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Well, it’s Tuesday already…two more days until I embark on a road trip to partake in the second of three very long, but fabulous, weekends of training.  It really is a bit crazy but I’m so happykeep-calm-two-more-days to be there it doesn’t matter.  Mind you I pretty much collapse into bed but that’s okay; I have to get up early anyway!  Crazy town?  Perhaps but I can’t wait to get there.

No kidding…as long is it, you know what? In addition to being really excited about getting to hone the skills I already have and learn some new ones – I’m really excited to see the people who are going to be there.

There are some amazing – no freaking amazing people in this group.  I’ve gotten to know a few of them much better because of the way the studies are set up in between the 3-day weekends.

I can’t wait to give some of them a BIG hug.

Truly, for me half of the joy of deciding to sign up with iPEC (the school I’m training with) is finding all these people who kind of think just like me!   Holy crap they ARE out there!

I know I’ve said it before in other posts but us humans are not meant to go it alone in this life.  We are meant to make connections, learn from each other and offer that hand up when we can.  I don’t think alone is our natural state.

Don’t get me wrong.  I am very comfortable being just with myself and to be honest, sometimes I need it.  But to FEEL alone, well that is another story.  That is loneliness.  And that hurts.

It hurts more I think to feel alone in sea of people who you think care about you too.  Not being able to express your ideas, thoughts or what your soul’s light is shining is really painful and frustrating.  No one wants to feel judged because of who they are deep inside – so we keep it hidden or we feel like we are banging our heads against a wall.

Finding people who I can easily be understood by and who ‘get’ me was like unlocking a treasure box…it feels like coming home. I get what people mean now by the idea of finding your tribe.  Your tribe is people who, while not walking your path, parallel it enough that there is connection, understanding and shared excitement and joy about the same sorts of things. (tweet this)

You know what I mean?

So, I’m looking forward to seeing all of them again, learning and laughing and the occasionally teary session. Some powerful stuff coaching and we all go through it together.

Have you found some of your tribe?

 

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ps. If YOU want to become part of MY tribe too (and I hope you do!) you can start by getting my monthly newsletter in your inbox.  Just register your email here and you’re good to go. Yay!

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Simply put, the key to happiness is to stop looking for the freaking key to happiness.

The fact is, the doors have never been locked up in the first place.  There is nothing to wait for.  You can open the doors to that sort of life anytime you choose.

Maybe you have lofty goal and plans.  So do I.  Trust me, if you could see the vision of my life that is taking shape right now, I know  a lot of you would wonder at my sense of reality and sanity.

That’s okay.  I get it. I’m dreaming really big these days and not everyone is ready for that.  I think I’ll just let them wonder until they see me taking strides and steps and moving closer and closer.  After all, showing is far more believable than telling right?

Still, I’m really happy today too.  I’m not going to sit around waiting on something to ‘let’ me be happy.  Or for some magical goal to get crossed off, or threshold to be crossed or please…certainly not for the proverbial knight in shining armor to come ’round and save the day.

Seriously.  Why wait?  There really isn’t anything you need to wait for!  I’ve discovered that happiness isn’t a destination anyway.  It’s not something you can go out and get.  And you can never use it all up.

There is only one thing you have to do to find your own happiness.  Choose it.

Allow yourself to decide that you are already happy.  Be grateful for all the blessings you have in your life and love your people right here today.

It’s always been within you, waiting for you to let it loose and choose to jump in with both feet.

happyIf you want to be happy, then be happy.

Start by smiling.  Too many of us don’t smile because we wonder what others will think.  You know what they will think?  Wow, she’s such a happy person.  And then they will wonder how they to can be happy just like you; and maybe, just maybe they will start smiling too.

Then look what you did.  You are a carrier of the happiness virus and you are spreading it all over the freakin place.

I’m not sure when humanity got everything so bloody mixed up.  We all say we want to feel happy and joy and love.  Yet, we hesitate, we worry about reactions and we push down those feelings so they don’t get out of hand.  That makes no sense.  We celebrate and admire those who are postitive people that make life joyous, yet we are hesitant to allow ourselves to do the same.

Don’t you find it weird we all seem to think that negative emotions like sadness, anger and frustrations are okay to be talked about and seem to be more socially accepted?  And a lot of the time we feel the need to keep our happiness and joyful feelings ‘under control’ or dampened?  Like we don’t want to bother anyone with them?

Okay so it’s your turn.  I’d love to hear your take on why that is in the comments below.

 

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so-what-is-joy-anywayWhat is joy?  The online dictionary defines it as “A feeling of great pleasure and happiness”.

This is not how I would have defined joy.  I think it’s so much more than that.  It reaches far deeper than just feeling  happy.

Happiness, in my view is a reaction to events that are unfolding or remembered.  It is a wonderful feeling.  Just as sadness is a reaction to events.  These are emotional responses.

I think of joy as more of an attitude and a way we can approach life.

Joy is what we have when we learn to find the good in all things.  When we live in gratitude, we cultivate joy.

Joy comes from the wisdom to know the difference between what matters and what can be released back to the universe.

A few years ago I learned how joy can be found even in the midst of the worst experiences.  Actually I should scrap that…it isn’t found, in all truth it is really brought with you because it comes from deep within us.

Someone very close to me passed away quite suddenly.  I had never experienced such incredible depths of pain in my life.  The emptiness, loss and grief were almost too much to handle.  And yet, I was in such gratitude for the time we did have together, the lessons taught, the love freely given.  It was then I realized that the reason the loss hurt so much was because of all that I had been blessed with.

There was joy in that.

When you hold joy in your heart it’s much easier to be grateful and to live in the present.   There were times when I was physically unable to work due to a car accident that I wasn’t sure how I would eat.  Sometimes people asked me how I could still have such a good attitude towards life.

The truth is I think we all have to head down our own roads and along the way we are going to have some dark nights.  I heard someone say that we all take a trip down the rabbit hole at some point and I kind of love that expression.

You have choice just like Alice did when she went down the rabbit hole and had to wander in Wonderland.  She had many times when the choice was to do nothing and stay stuck, or eat the cookie and see what happens.

I think when you approach life with an attitude of joy, you would eat the cookie.  You realize life happens and there is a lot of opportunity to experiment with it if you only have some faith in yourself and in that the world is essentially a good place with lots of wonderful people in it.

Joyful people talk and act differently.  They approach everything they do with a positive attitude, even the hard things. They build people up rather than tear them down and speak in an uplifting way.  They live from a place of love rather than fear.

You see ‘joy’ is within us.  It’s a choice, a lifestyle even.  When we take our trip down the rabbit hole, we bring it with us and we only have to choose to embrace it.  This is why some people can find peace even among chaos.

It’s my thinking that being able to hold joy in your heart is a sort of wisdom; a deeper understanding of the connectedness of life and all that is in it.

What would it mean for you to make a commitment to choosing to live with an attitude of joy?

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I hear a lot of new clients or friends who get upset when I talk about being in control of your own life.  Like, really upset.

In fact, one person very recently called me out on it pretty harshly.  I’m okay with that.  I’ve found the blessing in this. When someone calls you out on your beliefs it can cause you to really look deeply at them and in this case bring about a strengthening of them and a deeper understanding.

The problem is one I totally get …because they are right.  Completely right.  You see, they were upset because I said that people create their life with their actions and thoughts.  This person slammed down the point that life happens and we can’t control what others do to us and around us.  “Look all the people who lost their houses, jobs and had their life crumble” He said.  “You’re blaming THEM?” 

Ouch. He was angry at me with righteous indignation on his part with the understanding that he had.  I kind of admired him for that actually.  A real stand-up guy if you think about it.

However, there was a part of this idea that he was missing

While he was totally right – we can’t often control the experiences we have in life.  We might lose our job and income through no fault of our own.  Accidents happen (tell me about it!) that can destroy our life as we know it, and so on.  However, we can control how we experience those circumstances.  We ultimately choose our reactions.  Oh sure sometimes we have immediate reactions that are based more on baser emotions, but we can calm ourselves or feed that fire.

I know people who allow petty annoyances to create a huge amount of chaos in their life.  I also know people who have had great tragedy befall them who have chosen to create something positive out of it. 

You can choose to let life happen TO you, or you can take the controls and begin to create a life that reflects who you are and who you want to be.

So let me be clear here.  You may not be able to control WHAT experiences you have in life – but you can control HOW you experience them. 

In this coming New Year I want you to consider that. This is a fresh year that can allow us a perfect time to begin to make shifts to bring about a happier, more vibrant life.  Will you join me in taking the controls back in your life?  I think it’s time we all understand we are responsible for our own happiness and quite capable of creating it.

 

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Can I share with you something that has caused a huge shift in my world lately?  And it’s been a long time coming.

I finally let my heart break.  It’s been showing signs of cracking and on the verge for a long, long time.  I just refused to let it happen.   I’d just patch it up with some story I’d tell myself, or excuse or simply ignore things.  For a while…ignoring it did feel like bliss – kind of.  But band aids are not meant to last forever.broken

Let me explain.

To start with, I don’t exactly have the most supportive family.  Do I worry about saying that on my blog…not really.  They don’t read it.

Do they love me?  Oh I’m certain of it.  Overall they are good people.  But supportive – not so much.  It’s not that they come around telling me my dreams are fools gold or outright mock me or anything.  They simply gloss over and carry on with the status quo.  No interest, no questions and no cheering.

beautiful mistakesMy own amazing coach has suggested looking at it from a different perspective – theirs.  Ouch – she got me there.  So I explored that.

I think perhaps my reaching for big dreams and lofty goals is uncomfortable for them.  They shun what they don’t understand.  Change is scary and even painful at times. I’ve learned the hard way to embrace that because I know at the other end is growth and joy.  Until you know that, it’s hard to look at changing what is comfortable without a reason to.  I have rarely followed the way that others do things.  I suppose that certainly could lead to a disconnect.

Still, I think you can support and lift up someone without understanding what they have on their vision board…or the fact they have a vision board.

Okay..big breath…big share.  I used to wonder – and often – what was wrong with me?  Something had to be wrong with ME for the people in my life to not want to know me or cheer me on.  Many time I thought that to have someone yell at me, call me foolish or mock me would almost have been preferable to this feeling of being invisible and unimportant.  Self blame seemed the logical choice.  I struggled with that for a very long time.  With my family of origin I still see it rear its ugly head at times.  Old habits die hard right?  I am working on it and get better every day.

So, here’s the thing.  An ‘event’ happened very recently that shook me hard.  I had to face it.  It wasn’t me, not alone anyway.  I participated in a dynamic that was dysfunctional.  Because it was from my family of origin, admitting that set me back and was really, really hard.   It was difficult and painful just to admit that this.  I really resisted saying it to myself and definitely to anyone else.  I felt disloyal and selfish; I also felt used and hurt.   Quite a mix of emotions to have to deal with.

It took some time (and some very good counsel) to realize that facts are what they are.  What has happened, happened.  It wasn’t about fault or blame or anger to realize that the relationship was unhealthy.

But boy, it still hurts like crazy.   I was up late one evening, sipping some tea and just listening to the fire and the rain on the window when I realized I had to let go.   I had to allow my heart to break from this in order to start figuring out how to put it back together. I also realized I had to give myself permission.

It’s hard to do that because I know that there is a huge lake of painful tears to go through first.  Standing on the edge of that keeps me from feeling the full brunt of it.   I also had a lot of anger about those hurts that I’d been ignoring as it simmered. Keeping a lid on it won’t heal it though.  Courage is what I needed to give myself permission to let it happen.angerofthepast

I’d love to say I’m all better and I’ve dealt with it and that I’m good.  Nope, this is a long history of pinpricks that have created a deeper wound then I even knew.  It won’t heal over night.

However, I can say I survived the initial cracking open and looking at the hurt.  I felt it, I allowed it and now I’ve put it away again until I am strong enough to do some more work with it.

Life is a process of learning lessons and some are wonderful and beautiful.  Some are painful and harsh, but will ultimately lead us to wonderful and beautiful if we can allow it.

It may be hard to believe but I am grateful that I had the courage to allow my heart to break.  I have learned not only am I stronger than I realized, but I am in charge of my own happiness.  I can keep the thunderclouds at bay but until I learn to dance in the rain the sun will not be able to shine.

For now, I’m just going to keep on dancing.

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This December has snuck up on me a little bit.  I mean…I knew it was coming.  I haven’t lost my mind completely…it’s around here somewhere.

Still, I personally have had a number of huge milestones in my life that I’ve been dealing with and putting to bed (so to speak). 

This Monday saw the tail end of a really, really big one but that’s not my point (and you know I tend to get going on tangents..I”m working on it!)  My point is holy moly look at that date!

21 days lift til Christmas and all I have done is hang my sad, tired wreath on the door.  I have a beautiful plan in my head for a new one that really reflects my personality but truly by theHolidayStress time I get it done it should be ready for next year!

In all honesty, it’s not that bad for me.  My list is small and I love the shopping, gift wrapping, cooking, baking and decorating.  LOVE it.  I may even be at home with my fur-family Christmas Day and I’m okay with that.  I love those guys and hiking on that day is spectacular because everyone else is busy, busy, busy!   So Mr. Charlie Bear gets to run off leash on the trails.  When I lived on the East Coast I often went snow hiking and it was awesome.

For others though, the holidays brings other emotions.  Stress, fear, worry and exhaustion.

I have a friend who was volunteered to host not one but TWO dinners.  She isn’t really up for it physically, but doesn’t want to risk disappointing other people.  She is a beautiful soul and a people pleaser.  The problem is, like many out there (Ladies especially…listen up) she pleases others at the expense of her own health and happiness.  Not cool!  I love my friend…she is like a second mother to me and I want her to be joyful, not upset.

I have been thinking of how to help her and in turn realized that a lot of people worry about disappointing others over the holidays and just about kill themselves to do it.  They break themselves mentally, emotionally, physically and with their budget.  That’s not fair! Everyone should be able to enjoy the blessings of time with family, the love in giving and joy in gratitude without despairing. 

I have some ideas (shocking I know!) on how to make the holidays better for everyone…and I do mean EVERYONE.  Yes, that includes you people pleaser.  You can enjoy making others happy without having to punish yourself in the process.

Putting First things FirstFirst of all we need to be realistic in our expectations of what we can do and what we are willing to do.  For a select few hosting many dinners would be like striking gold!  For others one is more than enough.  Being realistic about our family, our events and our … well everything and putting it in perspective first will help us from getting sucked in to deeply and having a melt down.

Learn to say No, but thanks!  Honestly, this has got to be one of the hardest things for people to learn to do.  Listen up…every request has 3 possible responses.  1 – yes, 2- no, 3 – not sure I’ll get back to you (which flies back to 1 & 2 eventually).  All are perfectly okay and perfectly reasonable responses.  Stop assuming that people will only love or like you if you use #1.  It just isn’t the reality of life.  People are more likely to be fine with it if you are calm and collected when you say no to a request.  Stop squirming..it’s better to be honest upfront then try to wiggle out of it later or be miserable.

If you do find yourself feeling a bit over your head – ask for help.  It’s been my personal experience that when you ask – people respond.   When you don’t ask, they don’t know you need help.  Trust me, most people aren’t ignoring you or your situation.  They just don’t know what you know….so tell them.  

The key?  Be specific and polite.  Yelling “why won’t you help me?” isn’t going to cut it.  Asking “can you take out the garbage” nicely is almost certain to get that garbage outta there.  Yes it would be nice if magically those loved ones around you can see into your head and just ‘know’ what needs to be done but until then….just get over it and ask.

Make it easier on yourself.  Seriously, if you are having 20 people over for dinner or a party and the thought of the pile of dishes waiting for you later is upsetting you..screw it and use disposable (and recycled of course) plates.  Or see above…ask for help cleaning up.  Make dinner a potluck for all the sides.  Gifts can be wrapped at the store or put in gift bags from the dollar store.  Planning ahead a little can really help reduce the pressure and work for you.

Let it go.  So what if my new wreath idea doesn’t get done til next year.  That’s not a really big deal in the larger scheme of things.  What does matter?  What memories will I want to take with me from the holidays?  5 years from now I’ll remember laughing and feasting with my loved ones, I most likely won’t recall what brand of wine I was drinking or if the decorations were exact and perfect.   You deserve the time to celebrate with everyone else, the other stuff is just trimmings.  Take that time! 

Find your joy and hold it.  Anything else is just gravy! (pun intended!)

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This past weekend I was reminded of the difference between living a life of true Gratitude and being Grateful.

I know, I know.  You’re probably thinking “nitpicking at words again Bonnie?”  But stay with me okay?  Sometimes getting to the nitty-gritty of what a word or phrase means in contrast to another similar idea can help us understand better or even just clarify things for us.

To me Grateful is what you are when you remember to say thank you to others for the things they have done for you or gifts you have been given.

It’s when you show appreciation for kindness given and you are able to show thanks.

Living a life of Gratitude hImageas a deeper meaning in my eyes.  It’s when you can appreciate everything in your life – the good and bad – as a gift or blessing.

A silly, but actually rather good example of this happened just recently.  I was reminded that in everything it all comes down to how we choose to view and relate from our minds and hearts.
Even this!

It’s been rather cold here in my area.  We aren’t used to really cold weather.  Rain – oh yes! But not the clear cold that was around the past few days.  To be honest I really enjoyed it. I think the rain can wear out your patience after a while and seeing the sun no matter how cold can perk you right up.

The point is the heat in my place is electric baseboards so the air gets SUPER dry and I usually end up with dry skin that is uncomfortable if I don’t take care.  (Stay with me…lol this isn’t a skin care lesson I promise).

Add to that I did a lot of cooking and cleaning and my hands were painfully dried out.  I started to complain about it and a thought suddenly slammed me really hard.  Complain?  Stop and think about that it said.

So, I did.

Yes, I stopped and listened to that voice.

It occurred to me I was missing the gratitude. No…not for the rough dry hands exactly, but for the heat I had in my condo <- a blessing.  For the food I was cooking <- blessing.  For the place I had and the supplies I had to clean it <– blessing.  For the hands that might hurt a little but work well for me <– blessing.

The last big blessing I realized is that while I may have uncomfortable skin at the moment, I also was blessed with the hand cream to soothe it.

So…if you’re keeping score there that’s one problem that came with what? 5? 6? blessings?

Not bad at all right?

You see, life is never going to be perfect.  You can win a billion dollars and still have problems. Just different ones than someone who is just barely making ends meet.  Those billionaire problems aren’t yours to solve on your life path.  You’re stuff is all you need to be worrying about.  Your gifts and blessings are what you need to be grateful for in this life to create a life of real gratitude.

You can’t expect perfection or a perfect life. It’s only foolishness to think so.  However, you can focus your thoughts and energy on the blessings in your life and be grateful and humbled by them.

Me? I’m also grateful for all of you.  I learn so much from your comments, emails and other blogs that I really believe you are all gifts to this universal shift in energy.

I’m grateful right now also for my cracked skin.  It reminds me that I have many other wonderful things in my life.  Of course I’ll also be honest…I’m super grateful for that hand cream!

Blessings

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