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Oh, the holidays…

santa-kids-cryingOh, the holidays…

The holidays are upon us and everyone is cranking up the joy. Well, maybe not quite everyone.

Sometimes the holidays aren’t as easy as sitting on Santa’s lap. There are presents to buy, bills to pay, trees and homes to decorate, relatives to contend with, and for some, there’s the loneliness of spending the holidays solo.

So here’s what we’re going to do this year. Our best.

Yup, that’s it. We’re going to do our best and forgive and forget the rest.

Just get by.

Don’t try to be the most fantastical gift giver or the twinkliest decorator.

Just get by.

Have to deal with the realities of family? And the crush of certain questions?

When are you having a baby?

What? No boyfriend again this year?

Hmmm…put on a little weight?

Who just called you to wish you Happy New Year? Isn’t she married?

Why do you treat your dog like a child?

Do you actually enjoy being alone?

…just to mention a few. (Hopefully you at least chuckled a bit…)

Prepare yourself for the questions with a funny or short but sweet answer. Practice in advance if you need to. Also practice getting up from the couch immediately to go grab another drink or finger sandwich to extract yourself from the barrage of questions.

Oh dear, I think I hear the nacho cheese dip bubbling over in the fondue pot…

…and believe me, no one wants the cheese dip to go off the rails.

And if you’re lonely, well, honestly this one is a little harder. Try to make plans to be with people. Don’t just sit by yourself. Or do like I’m going to do and plan your own party. This year I’m holding the First Annual Christmas Open House for Lost Souls, Lonely Hearts, Those Far Away From Home, and Others Who are Generally Bored After the Presents are Opened. On Christmas evening.

Several people have already have given me a funny look and questioned the wisdom of having a party on Christmas – who will actually come? Won’t people be with their loved ones?

Well, yes, hopefully. And those who aren’t can swing by. Hopefully they’ll feel a little more joyful, and I know that I will too. And if three people show up, perfect. Or if 30 people show up, that’s fine too. I just want to share some joy with whomever may want or need a little.

So over the next couple of weeks, don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Do your best to let yourself off the hook and have some fun.

Now go sit on Santa’s lap…

 

 

Don’t ever change

Dont ever change 1Remember writing in someone’s yearbook in high school? Something along the lines of “You rock! Don’t ever change!”

The perfect little quip for a yearbook.

But some people seem to have taken that phase very literally. Some people are resistant to change. They want things to always stay the same. But they never really can. Change is the only true constant in our lives, other than death.

I’m assuming that if you are reading this blog that you are not one of them. That you are someone who wants to grow and change and elevate yourself and your world.

So being an agent of change, it may be confusing when we’re dealing with someone who is so reluctant to change and grow. How is it that they don’t see how their world can improve by stretching and growing?

Well, change is scary. And people may fear being left behind. It happens. And they may fear having to face their own bullshit. And change it. All scary.

There are a lot of reasons that people want to march in place, but really none of the reasons matter. What matters is that they want to mark time and you want to move forward. Which creates a form of dissonance. And most dissonance yearns to be resolved harmoniously.

So what do you do?

March forward anyway. Be warm and loving with those who wish to stand in place, but move your life along. They won’t understand your need to change any more than you will understand their desire to stay the same. Resist their siren call of sameness and continue to expand yourself and your world and your life.

And remember…you rock! Always change!

Be thankful for your flaws

flawsToday is Thanksgiving Day in the United States. So there’s a lot of talk of gratitude. Being thankful for family and friends, and for our health and happiness and for that of our loved ones as well. Gratitude for all of the blessings in our lives. And of course we’re all thankful for the good things in our lives, even if we forget from time to time how much good we have.

And here at Bringing Back Awesome, we are so very thankful for all of our readers and for the joy you bring into our lives.

But today let’s go in a different direction. Today, let’s be thankful for our flaws.

Our flaws are part of what makes each of us unique individuals. Part of what makes us each vulnerable and so very human. Uniquely you.

We are so often encouraged to overcome our flaws. And while there’s probably value in this, what if they’re just as much an important part of you as your more wonderful qualities? And what if we could look at the positive side of some of our lesser qualities?

Let me get the ball rolling here by sharing some of my flaws…

I tend to be impulsive, but that makes for lots of fun and spontaneity. I can also be brutally honest, sometimes putting my foot in my mouth. But the people closest to me know that they will hear the real truth, not some bullshit answer.

I tend to need a lot of what I lovingly refer to as “think time,” meaning that I like to sit around and do nothing but think. But it’s during those times that I come up with some of my most creative ideas.

Honestly, I can be a bit overly sensitive. But it’s probably the thing that makes me feel so empathetic when others are struggling or going through pain. I’m a natural-born slob, but I do my best to contain it, and my house is actually pretty orderly.

I happen to be calendar-challenged, meaning for some weird visual-spatial reason, I have trouble with dates and times. Frankly, there’s no upside to this one. But at least I can laugh at myself when I screw up my calendarizing.

Oh, and I have a very inappropriate, sometimes even dark, sense of humor. The good news is that I will make you laugh, even if you think you’re going straight to hell for it!

These are just a few. There are probably more. But they seem so much less flaw-ish when I embrace them and look at the bright side of things. Perhaps you could do the same.

So today, be grateful for the flaws that make you uniquely you, someone who is so very special.

 

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Believe it

truth pill

Today Stephanie St. Clair of Blissbombed asked an amazing question on her Facebook page

If you could invent something new today that would really shift how you experience the day, what would you invent?

A phenomenal question!

I thought for a few moments then came up with this…

I would invent a pill I could swallow that would flood me with feelings of patience that everything is unfolding as it should. I’d call it Believabilify.

OK, there. I just swallowed my imaginary Believabilify capsule and the placebo effect is washing over me.

Oh, if only there were such a pill.

Well, guess what?

There is such a thing.

But it takes a leap of faith, not swallowing a pill.

It’s called just believing that you are where you are meant to be and that as long as you are doing your level best and being the very best version of you, then you are where you’re supposed to be.

For some, that may be a bitter pill to swallow, but really, what good is thinking about where you thought you would be today, or where you thought you should be or could be?

Woulda, coulda, shoulda…mostly a waste of time.

You are where you are, and that is your starting point. Even if it’s not where you had hoped you would be. Just start there today.

Maybe you’re in a job you don’t love. Or in a bad relationship. Maybe you’re in no relationship at all and the dry spell is turning into a goddamned drought. Maybe you’re an emotional mess. Or a financial disaster. Or some combination of these. Or all of the above. Ugh. Just not where you’d hoped to be.

Then how in the hell could it be that we’re right where we’re supposed to be?

Well, friends, this is where you need to swallow the Believabilify and start letting it wash over you.

Because without all of the experiences that brought you to this very moment, you wouldn’t be who you are today. Without the joys and the sorrows, the big wins and the devastating losses, the heartbreaks, or your heart breaking open with love. Every single life experience that you’ve ever had – good, bad, wonderful, terrible, neutral, or boring – has crafted you into the amazing human being that you are today. The incredible individual who can dig deep and recognize that this is where you are supposed to be.

Today is the starting line for the rest of your life. Be patient with yourself and with the universe as your story continues to unfold. Sure, make your efforts to dream big and develop goals and fulfill them. But don’t just look to the future waiting for the big day that everything finally falls into place. Because every single day is a part of that evolution, and you are the most beautiful outcome of every moment of change.

So believe it. You are where you’re meant to be. Learn to love this place and every step forward that you take in your life. And then you won’t need a magical pill. You will create your own magic.

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When the well isn’t deep

wishing-wellAnother year is passing by and the holiday season is just around the corner, which means that many of us will be gathering with family and friends. Spending time with those we care about and doing our level best to make connections with them, deepen our relationships, and make the holidays have special meaning.

And yet, if we’re honest with ourselves, sometimes those attempts to connect fall flat. We wonder what we’re doing wrong. We wonder what more could we do. And we also wonder if maybe that person we’re trying to connect with just doesn’t like us or love us as much as we may feel for them.

But maybe it’s none of those things. Maybe it’s not about you. Maybe the well just isn’t that deep.

What does that mean?

Perhaps the person we’re trying to connect with on a deeper level just doesn’t have that much to offer. Perhaps they like you or love you, but they’re incapable of expressing themselves in that way. Or maybe they don’t feel comfortable with those kinds of closer connections.

As we approach the holidays, here’s what we need to do. Recognize that even though we may long for that deeper connection with a person, the well just isn’t that deep, and even if it hurts, it’s really not about us. It’s about them. Them and their inability or unwillingness to dig a little deeper or feel a little more.

So rather than being hard on yourself wondering what you’re doing wrong, take a look at the other person and ask yourself if maybe the well just isn’t that deep. Then allow yourself to enjoy whatever relationship you have with them, even if it’s not the one you’d hoped for.

 

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Turning points

turning-point

There comes a time in every person’s life when we reach a turning point. A moment in time when we can no longer continue on the path we are on. Whether it’s about a job or a relationship or finances or some other thing not covered in those categories. There’s just no way to force ourselves to continue in the way we have been existing up to this point.

That point at which we feel we’ve reached critical mass and maybe even aren’t sure how to proceed. Which direction to travel. We know that something needs to shift – in fact we may feel that something needs to shift dramatically – and yet we may not know how to unravel what really needs to change. Do we just keep hacking away at the issue, the way we always have? Probably not.

In some cases the only thing that can shift or that needs to shift may be our perspective. But how? That’s often where we struggle.

There are all kinds of platitudes we could throw at this about building our own lives, blah, blah, blah, but what does that really mean? How do we wrap our arms around a situation that’s causing us confusion? How do we gain acceptance that something needs to change? How do we turn a corner?

Ask yourself a series of questions that will help you unravel the problem and hopefully find a solution.

1. What do you want for yourself?

Either in general, or specific to the problem at hand, what do you really want? It’s important to identify this answer or series of answers.

Once you identify what you want for yourself, ask yourself this…

2. Do you have what you identified in question #1, or do you have any part of it?

Identify if this is something that you have any part of, or if you’re starting from scratch. Be honest with yourself. Sometimes when we’re feeling down or confused (or both), it’s easy to pile on and do some all or nothing thinking. Don’t slip into that trap, especially when you’re trying hard to identify your needs.

Once you’ve asked yourself questions 1 and 2, ask yourself this…

3. Are these things that I really want in my life?

Do you really want these things? As in really, really want them, at all costs, above all else?

If yes, then continue with this process.

If no, ask yourself why then did you think you wanted them? Family or peer pressure? What you think society thinks you should have/be/do? The path of least resistance? Once you identify the reason or reasons, ask yourself if you really want to live your life for those other people or things and do you want to give that much power to them, or do you really want to figure out this thing called life and live it for yourself?

4. If you haven’t been doing or pursuing the things that you really want, why not?

Do you feel worthy of these things you want? If not, why not? When you meet people who in your head meet the description of having the things that you want, do you feel they are worthy? If not, why not? If so, why are they worthy, yet you are not worthy of the same? What makes them more worthy? (Hint…it’s probably in how you’re seeing yourself, because you are worthy!)

Are you putting up a wall between yourself and these things? If so, why? Perhaps it’s time to start taking down the wall, brick by brick, because you are worthy of living your very best life and living your dreams! Or hell, forget about the brick by brick approach – just smash through the damn thing!

So now, after going through these questions, this exercise in digging a bit deeper, ask yourself again…

5. What do you want in your life that will make you happy?

What do you need to begin to focus on that makes you happy? Not your family, not your friends, not society or society’s version of who you should be…you!  Create a list. Then ask yourself do you have those things? Simple yes or no as your answers. No explanations, no beating around the bush, no weaseling out of an answer. Do you have them, yes or no?

Are your answers different than those you gave in #1? Maybe so…

So now that you have your list, and you have your answers on your list, answer this…

6. What are you going to do about it?

Are you going to take action? Please do. Don’t wait any longer. It’s your time. Turn the corner.

 

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What motivates people

motivation

We never really know what motivates people. What their rationale is for doing what they do. What drives them or inspires them to greatness or not-so-greatness.

People have their own reasons for being the way they are and for doing the things that they do, right, wrong, or indifferent.

Since we’re unlikely to really ever understand the full complement of what motivates a person to act in any particular way, all we can do is be concerned with what motivates ourselves.

It’s really not even our business to try to figure out the motivation of others – that’s their story.

So what does that leave us with?

Our story.

Given that, the best bet is to be true to yourself and to do your level best to ensure that your motivation is coming from a good place.

Simple stuff in way, but not really. Honestly, all we can do is our best to be a good and decent person and live our own life without too much worrying about what’s motivating others to be who they are.

 

Dare to take off your mask

take off your maskWe all wear masks in certain settings of our lives. Perhaps at work you wear a more professional mask. With your friends you might don your more lively social mask. And with a spouse or a lover, in a private moment you may wear a secret, sexy mask. All parts of the whole of you. It wouldn’t be appropriate to wear those masks in the wrong settings, so we tend to follow the rules that society sets about the whys and wherefores of the masks we wear.

But sometimes the masks we wear become too fixed. A mask we wear has somehow become a part of our persona. Who we are.

We somehow feel pressured in certain settings to wear a mask that may no longer be comfortable. Akin to a role we play in certain relationships in our lives. Maybe you’re the caregiver. Or the strong one. Or the emotional one.

Maybe you’ve turned the mask into your identity. Wife. Mother. Boyfriend. Sister. Husband. Friend.

And sometimes the mask that has become your identity can cover up parts of you that you used to know and love. Parts that are now hidden behind the mask.

Sometimes others push us to wear the mask and we acquiesce. Just to keep the peace. Or to make someone else happy.

Other times wear willingly submit to wearing the mask because it’s just easier. The path of least resistance.

Or maybe we just didn’t realize that we had a choice and that we were good enough to go without the mask. That we could be naked and live in our own truth.

It was only recently that I recognized one mask that I’ve been wearing for a very long time. Years. One that I’d forgotten I’d even put on.

I used to be a much more physically affectionate person. Touchy-feely. The brush of a hand on the arm of someone I was talking to. Leaning in to touch someone when we were laughing and having a good time. A spontaneous hug just to let someone know I adored them and was enjoying my time with them.

But it bothered some people. And rather than questioning the warmth and openness of the people who were uncomfortable, I questioned myself. I changed myself. I molded myself to fit their needs and I created a strong and powerful mask of an invulnerable person who no longer expressed herself in the manner that was inherent to her nature. I became someone else. Someone who I wasn’t.

I donned a mask and wore it for a very, very long time. Years, in fact. Until just recently, when something made me realize that a part of me was missing. In fact, it was not something, but someone, mirroring this affectionate behavior to me, who awakened this part of me. Seeing and feeling someone touch me with that warmth and caring of a friend made me remember this part of myself. It reminded me that this more authentic version of myself needed to emerge and discard that mask, even if it made others uncomfortable. Even if the people whom I’ve chosen to be around weren’t used to this version of me. I needed to honor that part of me that spontaneously wanted to reach out and touch others and stop holding myself back from being kind and affectionate.

I decided to discard this old and useless mask. And it feels good and new and warm and authentic.

So what about you? What mask have you been wearing just because it’s what you’ve been doing, maybe even for years? Dare to take it off.

It may make people in your life a bit uncomfortable. Maybe even a lot uncomfortable. But it’s your life, damn it, and there’s no sense in hiding behind a mask and being half of who you were meant to be.

So go ahead. Take off your mask.

Who are we?

we-have-changed

Denise and I were talking on the phone recently, discussing something bloggy, or maybe something personal – I can’t quite recall – but I do remember how the discussion unfolded.

We were discussing a particular situation and both of our responses were so very different than they would have been a couple of years ago. As in better different. Calmer, more reasonable, less reactive.

Denise asked jokingly, “Who are we?”

And I responded, quite seriously, “We are people who have come a long way.”

We have come a long way. We have grown. We have changed. We are better versions of ourselves. We are more open, more honest, more authentic, while at the same time being calmer, stronger, and more able to take on the troubles we may face and embrace the joys that life brings.

Why is that?

Because we want to change and grow. We want to become better, stronger, more authentic people. We want to be true to ourselves, and in turn, we will become more true to others. We are willing to be uncomfortable and shed our skin and grow into our new-found selves.

We are growing into awesome, more and more every day.

How about you? Are you willing to dispense with the old and change and grow into a more authentic you? Maybe you’ve already changed a bunch and come a long way? We’d love to hear your story in the comments.

Travel in the direction of our fear

we must travel in the direction of our fearThis isn’t the first time we’ve talked about fear here. It’s a very real thing that comes up from time to time in our lives. And I’m not talking about fear of spiders or being afraid of heights. I’m talking about the fear of pursuing certain things in our lives. Bigger things. Better things. Or merely things that stretch our understanding of who we are as individuals and where we find ourselves in the world.

It’s those kinds of fears that are giving us a message in life. Telling us that it’s time to erase some of the harsh lines we’ve drawn in our lives. Time to evolve a little. Time to recognize that life is lived more in the grey area than in the comfort of the black and white. Time to push ourselves a bit and stretch our boundaries to experience something greater in our lives.

In other words, it’s time to grow.

When we feel that cool feeling of fear in the pit of our stomachs, it is indeed a message. A statement. It is our soul saying it’s time. Time to morph into a stronger, braver version of ourselves.

So come on now…let’s travel in the direction of our fear.