Posts Tagged ‘optimistic’

What to give up for Lent? How about complaining

February 16, 2010

It’s Fat Tuesday and I’m thinking about the most difficult things to give up for Lent. I was raised protestant, but my friends were mostly Catholic so I adopted many Catholic practices. (And now I am converted and married to a Catholic – but that’s another story.)

In high school I gave up material things I loved, like chocolate or sweets altogether. One year I attempted to give up swearing. Every time I swore, I would do ten pushups or sit-ups. By the end of Lent I had great abs and arms.

Learning about Catholicism during nine months of required adult education provided a better insight to Lent and what it means to me. Personal changes can be made in any season, regardless of religion. However, Lent prompts me to look at myself honestly and the changes I need most.

I’ve found that as difficult as it might be to give up – gasp – beer, it’s much harder to renounce a negative trait. (And since I quit sugar in January, I have very few drinks anyway.)

Instead, I will continue to attack serious downfalls in my spirit and attitude – the areas in which I do not behave like Christ (or Buddha or any enlightened being). I’ve learned that you’re not supposed to announce your Lenten plans, so I’ll talk about past years instead.

Two years ago, I gave up complaining. Yes, complaining. I can’t say that for 40 days I never thought or voiced a complaint. Who could? But I learned to catch complaints in thought, ask myself what good the complaints served, and then keep most of them to myself.

It’s amazing how many complaints our heads come up with in one day. I get out of bed and complain that my back hurts. Then I complain that the cat puked on the floor. The shower runs out of hot water mid leg shaving and I complain again. Plus, there’s always dishes in the sink, traffic is bad, and on and on.

I caught myself complaining about good things like a messy fridge filled with too much food. Or the sun was too bright. Or there was too much work to do (who would have known I would loose my job). I needed an attitude adjustment and it started with being aware.

Why was I complaining? How could I be grateful instead? How much of this could I just turn over to source and let go?

It turns out that most complaints are not warranted and serve no good purpose. I still complain, but a lot less. Even my husband notices the difference and catches me if I start complaining.

This year, I’m tackling a pretty huge lineup of issues. If I have success, I will find peace and joy in every day. For anyone who wants to keep chocolate and give up something hurtful, this little reflection is from one of our church bulletins last year. I cut it out and it’s still on the fridge.

Give up complaining … focus on gratitude.
Give up pessimism … become an optimist.
Give up harsh judgments … think kindly thoughts.
Give up worry … trust Divine Providence.
Give up discouragement … be full of hope.
Give up bitterness … turn to forgiveness.
Give up hatred … return good for evil.
Give up negativism … be positive.
Give up anger … be more patient.
Give up gloom … enjoy the beauty that is all around.
Give up jealous … pray for trust.
Give up sin … turn to virtue.
Give up giving up … hang in there.

Follow the leader: a game for adults

January 21, 2010

I have been accused of being a leader. The word has been tossed my way enough lately that I stopped dodging it and let it splat right in my face. Why am I a leader?

First, I gathered all the other words that people say defines a leader.

… inspiration, imagination, vision, mission, goal, courageousness, inspiring, fair minded, competency, honesty, listener, analytical thinker, ambitious, enthusiastic, wisdom, belief in others, calm, team builder, communicator, know self, relationship builder, confidence, optimism, dedication openness, creativity …

I guess people call me a leader because I possess many of these qualities. I’ve always been creative, goal-oriented and a natural communicator. The rest of these characteristics are a result of being stubborn, nosy and a know-it-all (or if I don’t, I learn.) Leadership qualities aren’t innate can be learned.

In the past few months, I’ve studied a local leader – in professional sales training, in a procrastination workshop and in his radio interviews. Tom Cox teaches leadership to CEOs and business owners, but that’s not what intrigues me about him.

Tom’s manner, listening skills and astute questions are magnetizing. He seems poised and fearless. Tom seems flawless except that he uses his flaws to educate. When Tom explains the importance of systems in his life, he first illustrates his life without organizational tools. He says he lacks discipline and is easily distracted. Plus, he succumbs to bad habits. To combat these destructive traits, he studies systems, leaders and successes. He interviews leaders, blogs about their systems and shares their successes so WE can improve.

This is where our traits intersect. I also covet the lessons of leaders, healers and innovators. I put courage in my heart and fear the icebox. Most importantly, I am honest and transparent about my faults, weaknesses and doubts. I will tell a room of strangers that I struggle with frustration and negative thoughts.

Yet, like Tom, I’m not complaining. I’m sharing to grow; to be educated and to educate. I learn how you battle negative traits, mimic your successes and then tell others. I set goals and fail. I set them again and make it.

We need leaders in families, groups, religion, government and work places. Even born leaders must work to improve themselves and their habits. You and I can both be great leaders if we do three things.

1) Be stubborn as hell. Tom recounted how Winston Churchill had a terrible stutter and was told to seek work that didn’t require talking. But he was stubborn as hell and look what happened.

2) Study yourself. Who are you? Who do you want to be? Where do you need the most improvement? Can you learn from events in your life or do you taint life experiences with unnecessary judgments?

3) Seek knowledge in others. As babies we learn by watching, listening and imitating. Why do we stop? Regardless of your leadership level, there is plenty more to learn.

Thanks Tom, for leading by example.

Lights, camera, success! Mind movie = rave reviews

January 2, 2010

Today I am creating a mind movie to guide me in this new decade and my new business.

I know visualizing my destination is crucial to easing my stress and worry about “how” I will get there. I also know that if I can’t see my success, I won’t know it when I have it.

I have read a lot about visualization, starting with The Secret a couple of years ago and in every positive attitude-building book since. Yet for some reason, I have not implemented a good practice.

Friday I had my first experience with muscle testing (applied kinesiology) and guided EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques). My session with Pointman Consulting was specifically to help me move forward with my business without fear and old contradicting beliefs.

Despite being very open minded about these practices, I was still surprised when the invisible weight lifted. My coach Noah led me through a visualization exercise that filled me with a comfortable warm and tingly energy. At the end of the session my subconscious said “make a mind movie” in which I see, hear and feel my desired goal.

So today I need to make a short movie of me using my creative skills in marketing, sales and writing. What does it look like? Well, I am enjoying my work and making plenty of money to pay bills. I feel excited by challenges and satisfied as I help other small business owners achieve success. I work hard, but balance life with exercise and time with my husband. People meet me and are eager to work with me. I hear them saying I am such a great help and positive spirit. People congratulate me on my new adventure. Everyone I meet has a gift for me: wisdom, connections, education and means of making money. I feel so secure and stable that I bound through the days in happiness and love. I don’t get tripped up on the little stuff.

Yep, that’s my movie. This is who I am. Magazines publish my articles. I have extra money to buy the SLR camera I’ve dreamed of since their inception. Great ideas pop into my head for business owners and other clients.

I’m not an expert at mind movies but this is fairly simple. Imagine what the goal looks like, feels like and sounds like. The Secret and many websites provide guidance and examples. Another example of mine is that instead of saying “I must loose 20 pounds,” I imagine how I look and feel at this weight. When I go to bed and when I wake up, I visualize myself looking thin and fit, exclaiming how great it is to wear my old jeans and hearing people say how I look great. I support this vision throughout the day by banning negative self talk.

Start the decade off right with a movie of your own. Since you are the star, the superhero, you can achieve anything you imagine. As Napoleon’s Pedro would say: “All your wildest dreams will come true.”

Tis the season to stomp ANTs (Auto Negative Thoughts)

December 19, 2009

Five days until Christmas and my focus is on the battle against ants. Not the little black sugar ants trying to find goodies in the kitchen, Automatic Negative Thoughts.

I’m listening to and reading Happy for No Reason. I heard this gal on the web, so I know this book discusses how most of us are not born happy, but raise our happy thermometer over time.

As I drove past two malls this morning, on a mission to the vet, I saw the usual hustle and bustle of people out buying happiness – or attempting to buy it. Simultaneously, the chapter about ANTs came on. Based on fight or flight, we are programmed to think cynically to survive. Since survival requirements have changed completely since our caveman days, we don’t really need to be so cynical.

Author Marci Shimoff says we only have to comprehend one thing to battle – and defeat – our ANTs. “What we think is not necessarily true.”

She says we have 60,000 thoughts a day and 45,000 of them are negative. Holy smokes Batman. Thoughts are like ants at a July picnic in the park. And if they are ANTs, then the picnic sucks, it’s too hot out, the watermelon is mushy and that potato salad is probably going bad.

I use many brain exercises, so this isn’t my first circuit at the mental gym. Still, I need to treat positive thinking like a workout habit. I can’t do it once a week and expect results. I figure this next week will provide plenty of opportunities to catch ANTs, put them under the magnifying glass and fry them. I expect a few of the ANTs to be nasty, flying carpenter ants (like Christmas will suck because we have no money), so this will be fun.

And I will replace the zapped ANTs with thrilling thoughts that may not be true, yet have potential. Wow, I think I just lost five pounds. My hair is perfect today. There are so many job offers awaiting me. The bills are covered for the month.

Plus, I will concentrate on the positive resounding truths. I have the best husband, a beautiful house, good health and enough wit to survive. My belly is full of yummy casserole, my energy is high and I hear the rain will stop for Christmas. (hike, hike, hike)

Last but not least, today’s blog is done! Woo-hoo.

Now get out there and stomp some ANTs.

Dream or nightmare, it’s still just one day

December 16, 2009

A woman in the Salem unemployment office just shared her amazing dream. She dreamt the president announced that we’d all had enough and everyone can now go back to work. In the dream she was inundated with calls from people who found work.

Then she woke up and cried. The dream is farfetched. Some days I feel like my dream of supporting my family again is also farfetched. I wake up and cry. Or I wake up and tell myself the day is a gift, go conquer. Either way, by the end of the day I’m often frustrated, confused and broke.

Yesterday I was so pissed I broke my 30-day blogging challenge rather than spread the negativity.

I found out I don’t qualify for the Self-Employment Assistance Program – a program that allows you to receive unemployment while you start a business. It’s only for people in the first six months of unemployment. Once you reach the extension phase, you don’t qualify.

I’m ticked mostly because I only learned of this program in the past two months. (I’ve been on extension two months.) I’m frustrated because full-time jobs with benefits are few while contract opportunities are seemingly everywhere.

The man at the employment agency was nice, yet condescending. I’m certain he didn’t mean to be crass. However, he suggested I get a job that pays an entry-level salary. Evidently he doesn’t know that employers hire people who won’t flee the minute a better job opens.

He was familiar with are the reasons I will lose unemployment and probably eligibility if the contract work ceases.

This conundrum is not going to destroy my positive attitude or resilience. I will not succumb to fear of “what ifs” just because government programs aren’t sensible. I will think it through and follow my gut. Possibly this chain of events intends to make me more tenacious.

But if you are in your first six months of unemployment and have a sound business idea, I suggest you act on it today. The Small Business Development Center through PCC has help and inexpensive classes for you. Plus, you can still qualify for the SEA Program.

As for the woman in the unemployment center, thank you for understanding. Thank you for having a warm heart and a dream that could come true.

Could my four-leaf clovers change your life?

December 7, 2009

Believe

Four-leaf clovers in resin-filled bezels dry in the sun on my kitchen table. I see them and am encouraged.

You see, I married a beautiful musician who had never seen a four-leaf clover and therefore did not believe in them. I insisted they exist because I found one on my 14th birthday. I wrote him a poem seven years ago that began like this:

Searching for a four-leaf clover
to prove you are an angel
when you sleep
and dawn fills your mouth
Music is conceived in your veins
A pin prick and it
will drip laughter and sorrow …

But with no proof, he had a hard time believing. Then a few months ago, my friend and I plopped down in the yard and I said “you should sit by those clovers because I know there are four-leafed ones out here.” And there were. She found two that day. I found a third the next day. Three times since I have been in the yard crying and begging for a sign that everything will be okay. I found 11 more four-leaf clovers.

Now I believe and others do too.

Our beliefs create our realities. My reality is formed by these beliefs.

Angels surround us and conspire on our behalves at all times. You can call them out in an emergency or just realize most coincidences aren’t. (Example: the day you are late for work for some stupid reason. Racing toward the office, you come up on a horrific accident that could have been your fate.)

Miracles happen, AND can happen from “bad” things. In hindsight, it is easy to see how traumatic events opened glorious doorways. Not so easy in the moment, I know. So I ask, what good can come from my struggle today?

We all get second chances … to start over, to say I’m sorry, to love, to achieve a failed goal, to be a better person. On that note, I also believe that people want to be good and do good things, yet sometimes it is easier to act poorly, do wrong or simply look the other way. If we don’t believe in luck, angels and miracles, then how the hell are we going to offer kindness to strangers? Please, just get out of my way so I can pick two lemons and go home.

I believe today has something for me. You have something for me; a smile, a message, a blessing – a parking spot! And I have something for you; a heart full of wonder. I wonder how I can help you, warm you or heal you. I wonder if you believe in my four-leaf clovers, could that change your life? I believe so.

… So with fingertips stained
like lawn-mowing shoes
I part leaves
Searching for your solace
Proof
of what I smell in your skin
See in glacier eyes.

Dousing stinkin’ attitude with Jedi mind tricks

December 6, 2009

I don’t want to blog today because I’m irritated and don’t want to express this mood. I guess it’s a good day to share my tricks for triggering gratitude and happiness – and put them to use.

Exercise is a biggie and I should probably hit the gym when I finish writing. I prefer a brisk walk in nature, but 38 degrees and 40-mile-an hour winds are not that appealing. Regardless of the exercise venue, I tend to shift thoughts as soon as I sweat.

Often I do yoga while listening to one of my favorite sources of positive information; http://www.healingwiththemasters.com. Jennifer McLean interviews healers, teachers and positive thinkers a couple of times a week and posts replays of the audio. Sign up is free and the lessons are priceless. I hope there is a replay in my inbox today.

I have learned many mind tricks from interviews with people like Jo Dunning, Guy Finley, Marci Shimoff and Neale Donald Walsch. Plus these short talks lead to fantastic books, CDs, coaching and other programs.

Daily affirmations are a necessary way to stay positive and I need one today. When Stuart Smalley of SNL introduced affirmations … “Because I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and, doggonit, people like me!” … he was hilarious. Now I know this is a seriously good way to empower myself. Some of my affirmations are simple like “I can handle whatever happens today.” This site, http://bit.ly/uvvPF, gathers people’s affirmations and helps me write my own. From today, I plan to use daily blogging as a reminder to write an affirmation.

Making lists of things I love or am grateful for is another nifty tool. My heart fills with thankfulness when I list all the things I love. On a day like today, I open the journal and recall the reasons life rocks.

Visualizing also lifts my spirits. This is a tool I believe every positive person uses and something I should do more often. If I picture my happiest memory, my favorite place in the mountains or my dream for the future, this minute’s frustration fades. I use photos to stimulate these visions sometimes. I looked at several before typing today.

The last stunt I use on myself is self-inflicted laughter. Whatever it takes to rouse the giggles is fair game: playing with the cat, comedy on YouTube, a favorite movie, or the never-fail stare down in the mirror. Laughter is the best reminder that happiness comes from within – and it is always in there if I dig. Thanks to digging, I feel better already.

Santa, please bring me presence

December 3, 2009

Dear Santa, if you exist (even in spirit) and I have been good enough this year, please bring me presence. No, not presents … presence.

Six years ago I didn’t even understand what presence is or why I should desire it. My yoga instructor introduced presence to me. The longer I sit on the word’s meaning, the more I want it. Just so you understand what I’m asking for, Santa, here’s most of the Merriam-Webster definitions of presence.

1) the fact or condition of being present

2) the part of space within one’s immediate vicinity

4) one that is present: as a: the actual person or thing that is present or b: something present of a visible or concrete nature

5) a: the bearing, carriage, or air of a person; b: a noteworthy quality of poise and effectiveness; the actor’s commanding presence

6) something (as a spirit) felt or believed to be present

I might have presence some moments – or even some days. But my thoughts are a flashing neon signs that I need more presence. A couple of weeks ago I landed in a deep funk. At one point in the night, after too many beers, I sat and wrote:

“I am jealous of myself or the picture of me in my memories – how I was then. Thoughts you are not meant to think of yourself; judgmental. But here I am, looking at the old me in this hue.”

Wow. Does this mean I don’t love who I am today? How do I use this as a wake-up call? What the heck was I jealous of … a thinner body … fewer responsibilities … working as a photographer?

I read passages from Buddha, the Bible, Gandhi, healing gurus and positive thinkers. And Santa, do you know what I discovered? We humans tend to wish for the past and fear the future. They say we must practice catching negative thoughts and replacing them with optimism.

So, Santa, here’s what I need.

1) help staying in the moment (and appreciating it)

2) love and peace in my immediate vicinity

3) kindness and love that spills out to others

4) a spirit of thankfulness for the many blessings I have

5) the ability to scrutinize my thoughts and squash the stinkers

I’ll hang my stocking this weekend in case you want to drop off my presence early.

Thanks a bunch,

Larque

Happy? Not always. But Larque every day.

December 1, 2009

I might have been born happy but cannot recall those early years. Thankfully, I don’t recall my mom and biological father fighting for my first six years either. I do recall a surly teenager who bore my name and thought life was a miserable waste of time. Yikes!

“Happy as a Larque” is a personal trek in boots that don’t always fit right and the disregard of blisters caused by life friction. I haven’t discovered a magical way to disregard the friction itself, so I am not always happy. On the worst of days I go to a terrible dark place and think the worst of thoughts.

My adventure is about gathering wisdom so I may experience bliss and help others. I stash these tools in that dark place so I can navigate my way back. Every time it gets easier.

My goal is to amass strategies and reasons to be happy so that I may be a beacon of light to others. I have already experienced countless paths to happiness; some little jaunts and others grappling, scraping, gut-wrenching climbs. I hope to share with you both types of excursions. I hope that sharing some of the painful points on my journey will comfort you and further strengthen me.

When you pass me on the street and I look deep in your eyes and smile (which I will), don’t assume I am some Pollyanna, Gandhi or Einstein. I am merely one girl who desires to be a mix of the three … optimistic, loving and brilliant.

Cynics around me who scoff at my “fairy dust” education might want to look a bit closer. The sprinkles of faith, trust, belief and passion that glitter around me are bling you can’t buy with money. You have to earn this stuff the hard way – one lesson at a time.

(NOTE: This is the first blog in the Jumping Duck Media 30 Days of Blogging Challenge. http://bit.ly/6bUdVx)