My reason/ excuse is that I worked two jobs today – my reason I’m not writing much tonight.

So I am working on trust in a certain area of my life, therefore I thought it apropos to share this quote:

“The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.”
― Ernest Hemingway

🙂

Last night I heard a powerful story of vision and passion, a story I am excited to share with you.  At Toastmasters* one of my co-members spoke about the idea of vision, specifically our individual visions for what we wanted to achieve through Toastmasters.  He invited us to take a moment  to really think about what we hope to do with the speaking and leadership skills we are learning.  He illustrated what is was like to have vision (& pursue it) with two stories.  One of those stories especially struck a chord with me.

Viktor-FranklViktor Frankl was an Austrian psychiatrist and neurologist who lived through WWII in Europe.  Dr. Frankl was also Jewish and as such was relegated to concentration camps, where, as you may guess, he encountered the extremes of human suffering.  What set Dr. Frankl apart however was his approach to the ordeals he faced.  Despite the dire circumstances of his surroundings, including all of his family suffering similar fates, he decided to use his passion and experience to help others cope with their desperate situation.  He used his knowledge to help those around him and himself.  Here is an excerpt from the book he wrote after he was released from  Türkheim camp:

“We stumbled on in the darkness, over big stones and through large puddles, along the one road leading from the camp. The accompanying guards kept shouting at us and driving us with the butts of their rifles. Anyone with very sore feet supported himself on his neighbor’s arm. Hardly a word was spoken; the icy wind did not encourage talk. Hiding his mouth behind his upturned collar, the man marching next to me whispered suddenly: “If our wives could see us now! I do hope they are better off in their camps and don’t know what is happening to us.”

That brought thoughts of my own wife to mind. And as we stumbled on for miles, slipping on icy spots, supporting each other time and again, dragging one another up and onward, nothing was said, but we both knew: each of us was thinking of his wife. Occasionally I looked at the sky, where the stars were fading and the pink light of the morning was beginning to spread behind a dark bank of clouds. But my mind clung to my wife’s image, imagining it with an uncanny acuteness. I heard her answering me, saw her smile, her frank and encouraging look. Real or not, her look was then more luminous than the sun which was beginning to rise.

A thought transfixed me: for the first time in my life I saw the truth as it is set into song by so many poets, proclaimed as the final wisdom by so many thinkers. The truth – that love is the ultimate and the highest goal to which man can aspire. Then I grasped the meaning of the greatest secret that human poetry and human thought and belief have to impart: The salvation of man is through love and in love. I understood how a man who has nothing left in this world still may know bliss, be it only for a brief moment, in the contemplation of his beloved. In a position of utter desolation, when man cannot express himself in positive action, when his only achievement may consist in enduring his sufferings in the right way—an honorable way—in such a position man can, through loving contemplation of the image he carries of his beloved, achieve fulfillment. For the first time in my life I was able to understand the meaning of the words, “The angels are lost in perpetual contemplation of an infinite glory.”

Saying Yes to Life in Spite of Everything: A Psychologist Experiences the Concentration Camp (in German), known in English by the title Man’s Search for Meaning (1959)

When I heard this story last night it cut me to the quick.  We all have situations we are trying to “survive,” or muddle through without losing our minds – a dramatic family situation, a bad relationship, an irritating job, etc.  But most of us (here in America) are not facing the real drama of living through something like a concentration camp.  Yet this man, Dr. Viktor Frankl, when faced with a nightmare, decided to not give up hope or lose his vision.  He reframed his circumstances and continued to use his God-given gifts anyway and as a result he helped many as well as himself.

Dr. Frankl went on to teach across Europe and the US, including Harvard.  He received 29 honorary doctoral degrees, published 39 books, translated into 40 languages, one of which (Man’s Search for Meaning) was toted one of  “the ten most influential books in the United States.”  In 1985 he was awarded the Oskar Pfister Award for contributions to religion and psychiatry.

I look forward to learning more about Dr. Frankl.  But in the meantime, I am blessed to have heard a bit of his story.  It fuels my commitment to live fully, passions infused and vision intact, despite the hard times.

Imagine what is possible if we choose to shine despite the darkness, if we reach down to the deepest part of us and pull up our true selves to face the world!!

 

 *Toastmasters is an educational group which helps you learn speaking & leadership skills.  (Let me know if you ever want to come with- it’s awesome)

flower_mudI’m tired, but these quotes are true.

Here are a few simple quotes from Eckhart Tolle tonight as I didn’t have the energy to quite finish the post I’m working on. 🙂

Cheers to keep plugging along!

“Some changes look negative on the surface but you will soon realize that space is being created in your life for something new to emerge.”
― Eckhart Tolle

“Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.”
― Eckhart Tolle

A nicer home, a better job, good health, more money – we all have something(s) we want. It’s important to focus on your goal so you can achieve it, but sometimes you need to step back & see things from a more open perspective.  If you are always focused on yourself you can’t really see clearly and you’ll probably miss out on opportunities you never dreamed possible.

I was listening to Joel Osteen’s Your Best Life Now audio book yesterday and one of his points really hit home; this is the idea in a nutshell: If you want to receive great things you should start giving greatly.   You need to plant the seeds of positivity and abundance.  If you want to have more money, add giving of your time to your agenda. If you want people to be kind, be kind to them (easier said than done, I know).  If you want good friends, be one. Don’t wait for others to plop these things in your lap.  Be the friend, spouse, parent, etc. that you wish you had and you will be amazed by what unfolds.

I struggle with this sometimes because I want to get pissed when someone treats me badly, or I feel the urge to bitch and complain, but I know, when I choose this path, of planting seeds of change that it always ends up better.

Of course you still need to do your best to work on your goals, have faith, stand up for yourself and such, but it’s amazing how acts of kindness can create doors where only walls existed before. Not only that, but giving without expecting anything in return is very liberating and can help you in your mission to be more positive.

Think back in your own life to moments where the simplest thing changed the course of your day for the better. Some kind compliment or smile or maybe just knowing that the person heard what you had to say, these things can have a life changing effect on people.  Here’s one from my life:

When the doors first open at Trader Joe’s there’s usually already a line of anxious shoppers in queue  There is a smattering of business people on their way to work and  moms  shopping, but the majority of the morning crowd is comprised of elders.  Some are grumpy, some are not very healthy and some are friendly and very talkative, shopping being one of their few social activities these days.  They enjoy chatting and taking their time, paying with coins and cash, you know the types I’m talking about.  Trader Joe’s is a great place for them because employees are encouraged to make the customer feel at home and even take the time to really listen.  I made so many friends working that morning shift.  The funny thing is,  I thought, I’m going to slow down and take time with this person, I’m going to show them that I care because I want to make a positive impact on their day.  Most times I know I did bless them, but honestly, they ended up blessing me even more.  I have one friend with whom long conversations were the norm and at the end she would pray for me and my family.  She would encourage me and bless me every time I saw her.  I hope that I brought some light into her life, but I am sure she ended up blessing me much more.

Who can you bless?  Maybe someone you don’t like all that much? (poke, poke)  The trick is, we have to remember to do it without expecting anything in return, because, ironically that’s when the miracles start to happen.

be the change you wish to see in the world

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” – Mahatma Ghandi
(My favorite quote, I wear this ring nearly every day to remind me)

When I was in my early twenties a friend started a spark in my brain that changed my perspective on what was possible.  At the time I was married to the wrong person, had two small children and we weren’t even really making ends meet.  I had to go to the local food bank to make sure my kids were fed.  One day, my friend and I were driving up PCH (Pacific Coast Highway) through Newport Coast, one of the wealthiest areas of Orange County [read: in the U.S.].  To the right were beautiful homes perched on the hillside, overlooking the glittering pacific ocean.  I jokingly pointed to one of my favorites and said, “Oh there it is, hmm my landscaping is looking a little shabby.  I simply must talk to the gardener!”  We laughed for a moment, but then she honestly asked me, “Andrea, don’t you see yourself in a home like that one of these days?”  I said that I didn’t.  After all no one in my family had houses like that and for that matter no one I knew very well did either.  It seemed totally out of the range of anything I could ever hope for.  I also shared that I had been raised in an Evangelical Christian culture where wealth was pretty much looked down upon.  Where it was sinful to even think that you could/should have something that nice and it is a virtue to live in the humility of poverty.  I then asked her the same question back, and was astonished yet piqued by her answer.  She said that of course she saw herself in a house like that some day, why not?

It’s amazing how much what we think shapes our lives.  It’s really the only true place we can begin to change things.  We cannot change our lives or live our dreams without first changing our minds.

This friend was the first person in my life to open the door to giving myself permission to think big.  I’ve always thought life was too short and that I was meant for something bigger than the “norm,” but to actually think that I could live in a big home overlooking the beach, well that was another story.  To be honest, I don’t even want a house like that anymore.  But the things I want (like helping people on a BIG scale) are even more grandiose and exciting.  I’m still, to this day, retraining my brain to live in the possibilities rather than be limited by my fear, insecurities or leftover dogma, but at least I can SEE the possibility now.

I encourage you (as well as myself) to continue give yourself permission to think BIG this week (and on).  Start giving yourself permission to daydream about what it would feel and look like to be living your dreams.  Then write that s#*& down!  Start changing your mind and your life will start changing too!

Here’s a nice little blog post I came across today.  If you have extra time check it out:  http://www.maxingout.com/positive%20thought%20one.htm

-Andrea

Have you ever watched someone struggle with negativity and want to give up on their dreams?  You listen to their tirade of despair and you wish you could just infuse them with the confidence to pick themselves up and start all over again.  You wish that you could let them see themselves as you see them.  Maybe you’ve even been that person – I know I’ve been there before.  I experienced this recently with someone I care very deeply about.

 

My dear friend, although extremely talented, was lamenting how she would fail in a contest she was about to enter.  She cried about how she was doomed, how she didn’t even have  talent.  How “creative block” was robbing her of being able to produce anything meaningful.

I felt helpless in trying to bring positivity in and help boost her up, nothing I said to encourage her helped.  And then I started getting frustrated and a little short tempered when she wouldn’t listen or even let the positive thoughts in.  Real enlightened of me, huh?  Clearly I still have a lot to learn about inspiring people, he he.  And perhaps, the first lesson is that sometimes people aren’t in the right place to hear the encouragement.  Sometimes you need to give them a little time.  (And this was definitely the case – she totally perked up later & nailed it)

I’ve been there before – in that wallowing place, where I just wanted to stay pissed off and frustrated.  As if clinging  to my negativity and “woe-is-me” mentality as if it were a security blanket that would make it all right again.  But it’s interesting how we cuddle up in that blanket of warm loathing, feeling more secure in self-pity and failure than the risk of success.

This ill-fated circular exercise is a complete farce and I believe an act of desperation of Ego, a fear-induced ploy of an insecure mind, the voice of “the devil”/”monster” in your head, and the languish of the unenlightened/unrealized soul.  Pick all or whichever of the above resonates with you.  Whatever the reason is for you this line of thinking is pointless and damaging and it’s important to “call it out” so you can move on.

I believe with every fiber that we are made in God’s image, we have divinity within us and the biggest tragedy of our individual lives is not fully realizing that fact and using our unique god-given gifts to do what we were born to do.  It’s easier to believe we will fail because then we have nothing to lose, but in reality once we start opening our minds (& retraining) to believe that we can achieve success, the positive snowball starts to build and it becomes easier and easier to silence the monsters in our heads.

The following is one of Marianne Williamson’s most famous quotes, I LOVE it and it is Truuuuuuue! 😉  It very eloquently describes this phenomena.

Drink these words in and revisit them, because this is where we start to throw off the shackles and wounds of defeatist thinking.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

-Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love

 

SHINE my friends, SHINE!!

 

Well it’s been another good day of learning and expanding my mind.  I hope you have had a great day as well.  I’m so excited to be in this particular stage of my life right now.  There are so many things I’m thinking about on a daily basis that it’s hard to pick one to write about when I finally get to writing my daily post.

Today, I would like to encourage you to ask God for help whenever you are feeling like things are just too much.  Lawd knows, I’ve had my share of situations like that. 😉  But I will  tell you this – God will help, even if he takes a little longer than we’d like.

I hate to wax all “God” on ya, but the reality is that I would absolutely NOT be in the good place I am in today if it were not for him and that is why I share this with you.  I don’t care about converting you to some religion or creed.  God is bigger than me, religion and all the complications that people like to put on him.  So I hope you can hear what I’m saying and I hope you’ll get what you need out of this.

Remember your mind is a battlefield and if you can fill it with enough positive thoughts and faith things will start to turn around. And having God (or Universe if that makes you feel more comfortable) help you makes all the difference.

Over the past few years or so I’ve had to come to terms with things that I could only come to terms with through hardship and pain – sad but true.  At the time I didn’t understand why, but I’m starting to see the immense depth and benefit of that crazy time.  You may have had or are going through some hard times, maybe hard times that have lasted years (mine sure did), but keep seeking out strength and understanding from a higher power.  Tell God you’re sick of learning the hard way and then leave the pain in his hands.  I promise there is a light at the end of the tunnel, but you might need to put different glasses on to see it – God’s got those glasses for ya!

If you want REAL change in your life I encourage you to be open to the idea of God imbuing you with his divine power to change and grow.

Marianne Williamson (a fave) wrote this in A Return to Love.  I found it particularly affirming the other day as I struggled with “where I want to be” vs. where I am now.:

“Now see Jesus, as the embodiment of Christ, come up behind you and put His arms around you.  He has been given by God the power to make you whole.  Allow him to permeate your being and to heal every broken part of you.  Allow Him to stand in the breach for you, between the you now manifest and your divine potential.  He is that potential, and He has been given by God the power to help anyone who asks for His help to actualize it within themselves.

He is as clear in the Holy Instant as we allow him to be.  Either He’s metaphorically there, or He’s literally there.  Which it will be in your experience is completely up to you.”

 

I’ve been listening to Joel Osteen’s Your Best Life Now audio book and while his voice tends to lull me to sleep, he makes some good points, one of which is the idea of expecting good things to happen.  So much of our success depends on our mindset.  What we see as possible guides our actions into creating what is possible.

One of my favorite authors, Rhonda Britten, writes about releasing expectations in her book, Fearless Living (life changing book, btw).  She talks about going into situations without expectation because it’s in our expectations that we find disappointment and fear.  I’m not doing her theory justice in this very short synopsis, but for the past few years I have striven to release expectations – mostly negative ones.  For example, releasing the expectation of “my boss is probably gonna be a jerk again today…” helps open the door for peace and contentment outside of what someone else does to us.  However, it seems that Joel has taken it a step further in the positive direction and encourages us to expect good things to happen to us on a regular basis.

I guess the trick is, think positively about what will happen in your day and if it doesn’t happen perhaps it will be easier to re-frame the situation positively if you’re already in the mode.  But we’ve all had those days where we start out positive and then shit hits the fan and suddenly we’re drowning in confusion and negativity.  Still I think it’s healthy to start your day with the expectation that good things are bound to happen to you.  There’s a stark contrast to that line of thinking versus going into your day thinking about what negative things are “probably going to happen to me.”

The short of it is, I did go into my day with that positive intention and I had a pretty great day.  Of course I got to work on some things I enjoyed at work today, and you know that helps a ton! 😉

I look forward to getting feedback from you soon.  I’m working on getting comments availability up soon! 🙂  I hope you had a great day and hey, expect great things tomorrow.

Today I allowed myself to be open to the future possibility of a dream home. I could actually FEEL it being possible for the first time today.

“Always aim for the Moon, even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.”

― W. Clement Stone