capable of (physically, emotionally, and mentally), as well as some VERY hard lessons in patience and faith. I’ve never been one to make resolutions (this could have something to do with my resistance to commitment, I suppose); I’ve just always resolved to be a better me. And that is a daily goal for me, not just a yearly one, or one I recite every December 31st.

In retrospect, there are so many things I could have done and handled differently, but you can’t really get back up if you’ve never fallen. As a result, I’m always thankful for the falls that come complete with cuts and bruises, and the scars to prove they actually happened. 2013 has been so much about change for me, and I’ve squashed a lot of fear and stepped out in faith in order to grow. I close this chapter with the hopes of a brighter and even more exciting one in 2014, and I pray for blessings and strength for myself AND the ones I love. Challenge yourself this year, but always strive to make every year your best year ever. Have a wonderful and safe New Year everyone!

Me!

This Mortal Life

I am heartbroken over the passing of Paul Walker. Did I know him? No, not personally, of course. But many of us get to “know” celebrities by the moments we share with them in movies, from photos, from their work in the community. Many of us begin to think of these celebrities as our friends and family, so their untimely deaths have a deep impact on us. For others, though, I think it conveys something deeper, some aspect of ourselves that we have to examine.

Direction

It doesn’t just mean we won’t see our favorite star on the big screen again, in something new. It’s so much bigger than that. It sharply reminds us of our own mortality, and that can be scary. It causes us to take a step back and examine our lot in life, our paths, to see if we’re really where we want to be. It makes us hold on to that loved one just a little bit longer, makes our kisses last a second more than usual, makes us bite our tongues instead of harshly rebuking our partner with venomous, hurtful words. Essentially, it reminds us that we only have this one life, this one chance to live fully, to give our all in a positive way.

Live with Purpose

Today, you have to ask yourself: what can I do to live life fully? If tomorrow wasn’t a guarantee (which it is undoubtedly not), what would you do differently? How would that change your outlook and game plan for the day? I challenge you all to love yourselves enough to be the best you possible, to live in the present and enjoy every moment of it. That isn’t to say that you should live recklessly, but you should live with intention. Leave the fluff behind and focus on what is important, what helps you grown and learn and love…what helps you BE. May all of those who didn’t have the opportunity to wake up today rest in peace, and may you all take that as your cue to live a life of peace and purpose.

Paul Walker

Here Comes the Sun

It’s so easy to a bitter, sour person when things don’t go your way. Maybe you didn’t get that promotion you wanted, or they left you out of the equation yet again. Maybe your archenemy just drove by in the car you wanted, or purchased the house you thought you’d be able to buy. Unfortunately, bitterness won’t improve your situation, or make you happier. Sometimes, you have to make a conscious effort to just let it go and be happy. As of late, I’ve been focusing on three ways I can ensure my daily happiness (daily, because you have to start somewhere), and just be great. Why do I keep focusing on these positive posts? Well duh, I’ve still got work to do!

1. Don’t let other people’s emotions and reactions to you determine your mood.

Argh

I have such an issue with this. I tend to be very empathetic, and sensitive, and if I care about someone, their mood seems to always somehow dictate mine. I could be floating on cloud nine all day, and one sideways comment or dirty look can make me feel some type of way. I can’t help but feed off of others emotions sometimes. It’s such a gift and a curse (ok, I’ll stop with the hip-hop song references). I’m figuring out slowly but surely that I have to do my best to kind of put up a wall, or just brush it off. Because, like I’ve said in previous posts, it’s really not that serious. That doesn’t mean you can’t care, but you kind of have to care about yourself first.

2. Stop raining on other people’s parades. 

Debbie Downer

Like, seriously. Just because you’re in a bad mood doesn’t mean you have to put everyone else in a bad mood too. Try being genuinely happy with someone else’s good news or good fortune. Or dammit, if you have to, fake it. There are always those scientific studies out there that say things like, “smile when you’re upset and it’ll make you happy”. That’s like, actually true. At least in my case. When I start faking the feeling, I actually start feeling it. Try it today. Smile!

3. Chill with the self-deprecation. 

The Breakfast Club

You’re actually not as horrible as you think you are, or as stupid, or as [insert unrealistic negativity here]. Everyone is entitled to make mistakes in life, but the key is to feel it, and move on. And while you’re at it, relax with the over-analyzing. I’m one of those people who, after a trying situation, goes back and tries to think of every single thing I could have done differently. And when I bring it up to whomever was involved, they had already stopped thinking about it eons ago. Besides, if you were sooo perfect, how would you ever learn, and grow? If you have to, stick some positive affirmations up around you. THEY ACTUALLY WORK.

No one is expecting you to be happy all day, all of the time. That’s actually pretty ridiculous and would make you some weirdo Stepford Wife or robot. However, you can actively change your outlook on life, so you can start being a more content. If you have some tips for improving your outlook on life, please please please feel free to share with the rest of us!

Either Love Me, or Leave Me Alone

Have you ever found yourself spending so much time and energy focused on how other people feel, checking in on them, never realizing that you’ve forgotten to figure out how YOU feel, forgotten to check in with you? It’s so easy to get caught up in being who others want you to be, and you eventually find yourself confused about who you really are. It’s happened to me, and frequently happens to me. I’ve gone through so many changes in my life lately, and it has me feeling like some sort of drifter, hovering on the outskirts of life. I found myself losing sight of what makes me unique, what makes me special to those who love me. Inauthenticity, even if unintentional, can literally un-ground you and make you question everything. You’re spinning in no particular direction, with no buffer or barrier to stop you from doing so.

be-original

In the shower the other day (my best thoughts happen in the shower), I tried to think of the last time I sat and actually spent some time with myself, meditating or just figuring life out. Not surprisingly, I couldn’t come up with anything. When you take time for yourself, you give yourself the space to explore what it means to be you. Conversely, when you fail to do that, you fail to be creative, to be innovative, to exemplify what sets you apart from any other mindless drone. As a result, you start searching for meaning and purpose in things that shouldn’t be remotely important to you. You begin to be formless and spineless, living vicariously through someone else’s personality, their existence.

doyoubootote_large

So the purpose of today’s post? I suppose there’s no real, clear purpose, aside from me utilizing this medium to express myself (and do all the stuff I just said I don’t have time to do). And I guess, it’s also to give you a nudge and inspire you to do the same. Stop living other people’s dreams, skulking in their shadows, and stop stop stop emulating their lives. If they aren’t happy with you once you actually begin to be yourself, then you’ve succeeded in eliminating any barriers that will hold you back from being who you truly are. Because honestly (in the words of the great philosopher, Jayz), they can “…either love [you], or leave [you] alone. Be you. Be real. Be alive.

Purpose of Life

The Power of Positive…Nevermind

A few weeks ago, I posted a couple of great posts about rainbows and unicorns and buckets of glitter. Well, not exactly, but it was damn near close. In my last post, I talked about maintaining this aura of positivity, you know, changing my outlook on life and whatnot. I discussed not taking things so personally, about pausing before reacting, all of that good stuff. And you know what I learned? Changing bad habits is just NOT THAT EASY. I’ve had a few setbacks, mostly due to my impending move. As much as you want life and situations to go smoothly, it doesn’t always happen that way.

Unicorn and Rainbow

Being positive is so much more than verbally vomiting motivational quotes and tweeting something “inspirational” (I’m a notorious twitter philosopher – hashtags and all). It isn’t smiling when all you feel like doing is crying, and it sure as hell isn’t fronting like everything’s peachy-keen when your world is slowly falling down behind you. No, it’s more about how you deal when the shit hits the fan. I’ve spoken about how we shouldn’t be impulsive reactors, but that doesn’t mean you don’t react at all. On the contrary, it’s having the right reaction that counts.

Uh-oh

It’s easy to be angry when things don’t go your way, and curse the person or persons who screwed it up for you, but guess what won’t happen? Yup, you guessed right…it’s not going to change a darn thing. The only thing that will result is that you end up feeling worse, you end up more depressed. Stop letting other people’s actions control your feelings. I’m reading this book David Banner recommended I read (he told me personally…no he didn’t, but let me have my dreams), The Writings of Frances Scovel Shinn, and this is some tough stuff. She’s all about sending out positive energy to reap positive results, and I’m all about that baby. She also has a great quote, which pretty sums up my own internal struggles: “You can control any situation if you first control yourself”.

David Banner

So, this isn’t to say that I failed my little 21-day change experiment; on the contrary, I think I did pretty damn well with it. But changes like this shouldn’t just be for 21-days…it’s a lifestyle. Stop falling back into your old bad habits, and keep moving forward, even when it seems impossible. Don’t pretend that everything’s all good, but stop believing that everything’s all bad. Start looking at negative situations a little differently – find that spark of hope to hold on to. Because once you have a spark, you’ve given yourself the means to start a fire.

Spark

Actually, I’LL Keep the Change

This post is about change (duh), but it’s also so very much about me. Lately, people have voiced their concerns on how I’ve “changed”. This is by no means a jab at any particular person, but that statement has caused quite a bit of pondering on my part in the past few weeks. Especially when it comes from people who have changed just as much, if not more than I have. Let’s get real here. No one is the same person they were yesterday, or the day before, nor will they be the same person tomorrow. Every interruption, interaction in our lives causes just the slightest change in our personalities and values, whether we realize it or not. But that is exactly what we need, what we should want.

Change

Someone asked me to write about this topic a couple of months ago. I’m sure they thought I wasn’t paying attention, or didn’t care, because I hadn’t written it yet. Neither were true. Rather, I wasn’t exactly willing to write about my personal experiences. As of late though, one of my main goals in life is to try to maintain positivity and inspire others, so hopefully this will have that effect on someone.

Nope.

In a few months, my family and I will be making a big move to another state. To some people, a move to a state in the same time zone isn’t really considered a BIG move. For me though, moving to another state might as well be moving to another country. I’m such a creature of habit. I haven’t traveled much (traveled outside of the country last year for the first time – TWICE!), and I’ve never lived anywhere else. But the same person that urged me to write this piece also told me about the importance of experiencing something new, of being able to be a part of something that had never been done before. When I argued about challenges, they told me to view them as opportunities. When I talked about change, they said the synonym was growth. In other words, I was to stop running from experience – I was supposed to run TOWARDS it.

Moving

It’s so much easier to continue living life the same way every day, because it’s comfortable and predictable. It doesn’t require any effort, and it definitely doesn’t enable much growth. Yeah, you are changing ever so slightly every day, but why not maximize that upward development? The whole purpose of experience and growth (obviously, my opinion) is to provide you the tools to be a better version of yourself. So now, when someone tells me I’ve changed, my only response can be “thank you”. Thanks for noticing that I’m a better me.

Multi-Racial Misfit

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