Category Archives: Self Help

I Feel Pretty?

There’s a movie out now with this title. It stars Amy Schumer and I fully intend to see it. I’ve read about it and understand it to be a story of a woman, played by Schumer, who has a clutzy accident in spin class which causes her to hit her head, which leads to a TBI that makes her  believe that she is the prettiest woman on earth. This turn of events leads her to operate on the day to day with a newfound sense of confidence, and hilarity no doubt ensues.

While I am certain, as a fan of Amy Schumer and her sharp wit, I will thoroughly enjoy this movie, I’m not sure that I’ll be able to relate to it on a personal level.

I think it’s because I am not caught up with the notion of being “pretty”. At least not now anyway, being a somewhat fledged grown woman of 51. I’ve made peace with how I look. I don’t have illusions that I am some great beauty (which is perfectly fine by me), but I have confidence in my ability to make the most of my features with make up. And I know how to dress myself in a flattering way. It’s pretty simple, really.

I prefer the notion of feeling funny (though “I Feel Funny” is not the best title for a film-but perhaps a new pharmaceutical commercial for vertigo), because I fancy myself as a humorist. However, what I would really prefer, instead of feeling “pretty” or “funny” is to feel smart.

True confession: I’ve struggled all my life with the feeling that I am not smart. I’m the one who doesn’t get the punch line while everyone else is laughing their asses off. I’m the one that needs to try, try, try when learning something new before it clicks. I’m the one who was an average student, grade-wise, throughout my education (with the exception of my senior year in college when I earned almost exclusively A’s and B’s). Up until I hit about 48, 9 times out of 10 in social situations, I believed that I was the least smart person in the room, reminiscent of those times in middle school where I was always the second or third to last to be picked for whatever team sport was being played.

But I digress.

One of the gifts of aging, for me, is that I feel smarter than I did, say 10 years ago. Experience does that to a person. Trial and error. Figuring out what works for you and what just simply doesn’t, and what your learning style is comes with age. Not taking yourself so seriously. All of these things are the silver linings to getting older.

In my take on this movie genre, entitled “I Feel Smart”, obviously written in collaboration with Amy Poehler and Tina Fey, I would successfully put together IKEA furniture by myself, present TED talks on how to harness female intuition for the betterment of society, and use my Kohl’s cash and coupons to save 150% on my shopping sprees. I would breeze through my days offering useful advice to those I come in contact with and I would be asked to become a partner in a think tank (I’ve always been curious about those-I assume it’s a bunch of high tech smarty pants people hanging out in a state of the art, pristine facility collaborating all day to solve society’s problems. So if I’m feeling so smart, I ought to fit in just fine there).

That would give me a much larger helping of confidence than believing I am the prettiest (or funniest) woman on earth.

So, Amy and Tina….you in?

Highlights of 2017/Positive Pursuits for 2018

2017 was quite the banner year for me personally. Looking back on the year, I feel like I’ve come a long way. Emotional maturity-wise. Self-esteem wise. My outlook has changed. My priorities have become more clear.

Suffice it to say, for me, 2017 has been a very memorable and transformative year.

Let’s see…in 2017:

I started this blog. This was a bit scary, as putting myself out there made (and makes) me emotionally vulnerable. A target for criticism, both self imposed and from others.  It’s been a very worthwhile pursuit for me despite that however. Through blogging, I have learned that the sky won’t fall in when I put myself out there in the blogosphere.

I started my weekly volunteer gig at the food bank. I have gained new friendships along with a deeper understanding of the plight of folks in Colorado grappling with food insecurity day in and day out. This has increased my sense of compassion and reinforced my belief that it is my duty as a capable human being to help others in all the ways I can.

I started a new job. I feel so blessed every day since I started. My new job is such a good fit for me on numerous levels. And very possibly the best part is that it is a part time job. Which gives me a good work/life balance as it affords me the time to pursue other passions. Like writing, for example.

I figured out my way around a new metropolis. By both car and public transportation, aka the RTD bus. I am now able to get to and fro, whether it be work, Target, the hairdresser, or the grocery store, without using GPS. It’s just one of those little things that gives me that sense of comfort one feels among familiar surroundings.

Hubs and I  hosted a crap ton of company, most of whom had never traveled to Colorado before. We had some great fun doing this and discovered lots of new places to go and things to do along the way. Introducing people I love to this beautiful, one-of-a-kind place is a truly awesome privilege.

I “co-facilitated” my dad’s move to the nursing home (ouch, that hurt). This 9 day foray spent with my family in northern Minnesota was by far, without a doubt, the most emotionally charged period of my entire life. I am beyond thankful that now my Dad is receiving such loving care in a safe and comfortable place. I learned an important lesson from this experience: that sometimes the right thing to do is also the hardest thing to do.

I was able to partake in lots of amazing travel. In fact, more in this one year than in any of the 49 previous years. Hubs and I went to D.C. twice. We went to Seattle. We traveled to Minnesota and Wisconsin a few times as well, spending time with our beloved family and friends. The fear of flying I once had is now absent because of this. It’s been replaced by an even stronger desire to travel.

I’ve got big personal goals for 2018. I’m not going to call them resolutions, because that’s such a loaded, not to mention overused, term.  I don’t think it’s healthy for me to have my goals set in stone, even if just in my head,  because I recognize that curveballs happen. Unexpected shit, like …..okay, I actually don’t want to put that out there because it freaks me out and I want to remain positive.

Ahem….

For 2018, my overarching goal is to build upon what was started in 2017. By growing my blog through higher quality writing.  By continuing to volunteer as I’m able. By finding and implementing ways to improve my workplace and the lives of the clients we serve. By branching out, driving-wise. Like hopping  on that scary I-25 and driving to Denver, getting over my still present fear of traversing freeways. By hosting more company, and exploring with them Colorado places we have yet to see. By doing more traveling with Hubs, both to visit family and friends, but also to new destinations (yet to be determined).

And finally….

In 2018, the Happiness Jar will become the Goodness Jar. As in, what good did I do today? Each and every day I will endeavor to jot down a short note about what good I put out there in the universe. Not to show what a great human being I am, because God knows I am such a work in progress. But to brighten someone else’s day, show them that they are cared about and valued. This will motivate me to be a better version of myself each day and hopefully  inspire others to consciously walk through life focusing on doing good. This might be overly ambitious, lofty even, but I think it’s worth a try. What’s the worst that could happen?

As this jam packed year comes to a close, I thank  all of you awesome readers for sticking with me on my blogging journey and wish each of you a happy, healthy, magically wonderful New Year!

Inspire yourself with a Vision Board

20171025_124821 (1)
Ta-da! It’s my vision board!

Before I hit “publish” on this blog post, I must tell you that I wrote this post a couple of months ago. I was too chicken to post it till now because of my fear that I would come across as being self-absorbed and/or obnoxious. It’s not that I no longer harbor that fear; I have simply decided that 1) since this is my blog and 2) there’s at least a small chance that someone reading this may determine that they also should create a vision board which could improve their state of minds as it has done for me, publishing this is indeed something I should do. 

So there’s that.

Jen Sincero, in her book “You Are a Badass” (which I have mentioned a couple of times in this blog), inspired me to create a vision board. Since I have time on my hands at this point in my life (what a blessing), a desire to express myself creatively, and plenty of notions of what I want my future to look like, creating this was quite a worthwhile pursuit.

Let me give you a tour:

The quote that is smack dab in the middle expresses how I’m choosing to live now. I am sincerely seeking (for meaning, for joy, for good things in the world). And I am sincerely striving to be the best version of myself every day, with the choices I make and how I interact with people. I am also sincerely full of love for this blessed life I’ve been granted and my heart is open.

The picture on top of this is of a mini-camper with just enough room for two. Hubs and I  are enamored with the notion of hitching a little camper to our CRV and taking spontaneous long weekend road trips to parts unknown. We really dig the idea of being able to forego pricey hotel stays and having our own space. We also really love the idea of being able to sit around a campfire at night next to our temporary home on wheels, pondering life while sipping wine or craft beer amongst the stars.

While it may be difficult to make out, there are numerous small pictures of different kinds of dogs. Because dogs make me happy. We no longer have a dog, as our Homer, a bichon we adopted in 2008, passed away in 2013. We both miss him so very much. He brought so much joy to our whole family. And soon I hope to adopt another dog.

Of course I had to include a picture of the cabin that at least sort of looks like the one we will someday live in. It features a decent sized deck and a fireplace. It’s big enough for two, yet could comfortably accommodate up to 4 more people, when we are blessed with company.

Then there are the pics of places I wish to travel with my Hubs. I didn’t buy a big enough vision board to actually include all of the places I want to travel to (I would need to use an entire wall for that!),  but three of them are pictured on my vision board: New York City (that’s why Tina and Amy are also pictured because not only do I admire them both more than anyone else for their comedic work, but I simply must be in the audience at Saturday Night Live if I am going to NYC). There’s Napa Valley, California, aka wine country (though it may be awhile before we can travel there thanks to the recent fires). And there’s Hawaii, where Hubs and I have been wanting to go for years. I picture us around a campfire on the beach at sunset, sipping fruity cocktails out of pineapples while being entertained by traditional Hawaiian dancers.

Perhaps you think it’s juvenile to have a vision board. Perhaps it is. But I don’t think anyone is too old to dream, do you? And seeing my dreams every day on the wall next to our computer desk keeps me in my happy place. And I believe that when you can envision things you want in your life, you are more apt to manifest them in your life.

Do you have a vision board?  I think we can learn about and inspire each other if you are willing to share a picture of yours with me!

Practicing the 3 D’s

In the summer of 2016, Hubs and I had just moved to Colorado and settled into an apartment in Boulder while searching for a home to buy. We had decided prior to moving that I would take a break from paid employment. We didn’t determine how long this break would be, however.

We busied ourselves with the job of finding the right house, exploring the wonders of Boulder, and shopping for new furniture (we had a massive garage sale before leaving Wisconsin, greatly reducing the amount of stuff we had accumulated over the years).

Then once we found and moved into our new home at the end of August, we busied ourselves with unpacking boxes, finding the perfect placement for our new furniture and wall art, and familiarizing ourselves with life in our new townhome community.

Over the following several months, while starting this blog, joining a new church, settling in to a new weekly volunteer gig, and making new friends, I found myself referring to this period in my life as my “gap year”. And I wholeheartedly admit that I have milked this time for all its worth. If you find yourself financially able, unsatisfied professionally, and middle aged, I highly recommend taking a “gap year” to sort yourself out. 

The big epiphany here, for me right now,  is that my “gap year” is beginning to exceed it’s time limit. In other words, I have come to the conclusion that it is now time for me to expand my horizons. 

I’m going to start my job search, folks. In earnest.

Making this decision brings to mind words I found written in pastel colored chalk while on a morning walk in August 2016, while still living in Boulder.

Desire. Determination. Discipline.

I do believe these big and important words were submerged in my subconscious this past year. I had a great desire to pursue blogging. I had the determination to go ahead and start this blog. And I had the discipline to pen posts on a regular basis-3 times per week, with the exception of the weeks when we were out of town or hosting company in our new Colorado abode.

Now is the time for me to move these big, important words from my subconscious to my brain’s frontal lobe on a daily basis.

Do I have the desire to find employment? Yes.

Do I have the determination to find employment? Most certainly. In fact, once this post is published I will immediately be checking for jobs on Indeed.com. Fact is, my ulterior motive for creating this post is to enhance my personal accountability for this endeavor. 

Do I have the discipline to find employment? I like to think I do. I believe the fact that I’ve made the decisions to get my arse in gear, make a daily to-do list upon waking each morning, and then complete each task before the day is done (top on the list is searching for jobs and filling out applications), exemplifies my self-discipline.

 

The music of a melancholy Monday

Yes, unlike my usual upbeat self, today, Monday, I am feeling blase, minimally motivated, and melancholy-ish. There’s no good reason for it I’m healthy, Hubs and I have a nice home to live in, the spawn are fully functional adults, busy with their own lives far away from here. Maybe that’s it.

September is a month I have always loved. And here I am, smack dab in the middle of it, and I just don’t have the same enthusiasm I used to at this time of year. I see all the pictures on Facebook of those friends and family of mine with their kids sporting their new duds on the front stoops of their family’s home for the first day of school. Some of those kids are smiling (not surprisingly, the younger they are, the bigger the smiles), some have that look on their faces that communicate they are cooperating with this photo shoot under great duress.

Weird thing is, it turns out as much as I was pining for the “empty nester” years whilst my spawn were spewing hateful insults at each other and gifting Hubs and I with gray hair, I do terribly miss those days. Funny how that is.

On those odd days in which I’m not feeling so perky, I rely on my music. Not only am I drawn to a great melody, solid drum beats and guitar riffs; I am a sucker for a great lyric. Some just stick with you. You know what I mean, right? They resonate with you at your core. They make you think of someone you love or have loved. They make you feel less alone in the world. They make you feel better.  Sometimes they even inspire you.

d1e2aa70c8b48ee74c727eda8f7d5a06

This is the part of this post where I am going to do a little sharing.

Here’s just a few song lyrics that resonate with me right now, today. Monday.

“We can never know about the days to come, but we think of them anyway”-Anticipation by Carly Simon.

Honestly, I probably do this too much.

“Some people are just meant to be a memory, to be called upon to remind us how we’ve changed”-Coming Back to a Man by Dawes

Sad, but true. Relationships we have throughout our lives provide some good lessons. 

“We are the lucky ones, some people never get to do all we got to do”- Now and Forever by Carole King

How I feel about my marriage to Hubs. We most definitely are the lucky ones. 

“If it makes you happy, it can’t be that bad, if it makes you happy, why the hell are you so sad?”-If It Makes You Happy, by Sheryl Crow

Good question. The answer often alludes me.

“You can build a mansion, you just can’t live in it. You’re the fastest runner but you’re not allowed to win. Some break the rules, and let you cut the cost. The insecurity is the thing that won’t get lost”-No one is to Blame, by Howard Jones

My way of expressing the frustration I have with myself as a writer. 

“When the road gets dark and you can no longer see, Just let my love throw a spark and have a little faith in me”-Have a Little Faith in Me, by John Hiatt

My way of saying, stick with me people. I am part hot mess and part optimist. But my determination to be light in the darkness will never wane.

“Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow, don’t stop, it’ll soon be here. It’ll be here, better than before. Yesterday’s gone, yesterday’s gone”-Don’t Stop, by Fleetwood Mac.

I’d love to add the line “and don’t forget about today” but I’ve no clue where it would go. Guess I just think while it’s important to put some focus on tomorrow, the future that holds so much promise, not living in the present prevents you from finding peace in your soul. 

That said, I will leave you with this video. Because underneath the melancholy of today, I’m still an optimist.

Don’t Stop

 

 

Jar of Happiness

I got the idea of the “happiness jar” from the author Elizabeth Gilbert. I honestly can’t recall if I read about it in “Eat Pray Love” or if it was in a magazine article. Either way, thank you, Elizabeth.

When Hubs and I moved to Colorado, I was determined to utilize my free time, which I hadn’t had much of in my previous life as a social worker in Wisconsin, to improve myself. I have always been a big reader with a curious mind so in combination with reading various self help books (Bad Ass by Jen Sincero is the best one), I decided I would create my own “happiness jar”. Here it is:

20170811_152321

With the happiness jar,  each day, you write down the thing that made you happy that day. Then you pop it into a vessel of your choosing. The idea is that you will open up your jar on 12/31 and read your blurbs about what made you happy each day throughout the past year. It’s a way to reflect and take stock of all the good things that happened, both tiny and gigantic, many of which you may have long forgotten about.

The most beautiful thing to me about this practice of mine is that it forces me, each and every day, to remain as mindful as I can be, so at the end of the day, I am able to record at least one thing that truly brought me happiness. On some days, I find myself writing down 2 or even 3 things. Those are the best days!

Instead of waiting till 12/31, and because I’m going on about this in this post, I’m going to share a couple of random happiness notes from my jar. I promise I won’t choose them selectively. I will be super random. So here we go….

2/16: Got one follower on my blog and wrote a new post today 🙂 Made quesadillas and listened to Santana too.

Sounds like a decent day to me! You can’t beat quesadillas and Santana! And getting a new follower!

6/8: Enjoyed helping people at FISH today. The time flew!

FISH is the food bank I volunteer at once a week. And I get so much more than I give when I’m there, it’s kind of ridiculous. And no, that doesn’t mean I’m coming home with free food. It’s the feels. The appreciation. 

5/19: I made the house smell like chocolate chip cookies today.

Say what?! How on earth did I do that? Must have been that new aromatherapy oil I had just bought. Nevertheless, the scent of chocolate chip cookies would make me happy any day of the week. 

6/21: Spent the day interacting w/nature and great FCC peeps. Good for my spirit. That was this day:

20170621_150800

Hubs and I met up with folks from our former church in Wisconsin at Rocky Mountain National Park , to volunteer. We spent the day pulling invasive weeds out of the ground. It was so beautiful that day. I felt honored to be able to spend a whole day visiting with old friends, while doing something helpful for the environment, amidst this awe inspiring scenery.

After plucking these 4 little notes from my happiness jar, I’ve just reinforced my decision to continue the practice of jotting down what makes me happy as I go through my days this year.

What’s in your happiness jar? I’d love to hear about it.