Embrace the change

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Cherry blossoms are beautiful but fleeting–a reminder to savor the good moments.

Let’s face it–life is weird.

Imagine two days of your week. The basic activities you do on each of these days are the same–wake up, go to work, come home, eat dinner, unwind, go to sleep. Nothing dramatic happens, and there are no major differences between the two. Yet one feels comfortable, bringing feelings of joy and content, and one feels frustrating, leading to feelings of doubt and uncertainty.

Does this sound familiar? *Raises hand.*

I have great days and not-so great days, and the only thing that has really changed between the two is my mindset.

I don’t know how to help you avoid this shift. I say this because I repeatedly try and fail. When I know I’m in a funk, I throw myself into motivational podcasts, self-help books, inspirational mantras, meditation, yoga, gratitude, and music–just to name a few. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it just doesn’t.

So, how about a new strategy? Let’s embrace it. Things going your way? Great! Enjoy it. Revel in it. This is your time!

Things not going your way? OK. Let’s take a moment. Breathe. How can we make the most of this? Maybe take the opportunity to be a little kinder to yourself. You don’t have to do everything–in fact, you shouldn’t. What’s one thing you’ve been wanting to do just for you?

I’m not talking about crossing a task off of the never-ending to-do list–I’m talking about cancelling your plans, closing the curtains, and binge-watching the newest show on Netflix. How about finally booking that trip you’ve always wanted to take? Maybe you call the friend you haven’t spoken to in a while, donate the money or time to that charity you always meant to support, hit inbox zero, or read a dang book. (How many of us wish we read more? *Raises hand again.*)

This doesn’t have to be expensive or extravagant. What you need might be as simple as buying a nice cup of coffee, going for a walk, putting on comfortable socks, or sitting quietly with your thoughts for five minutes. It might be eating some comfort food, having a good laugh, or having a good cry. The point is, use each season (or as my husband might say, mood swing) to your advantage. For every moment of happiness, excitement, and satisfaction, there’s going to be pain, boredom, and listlessness. What you can do to make the most of the “down” times?

Life is cyclical. The good days will return. Let’s take advantage of our ever-changing mindsets and make time for what we need. We’ve only got one shot at this weird life.

Tell me: How do you cope when you’re feeling down?

I don’t have to be….

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Photo by Kinga Cichewicz on Unsplash

I don’t have to be the smartest, the wittiest, or the most adept.

I don’t have to be the prettiest, the thinnest, or the most graceful.

I don’t have to be the loudest or the most assertive, and I certainly don’t have to be rude to get what I want.

I don’t have to be the nicest, or the shyest, or the quiet one. I don’t have to be seen and not heard.

I don’t have to be convincing or completely sure of myself. I don’t have to be the one with all the answers.

I don’t have to be any of these things, and I’m definitely not most of them. I only have to be me–and you only have to be you.

Isn’t that a relief?

 

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Scenes from the weekend (clockwise from top left): (1) vegan cinnamon roll from the farmer’s market (2) finally got my hold of I’ll Be Gone in the Dark from the library (3) took Helena outside after much begging (4) we do have another cat that comes out sometimes (5) how much of the weekend was spent (6) sweaty car selfie after walking around a flea market all morning

Managing expectations when things don’t go as planned

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Photo by Jake Hinds on Unsplash

This week has been a struggle. I’m finally starting to feel better, but whatever hit me wiped me out. The thing is, I had a lot I was supposed to do this week, especially at work. Monday took me by surprise–I was mentally ready and motivated to take on the week, but I ended up sidelined.

It’s difficult when we’ve envisioned how something will play out but then life takes us in another direction. My feeling ill is just a small example, but it can still be frustrating. I know that I should be capable of doing much more, but my body isn’t cooperating. It’s hard not to feel like a bit of a slacker.

I wrote a little bit on recognizing the fluid notion of being our “best,” and this is a similar scenario. It’s important to understand that our “best” changes from day to day. Still, it’s hard not to feel disappointed or let down when things don’t go as planned, especially when you’re the one who is responsible.

It’s important to be kind to ourselves in these situations, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. We need to take a step back and understand that there are things out of our control (still not easy!). The main thing is to not take any disappointment as a reflection on yourself, even if you feel like you’re the cause. These feelings change–what seems hopeless today might feel like no big deal by tomorrow. Whether it’s minor sickness, stress, despair, deadlines, confrontation, or just something you don’t want to do–it doesn’t last forever.

Focus on doing what you can–it’s enough for today. Don’t give up. When you’re ready and able, do a little more.

There’s always tomorrow.

Tell me: How do you deal with disappointment?

When being your best doesn’t feel like enough

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Every Thing Will Be Fine art print by Wanker & Wanker on Society6

I started off this week feeling like I had tiger blood running through my veins. A great weekend set me up for a great week, and I went into Monday feeling motivated, determined, and confident. That good feeling carried me until yesterday morning, when I suddenly hit a wall.

I’m going to blame it partially on coming down with a cold, but I started to feel run down and irritable. Instead of focusing on all I could accomplish in a day, I had to focus just on making it through the day. We were supposed to go out last night, but I couldn’t muster up the energy to be social.

My definition of “best” is different at different times. Sometimes I can push through, and I’m better for it. Other times, though, I really just want sweatpants and ice cream. I need to accept those times and move on, without feeling guilt. The trouble can be knowing when to push yourself and when you’re at your limit. Being sick is an easy excuse, but there are other times when it’s not so clear what’s sapping your energy. It takes truly knowing yourself and being forgiving.

We strive to be the best versions of ourselves, but the goal sometimes seems insurmountable. The thing is, we can reach our best. We just need to recognize that “best” is a fluid notion, and it varies with circumstance. There’s nothing wrong with identifying and working toward what you define as your true best self, but also remember to be kind if your expectations fall short. Focus on being your best self based on the day, and take the time to recognize your achievements–whether that’s conquering the world or simply getting out of bed.

Here’s to being our best selves today–sweatpants included.

Tell me: What’s your comfort routine? What do you do to motivate you when you’re feeling “less than” your usual self?

 

Changing with the seasons

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Beach in Caseville, MI

I’ve alluded to it before, but the seasons and the weather have a huge effect on my overall mood. In summer, I’m blissful and busy, with regular trips to the beach and abundant sunshine keeping a smile on my face. Once the temperature drops, however, I go into hibernation mode. I have a hard time leaving the house, let alone feeling motivated. At first, I embrace the extra time at home and try to make the most of it, but eventually, I start to feel restless and discouraged in my day-to-day life–like I’m missing out, letting it pass me by.

I was looking forward to March bringing longer days with Daylight Savings (it is nice that it’s still light out now when I leave work!). The trouble is that I was expecting some instantaneous shift–like I’d automatically feel better the second I set the clocks back.

Guess what? I don’t. I dug myself so deep into a hole this winter that I’m having trouble crawling back out. It’s not just this year–it happens every year. Last March, we spent a week in Miami, and it made a HUGE difference in my mood that sustained me the entire month. It just shows how important taking a vacation really is–sometimes all you need is that shift in perspective.

An immediate trip isn’t in the cards (even though I keep looking at travel deals), so how do I channel those vacation vibes when I’m still here at home?

What makes me feel really good about being on vacation? A warm locale certainly helps, but really it’s the careless nature of it all. I get to say “BYE!” to my responsibilities for a few days and prioritize feeling good, disconnecting, and trying new things. It’s an excuse for doing what you really want (why not have the fries and ice cream–I’m on vacation!). Why not do that every day? What makes heading out on a weekend road trip any different from heading home? A change in scenery can have an impact, but ultimately it’s the shift in mindset.

I want to live every day like I’m on vacation.

It isn’t easy, and it takes time, but we’ve got to alleviate some of the burden we place on ourselves. This isn’t a call to abandon your duties, and you shouldn’t just blow off jobs or commitments, but the world is NOT going to end if you don’t submit that TPS report. What we’re capable of varies from day to day, and we should honor that, not inflict punishment.

Find a way each day to bring a little bit of vacation and joy into your life–whether that means wearing bright colors, meeting friends for happy hour, listening to upbeat music, or spending time by yourself. The to-do list never really ends, and we’ve got to release some of the hold it has on us. Make personal satisfaction a priority in your life.

This is something I’ll personally be working on, and I hope you’ll consider it, too. Let’s live it up!

Tell me: Is your mood affected by the seasons? Where did you go on your last vacation? What’s one thing you can do today to feel good?