What’s Your “Why NOT”?

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Most of you know why you do the things you want to do:  it’s fun, it’s profitable, it’s good for you, it’s enjoyable, it makes you laugh, dance, sing, you name it.  Could you answer as quickly though, if I asked “why don’t you do the things you need to do?”  Everyone’s needs list is different, but the commonalities lie in the general sense of the word “need”.  We all NEED to maintain good health in order to thrive.  We NEED to be financially sound and self-sufficient.  We NEED to feel useful and connected.  There are many more personal needs or “need-to-dos” you could add to the list.  But here’s the million dollar question;  how are you motivated or inspired to do those things, and more importantly, how do you stay motivated?

A pleasing life experience requires inspired action; action such as moving towards the things that are good, and away from the things that are bad.  Action such as training yourself to be disciplined; maturing to a place where you own the choices you make, right or wrong.  If you’ve started this new year determined to make a change in your life, and determined to get new results, then you’re ready to implement new action, right?  The old choices won’t get you new results.  If anything is to change, something must change.

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I saw this info-graphic on Pinterest this morning, and it stopped me in my tracks.  It’s a tough read.  It’ll hit you where you are, if where you are is stagnation.  It’s the tough love you just might need to push you from where you are, to getting on the path to where you want to be.  If you’re ready to give more than lip service to the challenges in your life that are keeping you stuck, read this list.  Be honest with yourself about how many of these reasons you can identify with.  Two, three, twelve??  Well here’s some good news and some bad news:  YOU are the only one who can change the trajectory of your life.  Will you be honest with yourself, and make a decision today about which way you want to go?

“Nothing worth having comes easy.”  I know you’ve heard that one, but it rings true.  Making a change, breaking a bad habit, implementing new, positive behaviors is hard; hard like “uncomfortable”, hard like “inconvenient”, and hard like “frustrating”.  But if you have the drive to name, claim, and dream of reaching a goal, then I assure you, you have the wherewithal to achieve it.  You’ve just got to push past all the reasons you’ve internalized as to why you can’t.

Food for thought on a Sunday morning…take some time to be brutally honest with yourself about who you are today and who you want to be tomorrow.

What are you waiting for, to begin making that change?

What ONE thing could you start or stop doing that would give you an immediate result?

What would happen if you did that, right now?

I challenge you to be brave enough to find out.

 

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NO MORE NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS.

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New Year’s Resolutions, for most, don’t work.

You get all hyped up at the idea of positive change in your life.  Wait until January 1 to declare your resolution along with everyone else, then off to the races you go!  You’re determined this year will be different from the last, and the one before that, and the one before that.  You talk about it, tell your closest friends about it, post on social media about it; then you get back to living real life.  You notice, almost immediately, that this new intention of yours doesn’t fit well into your daily routine.  Hmmm.  Conflicted values.  Hmmm.  Discord.  Hmmm.  This is tougher than I thought it would be.  Before you know it, here comes February; and it’s not looking much different from December.  What happened?

There are many reasons New Year’s Resolutions fail, but I think it can really be summed up in just a few:

  1. You set a goal without a plan.
  2. You lack a support system.
  3. You give up too easily.

Does this sound like you?  When’s the last time you followed through with a New Year’s Resolution?  Set the goal and attained it?  If you have a success story, hats off to ya’!  You are one of few who do!  If you didn’t see it through, which of these three reasons applied to you?  What would have made a difference and encouraged you to persevere?

Isn’t it absolutely necessary when you set a goal of any kind, that you have a picture of what the journey to that goal looks like?  Will it require a financial commitment?  Will you have to manage your time differently in order to fit this new process into your daily routine?  Will it require the help of others to complete?  Before you set a goal, be sure you have the tools needed to get you there.  Set yourself up for success with prior and proper planning.

“Would the emotional support of friends or family be helpful to me during this time?  Do I need to employ the services of a Life Coach or Counselor to guide me through this process?  Who should I share my goal with, or should I share it at all?”  These are all pertinent questions and issues that can arise when you set out to make a new life decision.  Most people are happy to share their successes with those in their circle, but can you turn to those same friends during the challenges?

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You have to know that when you decide to change something in your life, especially if it’s ridding yourself of a bad habit or practice, it is going to be uncomfortable.  It’s going to go against the grain of what you’ve done for a long time.  You may even miss doing the particular thing, so you’ll have some trial and error along the way of finding a new thing to take its place, or distract you from its absence.  You’ve got to begin, though, with the end in mind.  You’ve got to remember why you started and what the benefit will be of not having this negative habit in your daily life anymore.  The “juice” is in the journey.  The good stuff happens when you take control and follow through with your decisions, choosing a better way.  Stick with it.  Stay strong.  It’s a process.  One bad day does not mean you’ve failed; it simply means you start again tomorrow.

So forget the term “New Year’s Resolution”.  I’d love to see it replaced with Daily Mindful Intention.  Daily meaning you can begin on any day, not just January 1; mindful, that you’ve given serious thought not only to the goal, but to the process it will require to arrive there, and intention, that you are absolutely and purposely setting forth with action to improve your life experience.  Now I just like the way that sounds, how about you?

Step outside your box and begin mindfully intending your life today.  Let today be the first day of many with a new mindset.  Happy December 29th, everyone!

 

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and Happy Birthday, too!

If you’ve ever been so lucky as to have a family member with a birthday around Christmas, you’ll completely relate to this predicament.

My mother let us know early on that her December 26 birthday was not a reason to hand her additional gifts on Christmas with the disclaimer of, “and Happy Birthday too!”  God forbid you give her a single gift, announcing, “this is for Christmas AND your birthday”.  Nope.  That ain’t gonna fly either.  Christmas was its own day, with its own gifts and festivities; and like any other person celebrating a birthday at any other time of the year, Mama expected her own special day too.  Noted.  And so we complied every year, and last year was no exception.

I told you in the Christmas story yesterday that I had a feeling this was Mama’s last Christmas with us; well, same goes for her birthday.  She turned 66 on December 26, 2016; can’t help but see synchronicity in the numbers there.  Bruce and I were tired from a long work week and a very emotional Christmas day, so I’d already decided I wouldn’t make a second trip to see her that day.  I’d planned a birthday present delivery to her, so I held off on making my birthday phone call; waiting for her to call announcing she’d received her present.

The day lingered on a little longer than I’d expected, so I did call her so she wouldn’t think I’d forgotten her birthday all together!  I remember singing to her in a silly way, having some laughs about it, and then explaining to her that someone other than me was delivering her birthday present.  She seemed a little disappointed, but I assured her it would be worth the wait…and did she REALLY wanna see my face twice in two days??  That’s over the top for our “normal dysfunctional” relationship.  More laughs, some “I love yous”, and then we hung up the phone and waited.

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I didn’t have to wait long for her phone call.  She spoke to me through giggles and tears, and even a “damn you, Kimberly!”  She was just blown away by the beautiful roses that were delivered and placed right in her lap.  Mama loved yellow roses, and she got a bouquet of one dozen yellow roses, brighter than any I’d ever seen.

“Kimberly, I’m going to give your phone number to the aide so she can send you a picture!  You just have to see these!”

“Do that, Mama.  I’d love to see them!”

And soon after, my phone dinged, alerting me to the arrival of the photo you see there.  Wearing her new Christmas jammies, and posing with those bright yellow roses, she just looked shiny as a new penny.  I told her to thank the aide for sending me that photo, and I loved that the roses made her day.  In retrospect, I see that it all worked out just as it was supposed to.  No regrets.

These are the memories I hold on to as I face her 67th birthday without her today.  Happy Birthday in heaven, Mama…I miss you, and today, I celebrate you still.

Merry Christmas, Mama.

1472149_10152087621690844_1943057226_nI’m usually up and mentally preparing for the day and for Mama on Christmas morning…well, today, two outta three ain’t bad.  It’s been a little more than 6 months now since she passed away, and today is the first Christmas in years that I won’t be her personal Santa Claus.  We’d hit a true reversal of roles on Christmas Day in the past several years; she, no longer able to shop or buy gifts for any of us, but me, always making sure she had gifts to open and surprises to look forward to.  Many times it was standard purchases of things she needed, like pajamas and comfy clothes.  But like any “good kid”, I’d splurge for fun things or special requests, just to see the joy on her face.  The photo you see there, above, was a moment captured on Christmas 2013.  During our visit, Mama asked about a new word she’d heard, “selfie”.

“Kimberly, what in the world is a selfie?”

“It’s when you use your cell phone to take a picture of yourself, Mama.”

“How in the world do you do that??”

Well, it was easier to show her, than tell her.  Voila, Mama.  A selfie.  She got so tickled watching me try to manipulate the camera to get us both in the frame, and in focus.  Mama was no more technically inclined than her flip phone, so this was a fascinating treat for her and now, a sweet, sweet memory for me.

Last year, Christmas 2016, less than 6 months before she would leave us, I told my husband, “I think this will be Mama’s last Christmas”.  Her health was deteriorating quickly, and she was beginning to have “end” conversations with me, wrapping up any loose ends she felt were still unraveled in her life.  My gut spoke to me, and I’m glad I heard it and I listened.  I knew I wanted to make it a super special day for her, and I planned a surprise for her that turned out to be the greatest gift I’ve ever given myself.

She’s gonna haunt me for posting this picture of her.  She’s blurry in the photo, because she wouldn’t be still.  Her response to the gift she’s holding was more than I could have ever wished for.  She’s crying happy tears of joy and surprise, and she just kept repeating, “oh my goodness, oh I can’t believe it”.  You see, what’s in her hands is a gift that represents our lives coming full circle, and as it turns out, just in time.  Let me explain.

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My mother loved to crochet, and she was very good at it.  She always had a crochet project of some types in the works; and her time in front of the TV always included a crochet needle in her hand.  Growing up, me and my brother always had crocheted afghans that either belonged to us personally, or were readily available in the household linen closet.  And when Mama felt like we had enough at home, she was happy to make and give afghans to her family and closest friends.  She just loved making them, and many folks were blessed with her gifts along the way.  As a child, I watched her make them, and I wanted to learn to crochet too!  I picked up some tips from her, and also learned on my own, and I’ve been quite the crafty crocheter myself for a while now.  It dawned on me, though, all these years, she’s made me numerous crocheted afghans, and I’ve never made a single one for her.

I got this bright idea, though, in late fall 2016.  I wouldn’t have enough time to complete a full size crocheted afghan for her, so I decided I’d improvise.  One of my favorite gifts to give is an ordinary fleece blanket that can be found at most any retailer, that I customize by adding a fancy or colorful crocheted border to.  That’s what I proceeded to do for Mama.  I gave her no warning that she’d be receiving any gifts out of the ordinary; I just presented the box along with the others, only stipulating that she open it last.  (I actually have a video of her opening it, but the tech gods are not smiling on me this morning and I can’t get it to load here.  I may try to add it to the comments via FB once this posts.)  As she’s opening it, I’m giving her hints:  “This is something you’ve always done for me, but I’ve never done for you.”  As she pulls out the first layer of tissue stuffing she sarcastically says, “You bought me tissue?”  Hardy har har, Mama.  “No, I didn’t buy you tissue.”  Then the moment came that I will cherish forever; she felt the soft blanket and pulled it out, seeing for the first time the crocheted stitches.  There wasn’t a dry eye in the room.  The love, the reaction, the symbolism, the everything…time stopped for me in that moment, and the little girl who always sought to please her mama was whole.

That blanket now rests on my couch, and when I look at it, I can’t help but smile.  Mama is with me, she’s with my brother, she watches closely over her sisters; we all have stories that are evidence that the spirit of Mama hasn’t moved far from us at all.  So on this first Christmas without her, I’m thankful for all those Christmases I had with her.

Merry Christmas to each of you and your families.  Make special memories today that will last a lifetime.

 

Keep Christmas Humble, Please.

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My husband and I attended a Sunday morning church service with my aunt and uncle last week.  The message via music and sermon was centered around Christmas.  The pastor spoke of the spirit of Christmas and was beginning a series on how to keep the holiday “Christ-centered”.  Now stay with me; this isn’t going to be a holiday mini-sermon on the Biblical story of Jesus.  I know we all have our individual beliefs and I’m not here to preach to you.  The part of his message that did stick with me, though, and the one I want to share today is one that is universal and easily applied in anyone’s life.  The pastor reminded us to keep Christmas humbleHumble.  How simple, yet how far we’ve drifted from what the original Christmas looked like.  Would you agree?

The original Christmas took place essentially in a barn, a stable, with the most scant of supplies, the bare minimum of needs.  It was about family.  It was centered around the birth of new baby.  The “gifts” part of the plan came later, when the three wise men found the baby Jesus and brought gifts to honor him.  Now again, that’s a very small, very paraphrased version of the biblical Christmas story, but I reference it to put today’s idea of Christmas into perspective.  If we’ve been sincerely looking to pattern ourselves after the historical meaning of biblical Christmas, I think we’ve gone way off course.

If you aren’t one who believes in that version of Christmas, and you’re strictly a “Jolly Ol’ St. Nick” follower, well, you’re not off the hook either.  The magic of Christmas, I think we’d all agree, is in the faces of the children on Christmas morning.  Whether from parents, or television, or classmates, kids learn very early on about Christmas.  It’s that one day a year when one man magically inserts presents under the trees of millions of households for all the children who have been “good” on all the other 364 days.  You use “Santa Claus is watching you” as a way to manipulate your children’s behavior.  You hold dear old Santa over their heads, don’t you?   And any kid would feel justified in assuming that if that “super-duper magic character video game” they’ve been salivating over doesn’t show up under the tree, they must have done something wrong.  They won’t understand it wasn’t because the store sold out before you could get there; or it was just too doggone expensive; or you just really didn’t want them to have another video game.  They’ll assume they weren’t “good enough” to deserve the thing they really wanted.  Is that your desired Christmas message?  No?  Then do yourself a favor and stop with the behavior-centered qualifications for gift receiving.  A stronger message could be delivered if you, or Santa for that matter, gifted your children with the items you sincerely wanted them to have, with explanations of why.  Don’t let “wish lists” dictate to you what the Christmas experience will be in your house or in your heart.

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With the invention of social media and the days of “over-sharing” our lives, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day will be no exception.  Parents, be cognizant of what you’re posting.  It’s great to show off our new stuff and count our blessings; but what about the feelings of the kid who doesn’t understand why Santa delivered $5000 worth of gifts to one house, and $50 worth to another.  Does Santa not love us all equally?

“Am I being punished?  Why didn’t Santa bring me a new _____?  I wanted one too!  You said I was good!”

And as you concoct stories to cover up and keep the Santa magic alive, remember that everyone’s Christmas experience will not be the same.  Be humble when you post your Christmas morning loot.  Maybe the largest, most expensive items should be gifts from “real” humans; let the smaller things come from Santa.  Be mindful of the stories that will be told when the kiddos return to school; they will compare, you can be certain.  Don’t you remember those days?  “So what did you get?  What did you get?”  It’s confusing for the little ones to understand why Santa brings one family a trip to Disney, and another a trip to IHOP.  Be compassionate.  Humble.

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As an adult, I find that Christmas has changed immensely for me.  I don’t have children of my own, so I don’t have the pressure of balancing the Christ/Santa proper protocol.  I do have a husband, a low maintenance one, so he’s not real big on an expectation of Christmas gifts.  He’s going to be the happy recipient of tee shirts and underwear this year, because that’s what he needs.  (It’s okay, he already knows.  He’s got the responsibility of watching for the package in the mail.  Amazon free shipping, you understand.)  I’m anticipating a spa/massage gift certificate, because that’s what I need, HA!, and that’s what he’s already told me he’s buying.  So you see, as adults, this Christmas thing isn’t such a BIG thing as far as gift-buying and giving is concerned.  One of the benefits of being a grown-up with grown up means is when you need or want something, you just go get it.  You don’t have to wait for that one magical day.

But remember, it’s still magical in the hearts of the little ones, and don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love gift-exchanges with friends and family.  There’s nothing better than presenting a gift to someone and watching for their reaction as they discover what you’ve chosen for them!  But keep in mind, there’s also happiness to be had via gifts that don’t come in boxes or bags.

This is a great time of year to visit with those we haven’t seen in a long time.  This is a wonderful opportunity to take inventory in your life of all the things that are going well.  Appreciate everything more.  Enjoy interactions with friends and family.  Have meaningful conversations.  Give love, and open your heart to receive love.  Eat ALL the good food.  In my opinion, this is what the spirit of Christmas is about.

Be grateful.

Be lovable.

Be humble.

 

“Victim” is not your color: Part Four – My Final Thoughts

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I’ll be honest, this is a topic with so many facets, that this discussion could go on and on.  I’m going to sum it up today, though, with a few final relevant thoughts that I hope will help you round out this subject.

I’ve said it before, so much of what’s going on in your life is a product of the choices you make each and every day.  There are several more key behaviors you can choose that will keep you “above-board” and on a higher plane that those who seek to tear you down.  In parts 1-3, you’ll recall I spoke on intentional living, motivation vs. manipulation, and being useful rather than used.  If you’re practicing these three patterns of thought on a regular basis, you’re well on your way to setting yourself up for pleasing experiences going forward!

Here’s my “final four” list of additional things you should consider as you navigate your way out of a victim mindset and into an “I’m a victor!” mindset:

  • Be proactive, not reactive.  Make changes in your life rather than excuses.
  • Excel in your own life despite what anyone else is doing.  Every single thing doesn’t have to be a competition.
  • Choose self-esteem over self-pity.  Nobody likes a whiner.
  • Listen to your inner voice more than you do the voices of others.  Your gut is always right; allow the “outside” to simply reinforce what you already know.

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I won’t dig in too deep in an effort to not “beat a dead horse” at this point.  I know I’ve hit on many of these individual subjects before.  (If you’ve missed those discussions, please browse my prior blog posts; I’m a huge proponent of personal responsibility and personal empowerment.)  If there was a single sentiment I could relay to you to summarize this series it would simply be:  DON’T GIVE UP.  DON’T ALLOW YOURSELF TO BE DEFEATED JUST BECAUSE YOU DON’T KNOW HOW TO MOVE FORWARD.  Ask for help.  Identify someone in your life who has it together more than you do and seek their guidance.  Solicit the services of a life coach. (I know just the girl!)  There’s someone out there who has been where you are at some point in their life, and they’d be more than happy to share their testimony to help you.  And more importantly, keep in mind, everything in your life, especially the turbulent times, is temporary, if you’ll let it be so.

It’s my hope for each and every one of you who may be struggling with this “door mat” syndrome, that you’ll make some changes, no matter how small, that will set you in a different direction.  Simply put, if you don’t want to be a door mat anymore, start with getting up off the floor.

Here’s to a new beginning full of victory for you!

“Victim” is not your color: Part Three – Are you being useful, or just being used?

 

22I’ll be honest; this series has become a little, I don’t know, taxing for me.

For one who touts happiness and rainbows and rising above, I find that studying the victim mindset and how to overcome it is weighing me down.  It’s depressing me.  I even considered making this post a condensed version of everything else I wanted to say on this subject and just being done with it.  My first attempt at a series study would be a, well…FAIL.  But then the more I thought about it, it started to hit home that what I was feeling was an overwhelming indicator of why I needed to continue writing on this subject.  If I’m feeling this way just from the reading and research and introspection of victimization, how are some of you who are living it day in day out coping?  You could be sitting there waiting to see what Part Three brings, because parts one and two have already inched you closer to a place you long to be; perhaps free from some behaviors that need to go.  So here I am at the keyboard, and off we go with Part Three.  I’m glad you’re here!

Another common denominator among those of you who repeatedly fall victim to behavioral predators is a lack of boundaries surrounding your generosity or giving nature.  Here’s what I mean by that:  Many of you do for others with no expectation of reciprocity; you love it and you get an inner satisfaction, a warm and fuzzy feeling when you do.  It makes you feel as though you’ve helped, you’ve been useful, you feel appreciated.  So when does “useful” become “used”?  In my opinion it’s when you don’t have that warm and fuzzy feeling from doing it.  Doing something useful feels good; you come away feeling good about the action you performed and you feel good about yourself.  When you feel used, taken advantage of, you second guess whether you did the right thing.  You have feelings of uncertainty.  You question the motives of the one on the receiving end of your action.  You come away not feeling good; more like confused, and nowhere near warm and fuzzy.

Unfortunately, you often don’t have a strong indicator ahead of time to steer you in one direction or another.  Because you’re a good person, and genuinely trying to help, you’re driven by your “good person” instinct first; not anticipating to be mistreated or misguided.  It’s in the aftermath that you’re able to determine whether the outcome was pleasing.  What do you do if it wasn’t?

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I believe you have to do an “autopsy” if you will, of situations or circumstances when they don’t turn out in a way that you’d hoped.  In this case, “when did my intent of helping, being generous with my time or my services, turn into an opportunity for me to be taken advantage of, exploited, or manipulated?”  Turn inward for answers first; after all, the only person you control is you.  The only behaviors you can change are your own.

“Did I move too quickly to offer my help without asking enough questions or obtaining enough information?”

“How well did I know those I was engaging with?”

“If I had a magic wand and could change one integral part of that event, what would I change?”

Many times, key answers lie in mistakes of judgment that aren’t apparent until you can step away from the situation and be an outsider looking in.  Even more important, once you identify opportunities for change, implement them.  Stop repeating patterns of bad behavior.  Hold yourself accountable for raising the bar on how you expect to be treated.  The next time, you’ll find that you see trouble coming before it gets to you; or you’ll at least have a different perspective from what you’ve learned about yourself with which to move forward.  Remember, it’s a mistake the first time; a choice the second.

(You’ll notice I didn’t include anything here about examining the behavior of the predator in any given situation.  I didn’t, because quite honestly, I don’t feel that dissecting their behavior is all that important to helping you identify the things you need to know about YOU.  I’m sure there’s some deep psychological relationship that could be found by doctor types who specialize in that field; but it’s my experience that regardless what’s going on with anyone else, there’s great benefit in working on yourself.  When you get YOU going in the right direction, the influence of those you engage with will diminish.)

Get some positive momentum buzzing and you’re going to go from victim to invincible.

See you next week!