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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

One Must Fall Apart to Become Better.

"Sometimes, good things fall apart so better things can fall together."~ Anonymous


I, recently, found this saying "sometimes good things fall apart, so better things can fall together".  This couldn't be more true.  Of course in the midst of falling apart, one can't fathom life being any better.  But let me tell you... It can!

Two years ago, I was a sad, unhappy mess. Falling apart inside just struggling along trying to find my way back. As I began to honestly look at my life and myself, I could see where my choices, actions, and thoughts had taken me.  When I began to make changes and different choices, life slowly started to improve.  There were times when difficult choices were made and fears were faced.  It was those times, that had the most impact.  Although it was extremely painful to go through,  it opened the door to where I'm at and who I am today.  I wouldn't change it for the world.

Today, I'm an overall happy, peaceful person.  My heart is open and full of love for my friends, family, world, and all the people in it.  I am no longer fearful of being the quirky individual that I am. I try new life experiences as often as possible (keep the things I like, and toss the rest). Worry and stress still come, but I only let them linger for a short time until I find ways to let them go.  Most importantly, I laugh as much as I can.  I'm still learning and growing, which only serves to make me look forward to how awesome two years from now will look!

To any of you reading this who are going through a tough and painful time in life, I hope this helps you to know that there is light at the end of the dark tunnel you are in.  Unfortunately, one must go through pain and misery to get there, but you do get through it.  I promise!

Wishing you the best life possible,
Val









Wednesday, September 29, 2010

No Regrets - Life is Full of Lessons

"Do not be embarrassed by your mistakes. Nothing can teach us better than our understanding of them.  This is one of the best ways of self-education." ~ Thomas Carlyle


Up until a little over a year ago, I was one who was constantly stuck in the past fretting over the myriad of mistakes and misfortunes. Generally wishing for the good times in life again.  I read somewhere that everything in life was meant to teach us something.  At first, I thought "how nice, but if only I could go back and change things."  As I continued to process this new information and begin to apply it to my own life, I didn't truly understand it.

Very slowly, I began to look back at past hurts and mistakes to see if there really was a purpose to it all.  In every single case, I was able to gleen something.  You can gain so much from all situations in life (good and bad)... be it knowledge, something material, but also simply to help you define what it is you want or don't want.  Until you see darkness, you can't know what light is.  In doing this, I was able to take the pain and regret away.  No longer was I focused on or allowing the past to dictate my future.

Nowadays, I've taken this concept a step further.  When situations in life happen that I can't figure out or don't understand the reason for, I reflect on them until I understand what the purpose and lesson involved was.  I still feel the pain and regret very strongly, but it no longer has a stranglehold on me forever.  As soon as I understand it, I'm able to let it go.

One of the biggest lessons, I've learned from this concept is the fact that without all these experiences I wouldn't be who I am today.  Every mistake, experience, relationship or missed opportunity has shaped the person that I am.  So, I no longer let regret run my life. I use it as a tool to learn and grow from.

I encourage you all to start looking at life situations to figure out the purpose and lesson in them.  Hopefully, it changes your life perspective in a dramatic way... as it did mine.  But if nothing else at least, you'll be carrying around a lot less baggage.

With that, I will leave you with another quote...
"We learn wisdom from failure much more than from success.  We often discover what WILL do, by finding out what WILL NOT do; and probably he who never made a mistake, never made a discovery." ~Samuel Smiles


Wishing you all the best life possible,
Val

Saturday, August 14, 2010

One Small Step at a Time... Applying the Butterfly Effect for Good.

"It has been said that something as small as a flutter of a butterfly's wing can ultimately cause a typhoon halfway around the world" ~ Chaos Theory

I recently watched the movie the "The Butterfly Effect".  In the movie, the main character travels back in time to different traumatic experiences in his life and changes the outcome of those experiences.  In which he, ultimately, changes the course of his life.

If you look back on your life, we all have experiences which have changed the direction and course of our existence in either a positive or negative manner.  It can be something as simple as a smile from a stranger, but you know that the one simple experience caused a shift in your direction in life.  I encourage you all to take time out to reflect and think back on your life, it's really quite interesting when you start to notice this.

Taking this a step further... couldn't you alter the direction of someone else's life by doing something simple to them?  Several years ago, I met a woman who's son died when he was in high school.  She shared his story with me and he was an amazing human being by just being who he was.  It wasn't until his death that she came to learn how simply incredible he was.  Letters started pouring in from all over the country from people who shared stories with her of meeting her son and their life being changed forever by just meeting and talking to him.  She said he was a very positive, compassionate, and helpful soul.

Couldn't you take this theory and apply it in a positive helpful manner? I encourage everyone (including myself) to smile, listen, and help everyone you meet even if they have wronged you in some way.  You never know what is going on in their life and you may just alter or help the course of their life in a positive direction without ever knowing it.

Wishing you all much love and happiness,
Val

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Happily Ever After - Let go of it and live each day.

"Let us not look back in anger or forward in fear, but around in awareness." ~ James Thurber


"Happily Ever After" is a fairytale - ironically that's the words all of them end in.  From the time we are born, we are raised by society to believe that if I have this, that or something else then I'll be happy.  So, we put all of our focus on obtaining those things that we think will make us happy. What happens if you get what it is you want, are you then happy? Maybe for a little while, but then you start wanting something else.  What happens if you can't reach what it is that you want?  Then it sends us into a tailspin of misery and frustration.

While there is nothing wrong with dreaming and wanting,... too many of us put our entire focus and happiness on it.  Well, that's just a recipe for the never-ending cycle of heartache and disaster.

What can we do to break out of that cycle?  Here's just a few of my ideas, I encourage you to think of your own as well.

1) Let go of the "Happily Ever After" concept.  Your happiness cannot be given to you by anyone else or any outer circumstance. Contemplate for yourself what is it that I can do today to feel happy.  For me it's going to the lake that I love, reading a book to go to another place for a moment, or reminding myself to appreciate all that I have with me right now.

2) Stop focusing on the past or the future and be in the present moment.  Have you ever noticed how animals are always happy and if they are ever unhappy, it's only for that moment.  They are so focused on their immediate environment... they aren't thinking about what they did 5 mins ago or what they will be doing 5 mins from now.  As highly advanced human beings, of course, we have the ability to think forwards and backwards as well.  But instead putting all of our focus on doing that why not invest some of our energy and time on enjoying the present moment for what it is.  That reminds me of a time which is one of my happiest days in life.  A friend of mine was adopted and managed to find some of his biological family (brothers, grandma, & uncles).  He and I went to a family gathering to meet them all, it was one of the most amazing experiences.  I can remember so many details of that day, because I was soaking in each and every moment instead of thinking about something else.  I believe that we were both so smiley and happy that day, because all of our focus was on the here and the now.  Wouldn't it be worthwhile to try and have more of that and less of the worry and fear of the past/future?

3) Realize that your happiness is inside of you.  It may be hidden right now, but it's there.  You can't get it, all you have to do is go inside and find it.

Wishing you much love and happiness,
Val

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Spread Love Around and It Will Come Back.

"If you were all alone in the universe with no one to talk to, no one with which to share the beauty of the stars, to laugh with, to touch, what would be your purpose in life?  It is other life, it is love, which gives your life meaning.  This is harmony.  We must discover the joy of each other, the joy of challenge, the joy of growth." ~ Mitsugi Saotome


What would be the purpose in life, if there was no love?  I'm not only talking about romantic love, but love in general... love for your children, love for your family, love for your friends, love for animals, love for all beings, and love for yourself.

When we are first born, we are tiny beings that only know love.  As we grow, many of us learn that love is conditional, love can be cruel, and our hearts become jaded.  This cannot be true... for it it were, we would not be born as fully loving beings. I was one of the lucky ones that was able to experience both unconditional love and conditional love in my childhood.  I say that I am lucky, because I know what it means to experience both which has helped shape who I am today.  By having had both types of love, I often find myself being one who provides unconditional love to anyone who's in need of it.  I have to extend my appreciation to my grandparents (may they rest in peace) for being the source of unconditional love in my life.

What does unconditional love mean?  For me it means, loving another no matter what they say, do or think.  Always being that person that they can go to and talk to without fear of judgement or prosecution.  Always being that person to gently bring them back to love and life, help whenever and in whatever way possible without the need for it in return, and spreading your love to them knowing that it may not be reciprocated.

One of the most important things I've learned about love is... when you love yourself and spread that love around, it WILL come back to you.  As I've reflected back on my life, I see that on a whole I was always a very loving person.  I was the child that would make sure to hug and tell everyone that I loved them before leaving and I can say I always felt very loved.  I'm still that person today.  I also see the times in life when I was unloving towards others and judgemental towards them.  It's in those moments that I've felt the most unloved.  So, I say love with all you have and that love will be returned to you in one form or another.

Can you imagine how much better a world we would live in, if we all lived from a place of love instead of a place of fear, hate, and anger?

Wishing you much love and happiness,
Val





Monday, June 7, 2010

Everything is a Choice - Finding your Inner Power

"They cannot take away our self-respect if we do not give it to them" ~ Mohandas Gandhi

I often hear people (including myself) say I have to do this or they made me do this.  I continually remind myself there is nothing I'm forced to do and no one can make me do anything... it's a choice.  I first heard this concept a year ago when listening to Neale Donald Walsh.  He challenged us all to recognize that we are the chooser of everything in our life and each of us must ask ourselves the question... "Why am I choosing the things that I am?" By doing this, you can define your choices or make different ones.

(I'm paraphrasing here) He told a story of a woman at one of his workshops.  She came up to him telling him that she HAD to go pick up her kids. He knew she was unhappy about this by her demeanor and how she said it.
So, Neale said "You don't HAVE to, if you don't want to."
The woman responded "Yes, if I want to be a good mother, I do."
Neale "Aha! You don't HAVE to, but you are choosing to be a good mother.  There are many mothers out there that would make a different choice."
In realizing this, the woman felt better about going, because she knew that she had made the choice not her circumstances.

I think... that by understanding that everything in life is a choice that you have made, you are taking your inner power back and no person or situation can take that away.  Even in seemingly forced circumstances, you have a choice.  Maybe not a choice in it happening or not, but a choice in how you react to it.

This reminds me of an interview I heard with Fran Drescher (The Nanny).  She told of a time when her home was invaded and she was raped.  She talked about, in that moment, she had a choice to either fight and most likely die or not to fight.  She chose not to fight and let her assailant rob and rape her.  Afterwards, she then chose to forgive her attacker, because she recognized that she had made the choice based on the current circumstances.  By doing this, the seemingly dire situation didn't derail her from her life's journey, because she knew she had control over how she reacted to life's situations.

After contemplating all of this, I realized what this all meant.  In every moment, we make a conscious or unconscious choice.  Once we know this... we have the ability to make all of our choices consciously.  Therefore, we have the power of ourselves no matter what our outer circumstances are or what others expect us to do.  But most importantly, if we find that we've made the wrong choice, we can always make the choice to change it.  

I urge each and everyone of us to question ourselves and find the choices we make in every situation.  Once you've done that, feel good about the choices that suit you and work to change the ones that don't.

Wishing you much love and happiness,
Val

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Emotions - Allow Yourself to Feel Them

"Emotions are celebrated and repressed, analyzed and medicated, adored and ignored -- but rarely, if ever, are they honored" ~ Karla McLaren

As a society, it seems as if we are always trying to focus on positive/good feeling emotions, and ignoring our negative/bad feeling emotions.  We are taught that being angry, sad, hurt, upset, jealous (etc.) are all bad emotions and we shouldn't feel that way, so we push them aside, lock them away, or hide them.  When we do this, underneath the surface those emotions are still there and won't go away until we release them.

I was a perfect, shining example of this... always putting on a smiling face no matter what I was feeling inside.  I could have been falling apart at the seams, but no one would have known it (unless you knew me well).  Okay, Okay... I still have a tendency to this day to want to do this, but I've taken a slightly different approach in dealing with it.  You will still often find me with a smile on my face, but that is truly because I feel that way. The reason that my smile is genuine is simple... I allow myself to feel the negative emotions as they come, so I can release them and get back to being happy again.

Now, I'm not saying that we should all go around, being crabby, crying or angry all the time.  But if you're feeling that way, feel it.  If you're in a situation where it wouldn't be wise to feel that way (at work, with your children... etc.), then set aside a time for yourself that day or very soon to feel those emotions.  I find for myself, I give myself a time limit on how long I will allow myself to feel that way.  If the emotion is strong, I'll take an entire day, but I make a promise to myself to let it go when I'm done.  So far, it's worked like a charm.  I'm able to deal with it quickly and move on to better things easily.

If we don't allow ourselves to feel the negative feelings, then we are just a ticking time bomb waiting to go off.  Eventually, something will happen, that makes you feel it.  But instead of it being for that moment, it will encompass all those moments that you locked away.  Wouldn't it be easier to deal with one moment at a time, instead of many moments?

Don't mistake this for me saying, that we should take it out on the ones who made us feel that way.  We all do from time to time (me included), so when I have done this, I always go back later and apologize.  I explain how I felt and that it wasn't fair of me to take it out on them.  Why make someone else suffer for how you feel?  If it was that person that caused you to feel that way, maybe someone else was hard on them earlier?  Take responsibility for your own emotions, it's puts the power squarely back in your court not someone else's. That is a whole other subject that I can go into later.

My wish for you is to honor your emotions (both good and bad), feel them, let them go, and get back to being the happy individuals that we are all meant to be.

Wishing you much love and happiness,
Val

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Honesty truly is the best policy.

"Speak your truth always. Not to try to influence others, but simply to share with them. They make their own choices, respect them." ~ T. Ann Forrest

Honesty is a subject that I have struggled with for much of my life.  Only recently did I finally grasp what it really means to be honest and that it's okay to do so.  To be honest, doesn't only mean not telling a lie, it also means not withholding information, as well.  This not only includes your interactions with others, but also with yourself.

In the past, I have done my fair share of lying and hiding.  It was always done, because of a sense of fear...  fear of getting into trouble, fear of upsetting someone, fear of not being liked, etc.

For example, several years ago, I had a decent career in the computer field.  As time went on, I found myself unhappy with the career path I had chosen and was struggling, because I didn't have the passion for what I was doing anymore.  I continued lying to myself that this was a great job, I was making good money, and I was able to work from home, so what could be wrong with that!  As I became more and more unhappy, I would work less and less (of course not telling my employer this) and the quality of my work started suffering.  Needless to say, my employer eventually found out and I was subsequently fired from that job.  That one mistake continues to tarnish my job record, but it was a start to learning a very valuable lesson.

As I said before, lying isn't the only way to be dishonest.  Hiding or withholding information is a form all on its own.  In all of my past relationships, I would hide or try to change those parts of myself that are unchangeable that the other person wouldn't like.  In time, I would start to lose myself and start fighting my way back to being me or the truth would start to seep out slowly.  In every case, the relationship would end by me leaving to rediscover myself or by the other person leaving, because they didn't like what they saw.  Had I only been true to myself from the beginning, I would have saved both of us a lot of time and heartache.

A wise ex-boyfriend had a hand in teaching me a valuable lesson in being truthful and honest.  When I started this relationship, I was comfortable with myself and was completely honest with him about everything.  The honesty between the two of us was very much appreciated and I didn't worry about anything that I said. Granted the relationship ended, but for a very different reason.  The lesson I learned was this... by being truthful, honest, and staying true to myself, I was still intact when it ended.  It saved me a lot of heartache and sorrow that could have taken me a long time to deal with.

With these lessons, I found that each time I would lie or hide, one of two things would happen... I would be caught in a lie or it would eat me up to the point that I had to be truthful.  Therefore, whatever it was that I was fearing would happen anyways.  But most importantly, even if you've been truthful and your fear is confirmed, you can be comfortable in the knowledge that you didn't compromise yourself.

My wish for you is to discover who you truly are, let go of the fear, and to be honest with yourself and everyone.  You will feel more free and happy when you do and you will gain more respect from others, because you respect yourself.

Wishing you much love and happiness,
Val

Friday, May 28, 2010

Going with the Flow of Life.

"As I open myself up to going with the flow of life... it continually surprises me in new, wonderful ways.  Relax and let life lead you where it may, you will be amazed at where it takes you." ~ Valerie O'Brien


Fifteen years ago, I went to college in a town near Lake Superior.  I fell in love with the water, lighthouses, and the beautiful, expansive nature around me.  After college, I moved around and went through many life experiences.  But Lake Superior kept calling to me... I would find myself choosing to take vacations near there.  Each time, I'd leave feeling good, yet sad that I was leaving.  

Two months ago, I went to visit an old friend near Lake Superior.  As I was driving and getting closer to the city, the entire panoramic view was laid out before me.  At that very moment, the first thought that ran through my head was "I'm home."  I thought to myself "Hmm... that's an odd thought. I'll have to think about this one." I had a great weekend that I spent walking around the lake and hiking.  Again, I left feeling really great that I had been there and sad that I was leaving.  Before this time, I had learned to start listening to my first gut reaction.  Due to that lesson, I went home and started thinking about all those thoughts and feelings I had.  

At this point, I was divorced, unemployed, and staying with friends, so I cautiously decided to see what jobs would be available there.  The next day, I sent out one resume and amazingly enough I got a response that day and had a job interview set up that same week.  Now this was pretty amazing to me, as I had been sending out resume after resume in the big metropolis where I was staying and had yet to even get a response.  So, again, I filed that away and thought to myself "Hmm... maybe this is where I'm supposed to be."  I didn't get the job, but continually felt pulled to go visit and look for jobs.

After a month of searching and visiting, I decided to be a little less cautious and actually move there.  I had a sense that a job or jobs would come, but this was where I needed and wanted to be.  So, I stopped fighting it.  All I can say is... in my entire life, this was the best decision I have ever made.

As soon as I got here, I felt whole and complete.  I still do not have a job, but I haven't been here long and they will come. With each day, I find that my thoughts, dreams, and inspirations are becoming clearer and more focused.  Again, I go back to my original quote...

"As I open myself up to going with the flow of life... it continually surprises me in new, wonderful ways.  Relax and let life lead you where it may, you will be amazed at where it takes you." ~ Valerie O'Brien

I hope this inspires you to listen to your heart.  When you get those little nudges to do something that might be scary or different, I hope, at the very least, you stop and think about them.  At the very best, I hope that you follow them while ignoring the fear, because you will be surprised.

Wishing you much love and happiness,
Val


Welcome! :)

Welcome and Thank You for reading my blog!

My mission is simply to inspire others with my thoughts and life experiences.

This past year and a half has been a difficult one for me.  I lost my job, went through uncertainty and sadness, and left an unhappy marriage. In that process, my search for anything self-help and spiritual grew with great speed.  I couldn't stop reading, listening, and applying those lessons to my own life.  Recently, I made a bold move in my life by moving to a city that has been pulling me to it since college 14 years ago.  By listening to my heart, my life has changed in so many wonderful ways. With each day, I gain a new understanding and knowledge of what I've learned and it begins to make greater sense.


All that I ask is this... that you keep an open mind.  If you don't agree with something, that's okay.  This is my thoughts and my truth... be inspired by what rings true with you and disregard the rest.  Enjoy! :D