Saturday, June 27, 2015

Continuing on my Journey

In my "Summer of Mindful Positivity" Journal, I have created a list--a list of happiness. I named the list "Things that bring joy to my life, a smile to my face, and warmth to my heart". In no particular order, here are some things on my list:

  • Sunshine: Nothing compares to a bright sunshiney day. It can warm your whole life and outlook on your day.
  • The Smell of Clean Laundry: I'll admit it, I suck at doing laundry (or at least regularly); however, the smell of a freshly laundered shirt or towel... It makes me smile from the inside out.
  • Children's Laughter: This brings to joy to my heart. Unexplained joy, and I'm not even a mom yet.
  • When AJ kisses my forehead: I feel his love, his protection, and his patience when he kisses my forehead.
  • A Positive Guest Comment at Work: A lot of times in my line of work, people only take the time to give feedback when it's negative. Rarely do people take time out of their lives to let us know when we're getting it right. I love when those people choose to share their positive experience with us. It makes me proud of the job I am doing.
  • The Smell Right Before it Rains: If I close my eyes, I can smell it right now. It's like the "calm before the storm." It smells like peace.
  • Fireworks: Specifically, the purple crackle kind. I love 4th of July. I love summertime. I love being surrounded by friends and family. I love the smell of fireworks. I love how beautiful they are. I love how they make grown men act like kids. I love everything about it.
  • The Smell of Coffee Brewing: I am not a coffee drinker. In fact, I hate coffee, but the smell of it brewing takes me back. It makes me feel at home. My mom brews coffee every single morning. It fills her house with its aroma. It takes me back to those days of my childhood every single time. No matter what changed; our houses or who was home and who wasn't--the smell of coffee was a constant every single morning. It smells like happiness.
  • The Smell of Fresh Cut Grass: Another reminder of summer. I just love the smell. I love the feeling of walking through grass barefoot. I love the memories I have of my dad mowing. I love summertime.
  • The Way my BFF's Thumb Rubs my Hand when I am Upset: There are many great ways this woman takes care of my heart. I am thankful for the last 15 years I have known her, but one of my happiest things in life with her is not necessarily anything she says or does. It's knowing that when I need her she is there. She grabs my hand. She comforts me while I cry or talk or whatever and just rubs her thumb on my hand and it goes straight to my heart. It's a small gesture, but it makes whatever is wrong in my heart feel right again in that moment.
  • Time Spent at the Spa: I love relaxing days at the spa. This is a new discovery for me in the last year or so, but I am hooked. Love not having my phone. Love the darkness. Love the smell of aromatherapy. Love the peace and relaxation. Love "hiding out" from the world and rejuvenating. I love the soothing music. I love everything about it.
  • Writing: I am pretty good with words, but when I speak, the emotions that come with my words can often get in the way. When I write, my emotions stay inside while the words flow onto the pages. It is my way of knowing I am being heard in a rational way and not on pure emotion.
  • Reading Other People's Thoughts/Words and Relating to Them: Quotes, poems, novels, memoirs, articles, etc. I love reading another person's words and feeling a connection to that person. I love relating to what they say and seeing it from their perspective. I love finding a common voice with someone else. I love feeling like I'm not the only one that has ever felt the way that person is describing they feel.
  • Going to the Movies: Especially in summertime. Movies are always best from May to August. I go to the movies and enjoy these blockbusters the most then. I love it... anything but horror films--YUCK!
  • Watching AJ Around Kids: My husband is going to be a great dad someday. I have zero doubts about that. Watching him interact with our niece and nephews. Watching them love him. Brings more joy to my heart and life than I could ever put into words. It blesses my heart beyond measure.
  • The First Bite of a Slice of Pepperoni Pizza: This one goes without explanation. It's the easiest way to put a smile on my face.
  • Wine: I do not love all wine equally. I am a picky wino, but if it's sweet and chilled chances are I will love it.
  • Traveling: I love to visit other places. Whether it's somewhere a couple towns over for the day or it's flying across the country. Whether it's a new place I've never been or somewhere so familiar it almost feels like home away from home. I love the act of traveling. The feeling of belonging but not at the same time. I love the adventure. I love exploring. I love vacations. I love day trips. I love it all.
  • Orlando: More specifically, Walt Disney World. Even more specifically, Hollywood Studios.  My home away from home. The place that brings me just as much comfort as my own home. I wish it wasn't so far away. I wish I could visit anytime the mood struck. I wish I could just pop in for a visit. I wish half my heart wasn't in one place while the other half was in another. Having two places feel like home makes you miss one while enjoying the other.
  • My Mom's Cooking: Specifically--Lasagna or Coconut Cream Pie.
  • When a Person Comes to Me for Comfort or Advice: I want to make a difference in the world. Especially in my little world. I want people to know I am here. I want people to feel comfortable enough to come to me. I have this gift of advice giving (or so I've been told). I do not want to waste it. If I can help anyone, I want to. I want to make a difference. I want to help. I want to fulfill my purpose. I want to feel like I am doing good.
  • Fresh Flowers: My days are brightest on days when there are fresh flowers in a vase in my house. Whether they were delivered by a florist to my work, they were hand delivered by someone that loves me, or I bought them myself. I love fresh flowers. They make my days brighter.
  • When Someone Tells Me They were Thinking of Me:I spend a lot of my time thinking about others, helping others, worrying about others, thinking of ways to be a better friend or wife, contemplating the perfect gift for another person. It blesses my heart when someone admits they have been thinking of me. I know that it probably happens more often than I know because I know that I mean something to a fair amount of people, but nothing compares to being told that. That I crossed someone's mind during their busy lives. In their own turmoil or hectic life, they still thought of me. It means a lot more than people realize.
  • Driving with Windows Down: As I have made this list, I keep being reminded how much I love summertime. Most of my best memories are from the summertime, and every time I am able to drive with my windows down and the sun is shining... Instant happiness. Mind is clear, Just enjoying the moment and life.
  • Old Country Music: I love it. Once again taking me back to happy days full of sunshine. Hank Williams, Jr. among others can bring pure joy and happiness to my life. Brings back memories of driving around with my dad--jammin out to all the classics. Neither one of us missing a word. Brings a smile to my face every single time.
  • Listening to AJ Snore: Six years ago I started dating the man that is now my husband. When I say that he snores, I'm not talking like sometimes or a little bit. The man snores loud and a lot. It used to annoy the crap out of me. I would lie awake wishing I had fallen asleep first. I would stare at the ceiling. I would kick him and tell him he's being too loud. I would beg him to turn over so maybe it wouldn't be as loud. Then suddenly one day in the middle of life, it started being soothing. Now, if I hear him snoring and I'm awake, it makes me sleepy. It is weird. I can't explain it, but now as I type this he is snoring from the other room, and I can't help this big smile across my face loving him. Somethings you wish to change, eventually you are happy they never do.
  • A Hug that Lasts Longer Than You Expect: I love hugging people. I am a touchy-feely huggy person. Everyone who knows me knows that. I love showing my love in this way. I love expressing my love and appreciation for others. I love giving comfort and peace to others by my presence or my hugs. I love it. The best hugs though that really bring me joy are the ones that you think are going to end and then they don't. You know what I'm talking about...just as you're about to pull away the other person pulls you closer. Whether it's because they need your comfort a little longer, they know that you need more affection or comfort in that moment, or because they have missed you that much they don't want to let go. Whatever the reason, those hugs are always the best, and those people you're hugging are always the ones that have a piece of your heart in some way or another.

Those are a few of my happiest moments in life. I think that focusing on and remembering things that make me happy and the little things that bring joy to my life is a great way to spend my days. It is a great way to be reminded to be positive. I think it's a great way to start my day--by remembering and focusing on all the good rather than the bad. May you also remember all those little things in your life that bring your heart and mind to a happy place. May you all keep those memories, smells, actions, and songs close to your heart for the times you need to feel love from the world the most.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

My Summer of Mindful Positivity

It feels good to be back here, typing on this keyboard, sitting in silence with only my thoughts and words. So much has happened, so much growth, so much heartache, so much joy. I have been on a journey searching for my own peace and happiness for awhile now--even before I realized I was searching for it. It seems like life gets chaotic, your world shifts around in ways you would never expect and then all of a sudden you are left with these thoughts and emotions and cloudiness in your mind that your not sure when it started, where it came from, or how to clear it all away. Unsure of how to move forward without going back, but still wanting to feel like yourself again. That is where I've been for the last few months... in a cloud. It hasn't been raining very hard. It hasn't been a big thunderstorm. It has, however, been cloudy. My mind has been filled with fog, and I've tried my damnedest to find my way back to sunny skies and happy thoughts. It's never that simple is it? To just wish for things to be better without putting forth any real effort. To just hope that others understand how you feel and where you are coming from. To just whine in your internal dialogue about how no one understands because they aren't paying attention. Maybe they are paying attention, but all they see is the front and the walls you put up to protect them from your thoughts and feelings? Maybe they want to see the truth in your eyes, but you have fought so hard to keep it hidden from the world that they can't see it? Maybe they have been looking and still see you even when you can't see yourself anymore?

Let me rewind a little and catch you up a bit.

In January, I started my last semester of college, FINALLY. I was so excited to finally being "done". It has taken me 10 years, but I was on my way to soon being a college graduate. 2 hours before my the first class of the semester began I found out that I would be taking over as the acting GM of the restaurant. WOW! What an accomplishment... What an exciting thing for me and my career. My hard work was finally paying off and being recognized. I was excited and nervous and feeling lots of pressure. Then class started. My head was swirling with stress and excitement. This was the hardest class of my college career. Business Policy. It is the capstone for my business degree. It is basically a huge review of all of these classes a business student has taken throughout their collegiate journey and bringing it all full circle to show you how it all fits together in the "big picture." They do all this in 16 short weeks on the last semester of your senior year. The professor starts rambling about the course and explaining how it will all work, and I am exhausted just thinking about listening to him, let alone thinking about all the coursework necessary for this class. I am unsure for the first time in my life if I will be able to pass a class--not because of laziness or procrastination but simply because I do not know if I physically have the time or energy to devote to such a class. A few weeks later, I decide to withdraw from it. It was not an easy decision. I felt like a quitter. I felt like I should've been able to handle it and work and everything else, but I couldn't. I met with my adviser and had a new plan. I would continue taking my 2 online classes for the semester. I would still get to walk at graduation in May, but I would have to return and take that dreaded class over the summer in order to "really" graduate. My adviser was very encouraging. She told me something I'll never forget. She said, "We'd rather you graduate sane. It's not a failure. Take the time and stress off of yourself." I imagine while sitting in her office that the worry and stress were written all over my face. I am glad she felt compelled to show me compassion that day.

I finished the semester. Did well in my online classes. Walked across that stage as proud as can be with many of my friends and family present. It was a weird day. I was celebrating an accomplishment I have not yet achieved. I still had that one class to take. I was afraid to make a very big deal out of graduation day because I was unsure of what the future would hold this summer in that class. I found a new professor I have never had before, and I was taking it with someone I knew hoping that would help ease the pain of the class. The class began 4 weeks ago. I am halfway done. I am spending every Monday evening of June and July in this class. I was dreading it. I have come to enjoy it now. We were given an assignment for the 8 week class that is unlike any other business class assignment I have ever had. My professor calls the assignment a "Self-Leadership Change Project". There are guidelines but less than I am used to in typical business classes. A summary of the assignment is that you start a personal success or achievement program. You basically pick something you want to improve on during the duration of the class. For me I picked " Summer of Mindful Positivity". My journey I'd already been on finally had a name. I started a journal for myself to keep track of my thoughts along the way. I am already feeling more alive and like myself again. The sun is shining. I am more aware of my thoughts because I am choosing to be. I am focusing on my own self love rather than expecting to get that from other people. It is my responsibility to show myself love before I can expect to receive love from others. I am a very giving person and sometimes I forget to give to myself. That's what happened this spring. I was too focused on everything except for making time for myself and loving myself. I lost sight of that, and it has been an eyeopening and beautiful journey seeing myself in this true light again.

I want to share a few things about this project so far:

I am in the process of creating a daily routine to devote to myself. I have cleaned up a space in my house that I feel comfortable in. It is quiet. It is mine to sit and think and write and find peace in my thoughts. It is my place to declutter. I am working out how it all fits in my schedule, but this is important to me so I will make time for it, not excuses.

In my journal for this project I have made a list "Things that bring joy to my life, a smile to my face, and warmth to my heart". My next post will likely start with some items off that list that I feel comfortable sharing publicly.

I also have made a list of affirmations to read each day during my quiet time with myself. Little reminders to combat the chaos in my mind. Little positive thoughts to tell myself. A couple examples are: "I am growing more beautiful and luminous day by day." "My inner critic is transforming to be my inner cheerleader." "I am beautiful and accept myself for who I truly am." "I am discovering how wonderful I am." "I allow myself to feel worthy."

A quote from the assignment from my professor that spoke to me, "One way to help with this inclination of our natural selves is with every new day to think, say, and do something that humbles you to the core. Try to do this humbling thing in the service of others. Another suggestion is to be grateful for any good things that you have in your life."

A quote I found along my journey so far that speaks volumes to me, "I crave space. It charges my batteries. It helps me breathe. Being around people can be exhausting, because most of them love to take and barely know how to give. Except for a rare few."

Another quote I found that I believe is my motto in life (or at least one of them), "When God puts love and compassion in your heart toward someone, He's offering you an opportunity to make a difference in that person's life. You must learn to follow that love. Don't ignore it. Act on it. Somebody needs what you have."

So to all of you, welcome to my journey. I'm not promising it to be easy or to always be sunshine and rainbows, but it is my journey, my life, and I welcome any and all who are willing to partake in this positive energy I am trying my best to put out in the world.