Wednesday, September 23, 2009

get right to the heart of matters. it's the heart that matters more.

commandment: listen to myself.

"remember, your intuition is never wrong, although your interpretation of it may be incorrect. when your intuition calls to you, trust it. practice makes perfect when it comes to using your intuition effectively."

thanks to my ever-present over-thinking, i tend to doubt my instinct and have trouble feeling confident about one decision or another. i go back and forth about whatever it may be over and over again and sometimes fail to really listen to myself. more often than not, it's my head doing all the work when, all along, i should be listening to my heart a little more. did you know that the same neurological tissue that is found in the brain is also found in the heart? (little lesson for you there) so, the heart is kind of a second brain and, in turn, a reliable source when it comes to decision-making.

it takes practice, though, just as the quote says. you've got to be able to trust that "inner voice," and the more you put it to use, the more you start to see how often that voice is right.

those times when i've really listened to myself and, at the same time, followed my heart, i've found i'm happier and happier in my decision. if i just go with it, so to say. that's not to say i still don't put in my hours of over-thinking (i have yet to find a way around that). but at the end of all the thinking, if i go to my heart, listen there and follow it, it's almost always a sure bet.

so, why is it so hard to go with you gut? my guess is that it would almost seem careless to not think first. when you use your head and think things through, you feel as if you're then able to make an informed, thoughtful decision. plus, if you're truly following your heart and it doesn't work out as planned, there's always a chance you could get hurt.

but, chances are, that gut feeling has been there all along - from the very beginning. and no amount of debate, no amount of thinking, can override it. it's always there. i just tend to realize it a little too late, when i'm looking back on a situation and thinking to myself (always thinking to myself), "if only i'd just listened to myself." it takes being honest with yourself, though, trusting in yourself and your heart and getting to know that gut feeling of yours a little better.

this commandment, just like many of the others, is going to take some work, i'll admit. maybe i should set a goal - listen to myself and my heart, and only myself and my heart for one week and see, at the end of that week, if it's made any sort of difference. hm. can i do it? seems like a good time to do it. i'll try it and, for once, let you know what my heart says instead of my head.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

it's easy when you laugh. reminds you of you.

commandment: surround myself (with compassion and laughter).

i'm thinking this commandment, surround myself, is going to have several parts to it. here's what i have so far.

all my life, i've been close to my family and friends; i've been a homebody; and i've never known anything else. for twenty-five years, i have been surrounded by kindness, support and an abundance of laughter from those who have - and who have had - a place in my life and a very big place in my heart. i know, i know - this is getting a little sappy. but this is an important commandment and the most important one to me.

anyone who knows me knows how very important my family and friends are to me. they are my heart, the voices in my head guiding me along, those who know me best and those who, year after year, give and love unconditionally. and if there is one thing we're all really good at - it's being able to laugh through it.

i think about the people in my life - family and friends - and i've found a similarity among us all. laughter. other people, outside of my family and friends and me, probably think we are all crazy for laughing at the times we do and being able to do so. sometimes, i've even thought to myself, "are we really laughing right now?" (after a difficult situation or conversation). you've heard that barenaked ladies song "one week," right? and the line that goes, "i'm the kind of guy who laughs at a funeral." for some reason, that lyric always comes to my mind when thinking about all this. we're never making light of any bad situation. it's not like that at all. it's just simply what we do and a way (one way) we get through. get through it by laughing through it (how's that?).

i found a quote recently that said - "happiness isn't what happens when you whistle along, pretending bad things don't exist." to me, it means this - just because you don't face your problems and really deal with them, that doesn't mean they're not there. and it's true. pretending doesn't make it better or fix anything. but i also know, without surrounding yourself with happiness and without being able (at times) to laugh your way through it with the ones you love, well - think of how miserable you'd be. i can't imagine not being surrounded in this time.

i brought up that quote because there have been times when i've been accused of not dealing with things and, in turn, not letting things go (which i talked about a few blog entries ago). but here's a thought i recently had about this and this whole situation - why stay down and be miserable if you don't have to - if you can deal with it in your own way and laugh your way through it instead? now, i'm not saying i've laughed through all of this. but what i am saying is this - it doesn't have to be the end of the world at the end of the day. and why am i so sure of all of this?

my family and friends. the ones who have been there - surrounding me - laughing with me all along.

"you cannot deny laughter. when it comes, it plops down in your favorite chair and stays as long as it wants."

Monday, September 21, 2009

flowers in her evening set. i get the feeling she won't forget.

commandment: surround yourself.

"later that day, i got to thinking about relationships. there are those that open you up to something new and exotic; those that are old and familiar; those that bring up lots of questions; those that take you somewhere unexpected; those that take you far from where you started; and those that bring you back. but the most exciting, challenging and significant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself. and if you can find someone to love the you you love, well, that's just fabulous."

more on this commandment tomorrow..

there is another sky, ever serene and fair.

commandment: leave the lights on.

i've always been an optimistic, look-on-the-bright-side kind of girl. i don't just say "anything is possible" just to say it; i really do believe it and believe that anything can happen. it's a genuine belief that whatever you wish for and hold within your heart can in fact occur if it's meant to be.

it probably would have been easy to throw away all the positive thinking after this past year and become a miserable cynic who gets down and stays there. don't get me wrong; i've had my moments. i tried the whole miserable cynic routine myself. it lasted for about a day. really, not even that long. someone out there knows what i'm talking about (the one who always reminds me that i'm the look-on-the bright-side type who can't even begin to pull off the unhappy grump act; "you're not cut out for it"), and that same someone knows, just as i do now, the hopefulness isn't going anywhere.

i'm evermore hopeful that, not only will everything work out as it is meant to, it will all work out better than i could possibly ever imagine. i have to say, there's great comfort in knowing that and, especially, in truly believing that. that hope comes from my family and friends who reassure me every day that everything will be okay, and it also comes from the feeling and the faith i have inside. it's the reason for the smile on my face, the light in my eyes and the never-ending laughter from within.

i know one thing for sure: if this past year didn't knock the optimism out of me, i don't think anything ever will.

"hope is not the same thing as optimism. it is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out."

Sunday, September 20, 2009

just get the world off your shoulders and close your pretty blue eyes.

commandment: write more; think less.

i have always been able to "express myself" better through writing, to get out my ideas and what i have to say. i also find, when i write, it's one of the few times when my head is actually clear - that is, if i can make myself write and not think. i've found if i can do that, just write without thinking too much, i am more likely to get out exactly what i wanted to say in the exact way i wanted to say it. if you've ever gotten a lengthy, somewhat-sappy email from me, you know what i mean.

my freshman year at radford, in my english 101 class, our professor gave us time at the beginning of each class to write. you could write about anything, no specific topics or themes. the main thing was that you would write and not think for the time given. if the professor saw you stop writing, even just for a moment, she'd look at you and say, "write; don't think!" and you were on your way again. busy writing.

it made sense - getting your ideas down at the exact moment they came to you, without editing, without trying to think up big, fancy words to fill in the spaces between. it was just what you had on your mind or your exact ideas about whatever came to your mind and, in turn, just what you wanted to write.

i've tried to practice this in the writing i do, because i find that if i think too much as i'm writing, i miss out on my original thoughts and can't seem to find my way back to them again. there's always time to go back and add in those descriptive details, and there's always time to edit out the things you don't like. but in the beginning, i try to write more and think less.

here's a fun website to try:

this commandment not only deals with writing more and thinking less as i'm writing; it also deals with writing more in general. as i said before, it's a way i've found of clearing my mind. if something's bothering me, i try to write about it, and it helps - it helps to get it out there; it helps to get it out of my head for the time being; and it's a way of dealing with my ever-present over-thinking. i've found, when i write about what's bothering or worrying me, i start to see the situation itself, whatever it is, a little more clearly. say that i've just experienced something and i write about it, and after reading back what i've written, i realize things about those particular experiences (a lesson learned) that i failed to realize in the moment. does that make any sense? in other words, by writing, and especially by writing exactly what i mean and feel, i've learned a lot more about myself and the life i lead.

that's the whole point to this blog, isn't it? finding out a little more about myself through writing.

"write down the thoughts of the moment. those that come unsought for are commonly the most valuable."

Friday, September 18, 2009

live each season as it passes.

commandment: be here now.

i've realized i've lost a lot of time these past seven months or so. i got so caught up in what was not going on that i failed to see what was happening right before my eyes. while worrying about what could happen (if only), i missed out on everything going on around me. the worry and the "what ifs?" kind of took over. in a very big way. and it's still, even with all the time that has passed, hard for me to believe it.

just as i've always been one to hold on, i've also always been a worrier, and i've always been one to over-think things. from the biggest things to the smallest of things. you name it, it's probably kept me up at night at one point in time. so, you can imagine what the past year has done to my worrying and my over-thinking. and you can imagine how that same over-worry and over-thinking could begin to affect your everyday life.

you're almost forced to be "in the moment" because you can't move on and you can't go back and start over; at the same time, you're more "out of the moment" than ever before because you're so caught up in the questions and uncertainties in your mind that you can barely think of anything else. kind of a strange thought.

i can't say i wish i wouldn't have let this year get to me the way that it did. i can't say that. actually, i can't imagine it not getting to me the way that it all did. what i can say is this - i wish i had spent more time focusing on the everyday, on the "here and now," instead of letting the "what ifs?" take over as they did. because if there is anything i have learned this year it's that, even with all my planning, things change (i'm still not convinced people change, but things do in fact change), the unexpected happens (it not only happens; it bites you in the ass), and the more you worry yourself with what could have happened, the more you miss out on what actually is happening.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

i just opened up my eyes. and let the world come climbing in.

commandment: let it roll.

i've never been good at letting things go (to say the very least). i've never understood it, actually, especially when it comes to big things and to people who have held a significant place in your life. how do you ever let go, really? i'm beginning to think i've never really done it - let go of something or someone entirely. instead, things - and people especially - seem to stick with me for what feels like forever. sure, the feelings surrounding those experiences and those people change and fade, but nothing is ever quite lost or gone.

people talk about needing closure, needing to let go and begin to move on. i understand the importance of this. i do. but i'm also not quite sure why the opposite - holding on - is such a negative thing. what's so wrong with keeping things and people forever in your heart? i've learned *there is room there for all of it.* your heart will hold it all. there's room for the people who aren't physically in your life anymore and, at the same time, there's room for those who are there as well. it all fits, trust me. and it seems to work - holding on, in a certain kind of way, to those you have "lost," while also leaving and having space for those you keep. the spaces just get bigger or smaller according to the importance you place on a person, on a situation, on an experience.. and according to the feelings (as they fade out and in) you hold for each.

so, while i've come to accept the fact (to "let it roll") that i never fully let go of the big things, i've also realized that, when it comes to my everyday life, and those "small things," i need to do a better job of letting go or.. letting it roll. just yesterday, i let (*i let*) a fifteen-minute experience bring me down for the rest of the day. after having a good week, a fun week, and feeling pretty good about things, that one fifteen-minute experience changed everything. i felt tired. i felt down. i noticed i didn't laugh as much as usual (which is unusual for me, by the way). and then, right before i went to bed, it finally hit me - how i had allowed it all to happen. and, suddenly, i was a little mad at myself. what was the problem? i couldn't get it out of my head. i couldn't let it go. i couldn't move on from it. and what happened? it got the best of me and my wednesday.

situations like this, i've noticed, happen to me a lot. actually, i take that back. i let them happen to me a lot. i've also noticed, though, that i'm letting it happen less and less from day to day. sure, i still feel down at times, but i'm learning (slowly but surely) to not let it completely consume my day and me and the way i'm feeling. i'm learning to let it roll.

these particular situations are just like the other experiences i've mentioned before - they're never quite lost on me; i never quite let them go entirely; but they have an altogether different place with me now than they once did before.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

let it shine until you feel it all around you.

i was trying to think of what the whole point to this blogging thing could be. in the movie "julie and julia," julie spends 365 days cooking her way through julia child's cookbook while blogging about each recipe and the life-lessons learned from her experiment. in a blog i recently came across online, "the happiness project," writer gretchen rubin blogs about the year she spent testing theories on how to become happier.

so, what would the main idea be for my blog?

in "the happiness project," rubin blogs about learning how to live a happier life. how to make a bad day good. how to make yourself happy by making other people happy (and doing good deeds). and how simple, everyday actions (such as smiling at everyone you see and pass by) can lead to your everyday happiness. in this blog, rubin also lists and writes about her twelve personal commandments - twelve "rules" she created that she tries to follow and live out in order to be happier. some of those commandments include - "be gretchen," "let it go," "lighten up." it got me thinking about what my commandments would be in my own life, and i've listed below the ideas i've come up with so far.

the plan now? well, now that i have my own commandments in mind, i've decided to write about each of them separately in this blog. i know i'll probably think of more along the way, and the commandment titles might change, but it's a good start (i think). so, here goes. my twelve personal commandments (in no particular order).

be here now.
get up and dance.
write more; think less.
kindness first.
listen to myself.
call it a lesson learned.
leave the lights on.
dance in the rain.
let it roll.
get back to basics.
edit less.
surround myself.

don't take all of these literally. you'll see what i mean as i get more into this blog and write about each one. i have no idea if anyone is even reading this, so if you ever do read my blog, leave a comment (if you don't mind). thanks :) and stay tuned..

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

and she's getting here as fast as she can.

there have been many times in my life when i could look back on an experience, a situation, a conversation with another and realize why it happened when it happened. it never came to me until later, until i was out of the experience myself and granted the opportunity to look back and learn something from it all. and i could see it.. i could see how one something happened in order for another something to occur. or, at times, something would not happen and another something other (another something better) happened instead. and i knew - nothing could have happened without the other; nothing could have happened at another time or place; nothing could have happened another way.

so many times in my life i felt inpatient, waiting for something to happen, waiting for my plans to fall into place. little did i realize, until recently, that i was missing the in-between time altogether. i would plan and plan for what i wanted to happen, and for what i wanted in life, never being able to quite accept a change in plans. all the while, i was missing the days and the moments in the midde, between the here and there, between the now and the life i had in mind.

what i've realized most of all lately is that plans change; people change; and, suddenly, lives begin to change. and you never, ever quite know what's going to become of it all. even with my carefully thought-out plans that stretched way into the future, i didn't and couldn't plan for change or the unexpected. and it happened.. a big, unexpected change that, in turn, put an end to all my plans.

now, here's the tricky part i'm working on now.. instead of worrying about what could have happened and what didn't happen.. instead of worrying myself with what could happen now, with a brand new kind of future lying in front of me.. i'm going to try and focus on what's actually going on, and what's actually happening, now. in other words, taking one day at a time. and, if you think about it, it's a way of letting yourself take a good look (and get a good look) at your life, without missing what's here and now while you're busy planning for an uncertain, ever-changing future.

for the first time ever, not only do i not know what's ahead, i'm also okay with not knowing, and i'm looking forward to finding out.. one day at a time. and i know.. it will all happen just as it is supposed to. just as it is meant to.

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