Monday, September 5, 2016

37 Days of Patience

I've fallen behind on my 37 days projects since taking on a new job that I love.  The job is challenging and requires a tremendous amount of energy, but I am in my element and loving it.  I spent the first month getting acquainted with the job itself- the procedures, who the major players are,  etc., and then started making plans on how to move forward towards success. However, it hasn't all been a piece of cake. I've noticed several deficiencies where the business is losing money or is completely inefficient and have been working towards closing the gaps. But I've been met with resistance over making changes. The business has been in several different hands over the years and many of the daily practices involve relying on the way things have always been done, whether it's in the business' best interests or not. There are multiple layers of personalities to contend with- some are  micromanagers that want to hover over me every second; some are drivers who want to push through their own agendas; some are completely apathetic and won't even offer an opinion when asked. Trying to get all of these personalities on the same page and going in the same direction is like herding cats.

While in the midst of all of this, I've also been making a half-hearted attempt at putting myself back in the dating world. After 4 months of trying online dating and being inundated with (mainly) sexist messages, I decided that perhaps I'm just not ready for dating yet. A while back I wrote about the online profile I came across that was a complete game-changer for me; since then I have used that profile as my measuring stick by which to gauge all subsequent encounters. They have all fallen woefully short of my new standard.

Over the years, and especially this year, I have learned that if things just aren't going right, then it's time to stop beating my head against the wall and evaluate the situation. So I started with my job and made a list of the specific problems I've been having, which person is behind that problem, and why it is that we're butting heads; is it just a personality clash, or is there some specific reason why they are acting the way they are on this issue? Why is this person stuck on this particular opinion of this particular issue? The next step is to meet with them face to face and openly discuss what's going on. Since taking on this job I've been running full-steam ahead at doing what I think is in the best interest of the business while at the same time being pulled in different directions by different agendas. It's time to patiently untie the knot, one strand at a time. 

On the personal relationship side, it is time to take a step back and think about what it is that I'm looking for in another person and what it is that I bring to the table as well. I know the qualities and attitudes that I desire and weeding out who is not suitable is relatively easy. But on the few occasions where I've talked to someone who might have potential, I have felt myself rebuilding walls of suspicion and distrust and effectively pushing them away. That made me realize that perhaps there are still feelings from my divorce that I haven't completely dealt with, namely feelings of trust. If I can't find it in myself to trust a man not to hurt me emotionally, then it's not time for me to try and look for a potential mate. I may have a lot of good qualities, but friendship should be based on trust and respect, and right now I'm lacking both of those. It's time for me to patiently dig up those negative feelings, analyze them, and release them from my heart before I can move on.

I've been charging forward like a warrior, bent on the assumption that my way of doing things or way of being was correct. But today I ran across a quote by Leo Tolstoy- "The two most powerful warriors are patience and time".  I haven't been using either patience or time when dealing with my new job or with my own fears and feelings. So for the next 37 days, the words "patience and time" will be my daily mantra, to remind me to slow down and examine each problem from multiple angles to find the solution that works best for everyone.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Soul Beauty

Is there really anything in the world that can compare with a beautiful soul, the kind of soul that  immediately lights up a room?  Even if you combined all the most beautiful sunsets, the most beautiful flowers, and the most beautiful art in the world, they still wouldn't hold a candle to the person who radiates warmth, love and compassion to everyone around them.

What does it mean to have a beautiful soul?  A person that possesses a beautiful soul has the ability to see what is beyond the surface and call up from the depths another person's inner beauty; they possess a kind, caring spirit that seeks to heal and not destroy, that empathizes but doesn't pity.  Beautiful souls understand the huge impact of simple things, like listening, a kind word, and a gentle touch.  They are more than willing to share what they have with others, and are on the front lines in a time of need. 

The person who has a beautiful soul can take a hard look at the violence and ugliness of the world and instead of despairing, finds a way to make it better.  They possess monumental strengths - strength of character, strength of integrity, strength of will and strength of dignity.  Beautiful souls withhold judgment and embrace all the unique differences that make us all the same, without regard to gender, skin color, religion, background, nationality, age or income, because they know those superficial things are only a small part of what makes us human.

How much better off would the world be if more people had beautiful souls?  They are rare treasures that most take for granted because beautiful souls are not motivated by fame or fortune or notoriety.  What they do, they do out of love and compassion for others.

"For attractive lips, speak words of kindness.
For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people.
For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry.
For beautiful hair, let a child run his fingers through it once a day.
For poise, walk with the knowledge that you will never walk alone..."
~Sam Levenson, In One Era and Out the Other, 1973

Monday, July 11, 2016

37 Days of Beauty

The 37 Days of Beauty project has been on my list since I first started on this journey of living a more positive life.  Consciously looking for beauty in unexpected places is a small reminder of why life is worth living every day; beauty helps dispel darkness and negativity. 

In the past few days, this has become abundantly clear to me.  When I heard the news on Friday about the shooting of police officers in Dallas, preceded by the shootings in Louisiana and Michigan, my heart sank and I immediately felt down and depressed. I'm an emotional empath and I feel things from my environment very deeply, so for that reason I don't regularly watch the news; I can literally feel bad news in a physical way.  The one thing that stuck out in my mind as the saddest was the killer's statement, "I just wanted to kill white people".  He had no conflict with those individuals whatsoever, other than their occupation and the color of their skin.

On my way home that day I stopped by an art museum.  I felt compelled to surround myself with beautiful things so that I could dispense with the darkness that I felt. I walked through every gallery and stopped to look at every painting. I drank in all of the colors and minute details, read the moods of the subjects and marveled at paintings so lifelike I felt as though I could step right into the picture. The museum was having a special event to advertise three new exhibits.  One exhibit was by an African artist, one was by an artist from the Middle East and one was by a local artist.  Each artist portrayed beauty in their own unique way, with sculpture, colorful fabrics, photography, videography and huge canvases covered in paint. It was a celebration of multiple cultures, of people and places that make up our planet.

The tragedies and ensuing racial tensions also inspired a strong desire within me to spread peace and love in whatever way I could.  Surrounding and recharging myself with beauty made me want to radiate beauty to others.  Since I've been spending a lot of time contemplating on my passions, I realized that my natural gift and passion for helping others is one I have been running away from for a while. So I volunteered at an urban mission that feeds the poor and homeless and provides clothes, social services and spiritual teaching. I made sandwiches and helped serve food to people coming through the line. I gave out hugs to people who were smelly and bedraggled. On the surface the scene may not have been very beautiful with its line of poor, hungry souls, outfitted in dirty, mismatched clothes, uncombed hair and often missing teeth.  But during the church service I looked around and looked past the poverty. What I saw was a beautiful kaleidoscope of skin colors in every possible shade, from the midnight dark skin of a Sudanese man, to the warm caramel of a Latino woman, to the milk white of one of the children. I saw untold stories of those who were often the victims of circumstance or mental illness; people who were somebody's child, brother, sister, parent; people who had much to offer if anyone bothered to ask.  Seeing all of those people together, rich and poor, clean and dirty, black and white sitting elbow to elbow with one another was one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen and gave me hope for our nation plagued with racial violence.

Right now I feel as if it is more important that ever to seek out beauty. It's not a way of turning my back on the ugliness of the current climate, but rather a way to cope with it so that the negativity doesn't drag me down. Beauty inspires me to spread more beauty to others, whether it is by showing love towards those different from me, standing up against hateful speech, or just spreading messages of peace. I encourage everyone to do the same.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Still Learning

Every day I learn something new, but some days I relearn an old lesson.  I have noticed that sometimes when I get out of line, the universe sends me signs to point me back in the right direction.  That happened today, and since becoming more consciously attuned to my intuition and environment, I sat up and paid attention.

I've been at my current job for about 6 months.  While it's far from being a challenging or personally rewarding job, it did happen to come along at a time when I needed to slow down and get my feet planted on solid ground.  However, I've been having a problem with one of my co-workers.  Not an outright conflict, but just an undercurrent of discord due mainly to some personality clashing. I'm very laid back, and she's very rigid; I'm more of a people person and she's very analytical.  Sometimes the way she says and does things grates on my nerves because I perceive them as being harsh and insensitive, but to her credit, sometimes I am overly sensitive and read too much into small matters.

When I arrived at work this morning, she had left a note on my desk asking me to see her first thing in regards to an email that was sent out yesterday.  She had already followed up that same email with a personal visit to my desk to ask if I had any questions, to which I responded that I did not.  So when I saw the note, I felt as though she was on a power trip and trying to beat a dead horse.  Instead of going straight to her, I went to my supervisor to vent my frustrations. Six months of pent up frustration came tumbling out and in the course of the conversation, I learned why my co-worker does what she does, the history of some incidents that occurred in our department and better insight into her personality. After my supervisor and I finished talking, I went to my co-worker with the note and was mentally prepared to discuss our conflict with a level head and without resentment. As it turns out, all she needed was my signature on the email. I felt like a big fool.

Not only was I "making a mountain out of a molehill" over the email, but I caught myself thinking on the way to work negative thoughts about my co-worker and my job.  I learned long ago that whatever your mindset is becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy; if you think bad things will happen, they will, and vice versa. Essentially I was setting myself up for a conflict that didn't exist because of two main reasons:  first I allowed myself to let negative thoughts creep in, and second I didn't address the personality issue sooner.

As soon as I sat back down at my desk, the Bible verse that is delivered to my inbox every day came from Matthew 7:7:  "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you."  The answer to my problem with my co-worker was there all along, I just didn't bother to ask for clarity. Instead, I let the seed of negativity be planted and then by not addressing it, I let that seed grow and thrive.

Wisdom comes from learning from your mistakes. Hopefully this is one lesson that I won't have to repeat.


Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Never Stop Learning

I had planned to start another 37 Day project on learning, in which I would strive to learn something new, be it a life lesson or interesting information, every day for 37 days.  But as I sat down to write, it occurred to me that every day is a lesson and learning happens every day, both consciously and subconsciously; it's not something that can be contained in just 37 days.  The next thought that struck me was the question, "Well, what have you learned in the last month?"

What initially touched off this project was that I signed up for a class on the traditional Japanese tea ceremony, which has held my interest ever since I read Memoirs of a Geisha. I was really looking forward to it and had planned to write about my experience and everything that I learned.  Then the day of the class arrived and everything went haywire -- my ex didn't show up to get the kids when he was supposed to, my parents dropped by unexpectedly, and due to a budgeting error, I didn't have enough money for the class. It was frustrating and disappointing. At the end of the day when everyone left and things were quiet, I compared my plans for the day with what actually happened. What I learned was that even though taking that class would've been a real treat and the opportunity to immerse myself in something totally new, sometimes it's better to spend time with those you love instead. As it turns out, my family and I ended up exploring a part of town that none of us had been to in many years and discovered a whole treasure box of shops and restaurants that we never knew existed.

Last month I went to a beekeeping class, which is also something that holds my interest.  The biggest nugget of knowledge that I took away from the class was that the majority of honey sold commercially in big box stores is imported from other countries with very lax standards on quality, and that honey is so processed that it retains very little of its original benefits. That knowledge stirred a passion in me to be more of an advocate for consumption of local goods. What I learned is that having knowledge and not using it is like carrying a flashlight in the dark and not turning it on - pointless.

I wrote recently about how I came across a profile on an online dating site that really knocked my socks off and I took away 10 lessons from reading it.  One of the lessons I gleaned from that profile is that it's important to do what you love, and that lesson acted as a precipitator toward pursuing a job that is much more meaningful to me than just a paycheck.  What that experience taught me was that inspiration can come from anywhere, at any time, and make you question yourself as to whether you are really doing your absolute best.

So to answer my own question about what I have learned in the past 37 days, I would have to say that I learned some pretty important things:
1. Just because things don't turn out the way you planned doesn't mean the experience has to be negative.  Cherish your loved ones, don't take them for granted, and be thankful for all the moments you have together to create memories.
2. Knowledge is power, but only when it is shared in a positive way. The knowledge you possess may just be the exact thing someone else needs to hear.
3. When there is a question that needs an answer, the answers are everywhere, sometimes hiding in plain sight or showing up in unexpected places. But if you are receptive to the answers the universe has to offer, you may end up learning the answers to questions you never even knew existed.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Getting My Passion Back

Since writing my last post, "10 Things I Learned From an Online Profile", I've been trying to pinpoint the areas in which I find myself deficient so that I can be assured that I'm living my best, most passionate life.  But there's one area that has been plaguing me for months and today I finally was able to put a finger on it.  Like I stated in my last post, inspiration sometimes comes from unlikely places. I was taking a break from my very mundane, detail-heavy day job and looking at a local blog about my city. While I was flipping through the pages, I found a listing of jobs that had been posted for the week and among them was a job that I never would have pictured myself in, but it immediately excited me.  And that's when the 10 lessons from the profile and the one question I've been pondering for months now both jumped up and smacked me in the head- "Are you living a passionate life or are you just existing?"

For the past year or so I've been in a state of major transformation and transition.  After spending a decade in a toxic relationship and the dawning of the realization that I had a choice to end it, I've been doing a lot of construction work on my heart and mind. Phase I of the construction was dealing with the anger and resentment that had built up over the years; I had to deal with each individual instance that caused me hurt and pain, acknowledge it, and then let it go so that it no longer had a hold over me. Once I finally felt free and at peace from those demons that had haunted me, I moved on to Phase II of replacing all of that negativity with positive thoughts and actions.  I eliminated a very stressful job and replaced it with one that, while very dull, has afforded me the ability to relax and be much kinder to my body.  Now that I've gotten past so much negativity and stress and have a lot more peace in my life, the one thing that has been gnawing at the back of my mind is that now it is time to move on to the next phase and bring more passion and zeal back into my life. It's time for Phase III.

I'm not sure if that gnawing at the back of my mind existed before I read the online profile or because of it; I just know that I've had this feeling for a while of what I described to a friend as "swimming in a sea of apathy".  I've enjoyed the peace and tranquility from leaving my old life behind, but at the same time I felt like I was missing my fire.  The last time I felt really passionate and happy with my life is when I ran my own business from home. It was literally the best year of my life, being able to use my creativity to make a living on my own terms.  But then my ex-husband put me in the tough position to have to choose between doing what I loved, or giving it up to take a job that made more money so I could support the family. I chose the latter option, and with that choice, the flame of my passion died. I went into robot mode, doing what had to be done to keep a roof over our heads and food on the table in a very high-pressure, high-stress job. 

Even though I'm not in that high-stress job anymore, I'm still in robot mode, just doing what needs to be done.  In conjunction with my 37 Days of Confidence, I've started going out on my own and exploring some interests, but I just can't shake off that feeling that it's not enough. Interest does not equal passion after all. I miss the feeling of being so fired up about something that I have to tell everyone I see.  Not feeling that passion makes me feel as though I'm not living up to my potential, nor am I being true to my authentic self. 

So maybe this new job opportunity is just the thing I've been looking for- the chance to be back in my wheelhouse and doing something that I love and that inspires me every day.  There's always the chance I won't get the job of course, but at least one thing remains- I'm headed into Phase III and I'm getting my passion back.

Friday, June 17, 2016

10 Things I Learned From an Online Profile

It's really interesting to me how when I need a good dose of inspiration that it usually turns up in the most unlikely of places. About a month ago I was sifting through profiles on an online dating site when I saw one that really made me sit up and take notice. It wasn't the pictures (although they are very attractive), it was the words and the message. Since then I've read and reread that profile about a hundred times, and each time I take away something new. Here are 10 things I've learned from this one profile:
1. Character and authenticity matter.
2. Don't settle for less than you deserve.
3. It's ok to be a strong woman; not every princess needs to be rescued.
4. Love what you do and make a positive difference in the world.
5. Enjoy everything life has to offer- the beauty of nature, the soul-stirring sound of music, the amazing diversity of world cultures.
6. Take care of yourself so that you can be an active participant of life instead of just a spectator.
7. Read good books and never stop learning.
8. Have faith in things beyond what you can see with your own two eyes.
9. Be compassionate, kind and non-judgmental for everyone is fighting their own battle daily.
10. Do things that you are passionate about, and use that passion to make a difference in a positive way.

I've spent a lot of time thinking about those words. I really took them to heart and used them to examine my own life to see areas in which I might need improvement. My goal for the past several months has been to focus on being more positive and this profile was just the thing I needed to hear to keep me going on that path. In fact, it made me feel like those words were everything I've been looking for but couldn't form into a conscious thought. Going back to the concept of the Law of Attraction in my previous post, in order to attract this kind of person, these are the attributes I need to strengthen in myself.
I don't know if I'll ever get the chance to meet the guy behind the words. I sent him a couple messages before I realized that he hasn't logged in since April. But even if I never meet him in person, those words left an indelible impression on both my mind and heart. Whoever and wherever he is, I just want to say thanks for the inspiration.