“Challenges are what make life interesting. Overcoming them makes life meaningful.” – Joshua J. Marine
The idea of growth mindset is that the hand we are dealt is merely a starting point.
One in which requires you to ask yourself, where will you go from here?
This mindset is based on the belief that basic qualities are things that can all be cultivated and grown.
Dr. Carol Dweck in her book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, “Although people may differ in every which way – in their initial talents and aptitudes, interests or personalities – everyone can change and grow through application and experience.”
With this type of mindset any challenges are viewed with excitement, as an opportunity to overcome, became you know you will get something out of the process.
Sarah Montana is someone who embodies this growth mindset, someone we can all look to for inspiration. She has faced many obstacles in life which could have devoured her, things which could have crushed her. She refused to let these things define her, and instead used them as moments that shaped her.
She says that, “things shape and change you, but YOU decide who you’re going to be. Can’t control what happens to YOU, but you decide what it means.”
Will you be a victim or a survivor?
I’d like to be like Sarah. Since people always tell their own stories best, hers.
We are all facing a hardship right now. Some are experiencing this differently, more acutely, but we are all facing the same obstacle.
With this obstacle comes opportunity, an opportunity to grow, to change.
While there are many things outside of our control, we friend, we get to decide how we are going to react and what it means to us. .
As a high school English teacher I, along with my colleagues, have had to immediately adjust – overnight – what we do and how we meet the needs of our students, their parents, and even our community.
Not only have teachers transitioned to preparing, delivering, and offering feedback on learning opportunities online, but schools are ensuring that students have breakfast and lunches delivered, access to technology and internet, and teachers are individually reaching out to all students to see what it is we can do to help with any needs that arise.
A good friend of mine is using this current obstacle to explore a career path she’s always wanted to pursue, but was prevented to do so by fear. She feared changing from something that is known and comfortable to something that is new and unknown.
Another friend in the fitness industry is providing online team workouts and printed schedules and meal plans while people are stuck at home.
Is any of this ideal?
Absolutely not, but this is our opportunity to be creative and bold – to view an obstacle as an opportunity for growth.
Which doesn’t mean that it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t suck. We don’t have to pretend that this is something magical and wonderful, because it’s not.
However, it is still an opportunity, and we won’t let it break or destroy us, we will – instead – allow it to push us to grow – because that is the only option.
Your Trusted Friend ❤
I found myself in tears last night, friend.
There was a prevailing sense of hopelessness and anxiety as I went out and about yesterday. Not my emotions, but those of others.
I felt them crashing upon me like waves.
So many people are feeling stress, hopelessness, and despair.
These feelings seem to be contagious, for I felt them.
In my return home I felt the weight of them.
This morning they were still there, lumbering on my heart.
It struck me the rightness in allowing myself to feel them, but in also finding a way to let them go – for they are not mine and, as a friend told me, “You deserve to be free.”
So, today I am allowing these emotions to drift through me and I am letting them go.
For friend, if I allow myself to to feel despair, hopelessness, and helplessness these things will become my reality.
I am none of these things.
While I allow all feelings space, I do not allow all feelings to stay.
Feelings serve as a signal to check in with ourselves. They are neither good nor bad in and of themselves.
It is how we allow these emotions to take root in us, and how react to them that creates our reality and can be labeled as good or bad.
When you feel anger, do you allow it to burrow deep within you and burst out on someone unsuspecting who bumped into you in the hallway?
Or, do you let that anger spur you to stand up for someone or something that can’t speak for themselves.
You decide, no one else, on how those emotions are going to move through you and if you’re going to allow them to take root or not.
Choose to be an observer, choose your actions accordingly, and then – friend – let them go.
Feelings do have a purpose. It is our job, as a good friend said to me, to acknowledge the feelings as they pass through – “like clouds that shape shift in the sky as we lay grounded safely on the hillside”.
Stay grounded with me, friend.
Your Trusted Friend ❤
Friends, we’re facing some trying times right now.
Many of us are not sure how to feel or what to do.
Additionally, we’re questioning whether or not we’re taking the current outbreak of Covid-19 serious enough or too seriously.
First, we need to have a healthy respect for what is spreading across the globe. It’s not a joke and it’s not manufactured by the media as some way to scare the public.
Second, we need to remember that we are a community.
All of us.
We are in this together.
All of us.
Those in distant countries currently in the epicenter of this viral outbreak, and those watching and awaiting it’s encroachment are in this together.
What’s more is that this pandemic can serve as a reminder that we are not invincible, nor are we better than anyone else around us.
We can, however, be stronger by working and caring for one another.
By practicing patience, understanding, empathy.
With actions fueled by grace, kindness, compassion, and understanding.
I’ve felt a fever pitch of panic around me, and it’s left me saddened and overwhelmed…
Yet within that hum of fear I’ve seen rays of light.
People banding together and offering to help in a wide assortment of ways.
Two examples especially warmed my heart, that of a young mother offering her breast milk to those that can’t find formula and are unable to breast feed and the Hollywood Theater keeping employees on full pay and benefits while shutting down.
These are selfless acts that prove that our world is full of so much love and hope.
These examples of community banding together make me hopeful.
Hopeful that in the weeks to come, which will surely get harder, we can make it through and be stronger and closer as a result.
Let’s not allow this pandemic to continue to propel us to fear, but instead instill in us a deep sense of community from which wealth of love overflows for our fellow man.
Please, friend, know that we are in this together and it is our responsibility to band together and to support one another.
Your Trusted Friend ❤
There are many ways in which we can let ourselves down.
When we say yes, when we’d rather say no.
When other people’s feelings are placed ahead of our well-being.
When we silence our voice out of fear of how we will be perceived.
Most importantly, though, we let ourselves down when we fail to recognize our worth.
When we settle for less.
Perhaps part of why we settle for less then we deserve, is because we never get clear about what it is we really want.
Whether that is at work, our friendships, or our romances.
Maybe, though, we don’t ever really stop to consider all the details of what we really want.
Before you began your career, did you ever think about the kind of life that it would provide for you?
Meeting a new friend, did you stop to think if this would be someone you could call and rely on in a moment of crisis?
With a romantic partner, did you get clear about what it is your desire and what you want out of that partnership?
What do all of these things look like to you? How do you live and interact within all these facets of your life?
Have you thought about it, or have you just allowed things to happen to you?
Instead of actively living your life, have you passively let the tides take you where they may?
How about, from now on, you get clear about all the things you desire?
All of them.
What do you want to do every day when you go to work? Where do you want to live? What hobbies are going to occupy your time?
Most importantly, how do you want to be treated? How do you want to be loved and communicated with? How do you want people to respond to you when you have a disagreement?
There are so many little things that occupy our time, and many of those we just let happen to us instead of deciding what it is we really want.
So, friend, from now on, let’s not let ourselves down with our own passivity.
Let’s decide what we want, work for it and expect it.
Your Trusted Friend ❤
It is easy to lose faith in what we are capable of. To forget about the potential within us.
When we are young we believe that anything is possible, and we see the world as this bright, shiny place teeming with possibility.
So often young people can’t wait to grow up, so that they can grasp at all the dreams that are just bursting within them.
Dreams to pursue… such as a life with a successful career, traveling across the globe, abundant wealth and love.
These are some of things that I thought were possible when I was a young dreamer.
Sometimes, though, we lose sight of this young dreamer within us.
We get overwhelmed with the life of adulting, and find ourselves mindlessly going through the tasks of the day.
I have been forcibly reminded to live my life as an active participant through disappointments and heartbreak.
The universe has taken me by the shoulders, given me a good shake, and said – “You, friend, are made for more.”
I have so much gratitude for these lessons, and have such faith and belief that whatever is meant to be will come.
You just have to do two things.
Believe and wait.
First, believe that you are deserving of whatever it is you desire. Put this thought out into the universe.
I friend, believe that I am destined for magic.
This is the only word, for me, that derives just what it is that I am meant for. I have this deep sense that something magical is on its way to me.
Perhaps you believe you are meant for prestige and wealth, power and influence.
Whatever it is you want, believe – friend – that it is on it’s way to you.
Then – the second thing – wait for it.
Because it is.
If there is something you truly desire there is no way that you cannot create and manifest that into your life.
However, so often we get impatient as we wait for what it is that we desire that we end up settling for what we have right now – even though it isn’t right.
Even though it doesn’t quite fit, isn’t quite what we envisioned.
In the moment we convince ourselves that this good enough, or we fear that this is as good as it gets.
So, instead of leaving space for what we truly feel called for, we settle.
No, friend, if you desire magic, like me…
Wait for it.
And then, when magic finally arrives…
Enjoy it and believe that this is what you deserve.
Don’t question it, don’t second guess it, don’t doubt it.
Your Trusted Friend ❤
There is so much power in establishing and maintaining boundaries.
As a caretaker and someone who strives to see other’s perspectives I have allowed my boundaries to be crossed, erased, adjusted, and manipulated.
Being a nice, compassionate person it often felt difficult to maintain my boundaries.
It’s simple, really.
I want to give the benefit of the doubt, see the good in people and, honestly, I want to give the second chance.
You see, if you cross one of my boundaries, I can often understand why you behaved the way that you did.
I get what external factors affected your inability to respect my boundaries… and so, I’ve made exceptions.
Hence, I’ve permitted my boundaries to be crossed, erased, adjusted, and manipulated.
I’ve given a pass to the jackass.
However, this didn’t honor me.
Perhaps for some boundaries are so hard to maintain, because it can be difficult to say no.
We don’t want to disappoint, let down, or anger.
We also want to believe that others have our best interests in mind.
However, this isn’t always the case and it should be our first priority to set and maintain our boundaries.
Good boundaries show others how to treat us.
They give those around us, essentially, the owner’s manual for how to treat us in all circumstances.
How do you interact in an argument? What’s permissible treatment?
This is a boundary that you have to draw and establish.
Are you a person that when angry or frustrated needs others to step away from you, give you space to collect your emotions and thoughts?
Or do you need to talk it out, reach a point of conciliation, hug it out?
What happens if you are interacting with someone with a different way of reconciliation?
Talk about it.
Create your rules and boundaries for engagement.
If you’re single, how do you date, and what are you looking for in a partner?
Are you stuck in dating drudgery looking for a long term committed relationship?
Or are you looking to meet and connect with multiple people, still exploring what it is you really want?
Again, what happens when two people meet who have opposing views on what they are looking for?
Talk about it.
Create your rules and boundaries so you only give space to what is right for you.
How much space do you need to devote to yourself to remain healthy and happy?
Is it important for you to have space in your schedule for ‘me’ time?
Or are you someone who needs constant stimulation and interaction from others.
What do you do when two people have different expectations of time commitments?
Talk about it.
Protect the time and space requirements you have for yourself, while also honoring those around you that you care about.
The more you speak your boundaries and requirements out loud, the more space you create for those around you to treat you as you need – and deserve – to be treated.
The better you do this, the more you are able to find and create the nurturing relationships that serve you.
Being nice to others is important, but it should never be to the detriment of yourself.
You can see and understand why others have an inability to respect your boundaries, but you can also respect yourself, and you are allowed to walk away from those people who have an inability to respect your boundaries –
EVEN if you understand their why.
You, my friend, are allowed to take up space.
You can show people your owner’s manual.
The right people will be thankful for the directions.
You’re Trusted Friend ❤
From very young we all have the desire to be seen and chosen, to be accepted and loved.
Initially we may not have had as many fears regarding our likability; as I remember being boldly able to go up to another child my age on the playground asking, “Wanna be my friend and play?”
I didn’t wait for someone to approach or choose me, I went fearlessly forward. I wanted a friend, someone to play with, to talk to, and to share my secrets with. I never anticipated at that age that I could possibly receive a no.
The first time I really remember having the fear of NOT being chosen, liked, or accepted was when team captains were selected for dodge ball in PE. Each subsequent selection where we waited, anxiously, to see if our name would or would not be called.
This desire to be chosen doesn’t dim as we get older, yet it does get exceedingly more difficult to make ourselves vulnerable and to ask for this need to be met, as we have experienced the pain of rejection.
We’ve asked and someone has said no.
We’ve shown up and someone has not liked what they’ve seen.
We’ve opened up and watched someone grimace at what we’ve revealed.
We’ve shared a desire and been laughed at or mocked.
Yet, we still want that same thing. We still want to be chosen.
To have someone who loves us as we are, has seen the flaws and weaknesses, and wants us because these nuances are part of what make us beautiful and wonderful and delightful.
To truly have someone see all the parts that make us uniquely us. To take the time to peal back the layers and say yes.
Yes, I see you, all of you, I see the parts you try to hide away in dark corners, the supposed flaws and idiosyncrasies.
I see the way you get grumpy when you’re tired or hungry, and that it’s a lethal combination when both of these things occur at once.
I see how you take on too much, having a hard time saying no, because you feel that you need to do it all.
I see how your deep desire to be liked drives you to ensure that you earn the respect and appreciation from those that surround you.
I see these things, and more, and I choose you.
To have someone who we can relax with.
Let our bellies hang out with.
Pick our noses with.
Snort laugh with.
A safe place to belong, home in a person.
So often, though, we fear the closeness that would result in this kind of love and acceptance.
Holding back our hearts because we are frightened of being too vulnerable, of risking damage to that precious part of us.
As delightful as this image is, this unfaltering support of another, it is even more essential that we offer this kind of grace, acceptance, and love for ourselves.
To not fear viewing and taking stock of who we are, and finding that person acceptable and pleasing.
For once we choose ourselves, we can then more freely give the genuine version of ourselves to others in order to truly have the opportunity to be embraced.
Though, friend, be warned not everyone will like what they see, and that’s okay.
When the genuine version of you is chosen it will mean so much more, for there was nothing you had to hide and no pretending that took place.
For now, though, know that I choose you.
Your Trusted Friend ❤
So often, friend, we are our own biggest enemy.
We hold ourselves hostage in so many areas of our lives.
Locking ourselves away in mental prisons.
Prisons erected within our own minds, carefully built stone by stone from the wreckage of failures of our past, the heavy stones of overwhelming anxiety that comes from things we cannot change, and mortar of debilitation caused by the unknown.
The past can have a powerful hold.
Poor choices, disappointments, failures. These things can take root in our mind and spread like a disease causing suffocating paralysis.
We become stuck. Rooted in the whirlwind of self hatred and doubt that often accompanies the disabling disappointment of realizing we are not who we said we were.
We are not who we thought we were.
As long as you allow the past to have hold on you, you will be a prisoner of that past.
Held hostage in our own thoughts.
Terrorized by our own self hatred.
I know what this feels like, as I’ve drank this cool aid, punishing myself and trapped by a past that I refused to let go.
Beating myself up over decisions made that I felt I should have known better than.
We can also be held hostage by things we cannot change.
Perhaps we come from a background and history of poverty, and we let this dictate to us what we can do and be. Thinking that because this is where we came from, this is what we are meant for.
Or, maybe there has been abuse, sexual assault, or victimization in some fashion. This, again, is not something we can change and these are the types of experiences that will always be with us.
We can be held prisoner, enveloped in despair and hopelessness, shrouded in despair.
Crippled by people, events, and situations that we are powerless to change, unable to undo, rectify, or ‘fix’.
Situations that just, for lack of a better word, are.
So maybe we go round and round in our heads, thinking all of the what-ifs.
Dismantling and reassembling what could have been.
This I also know.
I know what it feels like to blame myself for a circumstance that I was powerless within, and to let that guilt worm its way into my thoughts, ruminating on a situation that was not within my power to change.
Unknown situations can also be debilitating.
For this reason, many of us refuse to change. Trapped in our current situations merely because they are known and familiar.
Comfortable only because of familiarity.
Our mind becoming a battlefield of pondering and imagining as we try to envision the outcome, the next step, the finish line.
Refusing to act because of sheer uncertainty and our inability to measure and calculate the final result.
What will happen if I am vulnerable and reveal my heart to someone?
How will my boss react if I ask for a raise, a promotion, a new assignment?
What if I strike out on my own in a business venture?
How will people respond if I share my words? My voice? My thoughts?
Round and round we go, questioning and anticipating the what-ifs, yet stuck in inaction because we’re too afraid of rejection, disappointment, failure, and the unknown outcome.
Mired to our chests, deep in the known.
Trapped and stuck.
This place I know well, friend.
So often have I bit my tongue, held back my voice, restricted my heart, and limited vulnerability for fear of the unknown quotient.
My inability to know, for sure, how I would be received or understood.
Release it all, friend.
Learn the lessons the past offers you, and move forward.
Step into the power that only failure can give you.
Accept that there will always be situations that you are powerless to change.
Step into the knowledge that comes from the places you have been, the things you have seen, the people you have known.
Open yourself to what the unknown can give to you, and the surprises waiting there.
Step into vulnerability and take risks that can’t be calculated or measured.
Release yourself from the prison you’ve erected.
Your Trusted Friend ❤
How beautiful living an intentional life can be, friend, and this seems an opportune time to think about the intentions we set and hold to in our lives as we approach the ending of one year, and the start of another.
Our lives are full of endings and beginnings, aren’t they?
Both being points in which we can pause to reflect and to set goals and intentions.
There is a difference, I think, between living intentionally versus being goal oriented.
Goal oriented sets you on one path, to accomplish, to reach, to grasp one thing.
A promotion at work, a set amount in your savings account, a number of miles to run by weeks end.
These things, in and of themselves, are not bad. Goals are wonderful things to set, to aim and strive for, and – even better – to accomplish.
What is dangerous is the worth and importance that we can often place on these accomplishments.
Even worse, the failure we can feel when these things don’t come to fruition.
Intentions, instead, provide you forward momentum while also allowing the flexibility and acceptance of other things to come that are unplanned or unexpected.
Those wondrous surprises that you could not, or would not, have planned for yourself.
Living with intention gives your life guiding principles in HOW you want to live in each moment, and HOW you plan to exist within the world and the life you occupy in the present.
There have been many times in life that I have failed to reach a goal that I’ve set for myself, additionally, there have been times I’ve felt a failure as a result of this.
It has only been later, as other things in my life fell into place, that I was able to recognize the benefit of some goals I’d set not working as I’d planned… because, friend, there was something else intended for me.
I’d have suffered much less disappoint if, instead of focusing on the end result, I’d enabled myself to enjoy the journey and take note of the experiences along the way.
Living in the enjoyment of each step taken, versus only the realization of the end of a journey, to me is the epitome of goal setting and intentionally living functioning in tandem.
So, while we strive to go on more adventures, save money, lose weight, be better parents, better spouses, more confident, get a raise, receive a promotion, write a book… whatever that external goal is… let’s also commit to showing up and being present.
Let’s be intentional in all the moments, being sure to focus on who we are and how we’re showing up, from the starting point to the finish line.
And, if we veer off coarse, and miss the mark we’re striving for, let’s be sure that we showed up in a way that we can still allow and permit ourselves to celebrate.
Ultimately, friend, what matters is that each of us can look in the mirror and like who we are. This doesn’t occur because of all the external things we accomplish.
The check marks we cross off, the mile stones we reach, or the finish lines we cross.
These things can provide points of pride, but don’t give self worth. Self worth is cultivated from within.
It’s who we are throughout the journey, and the person we’ll find at the end.
So, set the intention for who you want to be, how you want to show up, as you also determine what goals you want to crush.
But if you don’t, know that you are never a failure if you can look at yourself and be proud of the person you were along the way and all the places you visited both within and outside of yourself.
Your Trusted Friend ❤
Friend, we will all face hard times. Trials that come out of seemingly no where, knock us off of our course and flat onto our backs. The wind knocked out of us, rendered senseless.
It has often struck me how there are two responses to the shit storms of life.
One will either become a victim, or a survivor.
The victim sees life’s struggles as baggage that weighs them down. They get overwhelmed and downtrodden, using the experience as a reason why they are stuck, why they can’t do or pursue what it is that they desire. Why they settle for less.
The survivor, however, sees struggles as strength, as something that hones, prepares, and drives them. This experience becomes a motivating source to aspire for and do more. They see this as a driving power to pursue what they desire. To do and become more.
There are so many times when I can recall coming to a crossroad due to unforeseeable events.
Some of them small moments, like being cut from the Varsity softball team as a junior to the shock of my teammates and myself.
And others serve as road markers. Meaning, these are times that irrevocably changed me. Ones in which there was a very clear version of who I was before and who I transformed into, such as my husband of three years leaving me unexpectedly.
In these moments you have to decide.
Are you a victim of circumstances,
or are you a survivor by the sheer force of your will?
After being cut from the softball team I could have quit, complained, cried, and raised a holy ruckus.
I was disappointed and heart hurt, but this didn’t stop me from competing.
Instead, I made it my intention to do my very best and to daily show my coach that he had made a mistake. I played my heart out on the junior varsity team that year, which ended up being the superior team. I won’t take credit. It was a team that meshed well and had fun, which made all the difference.
When my husband left I had similar choices, and I almost let the grief swallow me whole,
But I didn’t.
That was a trying time. Not only did my husband leave, but shortly after I found that where I was living had been rented to new tenants, and I was laid off of my first teaching job due to a levy failure.
I was abruptly divorced, homeless, and unemployed.
This was a time in which I felt like a failure and questioned if I had the energy to start over again, mostly because of wounded pride.
The idea of facing others, people that I loved and respected, and telling them where I was at in my life terrified me.
Fear is a determining factor in why so many people quit, don’t push through, don’t start over when they’ve reached a dead end.
I know, friend, I’ve been at the dead end… more times then I can count.
These times have served to reveal to me who I am, not from the fall to the bottom, but from my persistence as I struggled to create a new path.
Failure, struggle, hurt, angst are all necessary components of life.
It is these hard moments, not the easy ones, that show us who we are and push us to become more.
Our ability to persist and grow is what provides a sense of self confidence and buoys us through all future problems we will face.
In each of these moments we decide how we will carry these burdens and if we become a victim or a survivor.
I hope, friend, you choose to survive.
On the other side of pain is always a brand new you.
I’d love to introduce you.
Your Trusted Friend. ❤