Oh Captain, My Captain

Oh Captain, My Captain

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Yesterday the world lost a man that has had a profound impact on our lives, Robin Williams.  While I’m devastated over the loss of a man whose movies were a significant part of my childhood, I am so thankful we will have his movies forever and because of that, he will always be with us.

When I first heard of his death, the words, “oh captain, my captain” came to mind.  Therefore, today’s quote…

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Don’t Worry, Be Happy

Yes, I realize this post is similar to yesterday’s but it’s still important.  For some reason I woke up this morning and “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” was stuck in my head.  Yeah, it’s now stuck in your head…You’re welcome!  Yes, I did this on purpose because maybe it will be helpful.

We all know the song and love the advice it gives but have a hard time following through.  Let’s look at a few lines in particular.  

 In every life we have some trouble
When you worry you make it double
Don’t worry, be happy

How true is that!  We will always have troubles and hard times but worrying and stressing about them makes things worse.  Once again, this goes back to stressing over things we cannot control.  

I’ll add this, an important life lesson is learning to handle life’s obstacles gracefully.  It takes practice but we have complete control over how we handle things; we need to stop letting circumstances control us.  If “it is what it is” doesn’t work for you then I’ll offer new advice.

Recently I read a Joel Osteen quote that says, ” This is not going to defeat me; it’s going to promote me.  It’s not going to hinder me; it’s going to help me.”  Most of the time we see hardships as negative when they actually have a positive effect on us in the long run.

Whenever you are struggling, try saying to yourself, “This is not going to defeat me.” Say it until you believe it!  I think you’ll find it helpful.

Now you have two things to try when you are having a hard time so you don’t worry and can be happy:

  1. It is what it is
  2. This will not defeat me

Hopefully one works for you. Remember, you’ve faced many challenges and hard times during your life but you’ve overcome them.  If you’ve been able to handle things before, why are things different this time?  Chances are, you are going to overcome your hard times again.  Worrying isn’t going to change anything so you might as well do everything you can to be happy.

How Predictable

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The only thing predictable about life is its unpredictability.”

-Remy from Ratatouille

They say the only thing you can count on are death and taxes…how exciting!  The rest of life is completely unpredictable. So, when a rat talks about how unpredictable life is, I think, damn, that’s one smart rat!  We’ve all had things happen to us that we weren’t prepared for.  Some of these events were good and some were bad but we were forced to adapt nevertheless.  

Today I want to talk about the importance of surrendering control. We spend so much time trying to control aspects of our lives and it usually causes a lot of stress in our lives.  The problem is that we stress about things that we can’t control, which in may cases, is pointless.

I’m not saying we need to stop trying to better ourselves, but there are no guarantees in life and it’s silly for us to think otherwise.  While we try to control outcomes, we add unnecessary stress to our lives for no reason, because in many cases we can’t change anything about the situation.  We don’t get stressed when we can change a situation, only when we can’t.

I’ve adapted a philosophy to my life that has become my mantra.  It sounds negative but it’s actually quite freeing when you really understand it.  When I work towards something or I take a chance on something and it doesn’t pan out, I say this to myself and it makes me feel better.

My mantra is, “It is what it is.”  I used to hate this saying and fought it with every fiber of my being.  Because I didn’t want things to be the way they were, I refused to accept these five words.  Lately though, I’ve realized that when you surrender to them, they are freeing.  Whatever happened is done and unless you have the ability to change it, suck it up kid.  Here’s why I love this, it puts things into perspective.  

Before I started saying this, trusting it, believing it, and accepting it, I would get so upset about things going wrong.  They would really weigh on me because there was nothing I could do to change what happened.  Again, if I could change things, I wouldn’t stress!  I still can’t predict unfortunate circumstances and I can’t prevent them but I can deal with them.  When you accept things, it makes it so much easier to move forward.  The alternative is becoming depressed about things.  Depression prevents you from being able to move forward, which you need to do.  Trust me, I know a little something about depression as well.  I never want to end up in that place again.

In many cases though, the way you handle things is up to you. You accept things or you don’t, it’s as simple as that.  Things that would be hard for me in the past seem so much easier now because I realize “it is what it is.”  I usually even laugh as I say this!  I mean seriously, what am I going to do, cry every time things don’t go my way?  I should take stock in Kleenex if that’s what I plan on doing!  

Many of my friends also say this when things go wrong so it’s worth a shot.  You may just realize it helps you deal with the twists and turns life throws at you.

So those are my words of wisdom for the day.  I hope you find them helpful.  Feel free to e-mail me if you have any questions or comments. 

One little comment about this saying, don’t EVER say it to someone else as advice!  When it is said to someone else, it’s hurtful.  When you say it to yourself, it’s liberating.  Got it?  Okay. now go out there and show life you can handle how unpredictable it is!

Firework

I don’t know if Katy Perry writes her own lyrics, but one thing is for sure, her music is ridiculously catchy.  There is also an inspirational element to a lot of her songs which I thoroughly enjoy.  The song Firework starts with some of the worst lyrics in history because I have never felt like a plastic bag and am not really sure what that means; however, the lyrics get better and there is a great message in the song.  Let’s look at the following lyrics:

You just gotta ignite the light and let it shine
Just own the night like the 4th of July

'Cause, baby, you're a firework
Come on, show ‘em what you’re worth
Make ‘em go, “Aah, aah, aah”
As you shoot across the sky-y-y

Baby, you’re a firework
Come on, let your colors burst
Make ‘em go, “Aah, aah, aah”
You’re gonna leave ‘em all in awe, awe, awe

These lyrics kind of make you want to take over the world, right?  Essentially Katy Perry is singing about the importance of being yourself.  If you let others see who you are, they will be amazed by you.

In order to let the real you shine through, the protective shell needs to come off.  This is where we all struggle.  Our armor was put on for a reason and it protects us from others, so taking it off is not easy.  

I recently had a conversation with a friend and said that I think the real me is a very likable person and I think others would agree, but I need to work harder to let others see who I really am.

 When we are around our close friends we are automatically ourselves and our friends love the flawed parts of who we are so why are we worried about a bunch of people we do not know well?  That’s easy, they might judge us! Unfortunately, whether we want them to or not, they are judging us anyway.  

I once heard that the things about ourselves we hide from others or are most embarrassed about are actually the things people love about us.  I thought that was interesting but I still protected myself.  The good thing is, the older I get the more I embrace who I am and care less about others’ opinions about me.  

Let’s face it, we are all jealous of those people that are themselves and are unapologetic about it and don’t care what we think!  They seem so free.  They are like those huge fireworks that start with a big bam and end up being a big sparkly masterpiece.  Since we don’t let ourselves be seen, we are those fireworks that make a loud sound that make us anticipate a huge firework that ends up being a let down because the sound was more impressive than the sight. C’mon, you know which fireworks I’m talking about!

We were made to shine!  Since we are all works in progress, we can do this together.  As I think about it, hiding who I am is actually counterproductive because the truth comes out anyway.  You can’t hide who you are forever.  How many of us became friends with someone to later find out the person is nothing like they were pretending to be?  In some cases the friendship endured but in others it doesn’t because the foundation of that friendship was a lie.  

I’ve created a list of things we can do to help be ourselves:

Know who you are and accept that.  Maybe write down a description of yourself then say that description out loud to yourself.  If you are embarrassed by your own description, you need to work on accepting yourself before anything.

*Have friends around when possible.  You are more likely to be yourself if you are comfortable.  Knowing you have someone there to have your back can make things much easier.

*Test the waters.  Share something silly about yourself and see how others react.  If they are cool about it, you may be making new friends.  If they are rude, you don’t want to be friends with them anyway so who cares what they think.  

*Get out of your own head.  Most of the time we run scenarios in our heads about what may happen if we say something embarrassing.  Other times we over-think things such as someone’s reaction.  Quit making yourself crazy determining how you believe others will react or did react. When you over-think things, you see something that wasn’t actually there.

All of these things are challenging and this will not happen overnight.  It’s going to take a long time to break the habit of protecting yourself, but it’s worth investing the time in trying.  Progress may be slow but even small changes are huge victories.

In an attempt to be brave, here goes…

I love all things nerdy but have a special place in my heart for everything Harry Potter (I’m a Ravenclaw by the way)!  I love my dog, Phoebe Buffay, more than anything in this world and am seriously considering naming my next dog Princess Consuela Bananahammock!  I love when a movie makes me cry because I like feelings and have a lot of them!  I often quote movies and LOVE reality TV, particularly anything on Bravo…holla!  I’m extremely pale and sometimes joke that I’m so pale that I glow in the dark.  When I’m in the privacy of my own home, I like to have dance parties where my dance moves resemble Elaine’s from Seinfeld!  Finally, I can never laugh enough.

Go ahead and judge me, I don’t care.  So that’s one small step for me…now it’s your turn. :)

The Perks of Being Infinite

perks

Although it’s not my favorite book, The Perks of Being a Wallflower is my favorite movie.  There are so many interesting characters and amazing quotes.  The most famous quote is, “In this moment, I swear we were infinite.”  In the movie the quote was changed to “in this moment, I swear we are infinite.”  Changing were to are completely changes the meaning, in my opinion.  I’d like to focus on the movie version for this post.

This quote is pure magic.  It is the very last line of the movie and is so optimistic that you can’t help but be happy for Charlie while also wanting to take on the world yourself.  We’ve all had these infinite moments and they are usually some of our best memories.  The very thought of those moments can make us happy.  Today’s post is a challenge mixed with food for thought.

We can’t have infinite moments if we are not fully present in what is going on.  Think about being a little kid.  We all have fond childhood memories because we were fully present in the moments.  We didn’t worry and we stayed focused on the only thing that mattered, playing!  

As teens and adults we often rob ourselves of a great memory because we aren’t taking everything in because we are distracted.  Sometimes we are distracted by our thoughts but usually we are distracted by technology, mainly cell phones.  It’s great having the world at our fingertips, but we are miss things because we become so consumed with technology.  We can’t give what’s going on around us our full attention when we are constantly checking our phones.  Whether you realize it or not, you can’t mentally be fully present in what’s currently happening because you are subconsciously thinking about checking text messages, Facebook, Twitter, etc.  An infinite moment could be happening but you are robbing yourself of it-DON’T DO THAT!

I think you know what I’m going to ask you to do.  Turn your phone off, put it away, and live your life for the day.  Go out with friends and actually enjoy their company.  Talk to them and be fully engaged with what’s being said.  Go to the park and enjoy the beauty of what is surrounding you; take it all in.  Your day will be more enjoyable if you are allowing yourself to appreciate everything instead of worrying about your phone.  Believe it or not, that’s exactly what you are doing, worrying.

Think about it, have you ever forgotten your phone at home?  How did you feel?  I bet you felt naked and felt like you were missing something. This means your attachment causes anxiety, which is an extremely unhealthy feeling.  This is the same reason we constantly check our phones.  Why not trade in anxiety for peace?  

Here’s what to do…

Make your plan for the day then turn your phone off. Leave it behind, if possible, to prevent moments of weakness.  If you need to keep your phone nearby, resist the urge to look at it.  It’s not going to be easy because this is unnatural.  Any time your mind thinks about the phone, notice the thought, then quickly talk yourself out of it.  If you are with others, talk inside your head not out loud!  When I find myself losing the moment I say, “focus.”  Say whatever works for you and then get yourself back into the moment. Once you block outside thoughts and are in the moment, you’ll be more observant.  You’ll notice things you didn’t before and you will be more immersed in what is going on.  This immersion will make you experience things at a deeper level, which will make the moment more memorable.  

This is a side note but gets to my point. On a recent episode of Keeping Up With the Kardashians, Khloe was getting mad at Kim because she was taking selfies instead of paying attention to a once in a lifetime opportunity.  She missed the moment and can never get it back.  Every moment is once in a lifetime, when you think about it.  We aren’t going to look back on life and think about all the selfies we took; we are going to look back on the time with friends and family.  We should probably spend more time focusing on them, not trying to give partial attention to several different things at once.

Since I’m not a hypocrite, I’ve already turned my phone off!  I’m posting this then logging off my computer as well.  I actually think this will make me more productive as well.  

Well, my post is done so I’m going to take myself away from technology until this evening.  You should try it too!  Get off that technology and actually live!!!  Who knows, you may feel infinite! 

LOVE LOVE LOVE

TERESA GIUDICE from "The Real Housewives of New Jersey" outside the "Live... 

Last night I was watching the Real Housewives of New Jersey.  For the record, I’m not ashamed!  Anyway, Teresa made a comment that I felt was beneficial to everyone.  She said, “Let the haters hate.  I just love love love.” While many people may dismiss Teresa and say she is dumb, there is a huge lesson we can all learn from her based on this quote.

First of all, Teresa is not just saying this quote, she is living it this season so far.  While people are constantly whispering about her and making cruel comments, she just smiles and moves forward. This may not seem like a big deal, but it is!  We’ve all had people talk about us but often we get mad or frustrated and feel a need to say something or attack.  Teresa, having taken that approach in the past, now knows better.  We should know better too!

Here’s the problem with getting mad about others’ words or opinions regarding us, we can fight back but it doesn’t make a difference.  When we let others get to us it changes us, not them.  In fact, the more we let others get under our skin, the more we usually give them to gossip about.  The best way to shut the haters up is to make them irrelevant by not caring about them at all.

Let me clarify, you can’t say you don’t care then start talking about them or what they said.  In order to not care, you can’t give them any of your energy,which gives them power.  In theory this is easy, but in reality it is challenging.

Here are some tips to help.

1. Do not respond, particularly when you are hearing what they said from others.  Responding to your “haters” only starts trouble.  If you don’t say anything, they can’t respond to what you say, which means you just ended things.  This also means you took control over the situation, which is pretty cool.

2. In the rare occasion when you do need to respond, focus on what was said, not the person who said it.  We like to comment on the person instead of the message, which makes us no better than them!  Simply tell them your/their information is incorrect then move on.  You don’t owe an explanation and explanations often get twisted and start more gossip.

3.  Just love love love!  This is a great one!  If a person says something negative, even if they are completely wrong, respond with kindness,  Say something like, “Thanks for telling me how you feel.  I will try to work on that” or “Thank you for telling me this information is out there about me.  It means a lot that you told me.”  Obviously these exact words aren’t always going to do the trick, but you get the idea.  Smile and thank them for being helpful.  You have just taken the high road and if they don’t follow, they look bad!  When your friends tell you information others’ say, don’t forget to thank them for being good friends.

The most important thing you can do after this is change the subject and focus on the new conversation. Don’t dwell on anything in silence, move on!  Thinking about their words still gives them power.  Remember, the opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.

I hope this helps.  This is just a starting point and will take a lot of practice.  Try to test out other things that may work for you.  We all have different personalities so there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach.

It’s only fitting that I end with the wise words of Dina Manzo in this post.  ”Namaste, bitches!”

If you ask any of my students, they will tell you one of my favorite quotes is “just keep swimming” from Finding Nemo. It’s sort of my mantra for life. Dory says the words in the form of a catchy tune that adds to the greatness of the quote.  Obviously, in her case, she was literally swimming but we need to keep “swimming” as well.
Essentially Dory is saying that we need to keep going.  This is great advice coming from a fish with short-term memory loss that happens to be a natural blue!  Life can be tough and we will face many obstacles but we need to keep moving and trying.  Really, we do not have a choice because life is going to happen whether we want it to or not, so we need to find the courage and strength to move on.
Dory’s delivery is equally as important as her words.  I like to think of Dory as an eternal optimist.  She finds a way to bring humor and fun to every situation so things seem tolerable.  Sometimes we get so stuck in our struggles that we forget everything doesn’t always need to be serious. For example, have you ever been in a situation where you were extremely upset but reflected back on it and realized it was actually really funny, not serious at all?  Obviously it’s not always easy or appropriate to bring humor into a situation, but when it is, we always should.
There are a lot of things we can do to keep swimming.  We can:
Laugh at ourselves and how silly we sometimes look
Find something in the situation that isn’t so bad This gives us hope, which is necessary.  It will also prevent us from focusing only on negative things.
Talk to someone about what is going on.  A conversation with a friend can totally turn your feelings around.
No matter what, keep your head up and keep going
Stay focused and deal with emotions later
Like I said, things aren’t always easy but tough times do always pass. Socializing and moving forward has a way of making things more tolerable and easier to get through.  Therefore, it’s important we know what NOT to do as well.
Don’t:
Isolate yourself.  As tempting as it is to lock yourself in a room listening to sad songs, this is a terrible idea and will only make you feel worse.  
Keep your feelings to yourself.  Sometimes just saying something out loud can make a huge difference.  Talk to someone you trust about what’s going on.
Dory really is smarter than she appears.  ”Just keep swimming” is a pretty great life motto.   Okay, well it’s time I log off and practice speaking whale!

If you ask any of my students, they will tell you one of my favorite quotes is “just keep swimming” from Finding Nemo. It’s sort of my mantra for life. Dory says the words in the form of a catchy tune that adds to the greatness of the quote.  Obviously, in her case, she was literally swimming but we need to keep “swimming” as well.

Essentially Dory is saying that we need to keep going.  This is great advice coming from a fish with short-term memory loss that happens to be a natural blue!  Life can be tough and we will face many obstacles but we need to keep moving and trying.  Really, we do not have a choice because life is going to happen whether we want it to or not, so we need to find the courage and strength to move on.

Dory’s delivery is equally as important as her words.  I like to think of Dory as an eternal optimist.  She finds a way to bring humor and fun to every situation so things seem tolerable.  Sometimes we get so stuck in our struggles that we forget everything doesn’t always need to be serious. For example, have you ever been in a situation where you were extremely upset but reflected back on it and realized it was actually really funny, not serious at all?  Obviously it’s not always easy or appropriate to bring humor into a situation, but when it is, we always should.

There are a lot of things we can do to keep swimming.  We can:

  • Laugh at ourselves and how silly we sometimes look
  • Find something in the situation that isn’t so bad This gives us hope, which is necessary.  It will also prevent us from focusing only on negative things.
  • Talk to someone about what is going on.  A conversation with a friend can totally turn your feelings around.
  • No matter what, keep your head up and keep going
  • Stay focused and deal with emotions later

Like I said, things aren’t always easy but tough times do always pass. Socializing and moving forward has a way of making things more tolerable and easier to get through.  Therefore, it’s important we know what NOT to do as well.

Don’t:

  • Isolate yourself.  As tempting as it is to lock yourself in a room listening to sad songs, this is a terrible idea and will only make you feel worse.  
  • Keep your feelings to yourself.  Sometimes just saying something out loud can make a huge difference.  Talk to someone you trust about what’s going on.

Dory really is smarter than she appears.  ”Just keep swimming” is a pretty great life motto.   Okay, well it’s time I log off and practice speaking whale!

Frozen

Lyrically, Frozen’s “Let It Go” is a liberating masterpiece.  Throughout the song Elsa decides to stop pretending to be perfect and allow people to see the real her.  Sure, she ends up turning the kingdom into a tundra, which oddly resembles Chicago’s last winter but I digress! While dealing with the mess she created, she sings:

I don’t care
What they’re going to say
Let the storm rage on,
The cold never bothered me anyway!

It’s funny how some distance
Makes everything seem small
And the fears that once controlled me
Can’t get to me at all!

It’s time to see what I can do
To test the limits and break through
No right, no wrong, no rules for me I’m free!

Granted, her reason for saying this didn’t occur because of the greatest of reasons, but Elsa’s words are powerful and provide great advice for how we all should live.

Everyone has worries regarding the way others perceive them. While some people are comfortable being judged, others are not.  In “Let It Go,” Elsa realizes she can’t continue to pretend to be someone she isn’t and really lets go of her need to appear perfect, which she isn’t because nobody is.  We need to do the same.  Maybe there’s a quirky part of our personality that is an acquired taste.  Hiding that part of who we are prevents us from being ourselves and being comfortable with who we are.  We need to stop being ashamed!  

So how does one do this?

The only advice here is to truly be yourself.  Sure, others may judge you but stop putting others’ opinions above your own.  Odds are, the part of yourself you are hiding is a part of yourself you actually like.  Let your opinion of yourself matter more than what other people think.  If you notice that you don’t think highly of yourself, well that’s a completely different  issue that we can work on later.  

So liberate yourself and be you.  I bet the real you is pretty amazing!

Using children’s instruments to recreate a song is pretty ridiculous but if Idina Menzel cared about looking silly, this awesome moment wouldn’t exist!  Check out Jimmy Fallon, Idina Menzel, and The Roots letting their dork flags fly during “Let It Go.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=17QQcK4l6Yw&feature=kp

Courage

The Wizard of Oz has some of the most amazing life lessons embedded inside a beautiful story loved by children and adults alike.  The Wizard, although a fraud, makes many truthful comments that apply to our lives. At one point, when talking to The Cowardly Lion, he says, “ You, my friend, are a victim of disorganized thinking. You are under the unfortunate impression that just because you run away you have no courage; you’re confusing courage with wisdom.” I love this quote because it’s such a simple statement that shows The Cowardly Lion’s flawed thinking.  

Our past experiences and viewpoints have a way of determining the way we interpret things.   While our view may not be entirely wrong, we get so stuck in our way of thinking that we hold ourselves back.  The Cowardly Lion decided he lacked bravery and made that a self-fulfilling prophecy that held him back.  We have a tendency to do the same thing but a small shift in thinking can change the way we see things.  This, in turn, can transform our lives.  It sounds simple in nature, and it truly is, but being able to think outside of our normal thought patterns can be tricky.

David Anttony wrote a great and short article about changing your thinking. Not surprisingly, he connects perspective changes to wisdom. He suggests:

  • letting go of thoughts that don’t serve us
  • asking ourselves better questions.

I think his advice is sound and worth a shot.  What do you have to lose other than faulty thought patterns that hold you back?  Here is a link to his article: 

http://www.thestrokefoundation.com/index.php/attitude/14-how-to-transform-your-life-by-seeing-things-from-a-different-perspective

Changing the way we think requires us to leave our comfort zone. Being willing to do so shows a tremendous amount of courage already…and you thought this would be hard!