Five Affirmations for Beginners; and why they work

*Disclosure: There are some affiliate links below, but these are all products I highly recommend. I won’t put anything on this page that I haven’t verified and/or personally used. See my full disclosure statement here.

Daily Affirmations are one way to develop and maintain a positive mindset.  For awhile, I had affirmations written throughout my house.  I used dry erase marker on my mirrors, a magnetic white board on my fridge, and post-it notes throughout my house and even at work!  I struggled with accepting myself for who I am, my life’s circumstances/situation, and the fact that I have been alone (aka not in a relationship) for 10 years.  I am truly not alone.  I have wonderful friends and family that have been my biggest support system and I would not be who I am or where I am without them (but more on that later).  

 

Struggling with depression throughout the years, and being single for 10 years, I have often thought that I do not deserve love.  It took years and a lot of personal development to understand my worth. Deep down, I knew I deserved love, and I now know I will find him when the time is meant to be. But, for awhile, I had “I deserve love” written in places that I would see every day.

 

Other affirmations that I have used in the past usually stemmed around nutrition and/or losing weight.  See, for me, exercising is not an issue.  I crave workouts.  I have grown friendships with those at my gym and I am excited to workout with them on a weekly basis; they make exercising fun!  But, I have used food as a comfort tool for too many years.  Affirmations such as “When I eat like crap, I feel like crap” were written on a magnetic white board and stuck on my fridge.  I have even taken a picture, or found a picture on Pinterest and set it as my iPhone’s wallpaper.  We all know how much we look at and use our phones!

Positive affirmations work because of their repetitious nature.  I truly believe in a cognitive-behavioral approach to living.  Meaning: we are what we think, and we do/behave as we think.  You know the phrase: Whether you think you can or you can’t; you’re right.  Sometimes, positivity does not happen naturally, but affirmations are one way that we can retrain our brains to think and live positively.  

 

Affirmations help us by making our brains believe in the potential of something that we want to believe in.  They are proven to rewire our brains.  Much like exericse, they push our minds to for new [positive] thoughts by raising the level of feel-good hormones that we produce.  By their repetition, they help us break the pattern of negative thoughts, beliefs, and actions.

 

So the biggest question might be, “Where do I get started?”  Well, that really all depends on what, in YOUR life, are you trying to change.  Just think of what negative behavior or self-talk that you have and want to change, and figure out the positive side of it.  

 

Here are 5 affirmations to help you get started
  1. I am entitled to happiness.
  2. I am enough.
  3. Food is for fuel and not for comfort.
  4. I am perfect as I am.
  5. I can change the world.

There are so many lists and categories in which positive affirmations can help.  If none of these five fit your needs, simply do a Google search of “positive affirmations for _____” (and you fill in the blank with what you need help with.  It could be for weight loss, anxiety, depression, self-love, etc.

 

It’s important to remember to keep this simple.  Overwhelming your brain with 500 affirmations all at once will more than likely do more harm than good.  Pick one, or if needed, two affirmations and focus on them for at least 2 weeks.  Maybe even longer.  Some affirmations I have had in my house (or at work) for months because they are a daily/constant struggle for me.  Saying an affirmation out loud, at multiple times in the day is also very beneficial; especially as soon as you wake up and right before bed.

 

So, I challenge all of you to pick one, or two, areas in your life that need some work.  (Refer to my post “October 2017 Goals” for a list of areas that I assess each month).  After you get that one (or two) areas, find an affirmation that switches your thoughts to positive and PLASTER IT EVERYWHERE! On your phone, your mirrors, your fridge, computer, etc.  And, if it will help, leave me a comment stating one or two affirmations/ areas of life that you will work on!  Remember, we are all in this together!

And, as always, let’s Grow & Grind!

Megs

 

In case you are interested, here are some products to help you get started with plastering affirmations everywhere!

 

Magnetic White board

 

Dry Erase Markers – Colors

October 2017 Goals

A new month means a new time to reflect and create goals that you want to smash for the month!  Setting goals is essential for figuring out how your life to look.  Without a plan in place, how will we know we are going in the right direction?

Now, there are many, many, many techniques of goal setting.  One that I have talked about before is SMART goals.  Specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely goals are one way of figuring out what you want, how you want to get there, and knowing when you reached it.  A new way that I have recently learned came from Chalene Johnson.  She wrote a book called Push, and it details how and why you want to create what she calls Push Goals.  Within the past year, she (and her team) have created Smart Life Push Journals.  I have been using them for awhile now, and I love them.  I wrote about this journal and a bullet journal and if you would like to read (or reread) it, you can click here.

In that post, I mentioned that I did not see the need for me to use her system, except for the fact that it taught me how to really assess my life, and create goals based on those needs.  I did put this journal away for a little bit, but have recently re-emerged it (is that a word?), to use again.  I actually have incorporated both a bullet journal and the Smart Life Push Journal (push journal for short) in my weekly and daily planning.

Because this is a new month, I am starting a new Push Journal, which made me come up with this idea for a post. Every month, I am going to post my top 5 goals that I want to accomplish over the next 30 (or 31 – one time 28) days.  I urge you to assess what is going on with your life and come up with 5 goals that you want to accomplish over the next month.  And, feel free to share it with me on any of my social media accounts!

I start by rating each of these categories from 1-10, with 10 being the best that it can get.  Then, I will choose the lowest 2 categories to focus on.  *Please note, selecting the categories does not necessarily mean they are the most important to you, it simply means it's the area you want to focus on and prioritize your time for.  Here are the categories: Physical Health, Mental Wellbeing, Environment/Surroundings, Hobbies/Joys/Restoration, Romance, Friends and Family, Finances, Purpose or Career, Spirituality, and Personal Growth.

Based on how I ranked these categories, the top category that I want to focus on is my finances.  Now, I came up with 10 goals that I want to accomplish over the next 90 days and an 11th goal that is called my “Push Goal” (Push Journal system).  I’m not going to explain everything  in this post.  If you want to learn more, you can purchase Chalene Johnson’s book Push from Amazon, or head over to her website at www.smartlifepushjournal.com.

When I switched careers to work for MetroHealth Medical Center in research, I also took a pay cut.  Kind of a big pay cut.  I thought it was what was best for me and my life.  This is the work that I wanted to do.  (I can write more about that later.  This is not the time for it.)  So, I wanted to really get this blog going and learn how to make money from it.  I know it’s possible as there are many success stories.  I’m still working on it.  So, you will notice in my goals, that finances are driving my motivation this month.  I’m not going to share with you all 11 of my goals.  I’ll give you 5 of the most important ones that I will be focusing on.

My October 2017 Goals:
  1. Spend 3-4 hours daily on learning and implementing strategies to promote personal and professional growth. #BestMeEver
  2. I will monetize my blog by adding affiliate link/posts as well as creating a product that will help people.
  3. I will eliminate (or at least severely cut down) on unneeded expenses and stick to a budget.  (ah hem, Starbucks runs anyone?!)
  4. I will learn and implement a program to build my faith and practice meditation.
  5. I will initiate conversations with at least 3 new people.

Even though I am focusing on my finances, I still want to work on building my faith and my confidence in myself.  So, there are 5 of my goals for the month of October.  I challenge you to come up with even 1 or 2 goals to work on and smash by the end of the month!  And, like I mentioned before, feel free to share it with me or with a friend or family member!!

Happy Goal Setting!  Let’s Grow & Grind!

*Disclosure: There are some affiliate links below, but these are all products I highly recommend. I won’t put anything on this page that I haven’t verified and/or personally used. See my full disclosure statement here.

Roll on Capitol Hill 2017

 I just recently had the opportunity (again!) to travel to Washington D.C. on behalf of the Northeast Ohio United Spinal Chapter to take part in an event called Roll on Capitol Hill (Roll). Roll allows participants to talk to congressional leaders about different legislation that affects them on a personal level. This was the 6th annual Roll and I made my second appearance. I attended this event six years ago, at the very first one. My has this event grown! I remember there being maybe 100 people total at the inaugural Roll. This year, there were over 100 wheelchair users, some with loved ones and caretakers, and United Spinal staff, representing 32 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico! WOW!
 The event is kicked off by a welcome reception. This year, I had the privilege of seeing The Rollettes perform. This is a dance group of six members (however only four could make this event) whom all use wheelchairs from either a spinal cord injury or a spinal disease from birth. Chelsie Hill is the leader and organizer of this group, and I have to admit I was a little star struck as I do follow her on social media. This was a fun way to start off the night and we spent the rest of the evening catching up with friends, as well as meeting new friends.  


For the first full day, participants spend it in the classroom. United Spinal staff and keynote speakers address the legislation issues that they want us to address and the reasons why we want Congress to either support or oppose each issue. This was especially helpful to someone like me, who does not completely understand politics. Other keynote speakers discussed other programs that are offered throughout the United States. During our breaks, we had time to visit with some vendors. Some that were represented include Permobil, Numotion, Coloplast, Hollister, and Teledoc. United Spinal was even encouraging us to do so by promoting some give-away items for those that turned in a stamped “passport” by the end of the day. This items included Starbucks gift cards (who doesn’t want those!), Amazon gift cards, and even a Round Trip Airfare package! Sadly, although I participated, I did not win anything.


The second day was when we went to work. We traveled to Capitol Hill via the Metro, and this was the part I was most anxious about. I have never ridden any sort of subway or train before. The closest thing that I have ridden before would be a shuttle at an airport. We traveled in groups, based on what time our meetings were. United Spinal set up some volunteers through a local college that were studying to be either physical or occupational therapists. They were familiar with the Metro, and with wheelchairs, and were a big, big help. After the ride there, I decided that it was not so bad and I would ride it again. In fact, I had to, that’s how I was getting back to my hotel.


My group met with five offices that day, our two Senators and three members of the house. First up was Senator Sherrod Brown. He has cosponsored a couple of bills that we were wanting support on, so our visit with him was more of a thank you for his support and providing reasons why he should continue to support our community. His staffers were very present and responsive with us, and his office is the only office that I received an e-mail from after I sent a follow up message, thanking them for their time. After this meeting, we met with Senator Rob Portman’s office. He has supported us before, so we wanted to remind his office of why he should support our community, and give thanks.
After these two meetings, we were off to the House side of Capitol Hill, and managed to grab a quick bit to eat in the process. And by quick, I literally mean like 10-15 minutes quick. Capitol Hill was a very busy place that day. The Senate was meeting and voting for a couple different issues and media was all over the place. Not to mention all the normal chaos that occurs with tours and such. We eventually made it to Representative Tim Walberg’s office (MI-07). We had to meet out in the hallway of the office because it was not big enough for four wheelchairs, a veteran, and a caretaker. This often happens on the House side due to the antiquity of the building. United Spinal did their best to warn us of this occurrence and to not take it personally. I must admit I was quite distracted during this meeting because of my surroundings, but tried my best to give it my all. Our last two visits were to Representative Jim Jordan (OH-04) and Representative Mike Turner (OH-10). All offices seemed receptive to what we were asking of them, and with recent news about the Complex Rehabilitation Technology “win,” I think we made a difference.


After a long day, we accomplished what we came to do and it was time to celebrate. We recognized a couple of congressional leaders and fellow advocates for their work. This was a great time to unwind, relax, and recap on the days events with all participants. The next morning, we met to say good-bye. We talked about what went well, what could be better, and other general thoughts about the event. It was a whirlwind of a couple days, and even though I do not consider myself political in nature, it was a great experience. It taught me that we really do make a difference with events like this, and I encourage everyone to get involved in something that sparks passion. Politics may not be a passion of mine (none whatsoever actually), but improving quality of life for spinal cord injuries is. I don’t know if I will do this event every year, but I will definitely be going back at some point.
I learned so much about myself, government policy, others, and what other chapters are doing all within the short amount of time I was in D.C.. I will always cherish the memories gained from this trip. The good, the bad, and the awesome!

The Decade Chairversary 

Holy Canoli! It’s been 10 years since I was in my motorcycle accident that changed my life dramatically! A DECADE living from a wheelchair! I cannot believe it’s been that long. Seems like yesterday I was participating in physical therapy to learn how to complete daily life functions or activities of daily living (ADLs). I often look back and think about how my life has been since that day. I look back at my thoughts and feelings going through my rehab; all my thoughts – positive, negative, and ugly. Trust me, there has been some ugly thoughts. But, I think all shades of thoughts are completely natural, it all depends on how you react and use thoughts that matter.
Throughout these ten years, I have had some amazing opportunities! I have attended Roll on Capitol Hill through United Spinal, twice, which is advocating for legislation that affects those with disabilities. I have participated in Miss Wheelchair Ohio, and if I won, I would have advocated for those with disabilities on a state level. I have been adaptive paddling MANY times and each time I am out there, I remember just how much I love the water. This was a great opportunity to feel “normal” again. But then again, what is normal?! Being involved in this group actually led to a greater opportunity, which, when I can, I will talk about. I have been able to attend United Spinal’s National Leadership meetings, twice, since I have taken on a leadership role within the Northeast Ohio Chapter, and through these meetings, I have met some amazing people from across the country!


I know I will continue to have amazing opportunities. For example, I was just elected (and waiting to be voted on) the Board of Directors for LEAP. LEAP is an acronym for Linking Employment, Abilities, and Potential and is an organization in Cleveland (my future home in the not so distant future!). I am very excited to see what opportunities this opens up for me and the people that I will meet.
As you know, I also started working at MetroHealth, as a Research Assistant, working on a grant to improve the lives of those with SCI. This has been amazing. Other than waking up super early to drive to Cleveland (an hour away), it does not feel like work. Sure there is paperwork for things that we do, but for the most part, I get to talk to new injuries every day. I get to talk to them about how they are doing in therapy, in recovery, and what they hope to do after leaving here. I am also beginning to develop a peer mentoring program, and volunteers will come in and give their experiences as a person living with a spinal cord injury. I cannot wait to see that up and running!


Your mindset and thought patterns really make a difference in how you live your life. You can’t live a positive life with negative thoughts (author unknown). That is why I have spent the majority of my “free” time these past 2 or 3 years really digging into personal development and cognitions. I also think that is why I related to Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) when I was learning about theories in my Master’s Counseling Program, and why I talk about it in almost every single one of my blog posts. You might get sick of hearing about positive thoughts, or changing your thinking pattern, from me, but in reality, it is so so so important.
Every year, I post on Facebook about it being my “Chairversary.” People aren’t really quite sure how to respond to that. Do you say Congratulations? Keep up the good work? I’m so sorry for you? (Um, NO, never that one!) But, really, what do you say? Well, I look at this in a positive light. Due to the severities of my accident, let’s be honest, I should probably be dead. But, I’m not. I’m a stubborn “son-of-a–” that refused to give up. I refused then, and I will continue to refuse to give up now and in the future. I view this day as kind of like my second birthday. So, I guess we could say “Happy Chairversary” because it is a happy day for me.
I meant to get this post up last week when my Chairversary actually was.  Due to life, that obviously didn't happen.  But, in the mean time, I did have my annual Chairversary bonfire.  This was a great night.  The weather was perfect and so many friends and family came to show their support and to hang out.  My mother and I were talking about the development of these parties.  In the first few years, people came as a reason to drink.  Over the years it has changed.  While there still may be some alcoholic beverages consumed, it is not the main reason for the night.  
Saturday night was spent remembering what we all have been through since my injury.  A trauma doesn't just affect the person that went through it.  It affects family and friends.  So many people stepped up to the plate 10 years ago to help out my family, while they were helping me.  So many people have stepped up throughout the years to help in a time of need, big deeds and small!  This bonfire every year means the world to me as my way of thanking those that are continually there for me.  How about we all try remember to thank those special people and them just how much they mean to us? 

And, as always…Let’s keep those happy thoughts and self-care going! Live honestly and passionately!

Maintaining a House

  I don’t know ab out ya’ll, but keeping up with housework is hard work! And, I do not like it.  I struggle to keep my house in order on a daily basis with working full time and going to the gym five or six times a week.  I never really cared for chores or keeping up my house.  I never felt pride in keeping up with my house, and quite frankly, kind of blamed my wheelchair for “not being able to” when the reality is, I was just lazy.  I didn’t want to take the time to keep my house clean.  I didn’t know how much better it would make me feel.  I now feel good when I come home and my house isn’t a mess.  

 

I live on my own.  I do not have a roommate, boyfriend, partner, or parents to help me out on a daily basis (Although, if I really needed something, either one of my parents would be to my rescue as soon as I asked – they are the bomb like that).  It is all on me to keep my house clean.  Until now, I usually picked a Saturday or a Sunday to do all my housework: dishes, laundry, picking up items used during the week, and then, if I had time, cleaning.  I knew there had to be a better way of doing this.  So, I went to the motherload of all websites: PINTEREST!

 

I started looking for cleaning schedules or some tips and tricks to help maintain a household on a busy schedule.  I ended up finding a couple cleaning schedules, and adapted them to fit my needs and schedule.  Tuesdays are my short day at the gym with only one group exercise class, so I made that chore of the day a longer task.  Thursdays I enjoy going to three group classes, so I made that chore of the day my shortest.  Then, for Fridays, well, who wants to do housework on Fridays, so I made that one my “free” day.  

 

Each day, I would make my bed and put the dishes away before I went to work.  I have to admit, I HATE making my bed.  I used to think it was a pointless chore that just wasted the 5 minutes it took me to make the bed.  However, since I started making my bed, I have noticed a change in my mood.  Whenever i would enter my room, it felt nice to see a nicely made bed.  Feels like my life is in order (and boy is it not!).  Then, every evening, I would wash all the dirty dishes from the day, wipe down all the counters in my kitchen, declutter my living area, and then complete the chore of the day.  Before completing the chore of the day, my daily chores would take a total of 5-10 minutes.  I think we can all spare that time!

 

Now let’s talk about how I set up my “chore of the day.”  I knew I had to keep up with my bathrooms, floors, dusting, laundry, and a couple other odds and ends that might not need done every week.  So, on Mondays I decided that I would clean my bathrooms.  I have 2 bathrooms, and the one bathroom does not get used much.  So, in that one, a simple wipe down of the sink and counter, cleaning the toilet bowl, and a quick swiffer of the floors, and I’m done with that one.  In my master bathroom, the one I use all day everyday, I’m doing the same things, but a little more detail oriented.  I have gotten into the routine of spraying down my shower after each use with a “Spray & Go” shower mist, so I don’t do much cleaning in my shower.

 

Tuesdays, since they are the days I’m at home the most during the week, I decided it would be my floor day.  I have hardwood and tile flooring throughout my entire house.  Who needs carpeting?! (My wheelchair HATES carpet).  I take a broom to each room (except bathrooms since I did this the day before) and then go back around with a wet Swiffer.  Frugal tip of the day: instead of buying the wet Swiffer pads, simply use a washcloth and floor cleaner, you can keep reusing the same one throughout one job, and machine wash it when you are done!

 

On Wednesdays, I take out my trash.  Trash day is Thursday for my neighborhood, so I collect all my trash bags and take the bins out each Wednesday night.  I have learned that the recycling truck comes through before 7:00am, so taking the trash the night before helps with not being so rushed in the mornings.  Since Thursdays are my long days at the gym, I decided that I would do some dusting on Thursdays.  I don’t have too much to dust, so it does not take me long to do so.  And, I figured that if I don’t get to this on Thursdays, then, since my “free” day is Friday, I can dust on a Friday.  Either way, it would take maybe 20 minutes tops to be dust free.  

 

Now it’s the weekend!  Saturdays are my “Swing Days.”  I do something different each Saturday, depending on the week of the month.  On the first Saturday of the month, I will clean my oven, microwave, and fridge/freezer.  Fridges can get pretty icky if left alone too long.  In my opinion, once a month is plenty often.  On the second Saturday of a month, I will wipe down the walls and window ledges.  I tend to use some wall surfaces to help me “round a corner” or, if I am carrying something in one hand, the walls will help get me from room to room.  Since I can’t get to my windows to clean (I have to open the window with the crank, go outside, and clean both sides of the windows there) I decided that if I keep the window ledges clean, that would be good enough for me.  (Sorry mom! I’ll leave the window cleaning to you!! Appreciate and love you!!)

 

During the 3rd week of the month, I will wipe down my cabinets in my kitchen, and the fourth week will be cleaning my washer and dryer.  While I clean the lint trap of my dryer frequently, trying to pull out any lint that may have been trapped is needed.  I will also wipe down the outside of each machine.  

 

WHEW!! Are we tired yet?  I am just thinking about all this housework!  Such a necessary evil in my book.  I have not been through a full month of this schedule yet.  Actually, I’m just finishing my first week.  Things might need tweaked or changed a bit, and I know things will come up, but if I keep it pretty consistent, my house should be in good shape for whomever would want to pop on over to visit!

 

The Kaizen Way of living states that little things add up to big changes.  It is my hope that if I do these little things each day, my house will always be clean and put together.  Of course, like I state earlier, things will come up.  I may be feeling under the weather, or have an event/obligation to do.  Instead of worrying about getting the housework done, I might split up the day I’m missing over the next couple of days.  Or, if it isn’t so bad, just wait for the next week.

 

Even housework is determined by your mindset.  Our mindset is crucial to everything that we do in life.  I think that is why I bring all my posts back to mindset.  Without the right mindset, nothing will go right.  Shifting your mindset into a positive, encouraging frame will let you push your limits, see things as lessons instead of failures, and achieve more accomplishments.

New Adventure

  I’m so excited that I finally get to share this news with everyone!  For the past ten years, I have been teaching for Wooster City Schools.  I have enjoyed this time and have grown and learned so much about myself, education, and life in general.  However, throughout the past ten years, I have become involved in more adaptive events and communities that has changed and fueled my passion for working with others with spinal cord injuries.

 

As many of you know, if you know me personally, this past fall, I applied for a position at MetroHealth as a Research Assistant for a grant that is set to improve the quality of life of those with spinal cord injuries.  Because of the qualifications needed for this position, a specific research certification, I was not passed on to the interview part of the application process.  I was devastated.  I wanted this position so badly.  I wanted to be working with spinal cord injuries sooner than later, and I was crushed.  But, I had faith that this just was not the right opportunity or the right time for me.  Although I still did not understand it and I was hurt, I trusted that it was not right for me.  

 

I kept in contact with my contact and what-would-be supervisor about different opportunities, and it paid off!  Late April, I got word, from this contact, that MetroHealth posted another Research Assistant position for the same grant, and this contact strongly urged me to apply for it.  She stated that they wrote the posting differently, and did not require the specific research certification that I was missing to be pushed through.  So, of course I took her suggestion and applied for the position as soon as I could.  

 

This is where things get really exciting!

 

A day or two passed, and I received an email from her telling me that she was given the “go-ahead” to interview me.  So, we set up a time and date for an interview, and a day later, she had to cancel on me, and said, “I really don’t think I need to interview you, so just be on the lookout for the next step from the HR department.”  I was assuming that HR would want to interview me before offering the position to the candidate they felt was best for the job.  A week later, I received an email from HR with a few forms to fill out.  Naturally, I filled them out and sent them back as quickly (and accurately) as I could.  

 

Not long after that, I was on the phone with HR and was being OFFERED THE POSITION!!  I was so excited!  FINALLY, my hard work and networking was paying off!  During this conversation, we set up my appointment for my health screening and completing some paperwork.  The struggle was real in obtaining my official offer letter, so it took awhile for me to be able to tell Wooster City Schools about this new opportunity.  But, the letter came, and I have officially resigned as an Intervention Specialist at Boys’ Village School, as a part of Wooster City Schools, which is why I feel I can now share this news!

 

I am very excited about working on this grant.  I have grown very passionate about helping others in similar situations that I’m in, and this new job will allow me to work in that passion.  I was validated in trusting that the position that I applied for in the fall was not right for me.  The timing is perfect now.  I am ending my school year, ending my contract, and am able to step away without leaving anyone high and dry.  I remained crushed by the missed opportunity for a few months.  I did not understand why I was passed on when my passion for this work is indescribable.  Now I know.  I know exactly why I did not receive the opportunity to move careers this fall.  This fall, I would of had to be released from my contract and the school district would of had to find a replacement mid-year.  Now, they will have all summer to find a new teacher.  The quote from John Lennon, “Everything will be okay in the end. If it's not okay, it's not the end,” really hits the nail on the head.  

I am very scared about this new adventure, but I am so excited.  One of my favorite quotes states that “a goal should scare you a little, and excite you a lot!”  And okay, I will admit, I am more than a little scared, but my excitement for this adventure definitely outweighs the fear.  

 

My challenge to you is this: Trust the process.  Trust that if something does not work out, there is something better coming.  Or, a similar opportunity will present itself at a better time.  And, if you need to, plaster these cheesy quotes ALL. OVER. THE. PLACE!!

Bullet Journal and How I plan my weeks

Journals are everywhere.  Some are bigger, some are HUGE, and some only have the basic necessity (according to someone somewhere working for a company).  Late in 2015, I came across something called a Bullet Journal.  The original bullet journal can be explained by the creator at www.bulletjournal.com (and no, this is not an affiliate link by any means, I just enjoy this product).  But, essentially, it is used for bulleted tasks, events, and items to look into at a later date.  It is a way to plan out your day, week, month, or even year.   

 

Because you start with a blank dotted notebook, you can really customize it to fit your needs.  For me, I mostly plan my week, keep track of tasks I want to accomplish during that week, write down gratitudes daily, use a habit tracker, and write down up to 3 goals that I want to work on for a week.  Lately, I have been adding a motivational phrase that I think would be beneficial for the week ahead, that way, I see it daily and remind myself that I am a badass and can accomplish anything I set my mind to.  Additionally, I have a daily spread, where every morning, I write down the events/appointments for the day, which does include my workouts, and certain tasks that I want to accomplish for the day.

 

This has been so instrumental in me getting done what I need and WANT to get done.  For me, it helps to see what all I want and need to get accomplished in order to budget my time better.  I have heard of some people even scheduling into their day when they are going to work on certain tasks, however, that method does not work for me.  But, if it works for you, then you do you, boo.  

 

We are each unique individuals, and I think that is why I like the bullet journal so much for my organizational needs.  There is probably not one person that utilizes the same journal the same way.  If we can agree on one thing, it would be that planning your day or your time is the best way to accomplish your goals.  Another journal that I have come across from, was created by Chalene Johnson, and is called a Smart Life Push Journal.  That link is www.smartlifepushjournal.com (and again, no affiliate link for me).  She is author of the best selling book “Push,” which is a unique process for creating goals and implementing small changes and habits into your life in order to accomplish those goals.  Now, while I have not read her book (yet), I did purchase her Smart Life Push Journal in order to learn that goal setting process.  

I did use her journal for a few weeks, but most of the stuff I was putting into that journal, I already was doing with my bullet journal, or with fitness tracker apps on my phone. I did not see the need to redo everything I was already doing in an app.  However, I am still glad that I purchased this journal as it taught me how to set real, measurable goals that are attainable.  And, it taught me how to take steps in order to reach those goals.  

 

I guess what I am trying to convey is that we are all different and have different needs.  We need to be our best advocate to research what is out there and investigate what works best for us.  This is true for every aspect of our lives: organization, fitness, nutrition, fashion, and whatever else I may be missing.  Don’t just do something, or use a certain product just because “someone said it was good.” Investigate it and figure out if it would be beneficial in your life.  And if it’s not, then try something else.  One never really FAILs, as it could mean First Attempt In Learning. Life is an experiment and we are all testing our way through it.

I challenge you to plan out your week.  You can start with one goal and one day, but start planning.  Get yourself organized.  It’s amazing what can be accomplished with just a little planning.

Inner Strength

 There are a plethora of quotes out there about embracing the hardships, turning them into lessons, and slaying the situation.  From religious based quotes, to spirituality, vibrations, or what-have-you, they are out there.  Growing up in a Catholic Church, I heard, “God won't give you anything you can't handle.”  True, but why do some have to go through more than others and prove over and over again how strong one really is?

 

I just had mega good news given to me.  Years of hard work, networking, and persistence was finally going to pay off.  (More on this topic later when I am able to share the good news).  But, then a big health scare happened. I have cancer.

 

Yikes! The big “C” word.  Okay, call down, I have melanoma.  Which, yes, is a type of cancer but, if there was a cancer to have, this would be it.  This all started back in February when I made an appointment with my lovely “female” doctor to have an annual check up.  I'll admit, it had been a couple of years since I had such a check up.  During that check up, my doctor noticed a spot that needed an expert consultation.  So,I made the appointment for a dermatologist.

 

This brings me to today.  I went in, and he immediately wanted to proceed with doing a biopsy on my spot, and told me that it was 80% likely to be melanoma.  So for the next two weeks I had to worry about these results.  It turns out that I do, in fact, have melanoma.  Now, this spot was not very deep, and turns out that I will just have to have it cut out, stitched up, and I would be fine.  And by fine, I mean that for the first 2-3 years, I will have full body checks every six months, and then have one once a year for the rest of my life.  He did do a full body scan in the office when I went in for my results, and luckily I do not have any more spots that are alarming.

 

My initial reactions, after hearing the news, is “Why can’t I just be happy?”  I had this great news come to me, and my world is about to change because of it, but then this news comes along, and I am immediately devastated again.  Like, why can’t I have even a week of pure happiness without having something bad happen?? Now keep in mind, that the day that I found out I had melanoma, lots of other little things began to add up, and it was a rough, rough day for me.  The day after that is when I went to the office to talk in more detail about my results, and find out what was in store for me.  

After this appointment, I was irritated, frustrated, mad, angry, disappointment, and probably a million other adjectives.  I started snapping at the nurses, at my mother, and was pretty short when sharing this news with some of my closest friends (whether they noticed or not, I certainly did).  I got in my car, drove over to my gym, and had a great workout.  This is where my mindset shifted.  I gave myself a wake up call, and thank God that I did.  I am strong, stubborn, and (at this point) used to facing adversity.  I know I will be okay, and everything will workout.

 

I still do not understand the reason for developing melanoma, however I know God has a plan.  It could be that I learned and realized a major personality trait of mine.  Others may say that you should never “go at” problems alone, however, I prefer it.  I need that alone time to process and deal with the overwhelming emotions.  After my appointment, I sat in my car for probably about a half hour and processed everything.  I now know that I need some alone time to sort things out in my head.  It is nothing against anyone, it’s just how I process.  Because I know this now, I can handle future situations in a better manner.  

 

Self-awareness has an amazing power over your life.  Knowing how you work, how you process situations, and how you react will allow you to handle any situation with grace and keep yourself operating on positive and good vibrations.  Having the mindset of looking for the lesson, instead of dwelling on the disappointment, will keep you operating at a high frequency and vibrations.  This is where you need to be, or strive to be.  

So, let’s make a commitment to each other to dive into our emotions and feelings (and yes they are different) to better understand ourselves.  Whether we need to have some self-talk (which, by the way, needs to always be POSITIVE), or even start journalling when something is happening.  Let’s all try to be more self-aware of ourselves, and communicate these realizations to loved ones.

Life’s Curve Ball

Hi everyone!  I am back and ready to write again.  Over the past couple of months, I have been going through some things emotionally. I’m sure when the time is right, I will share, but for now, I am going to keep it vague.  In January, I lost a grandparent and it hit me harder than I thought it ever would.  This spun me into a whirlwind of emotions, thinking about my life, where it is, where I would want it to be, and what it is not.  I have been a rollercoaster the past couple of months.  But, one thing holds true, I want more out of my life right now, and I will work hard to achieve my dreams.

 

Nine years ago was my wedding day.  Today would have been my ninth anniversary.  But, life always has a way of working out.  My husband and I divorced just a year after we were married.  I spent a lot of time wondering why we even got engaged/married in the first place.  I am not going to talk bad about him, as a relationship is always a two-way street.  Let’s just say, we would have never worked out.  For many years I thought it was because I was in a wheelchair.  Even though he was partly responsible for my accident that caused my paralysis (while we were engaged).  I don’t know what my life would be like today, if we stayed married.  But, chances are, I would be very unhappy.  From this experience, I grew stronger.  I know what I want in a partner, what I will not put up with, and how I want that relationship to look.  I do not look at this as a failed marriage, another failure in my life, but as a learning experience for a future relationship.  

 

Life throws us curve ball after curve ball.  Just when we think our plan is working out exactly the way we want it to, suddenly something does not.  Call it divine intervention, God’s plan, karma, plot twist, whatever you want to call it.  Whatever it is that you call it, I will always consider it a learning experience.  Sometimes I even yell “Plot twist!” out loud before moving on (I started this, obviously, after I saw the meme, but honestly, it feels good to yell).  This is what I challenge everyone to do.  Instead of thinking of something as a failure, consider it a learning experience.  This will help keep negative cognitions away from your mind set.  Remember, a positive mind equals positive vibes, which equals a positive life!  Every negative cognition can be turned into a positive one.  It is in these positive cognitions that growth happens.

Letting go of all the self-doubt, self-sabotaging thoughts is where the true power is held.  And let me tell you, this is so hard!  I am not pretending to be perfect and always positive.  I still have my insecurities, my doubts, and, quite frankly, a lot of self-sabotaging thoughts and behaviors.  Struggling with depression since college, having gone through all of my life’s experiences, this will be a very hard thing to completely stop.   But, everyday, I continue to make the best possible choices, healthy choices, and identify what is causing me to think these self-sabotaging behaviors.  

 

Identifying the cause is the first step to changing it.  There are some cognitive distortions that cognitive-behavior therapists (CBT) have identified as causes of negative thoughts.  A couple of them are catastrophizing, overgeneralizing, and polarized (all-or-nothing) thinking.  These are ones that I tend to do often.  Catastrophizing is like blowing a situation out of proportion.  A small mishap is now a huge traumatic experience (just to exaggerate a little).  Overgeneralizing is taking a single incident and applying it to every situation.  One disappointment is expected to happen over and over again, in a never ending pattern in overgeneralization.  And, polarized thinking is a person thinking they are either perfect or a complete failure.  There is no middle ground in polarized thinking.  There are 12 other cognitive distortions: filtering, jumping to conclusions, personalization, control fallacies, fallacy of fairness, blaming, shoulds, emotional reasoning, fallacy of change, global labeling, always being right, and heaven’s reward fallacy.  A quick google search to find this article describes each of these distortions.

 

Simply identifying that these cognitions are happening is a first step to changing them.  We can start by writing down that these are occurring, and what is causing them to occur.  Over time, a pattern and triggers can be identified, and that is where the work comes in.  After identifying the triggers, we can start to substitute other cognitions… positive cognitions.  I do not suggest doing anything in huge chunks of change.   Going back to a previous post when I mentioned the Kaizen Way, creating small changes that are easy to stick to is the best way to make big changes.  First, just identifying the cognitions, then the patterns, then trying to change one cognition at a time.  We aren’t born to be perfect, we are born to learn and grow and change from those experiences. 

New Year’s Goals

“New Year, New Me!”  How many of you have proclaimed this year after year, to only give up or forget about your new year’s resolutions within a month or two?  I certainly have.  For many years I saw the New Year as a fresh start to achieving my goals in my personal and professional life.  Until recently, my goals for my professional life have not changed.  Continue to teach while pursuing my second Master’s degree.  I’ll figure out what I want to do with that degree later.  Well, later will never come if you do not set goals.  

 

This year, I’m taking on a new perspective.  It is the daily habits that promote change, or keep change from happening.  This year, instead of stating one big resolution, I will be learning and implementing a 90-day goal setting habit.  Big, annual goals are great and all, but when they are broken down into attainable, 90-day, 30-day, weekly, or daily goals: that is where the magic happens.

A well known process for goal setting is called creating SMART goals.  SMART is an acronym that stands for specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, and time-sensitive.  Many want to lose weight as a new year resolution, but it isn’t enough just to state that.  A SMART goal for losing weight could be: I will lose 30 pounds by eating clean and exercising daily by May 1.  This goal tells you what you want to do, how you will do it, and by what date you will do it.  To take this even a step further, you could list the specific steps that are required in order to reach this goal.  For example, what does eating clean mean? By defining this, the goal just became “SMART-er.”  

Writing down goals is proven to be the best way to achieve them.  Visual representations of goals that are visible on a daily basis.  Coming up with a system that works for you, and making it a habit is a sure-fire way of achieving your goals.  Some ways that I have tried include keeping a dry-erase marker by my bathroom mirror and writing goals and/or motivational quotes, keeping a notebook at my bed and by my bathroom sink, carrying around a notebook with me daily, putting notes in my phone, and setting up reminders with my phone.  Some of these I still do, and have turned it into a habit, and some I have lost along the way.  If you try something and it does not work, then change it.  Do not look at it as a failure, just simply a learning experience with something that did not work.

On Facebook, Instagram, and other social media platforms, it seems like many people are considering 2016 a failure, and a not very good year.  Myself included.  Thinking about this more, as I was reflecting on this year, I decided to take a different stance on it, and encourage you to do the same.  Instead of looking at the year as a failure, why not look at it as a learning experience.  Reflect on what specific things “failed” last year, or what went wrong, and then think about what you learned from it.  

 

In my personal life, I had set a goal of losing 20 more pounds by the end of the year.  I didn’t lose a single pound.  Well, actually, I gained and lost the same 5 pounds all year long.  It is very frustrating.  I have an idea of why that happened, but instead of looking at that as a failure, I can look at what it taught me.  One thing it taught me is if I ate and exercised just like last year, I learned how to maintain my weight.  Although I am not at my goal weight, or my goal body composition, if I did not change a thing, I know that I will not gain back the 35 pounds that I have lost.  It also taught me about how much of an emotional eater I actually am.  I can look back at the times when I was gaining the 2-5 pounds and what went on during that week or two week period.  The higher my stress and frustration, the more “crap” I ate: candy, pretty much.  This is part of one of my goals for 2017.

 

I follow Chalene Johnson, who is a best selling author, Beachbody instructor, and overall awesome person (or so I think).  She promotes a 90-day goal setting strategy that I am going to learn and implement to see if it works for me, along with healthy habits and an overall healthy lifestyle.  In one of her Facebook Lives the other day, she proposed this exercise as a must-do for 2017.  Now, confession, I have yet to do this, but it is on my list to-do and I do think it is very good exercise.  Here is what she said:

 

Take a look at your 2016 calendar and write these things down…

  1. What was the smartest thing you did last year?
  2. List 2 things that you NEVER want to have happen again (if possible).
  3. Identify 3 very high stress moments. What could have made those times a little easier?
  4. What 4 things went really, really well? Why?
  5. List 5 things you did last year that you could do better.
  6. Out of everything you did last year to help other people, what 1 thing made you feel the best?

 

She goes on to say that this list is what will be used to help set goals for the next 90-days.  I’m sure I will be writing about this on a later date.  But, this list can also be used as a learning experience for how to make 2017 a better year than 2016.  There are a few things that I hope to implement to help me on my journey this year.  I have come up with 6 goals (at the moment) that I will be ‘analyzing’ and creating SMART goals for.  I will have action steps to help me along the way, and I am hoping that Chalene’s 90-day goal setting technique will help me even more.  I am very excited for this New Year and most of it has to do with my changing mindset and changing perspective.  I encourage all of you to embark in a personal development journey and make this your best year yet.