Finding Inspiration Within Ourselves

Article, books and blogs abound these days on the topic of minimalism. What I enjoy about the current minimalist movement is that it acknowledges that we all have a different comfort level not only in the amount of material items we have in our lives, but also in how we go about clearing out the items that are cluttering our space. While one person is able to just throw out or donate everything in one big effort; another needs to start with just one drawer. Minimalism also prompts us to become choosier about our purchases; trading in quantity for quality, or considering necessity versus short term happiness. We learn to find a balance and distinguish between items we want and/or need.

Applying some of the tenets of minimalism ought to be able to help us wade thru the seemingly endless amount of resources designed to keep us inspired and optimistic. The digital world has brought a constant flow of possibilities and offerings via Facebook, twitter, blogs, websites. Amazon has replaced the need to go to the bookstore. It is not a stretch to say we could read inspiring words, quotes and stories all day on our computers/tablets/phones. But if we are always reading inspirational words, how do we take the leap to putting them in action; to facing our fears and standing up for ourselves? How do we learn to dig deep inside ourselves to find our own strengths and courage to create the life we want.
We start taking the leap by beginning to practice minimalism and selectivity in what we read and watch. There is no need to go cold turkey on inspiration! We need inspiration and there are certainly benefits to finding it in so many places. What we don’t need is to become bogged down in it so that it begins to feel obligatory and meaningless and we aren’t really even paying attention to what we are looking at anymore.
Some say if an item doesn’t bring you joy any longer it is time for it to go. Well, if your email box is full of newsletters and book recommendations waiting longer than a day or two to be read maybe it is time to unsubscribe to some of them. You can always re-subscribe if you delete one and then find you miss it. If, like me, you have several books that you reach for often, keep a couple at a time next to your bed or reading chair and rotate them every few weeks. Visit a bookstore instead of automatically ordering from Amazon. Spending some time looking at a book or magazine before purchasing it may save you some money and disappointment if you find you don’t feel a connection with it.

Lastly, spend some quiet time by yourself. Be introspective and figure out what truly inspires you. Write your own mantra or comforting words and perhaps draw a picture to go with. Keep it near you so you can use it to remind you of your journey. Letting your creative side blossom even just a little can help you think outside the box and find new ways to make your dreams become reality.

Remember that while we live in a world in which information and answers are available almost instantly, it takes takes time to make your dreams happen and to shed those old layers that no longer serve you. So slow down and enjoy the journey. Don’t forget you are your own best strength and resource. Introduce your dreams to your authentic self and become your own best cheerleader and inspiration.

Our Personal Heroes

 

Recently, I have been reading a wonderful and thoughtful book titled Ducks on the Pond: Reflections on Heroes I’ve known, by William E. Carpenter. In his book, Dr. Carpenter pays tribute to the teachers, neighbors, acquaintances, and even a few strangers who have influenced his life. They are his personal heroes who changed his life or his perceptions of it in some profound way, often in a way he didn’t discover or understand until later in his life.

One of the many wonderful things about this quiet book is that, a few essays in, I started thinking about the heroes in my own life. Starting from a young age we all have people who shaped our lives and helped us find our path in work and love. Some of them we remember easily; Dr. Carpenter’s book might help you remember a few more.

I encourage you to take some time to remember the heroes in your life. Reread a book they recommended.  Share a remembrance with a friend. Tell your children or grandchildren about them. Most of all, honor them with how you live your life and how you treat others. Raise your glass, toast them, and be grateful for their lives and their presence in yours.

You can order Dr. Carpenter’s book at www.mmripublishing.com

Excuses…Banish Them And Start Facing your fears.

 

Today’s topic is not likely to be enthusiastically received by you, my readers. So before reading on, take a deep breath and try to finish the post without a “yeah, but…” right off the bat.

Excuses are use for a myriad of situations.  They make us feel better or ease our conscience, supposedly relieving us of blame when we don’t fulfill an obligation or don’t make progress forging ahead with a dream or goal.  But the relief is only temporary and sooner or later we need to let go of our dependance upon them if we want to live a life of joy and freedom.  Excuses allow us to not face up to the real reason we don’t get where we are wanting to go, and become disenchanted with trying to transform our life. And I’m betting that most of you know the real reason.  It is fear, plain and simple. That is the big ugly monster in the closet. And until we stop making excuses, fear will lurk in the background dumping rain all over your parade and happiness in your decision to change your life. Little scary isn’t it?  The only way to get past fear is to stop with the excuses. Every time you start to make an excuse that keeps you stuck you need to stop yourself and re-focus. Remember, small baby steps will get you there.

While the list of excuses is endless, the two that are used the most often should be no surprise to us. They are time and money. So how do you begin to banish not only these excuses, but others that are holding you back?

If you have been reading my prior posts and done some soul searching and work to discover what it is that you want to change in your life, then you hopefully have created a mini-plan or outline to help you attain your goal. Remember my last post about setting goals rather than expectations? I’m hoping you all took that to heart and moved your dreams from fantasy to acknowledging that you need to start doing some work to make them happen. Excuses will only prevent you from doing this work and leave you in a stagnant situation.

The more focused you can be in pursuing your goals and the more they become a part of your daily activities, the easier it is going to be to rid yourself of these two excuses. There are many ways to make your dreams the focus of your daily life and still be productive at your day job or other obligations. It may sound silly, but list them out and tack them on the fridge…on the wall in front of your desk. Use them as a bookmark or keep them in your wallet purse. Make an acronym out of them if you are able. Whenever you are having a down or discouraging moment just repeat them to yourself. Have faith in yourself and what you can accomplish.

A simple pen and paper exercise can help you begin to release both the time and money excuse from your mind.  Just for a day or two record the time you spend on all your activities. This means Facebook and social media, exercising, just sitting, cooking, work, reading or anything else you spend your day doing. Do you see any areas where there could be improvement? Do the same thing with money. Record every dime you spend for a couple of days. From bills to coffee to parking meters, to online orders, add it all up. See any places you could cut back.
While this is a relatively simple exercise, it can lead to many questions and force you to look at your entire life. While monetary obligations are real when we own homes, cars, and other material goods, are all these things worth the cost and time it takes to keep them? Only you can answer this question for yourself. Do you love your job. You may love your work and your dream may involve a goal that uses the skills you have now. So time spent at work might be valuable to you. Then you need to look at how some time periods may be used more productively so you have time to focus on your goals. If you are spending time doing things you don’t love, or working to have material things that don’t bring you joy, this is the time to work towards changing that and creating the life you desire.

I also want to recommend a blog post to you on this subject. It will challenge the resistance you have to letting go of the money excuse. It is by Shawn Blanc, one of my favorite bloggers. You can find him at Shawnblanc.net.  The blog post Fear not Money can be found by clicking on the archives.

 

Setting Goals instead of Expectations

By definition, expectations are almost guaranteed to bring you disappointment. Expectations involve a disregard for reality while harboring a belief that something should or will happen simply because we entertain a thought or desire.  If you have ever watched a toddler throw a fit because he didn’t get the candy or ice cream he thought he deserved you are seeing total disappointment of an expectation.  Gradually we grow out of throwing tantrums, but sometimes it is harder to get rid of expectational thinking and we wind up being just as disappointed as adults as we were as children.

Choosing to set goals will lead you to your desire often times faster and with fewer mistakes since goals involve directing our efforts towards the end or outcome we desire. Setting a goal will still involve that original idea or desire, but instead of thoughtless and unplanned pursuit of that desire, time and effort must play a part.  Working towards and attaining a goal helps us become more confident and move forward be creating more goals in our lives.  This allows us to leave that disappointing realm of expectations and create real change and purpose.

It certainly isn’t wrong to envision the attainment of our desires, and one helpful step is to create a vision board. Simply cut out images, or print them from your computer, of what it is you want and attach them to a poster board or cork board. Anything and everything you desire  in your dreams can go on this board. Vision boards give us something concrete and material to look at; they take our dreams out of our imagination and provide a visual reminder of where we want to go.   They can be a first step in the journey of making the changes you desire in your life.  Once you are able to take a first step, the next one will be a little easier.

Taking our dreams and desires seriously demands that we act in a way that will bring them to fruition. Choosing to live in the fantasy world of expectation will bring disappointment and discouragement almost always. To have success in any area in our life takes dedication, hard work and planning. That is what goals are made of. They require that we learn new things, pay attention to our surroundings, and learn from others how to create a successful and joyful life.

As a means of encouragement I urge you to do something every day, no matter how small, to get you closer to your dream.

Here are some ideas to get you started. Feel free to expand upon them or share your own ideas with the rest of us!

Mind map your goal
Write a business plan. Start small and expand it as your plan grows. It can even be one sentence to start.
Don’t be afraid to talk to others who have expertise in your area. Many people love sharing their knowledge about how they fulfilled their goals.
Take a class.
Meditate
Get enough sleep.
Don’t worry, worrying is a waste of time.
Be organized. Know where your information is and where to access it.
Be focused.
Read everything you can about what interests you and what you feel passionate about.
Let your dream evolve and take shape as you increase your knowledge. and gain confidence. Don’t remain rigid in your thinking.

I imagine that many of you have books that you find inspiring and that don’t stray far from your reading chair or night stand. One such book for me is “Infinite Possibilities, The Art of Living Your Dreams”, by Mike Dooley. I have read this book several times, and often just pick it up and let it fall to whatever page it will. Mike Dooley’s enthusiasm is infectious and he will definitely get you thinking outside of the box and help you change your perspective into one that will help you live a joyful and purposeful life.

Take Five

Take Five, a standard directive in the entertainment and film industry when tensions run high, or everyone needs a little break to de-stress.  Someone must have figured out, that in an industry where time is money, five minutes must be the least amount of time it takes for the air to clear or the actor(s) to find new perspective and energy.  For all of us, some days can be just as exhausting or tension filled as working on a movie set must be.  So perhaps it should be standard practice for us to say “take five” to ourselves when we lose perspective or feel too much stress surrounding us.  While we don’t always have an hour or more to more completely unwind, taking 5 minutes here and there during your day can renew your energy, lift your spirits and help you find that new outlook you need to stay focused.  Here is a list of suggestions you might think about for those five minute breaks, but I want to encourage you to get creative, look at your own circumstance and environment and come up with a few more for yourself.  

  • Give yourself a foot massage
  • Practice some deep, belly filling breathing
  • Do some shoulder rolls and then some finger rolls
  • Go outside and take a short walk, no matter what the weather
  • Watch the clouds move across the sky
  • Have a glass of lemon water in a fancy glass
  • Close your eyes and imagine you are in your favorite vacation spot
  • Read a short poem or essay
  • Do a short meditation using a mantra or word that speaks to you
  • Stretch, lifting your arms to the sky and then release into a gentle forward bend
  • Sit on the porch and be grateful for one thing
  • Have a light snack of some fruit or a few carrot sticks
  • listen to a favorite piece of music
  • If you do yoga, do downward dog and hold it for a minute or two
  • Keep a stack of pretty note cards stamped and write a short note to a friend or relative far away letting them know you are thinking of them or just wanted to say hi.

Hopefully this will get you started and also get you thinking about some other ways you can personalize your own “take five”.  Notice that none of these suggestions involves your phone, laptop or iPad.  So you can also think of this time as a mini technology break.  Start with taking one 5 minute break a day and then add another time or two when you are ready.  See if these breaks lead to more productivity and less stress in your day.  Perhaps you may find you start your after work yoga or exercise class feeing less overwhelmed, tired, or stressed out than usual.  Stress and anxiety are not healthy for us physically, nor do they help us to be more creative in implementing change in our lives.  So look at these short breaks as a time to re-focus and I believe you will find more clarity in your current situation and in defining new dreams and adventures you want to come into  your life.

What Inspires You?

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I am the third generation caretaker of this lovely pot.  Originally belonging to my Grandmother Post, upon her passing away over 30 years ago, it went to my Mom.  It sat faithfully on her front step every summer with a pink geranium planted in it.  Now it is mine and in what seems like a rite of passage somehow, I honor the tradition of the pink geranium.  Planting the geranium yesterday made me think of the challenges my Grandmother faced moving to a new country early in the last century. She didn’t know the language, couldn’t go on google maps to get a street view of where she would be living, and knew she probably wouldn’t see her own Mother or sisters again.  And yet, she still got on that boat, newly married to my Grandfather, and took that leap to a new life.  While that is a common story from her generation, and while she would shake off all hints that her life had been anything but ordinary, I am greatly inspired when I think of her braveness in leaving all behind and starting a new life in an unknown country. And the best way to honor that is to put fear aside and continue on my path.

So, what inspires you from your past and helps you move past your fears!

Animal Wisdom and Medicine

In my last post I suggested that a spring cleaning of the “closet” in your mind could be beneficial when trying to bring about change in your life. Letting go of old issues and resentments creates space for all kinds of change to begin to take place. I didn’t really make any suggestions for how to release all the old stuff that weighs us down, so I thought with this post I would start looking at ways we can move forward that will be energizing, fun, and not too time consuming.

Have you ever noticed an animal showing up in your life unexpectedly?  I’m not talking about the cute  kitten or puppy a friend believes is the perfect buddy for you. I’m talking about the natural world and animal kingdom all around you. Perhaps a ladybug, or a certain species of bird, reptile or mammal? Have you ever given thought to why that animal keeps appearing? The medicine and healing that animals carry with them, is a gift to us if we are paying attention and aware and open to the ways in which they can help us. Each animal on this planet has a unique role in the spiritual realm and in its power to bring balance to the world and to us.

Last week I was sitting on my patio taking a break to enjoy the newly blossomed lilies, when I notice my cat inching slowly closer to my gate. Fearing a snake, not uncommon in Florida, I went to scoop her up. Instead of the feared pit viper, a turtle ambled out of the bushes and onto the patio. Relieved, I escorted the turtle outside of the gate and on its way to wherever it was rambling with no drama involved. Returning to my chair, it wasn’t long until I began to wonder why the turtle chose that time to wander out of the greenery and show itself to me. Curiosity aroused, I went and got my favorite book on animal symbolism: Animal Speak, by Ted Andrews. What I read about the turtle resonated in an important way about every situation in my life right now. “Take your time” the turtle says and “let the natural flow work for you.” A timely gift from my turtle visitor.
There is not ever nothing going on in the animal world.  Everything is always changing and animals are always adapting to different circumstances. Getting out of your head and paying attention to the wisdom and healing a specific animal is bringing you can lend a big hand in getting out of situations you feel stuck in, or helping you let go of an old issue or pattern that is not allowing you to move forward in your life.
Pick up a copy of Animal Speak. It is so much more than a listing of individual animal powers.  It will help you connect to the natural world around you, become grounded and learn to understand the importance of symbols in the world around us. It also provides help for you to discover your animal spirit or totem if one hasn’t clearly presented itself to you.

Spring Cleaning

It is a pleasure  to use and be productive in a room that has been cleared of clutter and unused/unwanted items.  The same can be said of our mind when we are ready to make decisions and create lasting change in our lives.  

With the arrival of spring, we start opening doors and windows to allow fresh air and new energy into our living space.  And while we don’t often do those intensive spring cleanings of years past, our search for lighter jackets and summer sports gear often leads us into giving the closet a good clean out.  Realizing what a cluttered mess it has become over the winter we dive into vacuuming, dusting, reorganizing and tossing unused items.  I would like to encourage you to do the same with the “closet” in your mind.  Ask yourself how old issues, tucked into the recesses of your mind’s closet are serving you.  By its sheer ability to take up space and prevent new ideas and plans from coming to light they do you no favors.

When you begin changing the energy in your physical space by cleaning out a closet, it can make a difference in how the whole house feels.  This one small change often energizes us to further clean and organize cupboards, garages and attic spaces.  By allowing your mind to let go of old issues and give attention to unsatisfying situations, you create spaces for those changes you desire to start blossoming just like spring flowers.  And when just one of those changes occurs it will motivate you to keep changing until you are leading the life you desire and deserve.  So get busy!  What are you waiting for?  Spring has arrived and with it the potential for a fresh perspective in which to move forward in your life and follow your dreams.

Nurture your dreams

Nurture your dreams

Hello and Welcome

Hi and welcome to Change is Not a Dirty Word!  My name is Paula and you can read a little more about me in the About page located on the menu bar.  I’m excited to get started here and share ways that you can create change, small or large, in your own life.  You will notice a couple of titles on the menu bar.  On 365 days, I will offer something you can try each day to just keep moving forward in small steps.  These small steps are what will keep you motivated for those larger changes you want to make.  The books tab will highlight books and articles that have spoken to me and might to you also.  Watch for other links to appear in the coming days. I am only getting started.  So for now, take a deep breath, exhale, relax and make a commitment to start creating the life you want and deserve.

Thanks for joining me hear.  I look forward to hearing from you and having a interactive place for us to share what inspires all of us!