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Monday, April 25, 2016

Daily Gratitude Can Improve Your Life

"Be thankful everyday for what you have and the Universe will respond in kind by rushing in with even more blessings." ~ Jarrad Hewett

One of my first steps on my journey back to happiness was to cultivate a daily practice of gratitude and thankfulness. Several years ago, I remember someone talking about keeping a gratitude journal and knew that I needed to try something to change the course of my life. At first, this was difficult for me to do. I was at a very low point in my life, feeling unsuccessful, financial stress and worries, not feeling very comfortable in my own skin, and my relationships were suffering. Internally (I thought), there wasn't much to be thankful for. But I was willing to try and see what happened.

Each night, I would write three reasons to be grateful or thankful... it could be big or small. There were some nights that all I could be thankful for was food in my fridge and a bed to sleep on, but it started the "blessing" ball rolling. After about a week of doing this, the feeling of joy was slowly coming back to me. I began noticing more and more reasons to be thankful. In a study done by Robert Emmons, PhD from UC Davis in his book "Thanks! How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier.", he has shown that regular grateful thoughts can increase happiness by 25 percent. Amazing! That validated what I was already learning to be true.

As with anything for me, it takes some time to integrate a new habit and not get bored with it. I missed some days and that was okay. I just picked it back up when I remembered. To spice it up and make it fun, I made a game out of it. Each day I must have new and different things to be grateful for. As I practice this more and more, I find new creative ways to express gratitude... thanking someone or something in the moment that it happens and learning to be thankful for all moments in life as they have made me the person that I am today.

By looking for ways to be thankful each day, I was focusing my attention and awareness on the positive not the negative. Because of this focused attention, God, the Universe, Source (whatever you want to name it) will bring to you more and more to be grateful for. I find this to be true, as I no longer struggle to find a blessing each day. They pour in daily in both big and small ways.  Do I still have difficult moments in life? Absolutely, but now the positive outweighs the negative.

My wish for us all is to be thankful in each and every moment.

Much Love and Happiness,

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Self Love

"You cannot be lonely, if you like the person you're alone with" ~ Dr. Wayne Dyer

Loving myself has been a significant stumbling block in my life.  Today, it dawned on me that this one issue is and has been the root cause for so many of my relationship, financial, and success problems.  For most of my life I have loved other people (always being the one to accept and love everyone for who they were), but this never fully translated to myself. In the past few years, this has affected my ability to be loving towards others.

The ways I was/am unloving towards myself and how I move towards loving myself:

- I am the first person to beat myself up for my mistakes, as someone I know once said "I have a baseball bat in every room" ready to criticize myself for what I said, thought or did. I had to forgive myself for my past mistakes, because they are in the past and the only way to move forward and create a better life is to let go and forgive. Forgiving myself is one of the hardest things for me to do, but I now know this is vitally important for me to do so.

- I had a tendency to hide parts of myself from others for fear that they would reject me, because if I didn't love me then they definitely wouldn't love me. Recently, with respect to my financial well-being, I was pushed into a making a choice (continue to hide or be open). I chose to be open and with each new day my ability to open up expands into all areas of my life.  This in turn has proven to me that my fear of rejection was unnecessary and I am deserving of love too. Does this still come up for me? Absolutely, but I take a deep breath and dive right in to being me.

- When I would look in the mirror, I would see a very unworthy and unhappy person with many flaws. (I can look back on pictures through my life, the only ones where I look truly happy are when I was a child and when I started this blog 6 years ago. Those were times when I loved me.) What I did to resolve this... At first, I put up post-it-notes everywhere that read "I love you, Valerie". So each time I would see it, I would say this to myself. I know this sounds corny, but it really worked!  Little by little, I started to believe it too. Now, each time I have an unloving thought about myself, I ask myself  "is this true?". More often than not, it's "no" and the thought lovingly goes away. If it is a "yes", then I decide if this is something I can accept in myself or what do I need to do to make that better.

I am becoming the loving person that I am meant to be and each day I get more and more comfortable in my own skin again. For the first time in my life, I am completely okay being on my own and not striving for that next romantic partner. The more I open up to loving myself and the world around me, the more love and support comes back to me, which in turn makes me able to love and support right back. This just becomes a beautiful loving circle.

My wish for you is to love yourself, so you can project more love out into the world and in turn feel more loved.

Much Love,

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Beginning Anew

"She mended her life with the leftover bits of rubble from the storm mixed with the new that was being born. Her new life glimmered in the distance. A promise of something more beautiful than she could imagine. She was in the process of being born anew. She was in her wholeness. Her wounds were being healed." ~ Laurel Bleadon-Maffei

I found these beautiful words not too long ago and instantly felt connected to them. At this exact point in my life, this is exactly how I am feeling. I am passing through the storm of the past six years of my life. I am taking the "leftover bits of rubble" and living the life that I want to lead.  I see the bits of rubble as memories (good & bad), lessons learned from mistakes, and those parts of myself that I love.

I'd lost my way temporarily, but I am finding my way back.  Here are three ways this is unfolding for me right now.

1) I began doing things that I love and that feed my soul on a daily basis. It dawned on me that I used to watch a lot of TV and play computer games. This was my way of tuning out and forgetting my life for awhile. For so long I thought this was helping me, but it wasn't. How do I know this? For the past two weeks, I have only watched one TV program (Dancing with the Stars - that just makes me smile) and I haven't played a single computer game. I've been listening to music (recently rediscovered my love for piano music), reading and learning from spiritual masters, sitting in quiet reflection and meditation, and most importantly writing. I have felt happier and more free than I have in a very long time.

2) I have let go of my attachment to the outcome and the process. What does that mean? I have a clear vision of what I would like to see come to fruition in my life right now and I have let go of the how it should look or happen. In the past, I would have worried, fretted, planned, and worried more. In some cases, I talked myself out of doing something that probably would have been great! Now I have this clear vision in my head and heart, I feel and think about it, then I put it away and let it simmer for awhile.  Miraculously within a day or two, an idea comes or something/someone comes along that helps me get one step closer to my vision. While I am "simmering", I continue on living life doing the things I love, working and not worrying about my circumstances. Since I adopted this new philosophy in life, I enjoy more and worry less.

3) I forgave myself for the mistakes of the past. I can tell you I was beating myself up more than anyone.  Deep down, I knew what I was doing was wrong and not for my highest good. At the time I was so filled with shame and self-loathing that I wasn't making decisions from a place of clarity and love, but from a place of fear and hate. It wasn't until I hit rock-bottom financially that I realized, I needed to forgive myself, love myself and move forward.

In the near future, I will take each of the areas and expand upon them. For now, I will leave with this wish... I wish for you to find what makes you feel passionate and experience it as often as possible, let go of attachment, and love yourself.

Much love,