The Dragonfly Effect

This morning was not, by many standards, a good day. I woke up exhausted, having spent the night tossing and turning, uncomfortable and restless. I snoozed for a bit, then woke up with a start, because now I was running late. Traffic was awful, making my commute last almost an hour. I got to the Whole Foods-esque grocery store, only to find that, due to a water main break, I not only couldn’t have my coffee, but a smoothie was out of the question too. Begrudgingly, I stopped at a local restaurant, whose high prices on their subpar food is pretty much insulting. By the time I got to the office, any semblance of a happy mood had vanished. I got into a silly disagreement via text, got flustered on a call I was presenting on, and lamented having even gotten out of bed this morning. All in all, a pretty shitty a.m.

Photo courtesy of gratisography.com

I decided that maybe I should go shopping during lunch because you know, that makes people feel better. (Side note: that NEVER makes me feel better. The frugalness within me brings on a huge wave of guilt as soon as I swipe my card for anything costing more than $19.99). Instead, I went to my favorite smoothie place, and complained that they somehow lost my smoothie points (they didn’t), and then sat ashamed at my first world problems grievance. As I sat and wallowed in my self-importance, I thought of things that could cheer me up. You know, count your blessings and all of that. Instead, I just felt sadder.

Photo courtesy of gratisography.com

I brought my acai bowl back to my car, and instead of driving away, I sat in my car and just thought. Thought about life, thought about decisions I’ve made, thought about my life purpose, etc. etc. I stared out at the people walking by, and a little lonely dragonfly alighted the window shield of my car. I watched in fascination as it continued to fly around, landing, hovering, and then staring at me (I PROMISE it was staring at me). I’m a big believer in signs, so, I looked up the potential meaning of a dragonfly sighting.

Photo courtesy of dragonfly-site.com

“In almost every part of the world, [the dragonfly] symbolizes change and change in the perspective of self realization; and the kind of change that has its source in mental and emotional maturity and the understanding of the deeper meaning of life” (dragonfly-site.com). Whether this description is true or not, it did result in making me feel somewhat convicted, but in a way that brought upon an epiphany. When we feel as if we’re struggling, and we can’t quite pinpoint the source of our struggle, it is most likely that we are battling internally with what was and what will be. We are stuck in this purgatory of sorts, and it not only confuses our minds, but it conflicts our souls. We are in a process of change; a process that requires stretching, pulling, and pushing. This change is bringing us to a place we should be, but even change with the greatest of promise and intentions can be painful.

Photo courtesy of gratisography.com

That little dragonfly came at the right moment today, because it brought me a message of hope, and promise. It reminded me that nothing worth having is ever easy, and in order for you to experience growth, you have to endure the change that comes with it. As you go through the rest of your day, stay cognizant of the little reminders to keep pushing, even when it hurts. It won’t always be easy, but it will almost always be worth it.

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The Heart of the Matter

Forgiveness. It’s a word that’s been on my mind for a couple of weeks now. I’d been contemplating whether or not I should write about it, and then Sunday morning, India Arie’s cover of the song “Heart of the Matter” rolled through on Pandora, and then her song “Wings of Forgiveness” came on. So yeah, the question in my mind was pretty much answered for me. And of course, with today being the observance of Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, it seemed even more apropos.

Boxing

I’ve never considered myself to be a very forgiving person. In fact, traditionally, I’ve been the complete opposite, the grudge-holder, who contemplated all of the ways I could make you pay for hurting me, betraying me, no matter what the offense might be. I grew up around people who didn’t necessarily believe in the idea of letting things slide, of letting bygones be bygones. Because if you did, you were somehow weak, a pushover. And you know what all of that negative energy beget? A home filled with resentment. Pent-up anger. Anguish. Anxiety. All of the things that can lead to depression. I realized that it also hurt ME. If the other person was smart, they weren’t even thinking about me and my animosity towards them. I was only damaging my OWN soul.

Arm Wrestling

I’ve been dealt with some hurtful situations over the last year. Situations in which I would have had every right to lash out and act crazy. Initially, that was my first inclination. I wanted to do everything in my power to make those persons pay for what they had done to me, how they had made me feel. I sometimes even fantasized about how it would all go down. But for some reason, I made a different decision. I determined that it essentially wasn’t worth my energy. Yeah, I’d feel good in the moment, but that’s all it would be. Just a moment. Once it was done, my psyche would be wrought with the memories of my malicious impulsiveness. So, I did nothing. I meditated and prayed on it, and decided to just forgive.

Pancake Smiley

Let me tell you – that was quite literally the best decision I  could have made. Now, instead of being consumed with rage, I could focus on more important aspects of the situation’s aftermath – like healing from it. Anytime I had any thoughts on potentially going back on my decision to forgive, I just thought about how it would affect me. After a while, it stopped being in the forefront of my mind, and I’m pretty certain that I pushed my healing curve ahead tremendously. Yes, anger can be justified, but it’s also a choice. We can always choose to keep our minds and spirits there, and as a result, become breeding grounds for negativity. Or, we can choose forgiveness, and learn to be the person who moves on. Not because we’re weak, no. But BECAUSE we’re strong, and we love ourselves more.

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

Turn Pipe Dreams Into Reality

Every once in a while, we find ourselves lost, confused…feeling out of place. We look in the mirror, and all we feel is disdain and displeasure with the image reflected back at us. We feel insecure, unloved, depressed – every negative emotion and feeling available. And some days, it’s seemingly impossible. We’ll never find true love (for the first time or again), we won’t get that promotion, our dreams won’t ever come to fruition – or so it all seems. In short, we feel trapped and despondent, slaves to stagnancy.

Bunny Suit

It’s so easy to stay stuck in that place, believing that happiness and joy is just a pipe dream being sold by some shady dealer. Those feelings of despair lead to quiet discontent and complacency, making us almost immobile to change and progress. The key to moving past this is understanding that nothing is permanent, and realizing that the only thing keeping your situation the same is you.

Hockey Players

Have you ever gone into a restaurant, retail store, government agency – anywhere – and, instead of receiving a smile and good service, you were met with a negative attitude and annoyance? And, if you’re like me, the first thing you thought was, “Well, if you don’t like your job, why don’t you find a new one!”. Like, how could anyone be THAT unhappy, yet still hold on to something they hate? When you give in to the negative side of being at a standstill, you might as well be that disgruntled employee.

Pug

I know it’s not easy to just magically change a situation, and this is definitely not a “pick yourself up by your bootstraps” soliloquy. And maybe you can’t change your current situation immediately, or even the next week. However, what you can control is how you view it and handle it. You can give in to the “woe is me” mentality, or, you can start making a concerted effort to focus on the positive, and making those plans to propel yourself forward. Maybe that means loving yourself more; maybe it means getting more education, or putting yourself in a place outside of your comfort zone. Whatever it is though, you need to start it now. Not tomorrow, not next week, not for the new year, but NOW. Everyone deserves joy and purpose – start claiming yours.

“The Art of Letting Go”

One of the hardest things in life, for most of us, is letting go. Whether it be a person, a habit, an item, a feeling – most times, we go through a great deal of stress when it comes to releasing it. Humans are, inherently, creatures of habit. We take comfort in familiarity, in repetition. We hate when something disrupts that constant, because we’re pulled out of our “safe” zone, our bubble, and we feel vulnerable and unsure. We hold on to things way past their expiration date, way after the relationship has gone sour, when the habit has become almost detrimental or nonsensical, because we seen to think that if we release it, we may risk releasing a part of ourselves. The paradox in holding on is that we start to miss out on opportunities for growth, we don’t free up the necessary space to allow other people or experiences in, and essentially, we stunt our development as human beings.

Girl Balloons

How do you know you’ve been holding on too long? When it doesn’t bring you even the slightest amount of joy. When you’re investing wholeheartedly, but you see no return. When it starts to hurt you spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and even physically. When the thought of it makes you ill or angry or depressed, more so than the thought of it NOT being in your life. When you feel more empty than you do whole. It’s time to let it go.

Clock Black and White

In my very humble opinion, the entire purpose of life is to be as genuine and intense and awesome as you are, and to share that genuinely intense awesomeness with the rest of the world. Your goal should be not what you can acquire and hold on to, but what you can give and release back into the world, to improve it and the lives of others. Your uniqueness and your gifts are what sets you apart from others. Don’t be a hoarder – your home – and your soul – should be free from clutter and outdated things.

Long Hallway

Appreciate what you have and who you have had enter your life, and learn the lesson. Enjoy the experience, and let it allow you to mature and become wiser. Nothing in this world is yours forever, and, although this may be difficult to comprehend, those people you’re holding on to against their will, because you can’t see yourself letting them go, they aren’t yours either. Once you start to sense that they are rattling their cage, don’t put a sheet over it and hope they’ll go to sleep. Open the door and let them soar, because when you give them their freedom, you’ll start to have yours.

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!

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

Multi-Racial Misfit

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