Monday, December 30, 2013

Manifest Positivity

When something negative happens you have three choices. You can let it define you, let it destroy you, or you can let it strengthen you.

It Strengthened Me.

You have to walk through the fire of grief. Through this you are created, inner strength, mental toughness, survival, and an outlook on life that nobody else can understand unless they've walked in your shoes. Positivity is my survival.

Can you believe I would never let myself cry? After deciding to walk through the fire of grief, I knew that needed to change. So I cried. It was as if each tear gave me strength. And with that strength, I blossomed.

My life was moving forward and I was choosing how. It felt wonderful. Hard. But wonderful. Strength was in the healing. An unfinished work in progress, peeling back the layers to view a raw version of self, putting the pieces back together and healing from the inside out. Be defined by how you choose to deal with the truth, rather than a contribution of ugly thoughts and negative behavior. The choice is yours, break the pattern, find your strength within.

I don’t regret my childhood experience. I don’t regret how it temporarily destroyed me either. Because without that destruction, I would have no idea today of how strong I truly am. I will survive any storm.

Sometimes a breakdown can be the best thing to happen to a person. Whether you are letting your something negative define you, destroy you, or strengthen you, remember this, pursue healing.

Rather than running away from the pain, feel it. If you’ve hit rock bottom, acknowledge it. If your something negative defines you, consider defining yourself as someone in healing instead.

No matter what season you’re in, it’s never over until it’s over. You will become a stronger and better you than yesterday because of it.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Lost and Found

You are not meant to live anyone else’s life. 
Why would you want to anyway when you can live your very own? This is what will impact the world in a way that no other can. Happiness is not something we finally reach one day, it is something that becomes a part of every day or none at all. Happiness not experienced today does not mean more happiness tomorrow.
Once you’ve found your path, the superficial destination the world defaults to becomes unimportant. Comparison disappears and all of a sudden it’s the travel itself that becomes meaningful. No longer are you trying to get somewhere. You’re there. Simple as that. You’re there today and you’ll be there tomorrow.
That’s happiness.

‘Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves.’ ~ Henry David Thoreau
We all have a dream. It might be explicitly defined or just a vague idea, but most of us are so stuck in the muck of insecurity and self-doubt that we just dismiss it as unrealistic or too difficult to pursue.
We become so comfortable with the life that has been planned out for us by our parents, teachers, traditions, and societal norms that we feel that it’s stupid and unsafe to risk losing it for the small hope of achieving something that is more fulfilling.
‘The policy of being too cautious is the greatest risk of all.’ ~Jawaharlal Nehru
Don’t get me wrong, taking a risk is still a risk. We can, and will, fail. Likely many times. But that is what makes it exciting. That uncertainty can be viewed negatively, or it can empower us.
Failing is what makes us grow, it makes us stronger and more resilient to the aspects of life we have no control over. Although, the fear of failure is what makes us stagnant and sad. So even though I couldn’t see the future as clearly as before, I took the plunge in hopes that in the depths of fear and failure, I would come out feeling more alive than ever before.
And I did. It took some time and some unwanted introspection, but out of the loneliness, I came out with a bright light of creativity and personal understanding. And it is only the beginning.
What it does mean is that if you feel lost, just take a deep breath and realize that being lost can be turning point of finding out who you truly are, and what you truly want to do.
I struggle today and will tomorrow, I still feel lost at times. I’ve cried and I’ve stood motionless and shocked for the life I left to make this jump. I’ve felt like a failure for the steps I’ve taken, am required to take, to start over, from the ground up. But I’m at peace with myself more and more every day.
Life is amazing. I believe we’re here to find happiness, and when we do, to share it with everyone we meet.
Don’t be afraid to lose yourself. The individual that comes out of the maze might just surprise you. Strong, courageous and mentally tough, a well-rounded, solid individual that is proud to stand before anyone. Unconquerable and invincible.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Carry On, Warrior.

Traveling on a road despite the uncertainty existing around me. In my journey over the last several months of trying to figure out which path to go on, I learned a lot about those factors that led me to ultimately discover what I think I’m meant to do.
There are four distinct lessons that I learned in how to find the right direction in life. Stop over-thinking. So much of our stress and anxiety about the future stems from the analysis and thinking we do, and questions we ask ourselves. I recall nights lying awake, entertaining ideas and wrestling with my soul. I tried to figure out where I would end up and often felt defeated before I even began. The reality is that no matter how smart we may be, we cannot predict the future. Things are moving so fast and we’re so interconnected that it is impossible to predict where you’ll end up five years from now. By recognizing and accepting the unpredictable nature of life, we can stop over-thinking and start living in the present moment. This helps to open the mind up to the possibilities of today.
Try anything. Do something. When you take action and start doing things, you begin to feel better almost immediately, because instead of thinking about some far off place in your head full of uncertainty, you will be working on something that is really certain: your actions. So many times, I used to get caught up in the chaos of life and was consumed by it, until I realized that while I cannot control what will happen tomorrow, I can control the actions I take every single day. That’s the real beauty of life, knowing that you have absolute control over each of your thoughts, words, and actions. And by trying, moving, asking, engaging, experimenting, and walking forward, it puts you one step further than where you were yesterday. And you just never know where that one step will lead you.
Follow your inner voice. Confused and overwhelmed with so much information, at times conflicting, I just didn’t know what or whom to believe. I just let go. I let go of all evidence and started following my gut. I took chances; I took small steps walking forward in the dark. I may stumble, but I will get back up, and move in a different direction. As they say, the first step was the hardest but I eventually found my way, not because some data point on a career chart showed me which way to go, but because I started to trust my inner voice. I’ve not even arrived at my final destination, there are many more stumbles and walks in the dark ahead. But at leas I am out there doing it.
Believe in yourself. When I first started exploring new opportunities to find the right direction in my life, I found myself overwhelmed. Turning to some didn’t offer any respite, instead of encouraging me, they attempted to bring me back. Feeding me with seeds of self-doubt, it took me some time to recover my momentum. And it was in the positive voices of so many others that I found encouragement to keep at it. It felt like they were talking about me. And in that positive lens, I found the light inside of me to bring forward the resiliency that lay dormant. No longer suppressed by someone else’s ideas of the way things ought to be, I continued on my newly discovered path. The more I focused on my own voice and the voices of encouraging friends, the more I grew to believe in myself.
Although for some, finding the right direction might require the journey of a lifetime, I do believe that there is one direction that we are all meant to go: forward. By taking small steps each and every day, putting aside over-thinking, and realizing that you have everything you need deep within, you can find the right direction in your life. And while it may not be the direction you expected, it will work out just fine.
Your ability to focus on your desires is the ability to decide your own direction. Listening to the random, albeit positively intended opinions of others that say you should choose one thing to do or one thing to achieve is neither right or justified. Other’s opinions are not objective. They are based on previous own experiences. Even if they are based on previous experiences they are the previous experience of others, not yours. What didn’t go well for one person does not apply to you. You decide which path to take and which direction to go in. It’s your life, live it your way. Always follow your dreams, trust in your ability to make the right decision.
The simple answer to lasting happiness: living your purpose. While purpose is a nice concept that is often overused in the personal development space, it can be a lot to sink your teeth into. It’s one thing to believe in the idea but an entirely different one to viscerally experience and live it.
Until you find your own life path, you will forever be trying to follow someone else’s. The inauthenticity will eat you up. Without a path, your true potential will be lost. But to confidently begin the journey, you must better know the traveler - you.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Objects in Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear.

'Happiness is inward, and not outward; and so, it does not depend on what we have, but on what we are.'
~ Henry Van Dyke

Many spend their day to day moments in the pursuit of happiness, like a search for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.  Many ask the question, what will make me happy? A new car, or new clothes.. a different job or partner or even a vacation. The questions continue, why can’t I just feel happy? What is wrong with me? Many look outward in search of the answer, or spend the day blaming unhappiness on those around them. My boss yelled at me and ruined my day, I’d be so much happier if I quit. The kids are driving me crazy, I can’t wait for them to grow up. The neighbor’s lawn is overgrown, how can they live like that?

Too many focus self worth and happiness on others opinions of them, and what they are doing and often spend too much time comparing their lives to their hundreds of Facebook friends that seem to have it all together, living lives filled with laughter and fun. What makes them happy?

How can anyone find happiness in a chaotic world, surrounded by material 'feel good' answers, comparing to each person who walks by and seeking validation of happiness from the outer world? Is it possible to focus inward, instead of outward, when being blasted with information and opinions through various media sources daily?  Quiet is not our natural state, it is something we have to demand of ourselves. Is quiet the source of happiness or the vehicle to find it?

Quiet is necessary in order to look inward for problem resolution. It is there we find that pain, unhappiness and discontent is attributed to some form of non-acceptance or resistance to reality. Accepting and honoring the present moment, and allowing it to just be, can provide inner freedom from outward conditions, and lead us to a state of inner peace. The more accepting of the present moment, the more we are free from pain, unhappiness and suffering. Work with the present moment as if we had chosen it, be empowered, take control of you and seek answers from within. Your life may forever change, ultimately finding the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Happiness.

You don't need anything to be happy.The ultimate myth about happiness is believing you should place your happiness in things beyond yourself. People believe that happiness will come along when they get a new car, a new job, or a new relationship. But in the end these external sources of happiness are fleeting.

We are responsible for our happiness. We don’t feel our circumstances, we feel our thinking. So, let yourself experience happiness by thinking differently about life.

From deep down inside, consider what success means to you. Not the version of what other people want you to do, or what you believe based on social standards, but your personal definition of what a successful life would be. Many define success based on money, status and prestige. Not that these are inherently bad, but defining in these terms often leaves you stuck in a place of lack and insignificance, often getting in the way of personal growth. Appreciate life, live it to the fullest, contribute something to the world. Define yourself by something deeper than your career or possessions. You can enjoy the world while you are trying to change it. Success is more about the journey than the destination. When life is no longer enjoyable, it is time to assess the path we are on and what direction to take. We are more likely to reach greater success when we are driven by a deep and burning reason why

Listen to your inner voice. Be inspired to pursue your dreams and discover the impact you are meant to have. Life isn't about what you can have, it's about what you have to give.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Daily Love, Deeper Thoughts

You are confined only by the walls you build yourself. Control your mind and conquer your fear. Your summary of life should not contain any of these three descriptions, could have, might have or should have.

Two basic emotions drive force behind each thought, each inspiration and that rare, yet pivotal, life changing decision. Fear. And love. However, these emotions are intertwining forces. In order to feel passionately about something, fear and love coexist.

At the end of the day we have two life lists, the things we actually did and those we wish we did. One day your life will flash before your eyes. Make it worth watching.

Celebrate the unheralded moments that make up your life. Those are the moments that cumulatively create a life well lives.

To enjoy my life today, I must be present. It's the leap that counts. Not the landing, not the results, and not what others think about your journey.

I enjoy my life today.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Organized Chaos

Deflated. Giving 110% in each aspect of life only to realize that my best just isn't good enough. Not at that moment it wasn't. A solid sense of failure sets in. Instantaneous deep thoughts and soul searching occurs to determine what I could have done better, how can I be the best I can be in all I am doing and to those around me in a time of such chaos. A multitude of emotions drip over me. I keep going, I push harder than yesterday, I reevaluate and try again. It is the only answer.

Keeping a game face all of the time can be exhausting, even for the utmost perfectionists. I, too, have the need to just be from time to time. To remove the shield that surrounds me, to feel and breathe and speak directly, in a manner less politically correct than my norm. This may come as a surprise to some, as it is part of me to be fully composed, reacting in a calm, realistic manner and taking a big picture view in every situation. How is it that I fully understand the inability to be perfect, yet I require myself to be?

Living in stress, organized chaos surrounding and turning the corner to realize, I don't need to be consumed by it. I don't need to allow this to control me. A changing of the seasons, colors change, a new leaf turned. Each day reveals a fresh layer, new experience, emotion and insight. Risk and sacrifice, many fear those words but I, I have found comfort in them. Knowing that step by step, risk and leaps and sacrifices, I will succeed. That said, after twelve and a half years of service to the company which I stepped down in position from to return to school, I gave full notice. Working my way up in success to management, back to part time in another area and now leaving the company and entire industry to pursue the direction of my studies, nutrition. A sense of peace, yet again, this is the right decision. Starting Invictus, LLC as a nutrition consultant opened the door to now partnering with  a local supplement and nutrition store in Denver to offer independent nutrition consulting and coaching, writing plans for their clients. In order to be successful in this path, in order to provide for myself and have the ability to cover living expenses come June when the loan funds have disappeared, most of all in order to build the foundation for my business and create success, I must give 100% of myself. It allows the flexibility to maintain school hours and studies, yet I continue to flounder in an attempt to actually have a schedule, it is slowly progressing. I have the opportunity to wake up every day and know that I am going to help people, I am going to change lives. That is powerful. That holds more meaning and value that any extreme paycheck would offer. That makes me happy. Not to say I don't have a learning curve ahead, I do, and I will take the challenge, absorb all information possible, grow and continue to be a better me for others, and their success. Suddenly the stress and overwhelming feelings that have consumed me these last weeks have lightened in weight. I am doing the right thing. 

Training for competition, choosing to do the NPC Bikini Division another time, instead of the next level up, provides a sense of relief. My personal goals in competing is to be a better me than yesterday, better physically, stronger mentally, than the last time on stage. It is not an easy journey for anyone, mind, body, soul, all incorporated during these weeks of training. I choose not to put my fate in the judges hands to tell me what place I am, when I step on stage knowing I've given every ounce of me and more, I know my place. I am there to show my work and be proud of me and all of those standing near who have worked so hard to reach their goals. While I look forward to the finish line, I appreciate the journey. This is where I learn, this is where I grow, this is where I come across the path of many others who are in need of that motivation or support, or provide it to me when I didn't even realize I needed it. 

Find success through who you are, not someone else. Create yourself. Allow the seasons to change and be adaptable and resilient enough to change with them, it is amazing where you find yourself. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Perfectly Imperfect

More than an ascent to the top of a mountain. More than a 7900 foot elevation gain to reach the summit at 14110 feet. This was the Pikes Peak Challenge, benefiting Brain Injury Alliance of Colorado. This was a five hour window of opportunity to get inside my own head, to breathe, to let go, to find clarity and vision, and most of all.. purpose.

The brain injury survivor determined to reach the top, climbing step by step fully assisted by a personal climber the entire hike, 13.2 miles mind you. Using poles every movement, he who couldn't walk the distance of a parking lot on his own if he had to. 'We're just trying not to stop..' says the personal climber. Purpose. The survivor waiting on the trail 3 miles from summit to personally thank every climber, shaking our hands and appreciating what we've done in support of them. Suddenly any complaining or grumbles of the challenge of this climb or distance and time taken, diminish. Purpose. The husband waiting at the finish in his wheelchair, who has suffered a traumatic brain injury and is in assisted living, who was transported to the site to cherish the time and support, with wife and family climbing on his behalf. Purpose.

Too often we are nestled so deep within our own space we do not open our eyes long enough to see the world around us. The reality that is. I met with a life coach of sorts a few months ago, prior to making full transition from my path of success into the unknown. The intent wasn't to peel back my layers, it was to learn about his. Intrigued and engaged in conversation, he discusses the various phases of one who makes the leap, such as I have now done. He walks me through each phase and gets to a place of darkness, unknown. Long after most have turned back. This is where I live. Guided by a light the size of a pin hole, but it's there. I see it. Saturday, the Pikes ascent was that light.

When that peak is staring you in the face, it is overwhelming and scary and seemingly impossible. Much like my journey. Surrounded by 350 smiling climbers, hiking with intention and purpose, for a greater cause.. bigger than any obstacle I face, puts things in perspective. As I return to the chaos I call my life, I do so with a different set of eyes. An appreciation, a sense of clarity. The normal stresses I am facing creep back in as soon as I step foot off the mountain, but I have a renewed outlook on my imperfectly perfect life, that I tucked in my back pocket.

Outside of the already overflowing plate, there is now an added element.. competition training, which started Monday. NPC figure division at the Rocky, November 16th. Ten weeks chalked full of weight training, two-a-day cardio sessions, meal preparing, strict eating and all in performance. This is familiar territory, the difference.. each competition drives me to create a better me than yesterday. It will hurt, it will take time, require dedication and willpower, it requires healthy decisions, rest, structure and discipline. It requires sacrifice, there will be temptation and I will need to push my body to its max, but the finish line, is worth it. I am only a body, a face, an image on stage, to the crowd and the judges.. they don't know the journey I have lived to reach the finish line. But I do.

A lot to think about since the last post, which was raw and revealing and while it was difficult to let go, it also lifted a weight. Realizing that I can be, me. I am me because of the past and for that, I would change nothing. It may be difficult to read or swallow, reading through the lines, but such is life. And it's only the beginning.. each day, there is improvement and personal gain, growth and insight. There is also a fair share of pain and sadness and frustration. It is what I make of it that defines me.

Don't focus on the peak you are climbing to, focus on the path directly in front of you. One step at a time. Life lesson.

Monday, August 26, 2013

110 Floors

The view is so clear, yet so distant.  Everything below seems so minute, so insignificant.  The reality is the higher you are, the harder the fall. That is, significant.

The 15th came and went, as anticipated the paycheck did not cover all expenses. Finances were not determined or solved. But, I am still here, still living and breathing and going about my daily routine. Life didn’t come crashing down around me.  I begrudgingly move toward the final option of a 401k loan to cover living expenses for one year. One year. This isn’t a plan B, or a fall back, this is my paycheck. This is the fire under me that will drive me to succeed in the set up and follow through of Invictus, LLC writing nutrition plans. This is the kick in the ass to get my personal training certificate and begin that avenue of income.. there is no plan B. Needless to say that is one heck of a chunk of money; this is by far the most secure, sensible option available. There is that heavy feeling in my stomach again. A pit. Fear, anxiety.. overwhelming stress and a force larger than I tugging, pushing, pulling me in every direction.

School started. Reality set in walking into a classroom after 15 years.  The self-doubt and questions surface once again. Two online classes, one classroom. What am I doing, can I really do this? Perception is reality, isn’t it? Sure I can. Maintain positivity. Keep looking forward, not one glance behind except the moments of reflection. Somehow, someway, I can do this. With at least six more hours in each day I surely could. Feeling the pressure and I’m only a week in.

Give grace to myself, easier said than done. A perfectionist, one who has come from a past full of trials and tribulation. One who realized at a young age, you need to look out for number one. Nobody else will. Time and time again of putting your fate in another’s hands, those who should be fully trusted and should have your best interest in mind failed you miserably.  A child’s eyes should not see, live through or experience some of which mine have. Scarred. If the ship goes down, you’re going with it. One statement so boldly stated to me, I will never forget. Said by the one who should be your shield, your armor in life at that age. A child. An early teen. Too young to live life independently. When you are dropped into darkness and find yourself alone, you have two options. Back into a corner and wait for rescue or rise above, create your own shield and move steadfast into the light. Only one option in my book, rise above. Nothing will stand in my way. Nothing will break me. 110 floors above I will not fall. I stand strong.

A change of pace, a necessary pause. Visiting my mom, stepdad and aunt in Tennessee over this last weekend. Too much time passes between visits. A year and a half since I last saw my mom. Significant history there, once again the kind no child or person of any age should witness. My mom has had her share of poor life experience, much more than I. Something dead out of a Lifetime movie.  These traumatic events from childhood through adulthood, creating dependency, inability to stand tall and express herself, I took on the responsibility of being her force field, her shield, in the years I was with her. As years passed, and new scars continued to appear, a deep depression came along with it. Long-term memory disappeared as though it never even existed. Never to be recovered. Sadly, remembering only the negative events of the past. Going years without speaking, seeing each other and wondering if I would ever have my mom in my life again I finally understood the breaking point, the depression. I call her every Sunday and have now for the past several years. She needs me as much as I need her. There is always a special bond between mother and daughter. Much needed quality time. A lot of repair has been done over the years, but I still look at her with the same eyes. I still want to protect her from the world and hug her so tight that nothing else can get in. My stepfather is a wonderful man. A saving grace to be by her side, I am thankful. My partner in crime was able to join in this journey to rural Tennessee. Knowing that the past would surface, bracing myself for him to hear some of these traumatic events in our lives, while many don’t know what to say when they learn, it is important to uncover who I am. My core, why I am, and how I came to be, me. While I’ve not revealed specifics, this will be the first I’ve remotely spoken of my past publicly. Even many of those close do not know. Assumptions are made, judgment, quick assessment, all acceptable to me.. I know who I am, where I came from and where I am going, that is what is important. However, this blog, this journal and exposure of inner self is raw and real and peeling back the layers is necessary. With this, I am vulnerable, and I am me. Knowing where I came from will allow you to fully understand and appreciate the journey that lies ahead. This trip held significance in many ways, I am grateful for the opportunity. Tears fell from my mom’s face as we walked down the terminal. I love you mom, until next time.

Back to fast pace life, standing on the edge looking down at what lies below. Everything appears to be so small in the grand scheme of life.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Live Life Unconquered.

Life Lessons. Live in the moment. Take one day at a time. The one who, openly and willingly, stands boldly next to me through this unknown journey repeatedly asks me.. how do you eat an elephant? Where I've now learned the reply, one bite at a time. When you take a moment to step back and stare that elephant in the face an overwhelming sense comes over you, as though you may have bit off more than you can chew. There's just.. so much. How? The question arises again, what am I doing? With no direct religious perspective or underlying tone, it is almost inexplainable. Speaking purely from inner self, there is something driving me. Pushing me. Pulling me. 

No ground breaking discoveries or news over the last week regarding financial status. Still feeling the weight of the world on my shoulders although I've been reminded to celebrate the small successes, the wins.. no matter how small or large. Passing the math placement test into statistics, check. Trade in lease for a lesser payment, check. General business structure for Invictus, LLC (creating a healthier you from the inside out, through nutrition and fitness) created, check. Trademarking the slogan.. A Better You Than Yesterday. Creating a logo, the business side has endless opportunity and creation, in progress. Putting the cart in front of the horse, maybe.. but having those items in place makes for an easy transition when clients arrive. Partnering as a distributor with a premier health and wellness company offering energy, weight loss, nutrition, and sports performance products, AdvoCare, in progress. Starting ground floor at Colorado's Pro Gym part time, check. Align myself appropriately for the future, in the most strategic way possible, according to me.. which.. take it for what its worth based on recent decisions. Next stop, complete a personal training certification, provide supplemental income and help others along the way. Best of both worlds. Bottom line, good things come to those who go out and get them. While the financial burden festers I must appreciate, reflect upon and celebrate the small wins. Words of wisdom credited to Eric, who witnesses my emotion, or lack of, daily. The many who have come out of the woodwork to offer support, the unexpected or long lost friends, those near and dear who stand close, holding strong, warms my heart. I must admit it is uncomfortable to accept help from others, much like gifts.. I prefer to give rather than receive. Understanding that I cannot do this solely, that I am allowed the grace to be. To be less than strong, to be emotional, to be less than perfect. To just be. An area I must overcome and accept. Thank you all for your strength, encouragement, support and most of all, acceptance. 

School starts next week. Anxious, nervous? Absolutely. To be perfectly honest, not a clue what I'm walking into. Deep breath. One bite at a time. The second I expand the view to the large elephant in front of me I feel surrounded and drowned by the endless list of to do's, the priorities and deadlines and question of.. how. Keep smiling. Push through. Lift heavy, run long and clear your mind. Use fitness as an outlet. Every day I turn to my workouts, my passion, to somehow find release. In an out of control world, you lean on what you can control.. workouts and results of, are one. I control my destiny when I walk into the gym, or an event, it is my mind and body, my control. I can and I do. This, should be no different. I believe in me.

An arrow can only be shot by pulling it backward. When life is dragging you back with challenge, it means that it is going to launch you into something great. Focus. And keep aiming.