Sunday, March 31, 2013

Let Yourself Get Excited!

I don't know about you, but I'm always bracing myself for the worst.  "Expect the worst, but hope for the best," as they say.  That's been my life motto.   

There could be an event coming up that I'm super excited about, but I force myself to remember that something could go wrong or it could turn out to be not as fun as I'm wanting it to be.  I force myself to not get so excited. 


It's my defense mechanism.  I don't like to be disappointed or hurt.  Who does?  So in order to protect myself from that, I don't let myself get too excited about something until I see how it plays out.

Sometimes I'm pleasantly surprised.  Sometimes whatever it is actually does turn out to be fun and nothing goes wrong. 

But other times I know I create what I fear.  Thoughts become things.  Our thoughts create our realities.  This I believe. 

So, then, the obvious conclusion is that I'm creating unhappy experiences for myself.  Or at the very least, I'm creating experiences that are less blissful than they could be.  All because of my fear.


I do this all the time in relationships and dating too.  I go on dates that I convince myself won't work out before I even get there.  If I meet someone who I think is great, I convince myself that they probably don't like me.  Also, I believe that everyone will leave eventually, every relationship will end.  So that is precisely what I have created. 

Here's the thing.  I know even if I get disappointed about something, that I'll be just fine.  I've commented in a post before that I tend to bounce back well.  I cope well.  So why am I so scared to let myself experiece off-the-charts happiness? 

The answer that jumps to my mind, as I type, is I don't think I deserve it. 

I know, I know, I've been saying that a lot lately.  So I won't go into it in depth again.  I know I do deserve true happiness.  So it's time to drop the old-hat defense mechanisms and false beliefs already!

I also keep myself and my feelings in check so I'm not too vulnerable.  So if it doesn't work out, I don't look like a fool for getting super excited about it in the first place. 

So what?  So what if I do look like a fool?  Would I rather be open to amazing experiences, or be closed off and not even give myself a chance at awesomeness?  All for the sake of appearances?  All in the name of remaining calm, cool, and collected? 

The fear behind this is screaming at me right now.  I honestly hadn't realized just how much I was living in fear until now.  Sounds crazy, but it's true. 

I also didn't realize I cared so much what other people thought.  I really didn't think I did care all that much about what other people thought about what I do. 

But I see now that I do care about who they think I am.

[Man, the stuff this blog brings up is amazing to me.  This is another revelation.] 

I don't care what people think about what I do, but I care what they think about who I am

You might be saying, "What you do IS who you are."  But it's not really.  There's a difference. 

It's the whole perfectionist thing.  And 100% based in fear. 

I feel like I have to be this perfect person, or people will think less of me.  People won't like me, love me, or want to be around me. 


Well, what's "perfect?" 

I've built up this persona that I "am."  "Persona" is a strong word because it implies that I'm being fake.  I don't believe I'm being fake, but I do hold back.  I'm being myself, but a small part of myself.  I'm being the "me" that I think people expect and want me to be. 

I've also written about this in past blogs.  About how I don't want to come across as a hypocrite.  One area of my life that I've noticed this is in regards to what I eat.  I've been a proud vegan for about three years now, and it's become my "persona" to everyone I know.  In the past few months I've shifted from being 100% vegan, to about 90%.  I struggled with this greatly because of "what people will think."  I'm no longer this "perfect vegan" that I believe they see me as.

The thing is, I'm not in other people's heads.  I have no idea what they really think of me.  And it doesn't matter anyway! 

I profess all the time about being you and living your best life.  I thought I was doing that, but I realize that I wasn't entirely. 

There's a whole other level of happiness and of "me" that I haven't been allowing myself to get to.


It's time to let my light shine brightly, to be my true self, and experience all that life has to offer

Stop limiting myself. 
Stop keeping myself in this little box, in an attempt to protect myself.  Protecting my "persona." 
I'll be fine.  No, I'll be better than fine.  I'll be amazing!     

Additional Quotes:





Friday, March 29, 2013

Don't Settle for What's Easy

I've been looking at my life and the choices I've made a lot lately.  As I wrote yesterday, I realize, now, that I do a lot of what I do out of fear.  Specifically fear of running out of time.  I feel the urgency to jump on every opportunity right now, so I don't miss it.  Also so I have as much time to enjoy it as possible. 

I'm still working on that. 

Then today a new revelation about myself and my choices came to me.  I too often settle for what's easy, instead of holding out for what I really want

This has showed up mostly in relationships. The type of person I feel, in my soul, that I want to be with is... in a word... rare.  I honestly don't know if I'll find it or if it exists.  I believe it does, so I guess that's the first step. 

But because it's rare, it doesn't show up very often (duh... that is the meaning of rare), or at all. 

I can honestly say that I haven't yet (at the age of 35) had the relationship I really want.  The one I long for in my heart. 


Because I jump too quick on what's here right now.  A guy's interested in me?  Great!  I think... Oh, he's alright... maybe something could build there... so I give it a shot. 

Again, why? 

I know he's not who or what I really want. 

It's out of fear.  Fear that if I hold out, what I really want won't come along.  And fear that I don't really deserve to be loved like I want to be loved.  Fear (and a deep belief) that I'm not worthy of such love.   


It's been easier to go for what I really want when it comes to jobs and career.  I have more confidence in those areas and a higher self-esteem.

Growing up I was always told how smart I was, my teachers always praised me, and I knew I was a top student.  It's no wonder I have plenty of confidence in my intellectual capability and work ethic. 

But relationship-wise... that's a whole different ball game. 

I haven't felt comfortable being myself in most of my relationships.  I'm beginning to see that *perhaps* I have been with the "wrong" people. 

I don't like to use the word "wrong" much, because I do believe I needed the relationships I had in order to get to where I am today.  Maybe.  I guess. 

Regardless of if I needed the given relatonship or not, I still "settled" for the person because it was the easy route.  I wanted to be loved (still do), and I had someone in front of me showing the potential to love me.  My self-worth was so low that I felt I had to take what I could get. 

I took the safe, quick, easy route because I was so hungry for love.  Hungry for acceptance.  Hungry for someone to want to be with me.  And if someone wanted to be with me, sadly, often that's all it took. (I did have some boundaries and limits, mind you.) 

I was like a starving person.  If you're starving, and you're offered a piece of bread, you're going to take it.  You're not going to hold out for a three-course meal of your favorite foods.  That's how I was with relationships.


Even now that I see how I've been behaving and the reasons behind my choices, it's still hard. 

If you read "The Daily Love," did you see the post by Jenna Phillips yesterday?  Titled, "Be In Love With You?"  It's amazing.  I printed it out even.

Similar to a client Jenna mentioned in her blog, it seemed all the people I was interested in either weren't interested in me, or were unavailable in some way.  So instead, I took the people who were interested in me. 

Jenna's advice for her client was this:  "When you truly fall in love with your Self, you will finally discover your soul mate." 

All along I've thought I loved myself.  But I see now that I really didn't.  Not entirely.  I wasn't feeling truly comfortable in relationships because I wasn't truly comfortable with myself

There was always something "not quite right" in my relationships, which I ignored as long as I could.  Of course there's a reason it wasn't quite right.  I wasn't loving myself deeply and truly.  I wasn't letting myself be my full, real self. 

Oh boy. 


I am looking forward to the future now.  I see some great possibilities there.  But I've gotta be committed to ME.  First and foremost.  I've gotta stay the course.  Stick to what I feel in my heart that I want.  Don't give in to the next thing (aka, guy) who comes along who seems appealing only because he's here, now, and wants to be with me. 

I want the "Big Love" that Jenna refers to in her blog.  I do.  So I've got to stop settling for what's easy, and hold out for that big love that I know I deserve.  It's there.  And I am worthy of it! 

Additonal Quotes:




Thursday, March 28, 2013

Don't Rush Past This Gift

I can have a tendency to rush things.  When I feel like I know something, I want to move forward right now.  When I see something I think I'd like, I want it right now.  When I get an idea that I think is great, I want to implement it right now

It's funny, because I would have told you that I consider myself a patient person, but after reading my own paragraph that I just wrote, that speaks to the contrary.

Writing this blog helps me see myself and see life more clearly.  As I write, things come to me that I hadn't thought before.  I take it as the Universe coming up and revealing itself to me, knowing I'm ready to listen. 


As I was, just now, thinking about this blog as I wrote it, I realized that I want things right now out of fear.

Everything is based on fear or love, right? 

Love is patient.  Love is kind.  Yeah, that whole "Love is" poem is true.  I love that poem.  It's a great reminder. 

Love doens't rush.  Love doesn't skimp.  Love doesn't force or push.  Fear does. 

I'm afraid of missing something.  Afraid that if I don't jump on something I want right now, it'll pass me by.  Or time will pass me by. 

Losing time is a huge fear of mine.  I think that's why I'm so quick to jump into new opportunities and new experiences.  I want to experience as much as I can in this life while I have the time.


Yet, I need to remember the famous quote by Lao Tzu. 

"Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished." 

I'm part of nature. 

The Universe wouldn't let me miss out on something amazing.  It's coming.  I don't need to worry or try to get to it faster than it's meant to happen. 


Every day, every experience is a gift.  Even the slow days.  Especially the slow days.  The slow days are a reminder from the Universe to slow down

I had one of those days yesterday at work, in fact.  (And again, this is becoming apparent to me as I type this blog...very cool!).

My hours at work yesterday drug on like none other.  Usually when I'm there, the time moves pretty quickly.  There's always something to do and before I know it, it's time to go for the day.

Not yesterday.  I arrived at work at 2:00.  I worked, and felt like I had been there hours, and surely it was at least 5:00 by now.... It was 3:30.  What?  How could this be?  I've been here forever, it seemed. 

Wherever you are in your life, in your day, enjoy it.  It is a gift.


If you're unemployed right now, enjoy it.  Enjoy the free time.  Sure, the money pinching may be getting to you, but look past that.  This is a gift!  See it as such. 

If you're single right now, enjoy it.  Don't rush into the next relationship.  It'll come, it'll take form at just the right time.  Until then, you're not ready.  Accept that. 

Even if you're in a job you hate, or a relationship you're unhappy in.  It's hard for me to say "enjoy it" here, but enjoy something out of it.  You are still where you are for a reason.  There is definitely something you need to learn from your present circumstance.  Learn it.  (Then move on, and get out of unhappy situations.)        

If you're unhealthy and unfit, but working towards being healthy and in shape, enjoy the process.  Enjoy watching your body become healthy, toned, and dropping excess weight you don't want to carry any longer.

Everything is a gift.  Don't rush past your gifts.  Appreciate them.  Cherish them.  If you rush, you may very well miss something.  Don't let that happen. 

Relax, be present.  Just be. 

Everything is perfect as it is right now, for you.  Recognize that.  Trust the Universe. 

Still move in the direction of your dreams, of what you want.  But no need to rush.  Slow down and enjoy the journey. 

Additional Quotes:

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Don't DO. Just BE.

Yesterday I was feeling a bit chaotic.  Like there was so much going on in my head, so much I "should" be doing, I didn't know where to start.  I didn't know what to do. 

I "should" write my blog (but I didn't know what to write about).
I "should" work on my next novel (but prefer to do that later in the day). 
I "should" market my current novels. 
I "should" walk my dogs...clean my house...write in my journal...meditate...etc....

What won?  Meditating.  Thankfully. 

I went to my "meditation spot," lit a candle, got my warm mug of lemon water (sounds gross, but I really like it), and set the timer for 20 minutes.  (I like to do that because it gives me a frame of reference, so I don't have to check the time.  Once the timer goes off, if I want to sit longer, I do.  But that way I know I've been there at least 20 minutes.  And really, that's a good amount of time for me.  A lot usually comes up in 20 minutes.) 

Anyway.... as I sat, I got calm.  The thoughts came to a rest in my head.  My mind eased.  Two blog topics came to me (this being one of them).  Funny how when I feel like I "have" to write my blog, I don't know what to write about.  But once I get calm, it comes. 

I was reminded that I didn't have to DO anything.  Just be.  Be here now.

Of course I still "did" things yesterday.  I drove to the animal shelter and walked dogs for almost three hours.  But even then, instead of focusing on the "doing," I focused on the "being." 

I'm not just walking the dogs (doing the walking).  I'm being with them.  I'm being in nature.  I'm being at the shelter.  I'm being me.  I'm being love. 

And later, as I sat in Starbucks and wrote the first chapter of my next novel, I wasn't "just writing."  I was being a writer.  I was being in the cafe.  I was, again, being me

I felt it as soon as the thought came to my mind during meditation yesterday morning.  When I'm being, I'm at peace.  When I'm doing, I feel frazzled, pressured, chaotic.

That's why I didn't post a blog entry yesterday.  I devoted the whole day to being.  I didn't want to do anything just for the sake of doing it.  Just because I felt like I "had to" or I "should."

I really needed a day like that.  I was still very productive (I even ran a couple errands after leaving Starbucks), but I was calm about it.  I wasn't worried about not getting something done or about if I had enough time. 

It felt really nice. 

I'm hoping that feeling stays with me for a while. 

Don't DO.  Just be. 

Take a moment.  Take a breath.  Who are you?  Be that person.

You don't have to do anything. 

Just be who you are

The Universe will take care of the rest. 


Additonal Quotes:




Monday, March 25, 2013

Don't Be Thrown Off by Hiccups

Things only slow you down if you let them. 

I was all pumped for my adjusted "schedule" today (more about that later), and I woke up to find about 6-7 inches of snow outside!  In late March, this is rare for Indiana.  In fact, the weather guy said it's the 4th snowiest March in Indiana history.  And one of the top (I think tied for first) as far as snowfall on March 24th/25th.   

My initial reaction was dread and frustration.  I had this plan to go work out, and then work on marketing my books ("Marketing Monday" I coined it).  When I saw the snow, I thought, "Well, I guess my plan is out the window." 


It's not like I'm snowed in or anything.  Stuff will always pop up in life that you don't expect, or that are worse than you expected.  It's easy to throw your hands up and sink down into the couch and do nothing. 

OR you can get out there and make the most of whatever has showed up.  Remember, it's happening the way it is for a reason.  For YOUR best interest! 


Maybe the latest hiccup is to remind you how much you want whatever it is.  To give you an opportunity to show the Universe, and yourself, that no matter what comes up, you're not giving up.

I realize this may be a bit dramatic for a little snow.  It's really not that bad.  But it's interesting how sometimes the smallest things can throw us off.

I actually did go out and follow the schedule I set for myself for this morning (I started this blog, then needed to go, and am now back home, finishing it).  And you know, the roads weren't bad at all.  I had been watching the news in the morning, trying to decide if I should venture out.  The reporters talked about how deep the snow was, how it was still falling, how slow traffic was moving, how slick certain spots were.  All the schools in my area are closed for today as well. 

I had half a notion to just listen to the reporters and stay inside.  But I actually wanted to go work out.  I'm liking the groove I'm in right now and did not want some snow to force me out of it.  I also had some errands I wanted to get done today (I'm mailing off my broken flash drive to see if this company can fix it and entering my two novels in a writing contest!).  When I was thinking about scrapping those plans and staying in, I felt that sinking feeling.  Like my spirit was disappointed.


So I looked out my front window at the streets I can see from my house and decided it didn't look too bad.  Sure enough, I had no problems at all. 

Take this as a lesson to listen to your gut, and believe your own eyes.  Had I listened to the news reporters, I would surely have stayed in.  But I'm glad I didn't! 

So about my "adjusted schedule" I made today...  I actually liked having somewhat of a structure last week with my schedule.  Something in writing.  A plan.  Last night I decided to make day-to-day schedules for myself (as long as I find it working for me). 

This time I wasn't nearly as detailed.  I used a little square paper and just blocked in time chunks and what I wanted to accomplish.  It looked something like this:
6-8:  Up, blog, eat
8:00:  Grandma's breakfast
8:30-9:30:  work out
9:45:  grocery shopping
10:15:  post office
10:45:  more grocery shopping (second store)
11:30:  Grandma's lunch
12:00:  Home, eat
1-2:  writing/"Marketing Monday"
3-7:  work at the florist

That's it.  Much less detailed and specific than what I drew up last week.  But just the act of writing down what I want to get done, and time frames in which to do it in, sets my mind at ease. 

For one, it gets the tasks out of my head, so I don't I have to try to remember what I wanted to get done. 
And two, I see that I do, in fact, have time to do it (barring any major unexpected slow-up).

I also like making the schedules the day before, instead of at the start of the week.  Over the course of a week stuff tends to pop up.  And sometimes it's things that you actually want and need to do.  So you find yourself (or I found myself) with a schedule that I wanted to stick to, but these other tasks that needed attention.  It kinda stressed me out. 

This way I feel I have the best of both worlds.  I have a plan for the day to help keep me focused and remind me what my priorities are.  But it's more flexible.  And it's just for today.  Should something change today, or pop up for tomorrow, I can and will make tomorrow's schedule accordingly. 

I also started color coding.  That may be a little too far for some of you, but it helps me.  Blue is for working out.  Pink is for writing.  Yellow is for outside work (florist, my grandma).  And green is free, open time. 

I started highlighting in my big planner, and also on my day-to-day written schedules.  I love it!  I can easily look and see three blues, for example in the week.  In one glance I can see if my week is heavier in yellow than pink.  Indicating, perhaps, I need to cut back on the florist hours and ramp up my writing time. 

The colors don't change anything, they just make it more obvious.  It's easier to ignore the fact that I'm taking on more hours at the florist, and picking up shifts when other employees can't work, and pushing my writing time to the back burner.  But when it's highlighted in yellow and pink, I see see straight away where my time is going.  And then it's up to me to adjust my schedule to match my priorities.

I'm liking my new plan of attack.  I definitely feel more aligned with my priorities.  And I'm taking back control of my time.         


Additional Quotes:

                                      (I just thought that one was funny.)  :)

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Schedule vs. Free Time

So my self-scheduled week is over.  I learned a few things in the past seven days. 

One:  I can get more accomplished in a day with a plan.

Before this week I would often say that I didn't have time to do things.  And I really felt that I didn't.  If I had a couple things already committed to for a given day, I let that be it.  If I had an hour or two in between committments, I assumed it wasn't enough time to do something else in that gap. 

Take a typical Monday, for example.  My Monday committments typically include going to my grandma's house to get her breakfast, doing her grocery shopping, going back to get her lunch, and lately, working at the florist in the afternoon/evening.  Since the last several Monday afternoons have been taken up by work at the florist, I considered my Mondays "full." 

But this past Monday I somehow managed to find time to take my cat to the clinic for his annual shots, and work out at the gym.  That's what a little planning can do.  Once I wrote out my committments on paper, I saw that I could, in fact, do more if I wanted to.  That Monday was still a little fuller than I typically like, but I knew I had enough time to get everything done.  And I did.


Two:  I really am just fine if I don't check my email multiple times a day, check the online dating site for several days, or get on Facebook. 

One of the biggest areas of my life that I changed this past week was how much time I spent on internet sites that weren't for my writing, for my professional growth in some way, or to look up some necessary information. 

I set myself a limit.  I had until eight a.m. most mornings to do "non-essential" things on the internet.  So, depending on what time I got out of bed and how long it took me to write my blog that day, I might have just five minutes to check my email, Facebook, or the online dating site. 

I quickly prioritized.  Email came first.  There might actually be something I needed to know in email.  But sometimes a couple days went by before I went on Facebook or the online dating site.  And you know what?  I didn't miss it. 


Three:  I don't want to schedule everything. 

While I did "find" more time to write and get more done in a day by scheduling, I didn't always want to do things at the time scheduled.  Sometimes I did, but other times I cut myself some slack. 

I also realized I needed more down time.  I had scheduled in "free time" periodically throughout the week, but it wasn't much.  The past week was more an experiment to see how much more productive I could be.  But when I feel like I "have to" do something, it often leads to me not wanting to do it. 

I didn't write out the schedule for myself so I'd feel stuck and obligated to do what I had planned.  I wrote it out to help me prioritize and "find" extra time in the days.  I accomplished that. 

Moving forward I don't plan to schedule my activities as much as I did this past week.  I know for me, that's not feasible long-term.  It would burn me out very quickly.   

But I do plan to schedule and plan more than I have in the recent months.  In fact, I already wrote more of a "schedule" in my planner.  I wrote it "writing time" where I hadn't before.  Before the only things I "planned" were external committments.  Working at the florist, the work I do for my grandma, my volunteer committment at the shelter, and any appointments.  But the rest of my day and week looked wide open. 

It was easy, then, to look at my calendar and see I had "all this free time" and consequently get "pulled into" doing things people asked me to do - such as working additional hours at the florist. 


I wasn't planning my priorities.  I was planning everyone else's priorities.  

This past week helped remind me of what my priorities are.  And that it's up to ME to make time for them in my daily life.  Working out and writing are two priorities that I often let slide.  I often let those two activities get cut short by other activities.  Now that I'm more aware of this, I'm committed to putting them back at the top of my priority list, where they belong. 

Additional Quotes:





Friday, March 22, 2013

Money Freak-Out Moment

 I had a pretty big freak-out moment in regards to money and my finances yesterday.  The day had started off fine, I had come up with a new money-related affirmation that I repeated multiple times while walking my dogs that morning.  I was feeling good. 

Then I did my taxes. 

I know, I can hear the collective groan.  The thing is, doing my taxes, for me, hadn't ever elicited a fearful or begrudging response before.  As crazy as it sounds, I actually liked to do them.  And even yesterday, I looked forward to going through the steps on Turbo Tax.

So I'm not sure what it was, exactly, that triggered the response I felt yesterday.  I think it's partly due to the fact that this year I said I was a "self-employed freelance writer" which brought up a whole new slew of screens and questions I hadn't ever faced before.  And many of them I didn't know how to answer. 

What percentage of the square footage of my home is used as a home office?  What? 
All sorts of questions about utilities, insurance, expenses.  In all my years filing my taxes I always had W2s that I simply entered and that was it.  This was the first year I had not a single W2. 

So the whole process took about twice as long.  I had to break for lunch even.  I just don't understand why I can't say, "I'm self-employed, here is the income I earned this year, what is my income tax bracket...then pay that percentage in tax."  Easy peasy.  But no. 

All kinds of forms and schedules and questions.  I answered them the best I could, but I probably missed stuff or answered things incorrectly.  I never understood why people would hire someone to do their taxes.  Now I do. 

Well anyway, it's done.  For now at least. 

But after I was finished and it was e-filed, I felt drained.  My good, positive mood from earlier was gone.  I was scared. 

Of what, exactly?  I didn't know, so I got out my journal and wrote, for about 45 minutes. 


I'm scared of not having enough money.  Of running out of money. 

This is the first time, in a while, where I've taken a serious pay cut. 

I've quit many a job, and always found a new one.  But the new one was pretty much always at least at the same pay rate, or slightly higher.  Even the entry-level jobs I've worked.  Then I got into teaching and had a pretty good salary.  After that, I became an interpreter and while I went back to an hourly wage, the rate was pretty high. 

I'm now going on two years out of that job and the part-time job I did just pick up is back to the pay rate I was earning in all my other entry-level, non-professional jobs.  No surprise there, and while it doesn't bother me, per se, I'm starting to feel the pinch. 

So the answer seems obvious, right?  Get a different, higher-paying job, or pick up more hours at the florist to bring in a bigger paycheck at least.

The thing is, I don't want a "job."  I want to write.  Work for myself.  And I guess I'm having one of those fearful moments of not being sure it's going to work out. 


Yes, even I, who am always encouraging people to "go for it" and leave unhappy jobs in search of something more fulfilling, assuring them that of course it's going to work out just fine.... even I get afraid from time to time and wonder if I'm not being too naive and just plain stupid.


I feel like I've stepped out on this skinny little branch, and it's starting to wobble. 

Like the slope is getting steeper and more slippery. 

Like I've set sail from one shore to the next, but the land I'm sailing to doesn't seem to be getting any closer.  And I'm running out of provisions.

Time to buck up and repeat me some affirmations.  Time to re-affirm my convictions and positive attitude.   

I still believe it'll all work out, somehow.  It's just that this is the longest I've gone without seeing the fruits of my labor.  Without reaching the other shore.  And the longer I'm out here, the scarier it gets.  Keep pushing through or turn back?  Stick to my guns or wave the white flag? 


I'm going to keep forging ahead.  Keep my "eye on the prize."  It's out there.  That much I'm certain of. 

Time to put some serious trust in the Universe! 

*All quotes below are from

Additional Quotes:

"Doubt is a pain too lonely to know that faith is his twin brother."
Khalil Gibran

"Every tomorrow has two handles. We can take hold of it with the handle of anxiety or the handle of faith."  Henry Ward Beecher

"As your faith is strengthened you will find that there is no longer the need to have a sense of control, that things will flow as they will, and that you will flow with them, to your great delight and benefit."    Emmanuel Teney


Thursday, March 21, 2013

When Is Enough Giving Enough?

This is something I think about and at times struggle with.  I like to give.  I like to do nice things for other people, volunteer at the animal shelter, even pick up trash and recyclables around my neighborhood.  But at times I feel overwhelmed.  Like it's never going to end.  "When is enough enough?" I wonder.

Take my dogs, for starters.  I enjoy taking them for walks.  Most of the time.  It's somewhat of a meditational experience for me.  I know two of my dogs would like to go out on hour-long walks, or longer, every single day.  I typically take them out four or five days a week.  At least one of those walks is close to an hour, but the others tend to be around twenty to thirty minutes. 

Is this enough?  I know I could be doing more, that's the thing.  So when is enough enough? 

Now about picking up litter.  I have a thing about recycling.  I cannot fathom why anyone would not recycle.  When I'm walking my dogs (or walking across a parking lot) and I see a plastic bottle, aluminum can, or other recyclable, I will usually pick it up, take it home, and put it in my recycle bin.  I figure if I don't, then more often than not, whenever it eventually does get picked up, by the people who do that, it'll just be thrown in the trash. 

Sometimes I'll be on a long walk with my dog, through a certain area that tends to have more litter on the ground, and I'll pick up ten pieces or more.  As many as I can fit into a plastic grocery bag (usually that I've also picked up from the ground). 

Other days, however, I feel almost resentful that I'm picking up all this trash.  Why is it my job to clean up after everyone else? 

It's not! 

Yet I feel a distict pull in two opposite directions.  The desire to help the planet, and be kind to nature by picking up litter, and an indignant attitude of "I didn't throw it there, it's not my job to pick it up."

When is enough enough?  I get that I can't pick up all the litter and recycle everything.  So when is enough enough?

Ok, what about the animal shelter?  I love volunteering there.  It's such a great place.  Truly one of the best shelters you can imagine.  They have awesome staff members and many awesome volunteers.  Still, there are some days, despite everyone's best efforts, that some dogs only get out one time. 

The minimum committment they request from volunteers is eight hours a month.  Basically, a two-hour shift on a set day, every week.  Not much.  When I go for "my day," I typically will be there three hours, on average.  I can usually walk 8-12 dogs in this time period.  There are usually at least 50 dogs any given day that need to be walked by volunteers. 

Again, I know I can't walk them all, every day.  Well, technically, I could, but that would be a full-time job in and of itself.  I've accepted that I can, and will, do what I can with the time I have available that day.  The longer I've been volunteering there (two and a half years now), it's easier to walk out when I know I need to go.  But sometimes I still feel guilty. 

I know other volunteers will be coming in, or are already there, continuing the walking.  Yet, I could do more, couldn't I?  I could stay another hour.  I could come in an extra day.  I could always do more.  When is enough enough? 


It's such a balancing act.  Sure, I could spend eight hours a day at the animal shelter, but what time would be left for my own dogs at home?  Or my writing.  Or working at the florist, earning a steady paycheck? 

When it comes to giving, though, I have a hard time with this.  When do you stop? 

Obviously I've been managing so far in my life.  I pick up as many pieces of litter as I can either fit in my pockets, carry in my hands, or fit in the bag.  I spend as many hours at the shelter as I can mentally and physically spend.  I walk my dogs frequent enough that they get good exercise and stimulation, but I still have hours in the day left to do what I need to do.

So why the struggle?  Why this blog post ranting about the struggle? 

I'm thinking this rant is my ego.  Spirits don't rant, do they?  It's my ego feeling overtaxed, put-on, burdened, etc.  It's my ego asking, "Can I stop now?  I want to do things for me now."

Ok, so in the quest to silence the ego... or at least ignore it... if I lived entirely in my spirit wouldn't I be giving all the time?  Wouldn't I, then, spend two to three days a week, entire days, at the animal shelter?  Or more?  Wouldn't I go out, with a large bag, and pick up all the litter I possibly can on a regular basis?  Wouldn't I walk my dogs to their contentment, not mine? 

Just thinking about that, my mind goes to all the time that would take.  Part of me does, in fact, want to live that way.  There's an appeal to it.  It's all tasks I generally like to do and would like to do more of.  Yet I stop myself. 

I consciously tell myself, "That's enough."

I don't have the answer here.  I want to do more.  Most of the time I really do.  But the realities of time and money creep in and I make myself stop giving and move on to something more.... I don't know the word I'm looking for here... more productive isn't right, because giving IS productive.  More money-earning perhaps?  If I could actually get money for picking up litter and volunteering at the shelter (I know, that negates the term, "volunteer"), I'd be all set!  I'd pick up litter for hours, happily! 

I look at people like Mother Teresa.  She is one of the most inspiring people to have ever lived, in my opinion.  She gave and gave and gave some more.  It was all she did.  Give.  (It's why all the quotes today are hers.)   


Here's my ego creeping back in though (or maybe it's not my ego as much as my reality):  Did Mother Teresa have a house payment?  I don't know where she lived in India, but I'm sure it was pretty basic.  She didn't have to pay for gas in her car.  Or the car itself.  Her grocery bill was probably quite small.  She didn't have to pay for gas and electric and water.  Or if she did, it was probably a fairly small amount. 

So what's the answer?  Sell my house, live under a bridge (where would my animals go?), and just give all day, every day? 

Perhaps the quote from Mother Teresa herself, below, is the answer.     


Why don't I give more?  Because of fear.  I'm afraid that if I give more, then I won't have enough.  Maybe it's time to challenge that belief.  Live in LOVE, not fear, after all, right?   

*The last line in the second quote below, "It was never between you and them anyway," really touches me.  THAT is what we all need to remember, isn't it? 

Additional Quotes:



Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Sometimes Just Knowing You Can Is Enough

Whether to consume sugar or not has been on my mind a lot these days.  For a good long while, I'd say at least several months to a year, I consumed very little sugar.  I had recently learned just how bad it is for our bodies and I wanted to be healthy.  So I made a distinct effort to cut it out of my diet.

Then around the start of February of this year I figured, I've been "good" for so long, I deserve a little sweet treat.  You see, I used to eat lots of sugar!  I grew up on it -- sugar cereal, candy, doughnuts, you name it.  I have a definite sweet tooth.  In fact, I'd say many sweet teeth, by how much I like sugar.

So a couple months ago I let in a little.  I may eat a couple sugary cookies in a day, several pieces of candy, or a couple chocolate-covered strawberries (my mom got them for me for Valentine's Day).  I even bought a semi-sugary cereal again.  I was loving it. 

Until I stopped kidding myself and reminded myself just how bad this stuff was to eat.  Of course I knew this, it just tastes so darn good!   

Here's the thing though.  I don't believe in complete denial.  If you like something, a lot, and it brings you pleasure, then denying yourself forever and always, will lead to resentment and anger. 

At least it does for me. 


The key is moderation.  Knowing when to stop.  Having one cookie and calling it a day.  Not three or five.  Having one mini Twix (like I did yesterday actually) and being satisfied -- not feeling the need to take a piece of each type of candy in the bowl.  (Boy it was tempting.)

Sometimes just a bite or two of something is enough to satisfy the craving and desire.  It's not about denying yourself completely.   

I also believe as long as it's the exception and not the rule, it's not so bad.  In the case of diet, if  90-95% of what you put into your mouth is healthy and nourishing to your body, then a single cookie is acceptable.

I know some people may disagree.  Some people (maybe you) will say that it's better and easier not to eat any sugar at all, than to have little bits here and there.  And that's fine too.  Whatever works for you and makes you feel good, strong, and confident! 

Perhaps it's the inner child in me, but when I feel like I can't have something, I get angry.  Not a blow-up, tantrum, mind you, but my thoughts are angry thoughts.  I'm talking about food here, but this applies to any area of life as well.  I've noticed this response in jobs as well.  Being told I can't do something or I have to do something immediately elicits the gears in my mind trying to figure out a way to do it my way.  (Perhaps I have some authority issues too.)

But back to food.  Sometimes if I just feel that I can have something, it's enough.  I don't have to actually have whatever it is. 


This works for me most of the time when considering whether to get Starbucks or not.  I think, "Ooh, it sounds good," and it's like I can taste what it's going to taste like.  The more I sit with this feeling (since I'm not usually at Starbucks right then anyway), the more the desire to actually get the drink subsides.  And by the time I'm actually driving near a Starbucks, it's gone and I'm perfectly happy with not getting a sugary drink.

It's the knowing I can get one if I really want it that appeases my inner child.  And sometimes I do get a drink.  And I thoroughly enjoy it.

This same "trick" works with all foods.  Just the other day I passed a sign for pizza and thought, "Pizza sounds really good."  Now, there are worse things to eat than pizza, but pizza's not exactly healthy either.  Especially not the "regular" kind from pizza places, full of cheese and fat. 

Well, just as with the Starbucks, I let myself imagine getting a pizza and eating it.  I knew when I got home, I could get a pizza.  Either my own Tofurkey one in the freezer or whatever one I wanted.  But by the time I got home, I no longer felt the overwhelming "need" for a pizza and was perfectly happy eating the vegan enchiladas I made a couple days ago.


This mindset may not sound like much.  Maybe you guys already do this yourself.  But it's relatively new to me.  When I first went vegan about three years ago, I was strict about it.  100%.  I chose to eat that way and was happy with my choice. 

But a couple years into it, I started to feel deprived.  It became less "I want to" and more "I have to." 

Any time we do something solely out of obligation, committment, and a sense of reponsibility, and not because we really want to, over time resentment tends to build.  And carrying around resentment and anger inside you is certainly not healthy. 

That's when I gave myself permission to ease up.  To act in love, and not strictly obligation.  To accept that sometimes being kind to myself meant allowing myself to eat a regular cheese pizza from Noble Romans, for example, with a fountain drink.  Again, as long as it's the exception and not the rule.


You may disagree.  You may be different.  You may be better off, and feel better, sticking 100% to whatever your diet of choice is.  Maybe I'll get there eventually myself. 

But for now, for me, denying myself every time, all the time, of something I used to consume a lot of, and enjoy.... I was becoming an unhappy person.  And what I really want is to be happy.


Additional Quotes: