Looking Inward

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I wonder how often people look at themselves, not simply in a mirror, at their achievements or what they’ve acquired. Actually, inward, at their beliefs, at their actions, thoughts, personality, character….. I’ve had a post sitting unpublished for about a week now, while in re-reading it I haven’t wanted to publish it. Events that have happened over the past few weeks have led me to reflect and look inward.

What do my writings say about me, what do my words show those around me, what influence am I having on people and what influence do people have on me. A few months ago I was asked why I was seeking a new job opportunity and I was told I gave one of the most thought out responses, which incorporated the thought I put into my goals, my kids, my family, my emotional well being. Over the past several years I have reflected on how my job influenced me and affected my emotional health, which influenced my relationships and my parenting abilities.

Now, where and what do I have left to reflect on? Me, my personality. I have been thinking why do I have the personality and characteristics that I have? What influences me, what am I surrounding myself with?

I have realized down to the words I say how influenced I can be by those around me. I realize how important it is to surround myself with people who will bring out the qualities in myself I most enjoy, the qualities my kids need and the qualities that bring other joy. I don’t like how easily I can be influenced by others. I’m not sure if it’s being easy going, just going with the flow, if it is that I don’t have the confidence in myself that I think I do or thought I did or if I am too much of a people pleaser.

It has been a year since my last ‘one word.’ The one word that started my writing, ‘radiate.’ I am not sure how well I did with that for each of the 365 days. I do know I made a lot of positive changes over the past year and I have more yet to go. I think my ‘one word’ this year will be ‘gentleness.’ My goal is to react with gentleness with my kids, husband and all those around me. To speak with calmness, patience and sincerity. Looking inward, I want to focus on my family, faith and health.

#myoneword ~ Gentleness

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To want…

‘It is permissible to want’ ~ David Foster Wallace

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I picked up a book today, ‘If You Left’ and following the dedication to her husband, read the quote ‘it is permissible to want’ ~David Foster Wallace.
To ‘want’ it seems can be quite controversial. What one wants another may find trivial. What one finds trivial another may find a luxury, a blessing, valuable.  What one believes they should want or not want can be based on religion, what they feel they deserve or don’t deserve.  It may be based on their likes and dislikes or trying to fit into what they think they should like or dislike.
Some feel guilt over having nice things when others struggle for the basics. Some define their success on their ‘wants’ and the conquering to achieve and acquire those. Some want, but never achieve it. Each person may want to fill different voids, to validate a feeling, emotion, to compensate, to help others, for success, for pleasure. Some may value work over leisure activities to obtain what they want; while others may long for what they want and sacrifice their own wants for their kids, for their family.
It is not often I hear a quote, phrase or word that stands out to me. This quote did, instantly I liked it. I liked it because I have gotten to a time in my life that I am confident in what I want, sometimes that means sacrifice, sometimes that means forming my own beliefs from what I was taught, sometimes that means re-prioritizing how I spend my days, moving my family, switching jobs, evaluating what I am surrounding myself with. To achieve the things I want I know I need to surround myself with the environment to foster my wants, the people I am around, my surroundings, the attitudes, the vibe, the atmosphere. My personality naturally feeds off others. I can say that I have experienced that ‘negativity feeds negativity.’ I have focused the past few months on molding my life to foster what I want, for me, for us, for them.
It is permissible to want and I fully intent to enjoy it….

Some pursue happiness; you create it.

Some pursue happiness; you create it.

Fortune cookies sometimes have pretty good insight. As I read this one I could quickly say this is true for me. People complain about not following through with their resolutions, being unhappy in general, or searching for happiness. Making and searching for happiness are two very different things. Searching for it is longing for something that may never come. Making it happen is taking life into your own hands. 

Reading this I was especially reflecting on this past year as we were eating Chinese on New Year’s Eve. My husband and I have both noted that this past year was great for us. I think it has been the first year in our lives where we have fully taken every situation and made it what we wanted it to be. Every opportunity, choice, decision, big and small I look at my overall goal and our families core values, that I am sure I have referenced before, ‘comfortable home, education and cultural awareness.’ It has simplified life, if soemthing that comes our way will not promote those things, we chose an alternate path to meet our goals. 

I have never been one for resolutions, which to me probably helps our success. If I am ready to make a change, waiting for one day of the year to do it, will not foster long term results. Making, creating and choosing what fills my life, fosters happiness. 

Reality

Pulling in the driveway to my 50s cozy home, playing games with the kids in front of my fireplace, driving through downtown each day on the way to work, listening to planes fly over at night, waiting for trains, work, homework, dinner, bathes, games and movies and bed…. My daily reality. Some may cringe at the thought of some of those things; I however, smile each time I see downtown, hear a plain, the train whistle. Curled in bed with my husband each night we are so content and happy, yet sometimes it still feels unreal. Most of the time it’s just normal, my daily life, I don’t think about what it used to be, rather I am living in the moment. But there are moments, which are quite frequent, that I still get giddy, filled with a rush of excitement, pride, satisfaction. All at the thought, the reality of my life. 

It is such a freeing feeling to be living my reality, as it was once an image, an image that was more of a what if, something that seemed unreal, that it wouldn’t, rather couldn’t be a reality. The thought of making it happen seemed unrealistic, impossible, up and moving a family of five, jobs, schools, homes. It seemed like we would be stuck… perhaps we would be content, but content can be mundane. I think contentment can eventually lead to an inability to accept change. Or perhaps content is what we tell ourselves to hide the fact that we’re settling. 

I know I am no longer settling. I love feeling relaxed to be in my own home, not trapped, I love having the freedom to experience new things, trying new things. I love that I get excited to spend time with my kids and my husband, that we enjoy each other. That my kids are flourishing and growing….. I love that I am writing to the sound of the train, but yet silence. 

That I am living my reality.

Accepting Insight From Others..

This week I started my new job. Naturally, that brings excitement, in the past nerves, but this time I didn’t really feel that, it brings new energy and motivation, changes, eagerness and determination to succeed. I experienced a whole variety of emotions. The first few days are of course, well first days. You don’t know anybody, awkwardly walk around because it’s not yet “my space,” no clue what is going on really, where things are, what is expected. This for me is not comfortable, I like control… and I like to really know what I’m doing, feel assertive, confident and not only meet, but exceed expectations. In this process, for me, the only way I can describe it is that sometimes my brain hurts, or I feel happy inside, but I am focused and processing so I can come off as unhappy or blah… So I’m told…. I did not realize this as much until my husband pointed it out to me. He said, you are a pretty negative person, it seems like you look for the bad in things. Once again, I am reminded how I have become somebody I don’t want to be and have not always been. I do not dislike my new job, nor have I complained about it, but when I am asked about it I state facts which are well facts. Which does not show how much I am loving my new job. But his comment/observation, caused me to look at myself and determine why I was presenting in one way and feeling another.

This is where all of my feelings listed above come into play, a new job is mixed emotions. I was happy to take this insight and check myself to be sure I am displaying how I am feeling.

At the same time, I think it can be hard for people to accept that we as human beings can have multiple feelings about the same thing.  We can be happy and sad at the same time, we can be excited and still worry and be focused and not jumping for joy.  We can also protect ourselves from disappointment by putting up a little bit of a wall to try to normalize what is going on, to not allow feelings of impulsivity to take over our lives and to gradually ease our way into new situations. Feelings of one extreme or another, non stop can be pretty exhausting.

Another part of me knows that over the years I have become more negative than positive. I believe I have posted about that before, it is a daily struggle, so it seems.  I do feel that I am getting much better with it; at the same time I work hard not to dwell on that fact that I have negative thoughts. Stressing too much over my thoughts and changing them is also exhausting.

So what do I do about it..

I am continuing to focus on living in the present, I am willing to accept insight about myself from others, because their feelings and perceptions, no matter what I believe, are completely valid to them. I value insight from others, more from the people I care about maybe than strangers, but it helps me to be a better person I hope. I wonder how much other people are willing to accept or value insight from others. I feel that chances are if other people are seeing something that you don’t, it is worth taking a look at why. Maybe it’s them, but maybe, we can learn and grow.

Happiness…

When I’m happy, as in…signing along to the radio, stress free, relaxed, smiling at the sunrise (even while smelling manure), greeting my kids with smiles, making my husband coffee, dancing while getting around, happy to go to bed early… that kind of happy, it’s pretty great. Finding joy in most any situation. Staying optimistic when it’s easiest to be pessimistic. Appreciating life rather than finding flaws about something, anything really to complain about. This kind of happy was once a norm for me, at least I thought it was. But recently, as I’ve actually been feeling this kind of happy I’ve realized I’m not sure when, if ever I’ve been this happy or really felt it like this. 

I have once been told I live in a bubble. I recall as a child being called smiley, sunshine, and able to spring out of bed bouncing with joy and energy. I have generally been a happy go lucky, enthusiastic, optimistic, cheery person. Somewhere along the way, I’m not even exactly sure when, but that went away.  Even in its absence I can put on a really good show, wear a smile, laugh and have a good time. And that is not fake, but it’s a temporary, situational happy, not the true happy that I described above. But over time that situational happy slowly became a norm. But, I thought I was truly happy. Feeling this happiness now I look back and realize in between those moments I was short, easily agitated, annoyed by little things, had little patience and felt anxiety over many things. That became my normal. 

Today, in having a long, heart felt, always inspiring conversation with a very close friend I talked about my journey of reflection and being ready to get back to being easy going. It was a moment of laughter on both our parts as easy going is not really a word people would use to describe me these past few years, even though at my core it’s who I have been and strive to be. 

I had said that I was tired of life being so much work, that it shouldn’t have to be so much work and the changes I have made are steps to eliminate some of that work. And then I wonder if it is a fantasy for life to be less work, maybe life being a lot of work is just adulting, maybe it’s a fact of life, maybe things are not meant to be easy. If that is true it is not something I am willing to accept. Yes, we may have hard times, but I believe in finding the growth that comes from hard times. I believe in finding meaning and a positive in the negative because let’s face it, the alternative is dwelling on defeat, negativity, disappointment, maybe hard changes, however we look at it. And obsessing over the negative it is not going to make things better. 

If life turns out to be constant hard work, even with all of these changes I’ve made then so be it. If this happiness turns out to be temporary then I suppose I will accept that, but I will at least know with all of the hard work there will be times of true happiness.

The Effects of Change

It has been some time since I have posted.  In that time we have experienced lots of change, Ben’s new job, moving, remodeling, new schools, new doctors and now my new job. Changes also take place in the form of relationships, dynamics, beliefs, daily routine, etc.

Those smaller, more subtle changes can make just as big of impact as large life decisions like moving and starting new jobs. There have been some changes in this past year that I will never be able to undo, wish away, or forget about. They are changes that have changed my relationships, beliefs, motivations.  They have inspired, pushed and forced me out of my comfort zone into new adventures; which from where I am at now is definitely a good thing I suppose. It has led me to new possibilities for myself and my family.  With accepting a new position I have been asked quite a few time why I am leaving, why I am doing something different?

To answer this was a year long exploration for me, maybe even more. Along my journey to becoming healthier, happier, confident, I discovered areas of my life that were not healthy.  My emotional and mental health, the part of me that has always made me excited to be pregnant, give birth, get up in the middle of the night and clean up after my kids and have energy to burn. I spend my days teaching others how to be healthy, how to cope in healthy ways and what healthy communication and relationships look like.  I have more recently been thinking if our lives are healthy, balanced and we have control over them, we should not need to cope so much, I should not have to be so aware of how I am taking care of myself, how I am keeping myself from burn out. Thinking about that constantly in itself adds more stress to my day, that I in return then need to cope with. At what point does this cycle end? This is what has validated my job search.

I recently attended a training that focused on self care to keep from burn out, which at one point it was said “if you’re doing all of those things (self-care) and still drained at the end of the day, maybe this job is not for you.” I had already decided that for myself, but hearing it professionally was validating. I realized while helping others is very important, rewarding work, I was no longer willing to do it at my own expense, my children’s expense, my husbands expense. My stress, emotional drain, lack of energy, and constant need to cope could not be the focus of my life anymore. I began to see my career as a piece of my life that provided me with the means to experience the life I want and to live day to day how I want to, by who I am and by my interests. I want to go to work and enjoy it and be able to come home and have energy to enjoy life.

Overall, for the better part of my life, I have not experienced feeling blue, depressed or exhausted aside from the past few years where I was emotionally drained each day before going home. Self care I think kept me going, but I cannot imagine where I would have been over those years without being such a healthy person. But, I am ready for something new, to use my mind in a different way and to look at possibilities for myself and my family.

Some changes in my life this past year brought emotions I couldn’t imagine, that I didn’t expect, caused me pain, changed my perspective, beliefs, attitude and values.  Yet, as I sit here, with a new view out of my window, new surroundings, new possibilities, I wonder if/when I would have had more courage to make the positive changes happen that I have. Maybe I would still be here without those unexpected, perhaps negative changes, maybe negative is not a good word to use. Maybe just changes/differences is really all it is. But, maybe we still would have moved, I suppose that can never be determined.  Either way, changes affect us, mold us, maybe just imprint or make a little dent, scar or beauty mark, maybe they make us blossom, flourish, change color, grow, change shape or looks.  Either way, it is up to us to determine what to do with change, sit with it in misery, ignore it, accept it, embrace it.

It has taken some time for me, but I am starting to feel more at peace. Their will still be many moments when things hit me, when I remember what happened, that some things will never be what they were, but for now, in this moment, I feel happy, blessed, rejuvenated and ready for my new adventure. For this moment changes in my life are good and their affects will continue to be good.