Doing Life Together
Doing Life Together
By Chou Hallegra
No matter how much we deny this – we all have a desire to be loved. Often, it's a romantic love that we crave. We are caught up in our loneliness and it's normal to have a want for companionship. Although romance isn't everyone's struggle or desire – it may be a familial want, as is platonic friendships. And maybe you want and/or need both, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
For most of us, rejection and hurt leave us feeling unfulfilled and disillusioned with how we expect relationships to play out. When they don't go as we want them to, we often blame ourselves and wonder where we went wrong... that's not what it's about.
This is where learning to love yourself comes in. As much as it is nice to be loved by others, unless you learn to love who you are, you will continue to chase after the wrong thing or people. When you learn to love yourself, then you feel whole no matter who is in your life - and that comes with some incredible benefits, here are six.
1. You'll Be In Charge
Instead of making bad choices because you're being led by shame, guilt or fear – you will be empowered to make choices that truly make sense for who you are – meaning you will be living your authentic life. You will no longer be caught up with people pleasing, instead you will live a life that brings you satisfaction. Self-love means trying to honor yourself because you know your needs are just as important as others.
2. You Set Boundaries & Stick To Them
Once you get the hang of honoring your needs, you start to feel more confident; which helps you become more assertive as well. Of course, this results in a more purposeful attitude, especially when it comes to dating. You start to see who is wasting your time and you're strong enough to move forward without them. More importantly, you are strong enough to set clear boundaries with people and stick to them.
3. The Approval Seeking Will Stop
When you truly love yourself, you stop worrying about what everyone else thinks about you – which means you're a less defensive person and more confident about living a life that is authentic for you. Why would you need acceptance from everyone else when you truly accept yourself? For those of who are Christians, we find our true value from our identity in Christ. We love ourselves because we are already loved by God and what people think of us does not change how we see ourselves.
4. You Will Be A Conscious Decision Maker
Loving yourself gives you the courage to cut things from your life that don't truly bring you joy or provide you with ample space to grow. It's easy to make courageous decisions when you value yourself and actively make choices that are intended to honor you, rather than risk harming you.
5. You Will Enjoy Alone Time
A lot of people get caught up in keeping busy schedules simply because they're terrified of feeling or being alone. You surround yourself with people, throw yourself into work, and make decisions that help you avoid that loneliness. Why would you do all of the things that you don't love? You could be filling that time with things that you actually enjoy doing – whether it’s meditation, swimming, writing or watching a movie. It doesn't need to feel scary to spend time alone, you should enjoy time with yourself. Self-love brings more comfort when you're spending time in your own company.
You don't need to find happiness in relationships, whether they're romantic or not. When you start taking responsibility for it and stop giving your power away to everyone else, you will naturally feel happier. If you're not in a romantic relationship you will find that you aren't as desperate to be in one as you once were. When the right person shows up, you will be ready for that love.
Now that you know loving yourself will benefit you, check out my course that will get you started on that:
By Holly Miller
Our brains are amazingly powerful. That brain power can do some astonishing things to our bodies. It has caused me to shake uncontrollably for weeks, make me feel dizzy for days on end, overwhelm my body to the point of passing out, and pack on weight. When harnessed for good, my brain helped me to calm myself, clear my skin, and lose weight. There is this chemical in our brain called cortisol that can change your life for better or worse. If you want to read more about it, here is a quick guide: https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/what-is-cortisol
If you don’t believe in what our brains can do to our bodies, take a look at the picture that accompanies this blog post. That picture is of the same woman, in the same classroom, 4 years apart. Look at the lady on the left. Blotchy red skin, round face, glassy eyes, defeated expression. She looks nothing like the lady on the right who looks bright, happy, and ready to tackle life! But both are me! After I got some medical help from my doctor, I began to re-evaluate how I let my brain speak to me. “You are worthless.” “You always fail at everything you do.” “You will never truly feel happy.” Would you let anyone say these things to your best friend? No? Then why do we say them to ourselves?! The way we speak to ourselves (self-talk) can affect our cortisol levels. Your brain has that kind of power. Look at that photo again! The woman on the left was not kind to herself in the least. The woman on the right looks like someone I would want to give me a pep-talk. We cannot allow ourselves to speak in a way that we NEVER would to someone else.
I was struggling to write a blog this month. I realized it was because I was slipping back into negative self-talk. I think so many of us don’t even realize we are doing it. We need to be more aware of how we talk to ourselves. Our brains can be re-wired for our benefit. I love this article: https://brainspeak.com/how-negative-self-talk-sabotages-your-health-happiness/ It talks about how we can literally change our brains to affect our bodies for good health. It seems so cliché to hear, “Just think positive!”, but our brains depend on it for our health, mentally AND physically.
Next time you have a negative thought about yourself, I challenge you to change it. Whenever I find a bad thought coming into my head, I picture a loved one in my mind and make myself say that thought aloud to that person. I immediately come to that person’s defense. “You can’t talk to her like that!” “She is an AMAZING person.” “BACK OFF! Why are you being so mean?!” Why do we not champion ourselves like that? YOU are the most influential person in your life. It’s time to take back that powerful brain of yours and use it for good!
While Holly Miller has eclectic passions, interests, and hobbies, she is easily summed up as a high school mathematics teacher who found a way to thrive despite her anxiety and depression. Her goal is to spread awareness about mental health, inspire those who struggle to see that they are not alone and show them that they can find light in even the darkest of places. She enjoys spending time with her husband Luke, their two dogs, two cats, and Russian tortoise. While she may not have many impressive credentials, Holly believes there is magic in the ordinary every day and that a simple life is a good life. Holly can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.
By Julia Morrissey
Given the current situation, we can likely all see how critical it is to help prepare kids to face challenges. One way to help prepare kids is to encourage a growth mindset. This post discusses what it means to have a growth mindset, the advantages for a growth mindset, and some tips and tricks (including three printables) to help encourage a growth mindset in kids.
What Exactly is a Growth Mindset?
A growth mindset is a mentality where an individual believes that their intelligence and abilities can be developed. This is the opposite of a fixed mindset, where it is thought that you can’t really build on the abilities you are born with. With a growth mindset, kids often feel more encouraged to work hard and strive for personal and academic growth. Kids who believe that working hard is what makes them smarter, are more likely to be interested and engaged in learning.
What Are the Benefits of a Growth Mindset?
There are many benefits of having kids develop a growth mindset. Not only can this mindset help kids enjoy learning and school more, but it can also make them feel more motivated and confident. Additionally, a growth mindset can also help kids:
How to Encourage a Growth Mindset in Kids
The process of developing a growth mindset can be challenging, but there are a number of ways to help kids be successful. Always be sure to check in with kids to make sure you know how they are feeling about the process. The following are additional ways you can help encourage a growth mindset in kids:
Utilizing Printables to Encourage a Growth Mindset
Using printables is a great way to make developing a growth mindset an enjoyable process. Below you can find three printables for helping encourage a growth mindset in kids. You can download them at the end of the post!
2. Goal Setting Worksheet: Assist kids with creating goals and developing plans for achieving them.
3. Growth Mindset Conversation Cube: Help kids open up about how they are feeling.
Download all of these printable activities (courtesy of Tommy John) below to start helping your kids develop a growth mindset.
A lot has happened in the past couple of weeks and we are all impacted at one level or another. Dealing with the emotional (and other) toll of corona was hard enough and now the issues of social injustice, racism, and safety are front and center. Many have lost their lives in the past week and beyond.
In the past few days, I have had many courageous conversations in diverse circles. I talked with my church small group on what the church can do to be the solution. I have also had friends who asked me what they could do to help. Emotions are high and so is helplessness.
And I understand both but I want to remind each of us that we need to have faith and hold on to hope. We also need to remember thatchange starts with each one of us. In order to change the world around us, we need to first change ourselves.
Furthermore, I want to tell you personally that I see you. I see you wanting to do your best and feeling like it's not enough. I see you having so much to say and not sure if it's the "right" thing to say. I see you wanting to make a difference and not sure where to begin.
I see you being filled with anger, frustration, sadness, confusion and even despair at times. And I see you. I see you because I too, am dealing with similar emotions and I have been working hard at recentering myself.
I see you and I want you to know that you are not alone in what you think and feel.
I see you and I'm only a click away if you need a safe place to be heard.
I see you and I want to hold space for you!
The recent events have been affecting my emotions big time and I needed to center myself in prayer this morning, maybe you need this as well. If you would like to pray with us on a regular basis, join us at https://www.facebook.com/groups/PrayWithChou/
It's so easy to let life and everything happening around us, bring us down. But don't see the full picture and don't know the full story. Acknowledging that not only brings peace but also hope.
BY Holly Miller
I have prayed for things that have miraculously, against all odds, have come to be. The moment of answered prayer is truly extraordinary. I have experienced overwhelming joy as an impossible prayer has been answered. It affirms your faith and gives you confidence that there is good in this dark world. But has God ever answered a constant prayer with a gentle but firm “no”? What then? I have prayed for many things that God has tenderly turned down. Miracle denied. These moments can rattle your faith to your core. Mourning with loved ones over a miscarriage, watching a dear family member deteriorate and die from a terrible illness, finding out a student lost his battle with depression and having to attend his funeral, saying goodbye to someone who left us far too young. These moments shatter hearts and turn even the most faithful to doubt. How can a supposed ‘loving God’ allow so much suffering, sadness, and, and pain?
One thing I have prayed for most of my life is for God to lift my anxiety and depression. Just completely wipe it from my life. Some days it is such a heavy burden and I would love to set it down for good and never have these disorders show their ugly faces in my life ever again. I have prayed numerous times for this cup to pass from me. And I have been met with an answer to that prayer. It is a definite and heart-breaking “no”. It has been made abundantly clear to me that God intends me to carry my anxiety and depression all of the days of my life. And at one point (and I am sure there will be many similar times to come) I was so sad and angry about it. I even walked completely away from my faith for a few years because I couldn’t understand why I wasn’t granted relief from my torturous brain.
When I was younger, under my anxiety ran a river of rage. It was silent, pushed deep down inside my heart. Many people would probably be surprised to know how angry I sometimes got; that I felt the way I did. Even now, my anxiety and depression is sometimes too much to bear. There are days when all I can do is cry and yell “why have you made me this way?!” over and over to God. Sometimes I am too numb and calloused to even argue with Him. I just sit in stunned silence while my brain attacks me. But as I started feeling a gentle nudge to tell my story, my struggles, my triumphs, and my gritty life of living with General Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, and Major Depressive Disorder, I have found encouragement as well. When someone pulls me aside to talk about mental health or sends me a message saying “me too”, the solidarity and love I feel for that person outweighs all of the pain. People who have thanked me for being so open and sharing my story have touched my life more than they know. Many who share their lives with me have given me the strength to carry on; to keep writing my story no matter how ugly or painful it can sometimes be. In sharing my struggle, I have found that I am spreading awareness and saving lives. That alone makes the battle worth it (most days). Being able to reach out and show others that they are not alone in the sometimes-scary thoughts that reside in our heads helps me carry on and fight my fight.
I have always loved the Lord of the Rings series with its themes of bearing burdens. If you are not familiar with the series, a young hobbit named Frodo is tasked with the burden of carrying an evil ring on a long journey to its destruction. The effect the ring has on Frodo often makes it too difficult for him to move forward. He finds encouragement from his friends along the way, one being a wise wizard named Gandalf.
Frodo: 'I wish the Ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened.'
Gandalf: 'So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us. There are other forces at work in this world, Frodo, besides that of evil. Bilbo was meant to find the Ring, in which case you were also meant to have it. And that is an encouraging thought.”
I always loved this conversation and it has helped me to carry on as well. While I would never ask for anxiety and depression disorders that often debilitate me, it is encouraging (as strange as that sounds) that I was chosen to bear this load. I was granted this journey, whether I want to take it or not, to show the world that one CAN stand up under these diagnoses. I don’t claim to know the inner-workings of God or understand why the world is sometimes in the sorry state it is. I don’t know your struggle, your pain, your life. I can’t explain away every instance of “why would You let this happen God?” But I do know for me, He will not let this cup pass from me no matter how earnestly and endlessly I ask him to take my mental health struggles away. And I truly believe that is because I am meant to bear this burden, to show others it can be done, and help light the way for those who struggle like I do.
In Matthew 11:28-30, it says “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” We are not promised a burden-free life. In this scripture, we are granted rest in the Lord, but if you read it carefully, there is still a burden to bear. “My burden is light”, yes, but it is still a burden. Even light loads can get heavy when you don’t take time to put them down and rest. We all have burdens we carry. Mine is my anxiety and depression. Although I asked God to take them away, He said “no”. And sometimes a “no” to our prayers isn’t a slammed door or an abrupt end to hope. It is a re-direction into a new, albeit still challenging journey.
If we don’t have darkness, we can’t see the light. I was meant to carry this darkness inside of me so I can show my light to the world. And as Gandalf says to Frodo, “that is an encouraging thought.”
By Julia Morrissey
In addition to the normal stressors in life, quarantine also has psychological impacts. This is why it is more important than ever to check in with ourselves. The pandemic has left many of us feeling isolated, less productive, and disconnected. Some people may also be experiencing new or increased feelings of anxiety or depression as well as patterns of negative thinking. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to strengthen and improve mental health. It is possible that some of us may even have more time now to spend practicing self-care. This extra time can also be an opportunity to seek out new self-care tools that work well for you. One practice that has been shown to be effective for improving mental health is self-discovery.
In addition to eating healthy, exercising, and getting enough sleep, working to improve self-awareness is an important part of self-care. Practicing self-discovery by taking the time to answer specific questions honestly and without judgement can really help individuals gain a better understanding of themselves and cope better with stressful situations. This ultimately helps to reduce the mental and physical toll of stress on the body.
By practicing self-discovery we can improve our emotional intelligence, assess our strengths and weaknesses, improve communication, and make better decisions. This practice can also help us create action plans, which will allow us to solve problems and get closer to achieving our goals.
Depending on what you are looking to address in your life, there are specific questions you can ask yourself. These questions can help you find clarification, grow, and ultimately succeed. Below are some sample questions you can use when you are looking to learn more about yourself and your relationship with your family. At the end of this article you can also download printable personal and family self-discovery questions to start practicing now.
Questions like these can help you learn more about your relationship with yourself:
Questions like the following can help you learn more about your relationship with your family:
Julia Morrissey is a content creator for University of St. Augustine Health Sciences and she works to develop helpful guides and compelling stories. Her passion for creative writing has led her to cover unique topics ranging from business to lifestyle. She calls New York City home and enjoys spending time with her rescue dog, running in Central Park, and finding new vegan dining options around the city.
By Cherie Faus Smith
Turning 50 was such a pivotal time in my life. Not only was it the beginning of a new decade, but it was an opportunity for me to embrace the changes I was experiencing such as becoming an empty nester, menopause, weight gain, as well as the aches and pains that accompanied my aging body.
Because there are so many changes happening at once, it was time to make a choice.
I am choosing confidence and courage over fear.
Let us face it, turning 50 can be scary. It may not be as exciting as your 16th, 21st, or even 30th birthday celebrations but it can be if we allow ourselves to be brave and embrace this next chapter in our lives.
A few months before that momentous day, I made a conscious choice to change how I viewed being a 50-year-old woman. After surviving three abusive relationships and cancer, I wanted to show the world that this beautiful and brave woman was not going to allow age to define her.
It is time for other women who are getting ready to step into this new decade to wrap themselves in self-love and believe that they have something special to contribute to the world too.
I am leaning into my 50s by:
Downside of Turning Fifty
Where do I begin? The weight gain, grey hairs, mood swings, droopy breasts, and the oh so lovely hot flashes. And, let us not forget the reading glasses.
I was born with strawberry blonde hair and in my late twenties, I began dyeing (highlighting) my hair blonde. The first time I spotted a grey hair, I flipped out telling my husband that I am too young to be greying. He, of course, just told me that he could not see it because of the blonde. I know he was just trying to be nice but what the heck.
Now, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the non-essential businesses are closed and that includes my hair salon. I normally see my stylist every 5 weeks to cover those pesky greys. I am not sure when salons will open again but hopefully before my hair turns ALL grey instead of just the roots.
I noticed recently during a TV interview that my boobs were a bit droopy despite buying a brand-new bra. YIKES! That was on live TV, people.
And, last summer, I shared a post of me after a pap exam. You can see the post here - it's funny, I promise.
Transition and Growth
I am learning to accept my body (wrinkles, extra fat, you name it), learning to let go of things I can't change so I can find peace, learning to be grateful for every day that I open my eyes and am able to crawl out of bed. Most of all, I am learning to just live life. This is the only life I have so I should make the best of it.
If you're in your fifties and looking for support, send me an email so we can chat on how I can help you. We are in this together girlfriend.
By Cherie Faus Smith
After being diagnosed with a panic disorder in 2006 and by the suggestion of my physician, I quit my job. It wasn’t easy for our family since we were a two-income household.
I felt embarrassed knowing I was letting my husband and our family down. Because of my panic disorder, I became agoraphobic and couldn’t leave my home for a full year. So, I began searching for jobs which allowed me to work from home.
When major shifts occur in our lives, we are given an opportunity to reinvent ourselves.
Since my career as an administrative assistant spanned many years, I found that I was already prepared to offer the same services online. I was fortunate to find a virtual assistant who lived about 30 minutes from my home who was willing to chat with me and share a book she’d written about the field.
I took a leap and started my own virtual assistant company. I’ve been going strong ever since 2007. The work was comfortable, my clients were happy, and my work ethic and accomplishments have brought in plenty of referrals and new work. Yet after 13 years of providing support for my clients, I was yearning to find an outlet for my creative side.
My husband and I were returning home from the grocery store and as we drove through the gorgeous mountainside, I told him that I wasn’t happy in life anymore. It wasn’t that I was unhappy with him or our marriage but instead unhappy with MY life.
He was receptive to hearing why I wasn’t happy. After talking it through with him, I realized that I was looking for a purpose. I was a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, employee, and now a business owner.
BUT I was 49 years old at that time and staring 50 in the face.
Instead of dreading midlife, I wanted to do something different and fun!I remember sitting in our backyard on a swing, closing my eyes, taking a deep breath, and embracing what life would look like after I turned 50. I’m an extrovert and absolutely LOVE helping other women so it was only natural for my mind to tune into that part of me that wanted to celebrate being a midlife woman and supporting other women who are going through the same things in life.
At that moment, I knew that something better was coming my way.
I’ve learned two things since that day:
As I’m stepping into midlife and taking risks, I invite you to join me. Let’s embrace fifty together and support one another.
Because I have a passion for supporting women, I created a Facebook Group called Sisterhood of Fabulous and Fearless Women. Would love for you to join.
By Karima Leslie
Image by Ryan McGuire from Pixabay
The Problem: Science Says We’re Kind of Suckers for Pain
Our brains are wired to seek out- and pay more attention to- unpleasant news. Termed “Negativity Bias” in Psychology, this pursuit of knowledge of negative things has helped us survive life threatening situations for generations.
But as our society evolves and the accessibility of information grows, we become bombarded by everything that’s going wrong in the world which can leave us thinking that the world is an awful place.
But I Have Good News:
In reality, the world is filled with just as much beauty & compassion as it is with ugliness & hate. It’s all a matter of what we pay attention to and what we’re fed. Reporting on positive news is rare in occurrence because bad news sells, not because there’s less of it. The world is still a wonderful place, the end is not nigh, and our planet is not past the point of saving.
Step 1: Be Realistic
If we want to be informed, then we have to open ourselves up to the good as much as we do the bad.
Having a “realistic” view of the world does not equal cynicism or skepticism but a balanced understanding that both good and bad events occur all the time. Be mindful of your thoughts this week and be honest about acknowledging if you’re biased towards negativity.
Try This Exercise to Find Out If You Have A Bias
Read the following scenarios and close your eyes as you think about your reaction. Really envision each scenario and go through possible thoughts & emotions that you would have:
How did the above scenarios make you feel? Were your thoughts & emotions mostly negative, positive, or neutral?
The happiness, love, & beauty in the world can be overshadowed by the anger, darkness, & sadness which has a bigger platform. Because of this we must be diligent in seeking out joy. Below are some great resources to get you started and remember that for every bad news, there is good. Check in again next month for the next step you can take to make 2020 your best year yet!
By Chou Hallegra
A great way to set business goals is by looking forward to see where you want to be by the end of the year. Think about things like financial goals, number of clients or services that you offer and ways you could automate certain aspects of your business.
Set yourself an income goal for December 31 and then work out a way to achieve this. You may need to create new products, do some more affiliate marketing or generate some new clients. Or you could offer something new in your business such as a coaching module. Other choices include adding a paid newsletter to your business model or developing an online magazine. Even writing and publishing your own books can help increase your income stream.
Plan out what you will need to do each month to increase your bottom line and then simply take action. Not taking action is one of the biggest reasons why many business goals fail. While it is very easy to set lofty goals, attaining them is a different ball game altogether. This is where freeing up some of your time comes into play.
If you find that you are a slave to your business you might want to seriously consider outsourcing some aspects. What are the things you enjoy doing for your business and what are those things that you don't enjoy? Are you not enjoying them because the tasks are challenging or because they are tedious? Both of these are great reasons to outsource work. Why bother taking hours and hours to work on something that is difficult? Could you use this time to be more productive?
Let's look at an example. Maybe you aren't great with graphics and you consistently require eBook covers or banners made. Why not outsource this job and use the time to be more productive. You might be great at drumming up new clients so why not find a new one and use that money to hire a graphic designer? It really isn't costing you any more money you are just using your time more wisely.
Go through all the things you do for your business each day and see if there are some items that could be automated. Do you post to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest regularly? This can be time consuming, why not look into ways that this could be automated. You can then work on this task once a month or once a week and schedule all of your posts.
By implementing small changes such as these you can free up a lot of time. Use this free time wisely to increase your profits. If you are a freelancer you could spend the time writing more of your own content or putting together special offers for your existing customers and clients.
Make time to do a little brainstorming for your business. Look at other players in your area and see if there is a product or service that is not being offered. Then find ways to implement it.
Keeping up to date with changes on the internet is a huge component of running a successful online business these days. Planning is important for any business owner and if you can be the first to market something new, you are going to be well ahead of your competitors.
If you want to thrive in all areas of your life, join us for THRIVE 2020 today!
Chou Hallegra Gabikiny, the founder of Grace & Hope Consulting, LLC, is a Mental Health & Ability Consultant specializing in stress management, suicide prevention, trauma recovery, inclusive practices, customized employment, Person-Centered Thinking, social skills development, and support brokerage. She is also a best-selling Author , Speaker and Certified Life Coach on a mission to help people rise above their circumstances so they can be more and do more in life. Find out more atwww.graceandhopeconsulting.com
Setting a goal is one thing that is relatively easy to do. The harder part comes when it is time to take action and reach your goals. Many people lack the willpower to do this and give up way too early. Are you that type of person or would you say you had sticking power?
Sticking power boils down to motivation, determination and drive. While numerous people assume that you need to have a certain strength to demonstrate these qualities, that is not true. While not everyone has these qualities born in them, they can be develop if you put your mind to it.
Having the willingness to learn how to develop these skills is going to have a huge impact on how successful you will be with your goals. Is your goal powerful enough for you to overcome obstacles?
If you answered yes to that question you are a huge step ahead of many other people. To learn how to become more determined and focused you want to start thinking in a more positive way.
You have to start believing in yourself in order to reach your potential. By using positive reinforcements you will start to believe what you are telling yourself each day. Honestly, if you don't believe in yourself how can you expect others to believe in you?
Using visualizations is another great way of developing your mindset and your self confidence. Once you can 'see' how you are going to look and feel your motivation will remain high. The minute you let self doubt creep into your mind you are travelling the road to destruction. When you think that something is not possible a shield goes over your eyes and you cannot see the right path anymore.
In order to win at goal setting you need to begin with an open mind. Set yourself mini goals that you need to reach in between. This way you are building stepping stones to your success. With each stepping stones you get closet to your main goal and your energy and determination is renewed.
How to you eat an elephant? One bite at a time! Start by breaking down your main goal into mini-goals. Then set stepping stones for each mini-goal, then for each stepping stones, set actionable steps you will take. Whenever you perform one of these steps, remember that you are doing something towards your end goal. In time, all of these small actions will build upon each other and they will help you reach your goal. Don’t forget to reward yourself as you are taking those small action steps.
Remember that some goals are huge and may take longer than one year to accomplish. There is nothing wrong with allowing yourself more time as long as you are working diligently towards it.
Most importantly, you don’t have to struggle alone. Create a support system of peers, mentors, coaches, and even resources to help you achieve your goals.
If you are ready to thrive in 2020, join us at THRIVE 2020 today!
Chou Hallegra, the founder of Grace & Hope Consulting, LLC, is a Mental Health & Ability Consultant specializing in stress management, suicide prevention, trauma recovery, inclusive practices, customized employment, Person-Centered Thinking, social skills development, and support brokerage. She is also a best-selling Author , Speaker and Certified Life Coach on a mission to help people rise above their circumstances so they can be more and do more in life. Find out more at www.graceandhopeconsulting.com
By Cherie Faus Smith
The months leading up to my 50th birthday were filled with emotion. One moment, I was excited and looking forward to the new decade. The next minute, I was filled with fear.
Age is just a number and it certainly shouldn’t define me.I tried desperately to see the cup half full. Time after time, doubt would creep in. I’d begin to feel extremely unsure of myself. Oh, the wondrous power of negative self-talk.
Then, I remembered a conversation with my mom many years ago. Her words of wisdom helped me see the light. She said that after turning 50, she no longer felt the need to ask for others’ approval, she felt more empowered in making decisions, and didn’t care what others thought of her.
What was I afraid of? After all, I have survived three abusive relationships. I’m a melanoma survivor. I live with an anxiety disorder.
Fifty should be a piece of cake.When the day I dreaded finally arrived, it was almost anticlimactic. To celebrate, my husband threw me a party with family and my closest friends. It was an amazing bash and to see so many people in one room having fun, sharing stories, dancing, and eating delicious food warmed my heart.
Nothing untoward happened. My spirit remained intact and all the jokes about turning fifty were kind. Looking at my loved ones around me as we celebrated, I could even see the years as awards earned rather than burdens borne.
I felt welcomed to my fifth decade.As I approached my birthday, I hoped I’d hit the milestone with grace. I certainly didn’t want to become a woman who sees an age spot or gray hair and freak out. It’s super easy to go down that dark hole and get lost in the stories we tell ourselves.
I choose to embrace the changes with my body and be grateful to be alive.
On the practical side, I’ve learned three things since turning 50:
Because I have a passion for supporting women, I created a Facebook Group called Sisterhood of Fabulous and Fearless Women. Would love for you to join.
We’re all entering a new decade with 2020. So whether you’re embracing a birthday or the new decade, will you share something you’ve learned in the comments, too? Or just suggest a place for a bra fitting. I’d love to hear from you.
Cherie Faus-Smith is a bestselling author, keynote speaker, & transformational coach focusing on women over 50. Her goal is to inspire women (like you!) to live life on their own terms. Cherie’s been a guest on Good Day PA and, most recently, was the keynote speaker at the YWCA's fashion show event to raise money for their Domestic Violence program.
She shares her experiences with surviving domestic abuse and being diagnosed with an anxiety disorder to inspire women to live life to the fullest, push their comfort zones, and thrive.
Find out more about Cherie on her website. Also, you can follow her on Instagram and Facebook.
What is the reason you set goals? Is it because all of your friends are or do you find that setting goals help to improve your life?
Goals can definitely help you improve your life and they can help you make your dreams come true. Let's look at some of the top reasons why goal setting is important.
Setting a goal can help you measure your progress. The minute you set a goal you become responsible for attaining it. You now have a place to start from and a completion date. This allows you to see how far you have come and how far you still have to go.
Setting goals can help with team building. When everyone involved has a common goal to work towards people come together and work hard to get the goal accomplished. By setting a team goal your entire business can become more productive.
Setting goals helps give you a sense of direction in your life and in your business. Having a clear and specific goal gives you a purpose; you have something to work towards. Who doesn't want to have something to look forward to?
Setting goals defines a purpose for you. This applies to both personal goals and those set by your employer. How many times at work have you tried to look busy? But when you have a goal to reach you are automatically busy all the time as you don't want to be the one to miss the goal.
Setting goals helps you plan out a method for reaching them. If your employer tells you that you have to finish a 20,000 word report by the end of the month, you don't want to miss your deadline. Instead you will focus on how to create a plan so that you make your deadline. If reaching your goal means involving other people to help you then you will figure out a plan to do so.
Setting goals gives you energy and determination. As soon as you set a goal your mind starts to think about them and this gives you increased energy and drive. If you know you have a goal to reach at work, you are more likely to wake up feeling energized and ready to tackle the goal each day. When you don’t have a goal, the thought of going to work each day is without purpose other than to supply you with a paycheck.
Setting goals gives you a sense of pride. Smart employers will know that when they give their employees goals they are filling them with a sense of urgency and pride. Companies that continually set goals for their employees often report that morale is much higher and that their productivity levels are high.
Goals provide you with measurements based upon your performance. This can be great for individuals to measure their progress as well as being a good way for businesses to ensure that their goals are on track. When a result is expected from you, you are going to automatically place more effort and focus on it to achieve it.
Goals can help team members bond together. When people are placed into teams each person is working towards the goal. No one wants to be responsible for not meeting the goal and this pushes people to work together and bond. Employees that do not always get along could benefit from being placed into a team goal setting event. Individual preferences will have to be put aside while everyone works towards meeting their goal.
Team goal setting can also help employers identify possible team leaders for future promotions.
Ready to set your goals? Grab your journal and get started today!
Chou Hallegra is a best-selling author, a sought-after speaker, a Certified Life Coach, and a multi-credentialed Mental Health and Ability Consultant. She is passionate about helping people rise above their circumstances and enjoy life to the fullest. Find out more at www.graceandhopeconsulting.com.
By Holly Miller
After almost two full weeks off of school and a really nasty upper-respiratory virus, I found myself unmotivated to start a project I so happily signed on for earlier when the world seemed a lot more bright, shiny, and promising; this blog. And every year I have to remind myself that ‘this is just how it is’ this time of year for me. As a teacher who also struggles with anxiety and depression, having my routine shaken up, spending hours of unstructured time alone, and then being thrust back into ‘the real world’ again after winter break can be really tough. And I know it can be so hard on my students too. After the lights are taken down and the cheerful trappings of the season are packed away, the world sometimes looks even darker than it did before the holidays.
And you would think that after over 30 years in academia, I would be used to this – having my routine come to a screeching halt and then having to re-start it again in the new year. But every new year presents the same main issue I always struggle with – starting again. Although it is never easy, I guess I have a good amount of experience in starting again (and getting 150 teenagers to re-start again with me when we return from break). While these are not groundbreaking tips, these are things that are tried and true and always help me struggle less when heading back to school after the winter break or just starting again in general. So whether you or your kids are heading back to school after some time off, here are some things to help.
1. Be prepared.
It always eases my anxiety by picking out my outfit the night before, packing my lunch, and knowing what I’m making for dinner when I come home from school. Having a plan helps push out some unease.
2. Ease back into your routine.
It’s so easy to get overwhelmed with things I need to accomplish. I allow myself some time just to go to school, put in a solid day, then come home and do nothing else. I try not to overschedule myself. I give myself permission to relax when I get home for the first few days back from break. While things need to be accomplished, giving a little downtime is absolutely necessary.
3. Plan something you look forward to.
One of my colleagues a few years ago started “Taco Night” in our group of teacher friends. Once a month, someone would take a turn to host dinner and we would all gather for a night of food and board games. It was fun to look forward to those dinners after the holidays were over. Something small like a movie night or allowing your student to pick a meal for dinner one night a week goes a long way.
4. Yoke unpleasant tasks with something you enjoy.
Getting back into a routine means getting back to things we don’t always love. I HATE doing dishes. (Yes, our house built in 1955 has never been updated to include a dishwasher). So I set my iPad up above the sink and watch Gilmore Girls while doing a task I dread. Pair something not so great with something enjoyable helps unpleasant tasks go faster.
5. Watch your self-talk.
Somebody once told me “speak to yourself as you would your best friend on their worst day”. I try really hard not to put myself down or beat myself up for things I didn’t accomplish. My mantra for teaching is “you get done what you get done, and whatever didn’t get done wasn’t all that important”. Our to-do lists are never-ending. So recognize good stopping places and congratulate yourself or your student for a job well done.
As we go into 2020, a lot of us may feel overwhelmed at the whole year ahead of us. Martin Luther King Jr. said “Take the first step in faith. You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” I don’t know about you, but looking at the whole staircase raises my blood pressure. But taking the first step, that’s something I’ve done a hundred times and that something I can do again. I am looking forward to a year of blogging about mental health, education, and just being a human. And I just took my first steps into doing so!
While Holly Miller has eclectic passions, interests, and hobbies, she is easily summed up as a high school mathematics teacher who found a way to thrive despite her anxiety and depression. Her goal is to spread awareness about mental health, inspire those who struggle to see that they are not alone and show them that they can find light in even the darkest of places. She enjoys spending time with her husband Luke, their two dogs, two cats, and Russian tortoise. While she may not have many impressive credentials, Holly believes there is magic in the ordinary every day and that a simple life is a good life.
Holly can be reached email@example.com
It' easy to be grateful when things are going well, but do you keep that gratitude going when things get tough? Here are 3 ways to be grateful for the hard stuff. I also have a gratitude journal to help you cultivate an attitude of gratitude no matter what you're going through. Get it at http://bit.ly/gratitudejournal2019
We’ve come to the end of our mini-challenge, and we’ve covered quite a bit of information. You’ve learned why acknowledging, embracing and expressing gratitude is so important. You’ve also learned a few specific ways to begin a practice of gratitude in your own life. I’d like to expand on that as we end our challenge to provide you with a more in-depth list of helpful tips to tap into the power of being grateful. You can use these ideas as you move forward in creating your own routine.
Take a Gratitude Walk
Going for a walk is a great way to relieve stress and gain perspective. It offers a number of advantages. You leave your regular environment, get out in the fresh air and move away from distractions. It’s a form of physical exercise that comes with all sorts of health benefits. Walking can even be considered a form of meditation. It’s a fabulous way to focus on gratitude. During this particular jaunt, pay special attention to the things you encounter along the way. Chances are, you’ll discover plenty to be thankful for during your walk.
Make a Gratitude Collage
A fun way to acknowledge your gratefulness in a visual way is to create a gratitude collage. This process works in a similar way as a vision board. You can cut out pictures from a magazine or add personal photos. Your collage can simply be laid out on a poster board or you can get more creative and decorative. You can even keep your board electronically on Pinterest or some other app. The point is to collect images that move you to consider your good fortune. It’s a good idea to put your board in a place where you can see it or access it daily. You might even want to add to it to keep its momentum going.
Hold a Friendsgiving
Friendsgiving is like Thanksgiving, only with friends and chosen family instead of biological family. This special occasion is often held in place of traditional Thanksgiving for those who don’t have family physically nearby or who aren’t emotionally close with their relatives. Sometimes it takes place near the actual holiday. You can get creative, though, and hold your own special gathering, customized to your needs, any time you wish. A gratitude party or get-together can remind you of the people who are most important in your life and enhance existing bonds.
Look for Gratitude in Challenges
Let’s turn things around a bit. You probably know how easy it is to focus on the bad stuff. Sometimes we get stuck in the negative and allow it to weigh us down. That’s natural, but you can interrupt that cycle by consciously working to find the gratitude in life’s challenges. Look for the lessons or the silver linings. Be sure to write them down in your gratitude journal or make a note of them in some formalized way so that you can look back and remember the good that came from adversity.
One of the most impactful ways to gain perspective and be grateful for what you have is to help others in need. This can be through a formal volunteer effort with a philanthropic organization or it can simply be something like helping a neighbor you see who could use a hand with his lawn. No matter what the effort, you’ll reap the rewards when you pitch in to give to others. Try to do something to help someone else at least once a week, and you’re sure to experience a boost in gratitude.
Give these ideas a try. Research or brainstorm some additional ones on your own. Just get started so you can see just what a difference embracing a mindset of gratitude can have on your entire life.
We’ve talked about the process of writing in a gratitude journal and the kinds of benefits that activity can offer. Writing is a powerful process. Sharing your written words of appreciation with others can have an even bigger impact than journaling privately. Personal notes can really brighten a person’s day, and make many positive impacts in the lives of those receiving them and those giving them.
Writing Has Power
In a busy world, we can get caught up in ourselves and the things we absolutely must accomplish each day. It’s easy to forget to acknowledge the important people in our lives. It’s for precisely this reason that receiving a note of thanks or appreciation is so very meaningful. People simply don’t receive these spontaneous offerings on a regular basis. That’s why setting aside the time and taking the effort to write such a message is so powerful, for both you and the receiver.
Sharing Gratitude Strengthens Bonds
A personal note or message goes far to show you care. Words have meaning, but it’s often said that actions speak louder. The recipient of your note will be surprised to receive it. A positive surprise almost always improves someone’s day and mood. This can be especially impactful if you intentionally send your message to someone you know is going through a rough patch. Regardless, this small gesture will go far to strengthen existing bonds because it’s such a customized act. When people feel a personal attachment, they tend to experience feelings of closeness and meaning. Your written acknowledgement of their importance in your life will surely affect your relationship in a positive way.
Ideas to Get You Started
Your words of gratitude don’t have to be in hand-written form, though it truly is a nice touch that’s a rarity these days. You can send electronic correspondence, if you prefer. Your message doesn’t have to be long, either. Any written words of appreciation will be a start and can be quite meaningful.
Here are some examples:
***Grab my new gratitude journal and start cultivating an attitude of gratitude.
If you’re still on the fence about starting a practice of gratitude for yourself, I’d like to issue you a simple challenge. Just for today, find just one random thing in your environment to be grateful for. This is a low-stakes activity that can be a great way to jumpstart your pursuit of gratitude
What to Look For
It’s easy, really. There are things to be grateful for, even on the difficult days. In fact, it’s even more impactful when you discover little rays of light in the darkest times. You can look for anything within your daily routine that inspires you. If you don’t leave your home that day due to sadness or inability, perhaps the very roof over your head could be your source of gratitude. Even a beautiful flower out your window might be enough to influence your mood for the better. Find just one thing and focus on that.
What You Can Expect
Let’s be realistic. Taking a minute to notice one thing you’re grateful for in your day probably isn’t going to completely change your life. However, it could be a significant jumpstart toward moving you in the right direction. This is especially true when you’re going through a difficult period. Turning a long-standing low mood around even slightly by acknowledging one small good thing can be quite meaningful. Remember, our thoughts influence our feelings and behaviors.
Sometimes all it takes is one small catalyst to spark major change. Some consider this the “baby steps” philosophy. Every habit or practice begins with one small step. Taking a moment to be grateful for just one thing in your environment today can improve your mood, even just a little bit. You may notice a weight is lifted from your chest or that some of your anxiety has eased. Hold onto that feeling. Notice whether your perspective improves after reflecting on gratitude just once today. This lift in your mood and brightened outlook can lead you to feeling better, which then influences your actions in a positive manner. You might just notice it’s a bit easier to find that one thing to be grateful for tomorrow.
Give it a try. Find one tiny spark to light the flame of gratitude today. Be intentional in noticing the effect it has on you. You may find it’s simpler and more rewarding than you realized to begin your gratitude practice.
*** Are you keeping track of what you are grateful for? Here is a journal to help you do that!
You’ve probably heard of both meditations and affirmations, though you may be uncertain of just what they are and how they work. These two practices are actually quite simple to add to your routine or even to use in a particularly stressful moment to gain perspective. Let’s take a look at how to use gratitude meditations and affirmations to boost your spirit anytime.
What Are Meditations?
A meditation is really just a practice of taking some quiet time to be mindful and focus your attention on a particular thought or issue. It’s a moment of silent reflection that focuses you on the here and now. Gratitude meditations involve focusing your thoughts on being grateful for the particulars of your life or situation, even the ones that may not seem so positive. Your gratitude journaling can be considered a meditation, even. Any contemplative, purposeful time spent focused on being grateful can fall into this category.
What Are Affirmations?
Affirmations are short, concise and positive sentences that are meant to purposefully affect the ways in which we think and feel. These can be in both conscious and unconscious ways. What we think greatly influences how we feel and behave. Introducing these positive messages into your life on a regular basis can help you to internalize them and begin living accordingly. Gratitude affirmations focus specifically on being grateful and appreciative.
How to Use Them
Both meditation and affirmation are easy to put into practice. They can be used almost any time and anywhere. When you think of meditation, a long, intensive ritual may come to mind. In actuality, you don’t need to spend a lot of time meditating in order to reap the benefits. Simply sitting quietly for a few minutes and contemplating on what you’re grateful for can help to center you and to provide new perspective, which often will lead to feeling better. If you want something more structure or have more time, you can look up guided gratitude meditations online or grab a meditation app to try. I personally use Abide and Headspace.
When it comes to affirmations, a good practice might be to combine them with your gratitude journal. Write down positive messages that apply to your life and help to inspire or motivate you. Perhaps you want to keep them in a separate journal or store them online. Then you can pull out your collection of affirmations for a pick-me-up when you need one.
Gratitude meditations and affirmations are simple tools that offer a big return. They take only a few minutes to practice, and you really don’t need any special equipment. Give them a try when you feel you could use an injection of gratitude in your life.
***You can write you affirmations in your gratitude journal.
Once you get into the habit of contemplating what you’re grateful for each day, it’s time to consider making it a written activity. This can be intimidating for people who don’t like to write or who feel they may not have time to dedicate to such a practice. In all honestly, it really doesn’t take much more time to write it down than to simply think on what you appreciate, and you don’t need strong writing skills in order to jot down three sentences. Let’s see if we can’t make the process seem less stressful. There truly are some amazing benefits that come from the physical process of creating a record of gratefulness.
More About Gratitude Journals
While it’s called a “gratitude journal”, it’s actually a tool or a record. You don’t have to write in a paper journal. The important part is that you take the time each day to record a few things that make you feel fortunate. Doing so can actually help to manifest more positive things. Writing down what you’re appreciative of each day brings that sense of gratefulness to the forefront. It allows you to focus on the positive, helping you to spot opportunities you might otherwise have missed. Keeping a gratitude journal gives you a written record to pull out and look back on any time you’re feeling less than fortunate. It can provide you with motivation in the toughest of times.
Benefits of a Gratitude Journal
There are many benefits to keeping a gratitude journal. Instilling a writing practice in this way ensures that you maintain a focus on positivity. Sure, sometimes bad things may happen, but this overall emphasis on finding the good can help to provide you with the resilience to keep going. Your stress levels will decrease as you begin embracing an attitude of gratitude. Plus, the act of writing can be therapeutic in itself. Writing also helps to give you a different perspective on things that you might not see as readily without engaging in the process. You can identify patterns and insight into your life that might help you to find opportunities and to grow.
Tips for Using Your Journal
The most important thing when it comes to a gratitude journal is consistency of practice. Some journal twice daily. Others prefer once. Regardless, it will only be effective if you use it regularly. One of the best ways to help yourself want to use your journal is to choose a format you enjoy.
Don’t force yourself to write in a journal by hand if you prefer to use electronic methods. You can keep your records in a simple word processing spreadsheet or use one of many apps that are available for this purpose. On the other hand, if you are inspired by a beautifully-bound paper journal, find one that speaks to you and start writing your thoughts down immediately. No matter what you use, keep it handy by your bedside or on easily accessed devices.
Turn your routine into a ritual. Make it a process that feeds your soul. Incorporate your morning coffee into your journal writing or light a candle with a lovely aroma to accompany your routine. Just make it yours.
A gratitude journal can be an insightful and life-changing tool. Remember, you only have to write three simple things you’re grateful for. There’s no need to make it complicated. Start your record keeping practice today and see what it can do for you.
One really easy way to get started on a gratitude practice is to make a habit of counting your blessings both morning and night. You don’t even have to write them down, as in a gratitude journal, if that seems too overwhelming. Simply taking a few minutes when you wake up and before you go to bed is enough to begin cementing this new practice into your routine. Before long, you’ll be easily noticing that blessing abound. Here are some tips to help you begin.
Easing into any habit is usually the best approach. By making it easier on yourself, you’ll be more inclined to continue moving forward. So, try not to put too much pressure on yourself to come up with grand examples of gratitude when you’re just starting out. Just appreciating the bed where you’re starting and ending the day can be something to add to your initial list. Sometimes simply recognizing a tiny blessing can have a big impact.
Add It On
A helpful method for remembering your new gratitude habit is to add it on to your existing routine. Whatever you normally do in the morning and night, be sure to include a few minutes to think of what makes you feel fortunate. For example, if you have tea every morning, this would be a good connection to make. Sitting down for tea will soon become a reminder to contemplate on your three things.
Create Visual Reminders
If you find yourself forgetting to do it or skipping out on your new task, add some visual cues to your environment. Post-it notes are great for this. Stick one on your nightstand. Add another to your bathroom mirror. Technology comes in handy for reminders, as well. Set an alarm on your phone so that you don’t leave the house or fall asleep without taking time to consider what makes you feel thankful.
Turn It Around
You can also try the opposite. Turn complaints around into something positive. Maybe you wake up with a sore back and don’t want to get out of bed. It may seem obvious, but reminding yourself that you’re in overall good health and that you have a safe place to sleep can do wonders for your outlook. Try to find the silver lining. It really works.
A good habit can be jotting things down during the day as they happen. It only takes a few seconds to make a note of what you feel grateful for in that moment. You can reflect on it later during your quiet bedtime routine.
Hopefully, you now see how getting into the habit of recognizing the good thing in life really isn’t all that difficult. A few small changes to your routine and you’ll find it’s actually quite easy to implement this practice.
Gratitude can be simply broken down to appreciating the good things in your life. It doesn’t always seem simple, though. When things are hectic or stressful, finding the silver lining can be challenging. However, learning how to embrace gratitude can significantly boost your happiness. Being grateful offers a host of other benefits you’re probably not aware of, too. Let’s take a closer look at the concept, ways it can improve your life and how to practice it.
There are many definitions of gratitude. Some people believe it’s a feeling or emotion. Others look at it as more of a mood. Still, some folks believe gratitude is a personality trait a person exhibits. These can all be correct. In essence, gratitude elicits satisfaction and appreciation in a person through feelings, actions or even inherent qualities. However, even those of us who may be more inclined to feel grateful on a regular basis through our glass-half-full-optimism likely need to work on evoking such an outlook. Gratitude can be viewed as a practice or something you perform regularly. Most people practice something because it benefits them. This is true of gratitude. As with other practices, you’ll get better at demonstrating gratitude the more you work at it.
Benefits of Embracing Gratitude
There are many benefits of gratitude; many of them have been scientifically proven. Once you begin to understand these, chances are good that you’ll see why it’s so important to develop a grateful mindset. Gratitude can have a positive effect on both physical and mental health. Research has shown it to improve relaxation, sleep quality and energy levels. Being thankful for your blessings can enhance your emotional wellness. You’ll deal better in crisis situations and find you’re more resilient when you’re able to look on the bright side. This can contribute to better relationships, too. Appreciating the positives in life can simply make you feel happier.
Ways to Practice Gratitude
Recognizing your blessings may not come easily at first, but there are some ways to help make it a habit and a regular part of your routine. One of the most convenient and impactful methods for cultivating appreciation is through keeping a gratitude journal. In this practice, you’ll write down three things each day that you’re grateful for, which makes it easier to notice and recognize those good things. Meditation has also been shown to help. Also, making an effort to thank someone each day, for even the smallest thing, opens your eyes and heart to abundance. Giving back and doing good for others can provide tremendous perspective, as well.
Now you have a better idea of just what making a concerted effort to count your blessings can do for your life. Embracing and expressing gratitude are more important than many of us realize.
What gratitude strategy will you practice today?
Do you find yourself looking at a glass as half empty instead of full? Do you tend to look at the things in your life that are going wrong instead of those going right? You can train your brain to go from negative to positive. This video is all about helping you change negative thoughts into positive ones and create positive pathways in the process.
Need help in this area? Then email firstname.lastname@example.org.
**This video was initially recorded in our women group.
Chou is a best-selling Author, a Transformational Speaker, Certified Life Coach, Counselor and Consultant on a mission to inspire people to rise above their circumstances. She is passionate about helping others achieve emotional wellness, reach their full potential, and live fulfilling lives. You can contact Chou at email@example.com