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.


Friday, June 10, 2016

The Law of Attraction

The Law of Attraction is a basic universal truth that "like attracts like", or as I like to put it, "be what you want to attract".  As humans, we have the ability to attract both positive and negative forces into our lives, but sometimes we get so caught up in the moment that we don't even realize things are happening. 

During the years that I was married, I felt like I was stuck in an endless tunnel; I wasn't happy with my spouse, and in turn, it created unhappiness in the rest of my life -- I was unhappy in my job, unhappy with my house, angry, irritable, resentful, judgmental and always finding fault with something.  For a person who is naturally an optimist, it was a toxic environment. I felt like that tunnel had no end and that I would always be stuck there in the dark with my blanket of negativity.  One day though, a thought opened a door at the end of the tunnel and a little pinprick of light appeared.  The more I began to follow that thought, the brighter the light got until I eventually found myself bathed in light and positivity.

Looking back on those years, I can see how all of my negativity pulled more negativity towards me like a magnet. Conversely, since starting over and changing my thought patterns, positive things have happened in ways I could never have expected; things like receiving a windfall of money right when I needed one, or an unexpected bit of kindness. Some people might call that karma, and perhaps that has something to do with it, but I think it has more to do with the fact that I have worked hard towards dispelling the negativity that plagued me for so long and have worked equally hard to replace that negativity with positive thoughts.

I can see now how just thinking positive thoughts leads me to project more positivity outwards and how that projection of feelings draws more positive people towards me. I can more easily handle setbacks and criticism and rarely get or stay angry. I can handle conflicts better with more grace and dignity and my confidence has taken off like a jet.  I do still get down and depressed, just like I used to, but now it happens less often and doesn't hang around as long as it did before.  Being more positive has opened my mind to new possibilities and theories that before I would have easily dismissed.

Now that I have moved out of that tunnel, it seems more imperative than ever to me to surround myself with people who are also positive thinkers.  I had to take a long hard look at who I was associating myself with and ended some relationships with people who had the potential to drag me back down to the dark. When I meet new people, I've noticed that I spend less time thinking about their looks and more time reading their personality and aura to see if that is someone with whom I might be compatible.

The Law of Attraction is a very real thing with very real benefits.  I encourage you to look it up and apply it to your own life.