Shifting Our Focus

“Life seems sometimes like nothing more than a series of losses, from beginning to end. That’s the given. How you respond to those losses, what you make of what’s left, that’s the part you have to make up as you go.”

– Katherine Weber

I came across this quote today and it hit me like a slap in the face. I wasn’t searching for quotes; it was just there like it was meant for me to read. I really started to think about my life, my thoughts, and my attitude towards certain things. For the last number of years (too many years to put an exact number on), I have said to myself, “my life is a series of losses.” It is all I have been focusing on. My losses. My life has been one loss after another. Whether it is a loss of a loved one, the loss of a job, the loss of money, or a number of other things; my life is a series of losses. However, I am not the only one who is alive on this planet. So many others feel the same way as I do. So many others have it worse off than I do. Our eyes are sometimes open only to our pain and closed to the pain other people go through. We get lost in our own pain all too often. We forget what matters. We give up. Once we start shifting our focus to others and helping others, our own lives improve as well. Not only do we make someone else feel better, but we feel better for helping someone else. I will slip and lose my focus from time to time, but before my life ends, I am hoping to help other people see things in a more positive light. After all, isn’t that what we were put on this planet for?

Things I Would Tell My Younger Self

I have spent most of my life worrying and over thinking so many different things that have gone on in my life. I am 35 years old, will be 36 in a few months, and something occurred to me a couple nights ago when I could not sleep. I started to think of things that I would tell my younger self in hopes of my older self to live a better life. It is never too late to better your life. Some people use age as an excuse to not do things. It is never too late to try something different, to think differently, and to improve your life. If you start doing something positive today, it will better your life right away. So here is a list of some things I would tell my younger self in hopes that my younger self would listen so the rest of her life will be better.

1. Stop worrying so much! Worrying is pointless and it drains your energy.

2. Who cares what other people think of you. It only matters what you think of you.

3. Enjoy the moment. Don’t concentrate so much on the past or the future. What will be, will be.

4. A positive attitude can go a long way. Whether you think you can or can not, you are right.

5. Don’t judge others. You don’t know what other people are going through.

6. Pick out the positive in each situation. Don’t dwell on the negative.

7. Learn to let things go. Life doesn’t always go as planned, so let the “not so pleasant things in life” go.

8. Money is important, but not that important.

9. Having a few close friends is better than having no friends at all.

10. Don’t take things for granted.

11. You don’t have to forget, but learn to forgive.

12. Try something new. Get out of your comfort zone and do new things.

13. Exercise and eating right is important, but when you want pizza or a burger, eat it!

14. Accept yourself as you are. God made you for a reason, so don’t change who you are.

15. Family is most important.

Those are just a few things that I have learned over my 35 years of life on this planet. I am sure I could come up with many more, but those are the most important, in no particular order. One never stops learning. Your life keeps evolving. Most people don’t like change, but learn from the changes to improve your life. Life is hard sometimes, but life is worth it.

Moving On After the Hurt & Pain

If I take a poll of how many of you have been hurt before whether it is physically, emotionally, or mentally, I bet everyone’s hand would go up. How sad of world we live in that everyone has experienced pain in some way. In a lot of people’s lives, we experience hurt over and over. We have all been involved on both sides of the coin. We have all hurt someone before and we have all been hurt by someone or something. It doesn’t matter what side of that coin we are involved in, we always feel like crap. In either case, we are unsure what to do next or what to say next. If we hurt someone, we want to make it right and apologize, or we should feel that way! If someone has hurt us, it is difficult to listen, to give them the benefit of the doubt, to forgive them and to move on. One of the hardest things in life is moving on after a hurt or after some sort of pain has been done to you. However, moving on is what you must do not only for your sake, but for the someone or something that hurt you.

Life can be good; is good at times. Life can be fun; is fun at times. Life is full of joyous events and memories. Look back on your life and think back to all the joyous memories. Sure there are a lot of them. Do you remember what you learned from those joyous events? I bet you can pick out a couple things you learned from those happy events. Now look back on the not so good moments. Look back on the moments where you have had to go through pain, hurt, anger, grief, & distrust. From the moment we are kids, we experience hurtful situations. It is all part of life and growing up. We don’t get our way, so we cry and make a fuss. As we grow older, the hurtful situations become more painful, but we learn more from them. Once again, do you remember what you learned from those not so joyous events? I bet you learn more from the sad times than you do the happy times. We grow more as a person going through pain than we do going through happy times.

Moving on after the pain is hard. You may not want to at first. That is understandable and normal. You want to stay locked in your anger and grief forever. You may not be able to handle moving on at first and that is normal too. However, the most important thing you can do for yourself and for the person or situation that hurt you, is to move on. Don’t let that person or situation drag you down. Don’t give them that satisfaction. Show them that you are the better person. Show them you can overcome their hurt and their stupid actions. Don’t hang on to the pain. Grow from it, learn from it, and make your life better because of it. Take something away from the situation and do something positive out of it. Help someone else in that same situation. Volunteer your time. Write for your self only or write something for others to see. Change careers. Exercise more. Make yourself healthier. Do whatever you can think of to improve your life from that situation and move on. Last, but not least, forgive the person or people that hurt you. It will take a long time. It will be a long road back to “normalcy”, but the journey will be worth it. Forgiving someone else shows them are you the better person.

Going through hurt and pain, makes the happier occasions special. Going through grief makes you appreciate the happier moments more. Life is hard. Life really sucks at times, but the journey is worth it. We learn from the situations, good and bad, that we are in. Those situations make us a better person. Life is not all about hurt and grief. There are many happy moments to take pride in. Move on from the hurt and pain. Don’t let the hurtful memories overcome you so much where you forget all the good times.

Things Do Come To An End

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All Things Do Come To An End

The Pacific Ocean. It looks like it could go on forever, never reaching land. Standing on the Santa Monica pier looking out at the horizon, looks could say the ocean never ends. Whether it is the ocean or Lake Michigan, which is closer to home for me, the blue water is very peaceful and calming. It is a reminder that even though looks tell me that the huge body of water continues on and on, I know that it does come to an end.

There are certain things in life we wish would never come to an end. Perhaps it is the physical life of a lost loved one, a family vacation, the weekend, or days off from work. Those things we wish could go on forever. Then there are other things that hit us like a ton of bricks. It weighs us down. We move slower. Like the ocean, it seems to us that it will continue on and on. We want an end and even though we know in our heart, it will end, it does not seem like it actually will. During these times when we are treading water alone in the ocean and trying to keep our head above water, we must remember not only do all good things come to an end, so do all bad things. There is an end in sight to our problems. We do learn from them. There is a reason for them. We are able to continue on with life. It is amazing what a person can handle and get through. The soul is stronger than one thinks. If we remain strong through the tough times, we will see our ship come across the horizon to rescue us.

“Be patient eno…

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“Be patient enough to live one day at a time as Jesus taught us, letting yesterday go, and leaving tomorrow till it arrives.”
– John F. Newton

What a great piece of advice, but something I do not follow. In today’s world of being busy with work, family, kids, and other priorities, how does one let yesterday go and concentrate on only today? How does one not think about tomorrow and what it will bring or what it could bring? I do not have  the answers because I have never been able to only think about today and live in the present day. I would love to hear from people who can live in the present day and not worry about yesterday or worry about tomorrow. I do think it is time for me to start living in the present moment, in the present day. It is difficult sometimes to let yesterday go and leave tomorrow until tomorrow. However, if we don’t let some things go and leave other things until it happens, if it happens, life will become harder to live. It sure seems that way to me. So if you have any advice on how to do so, I’d love to hear from you!

Relationship Tip

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Relationship Tip

Walking through a park. Walking through a grocery store. Sitting at a restaurant. I see it everywhere I go and I think it is sweet. An older couple holding hands and still loving each other. I hope that is me someday. In this day and age, one never knows. Everyone has issues and challenges to work through. Know one is problem free. In some relationships it seems like it is one hurdle after another. In other relationships it looks like the perfect “Leave It to Beaver” family. It may look that way, but normally, it today’s world, it is not how it actually is. Relationships can take a lot of beating. It takes a lot of effort to work through the pain, but it can be done. I think some people, and I may even take this a step further and say the majority of people give up too easily on relationships. One hurdle for them and they call it quits. I’d love to have only one hurdle, but life does not work that way. Work through your issues. Communicate. Cry. Release the pain. Communicate some more. Don’t give up on love. Trust again and one day you will be relationship #10!

Keeping Motivation In Your Life

It happens to all of us at some point in our lives. If you are like me, it happens not once, but many times. We lose our motivation to do certain things. It could be a new week, month, or year and there is excitement in the air for wanting to accomplish what you did not do last week, last month, or last year. Then all of the sudden, that eagerness is gone. What happened to it? Putting things off seems to be the norm in many people’s lives, myself included. Here it is the last day of September 2013. Where did the summer go? Where did the year go? Fall is here. Winter is coming and the holidays will be here soon. Did you get everything done this month that you wanted done? In another month or so the news will start airing stories about motivation and new years resolutions. Why is that we need these reminders year after year? What keeps us from improving our lives? What can we do to put that motivation back into our lives?

A simple definition from psychologytoday.com on motivation, is “…the desire to do things.”  First you have to want to accomplish something. If that want is not there, there is no desire. You cannot have that desire given to you. You have to want it for yourself. Many of us have it to start with. Along the way many of us encounter a road block and instead of going over it, through it, or around it, we turn around and quit. For myself, I can honestly say I have never turned around and quit. I have lost my motivation, but I do not turn around and quit. I sit at that road block and think about how to go around it. It may take me months to go around it, but I do not quit. Motivation comes and goes in my life, but the key is never giving up.

There are so many examples I could talk about and this piece on motivation may turn into an ongoing blog article. There is so much to write about on losing, keeping, and struggling with motivation. One example for me is over the last several years I have started running for exercise. Growing up, two of my brothers were runners and they were running stars in my eyes. They were awesome and I was jealous because I had no motivation to do that. It wasn’t until much later in life, into adulthood, where I had that motivation to run. I started running on my treadmill first because I was too shy to get outside and run. I started out slow, but always had a goal in mind for the next run. It really didn’t take long and that desire to run was there. I found myself missing it on the days I did not run. I was able to run longer and a little bit faster. I started to enjoy running and thought nothing could break me away from it. I was wrong! Suddenly my desire to run was gone. It has happened many times before. It could be a vacation, a long weekend get a way, or the holidays and that disrupts my regular running schedule. As soon as my running schedule is disrupted, my desire to run is gone. It takes me a while to get back into it. It happened recently once again because of a week long vacation in August. We went on vacation and once I was home, that desire to run was gone. It took me a while, but I forced myself to get out there and run once again. For me, it only takes that one time and I am back. The desire is back and the want is back. Today is my day off from running and I sit here thinking about tomorrow when I can go for another run.

Going through this whole process of having the motivation and losing the motivation and gaining it back again has made me wonder, why can’t I keep this motivation at all times? Why do I have to lose the desire to run? How do I keep the desire with me at all times? What I have learned for myself is that talking to myself helps. It sounds strange, but when I tell myself what a good job I am doing with my running it keeps me going. Motivate yourself! Talk positive to yourself. Say uplifting things for encouragement to keep yourself going. Another thing that helps me is to have a goal in mind and focus on it. The longest run I have accomplished is 5.5 miles and I haven’t been back there in a couple of years! My longest run now is 4 miles. My goal is to keep the motivation going and reach that 5.5 mile mark once again. Something else that will help keep that desire going is to drop the bad habits. Whatever is getting in your way of accomplishing your goal, get rid of it! My bad habit that gets in the way of my running is negative talk. I have been the one that compares myself to others and I have to tell myself over and over that my running is not a race. I run for me. If it takes me longer to run and longer overall to reach my goal, fine, just don’t give up! One last, but certainly not least piece of motivation that keeps me going is my brothers. You see I grew up with three older brothers and no sisters. Two of my brothers were cross country and track runners while the other was physically and mentally disabled. I now only have one living brother. He lives close by with his wife and two kids and he continues to be motivation to keep my running going. My oldest brother, another running star, keeps me going even though his physical body is not here anymore. When I run I hear his voice. I run for him because he is not here to do so anymore. My other wonderful brother that has passed on did not have an easy life. When I run I think of him. I run for him because he was not able to do so in this life. All three of my brothers are my motivation in their own way.

So whatever is causing you to lose your motivation, find your way back. It is not easy, but if that desire is there, you will accomplish your goal. You will have road blocks along the way, but you will learn to go around them instead of turning around and quitting. Stay positive. Say encouraging things to yourself along the way. Surround yourself with positive people and drop the bad habits. If you focus on your goal and never lose that focus, you will have that desire to keep going.