Change (part two): Preparation

Bob Dylan said there’s nothing so stable as change.  Pre-Dylan philosopher Heraclitus put it this way:

The only thing that is constant is change.

Stable, constant.

Permanent, certain.

Whether you like it and seek it, or hate it and run from it: everything always changes.  Most change is out of our control. Consider the weather, someone else’s attitude, road conditions, home/car repairs, illness, accidents, and layoffs as some of the stuff in life we can’t change.

There is still a great portion of stuff we can.

In part one of this blog series on change I discussed why we resist change and challenged you to think about one area in yourself you’d like to change.  Go back and reread it if you need to.  You should have written down one thing. If your thing is “big” like these –

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break it down into smaller, more defined short term goals.

If your desired change is to “get healthy” (good choice!) what are the smaller steps that lead to good health? Write them down and circle one.

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Start with that. It’s good to have high aspirations, but don’t set the bar too high. Think of change as a muscle.  In order for muscle growth you have to begin with a weight you can actually lift. You add on as tolerated, allowing the muscle to adapt to grow. If you start out high and hard, you will likely get injured or give up.

What it is it that you want to do? Define it. Imagine it. Put it in writing. Organize it. Gather the knowledge you need, enlist help, start equipping yourself with the tools to help you be successful.

changeYou have now entered the action phase of change. I’ll talk more about action in part three.

Preparation is key to successful change. Know what you want, and educate yourself on how to get there. In between here and there establish clear, manageable steps.

Until we meet again for some action, here’s a little Dylan inspiration…

Gonna put my good foot forward and stop being influenced by fools.

Remember. You got this.

Change (part one): Why We Resist

What makes us resist change? Why would we rather stick with a job we hate, stay in an abusive relationship, keep smoking despite illness, and endure unnecessary hardship rather than do something to make it better?

Why do we?

Is it fear of failure? Uncertainty of the unknown? Apathy?

It’s D. All of the above.

Change can be hard.  It can also be easy.  One thing is certain: change is inevitable.

change

If you don’t like something in your life, change it.

If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.

Let me give you an example.

I’ve had a chronic pain condition (burning mouth syndrome) for over three years. I am reluctant to blog about it because I don’t see the point in giving something so afflictive any more attention than it deserves.

I hate it. It can be all consuming and at times unbearable. Presently, I have exhausted all management therapies.  I’ve stopped googling it as I can’t bear to read other BMS sufferers lament about how poor their quality of life is.  It makes me feel hopeless.

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Somedays I do crawl up in a ball and go to sleep.  Sleep is sometimes the one thing I can do to escape the pain.

I can give in to hopelessness.

Or,

I can change the way I think.

I can redirect my attention to something else.  Take my focus off the problem and put it somewhere else.

I can do that.

Instead of putting a spotlight on the pain and allowing it to have control of how I live and what I do, I can put it in the background.

Accept, but not empower.

That has been the one thing that has helped me deal.

It has taken me 3 years to figure out I needed to change my thoughts.

What about you?

Is the problem the problem? Or could it be how you think about the problem?

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There are at least two views.

A rut or a grave?

Half empty or half full?

A mountain or a mole hill?

Lemons or lemonade?

A weed or a flower?

All changes, even the ones we crave can be sad. We leave behind something that was a part of us, our life. We knew it well. Kind of like an old shoe.

Remember, If you’re in a bad situation, don’t worry it’ll change. If you’re in a good situation, don’t worry it’ll change.

Is there something you need to change?  What’s stopping you?

Today, I only ask that you think about one area of yourself or your life that you need to change.  That’s the second step to change (contemplation).  Pre-contemplation is the first step – you already experienced that when you felt the nudge to read this post.

Think about how your life will be better after you make a change.

Whatever it is you need to change trust me when I say, you got this.

We all need change.

Jim Rohn, American Entrepreneur and motivational speaker said so well,

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Next week: Preparation

7 Tips (plus 1 bonus) To Make Your Wait Times More Productive

Are you good at waiting? Not me. I have been known to abandon my handful of stuff rather than stand in a long line at the grocery store.  Redbox pains me. Even when I reserve online there is always a couple in front of me browsing and contemplating like it was a major decision. C’mon people – this is Redbox.  Aren’t there only like two movies worth seeing?

Thank goodness for Amazon Prime.

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As I write this I am waiting with more than fifty other women (yes I got up and counted) to get a mammogram.  I wait to get it, then wait to have it read, then I usually get called back for more images. Wait again for second reading. Three hours later…I’m home.

I get that waiting is a part of life.  I am prepared for today’s wait.  I can take it. Otherwise, waiting for me is torture.

Restaurants, coffee shops, grocery stores, drive-through banks, 1-800 customer service, airports, free delivery option, slow Internet, amusement park lines, traffic – we are always waiting for something.  Instead of  complaining or leaving, why not put that wait time to good use?

According to Ask.com,

wait times

My fellow Impatienatos, I give you

7 tips to make your wait time more productive.

  • Play cards. Keep a standard deck of cards handy. This is my secret for making restaurant waiting tolerable. There are so many quick, fun games to play you may be disappointed to see your food finally arrive.
  • Read. A magazine, book, or newspaper. Truly, there is nothing like leafing through the latest issue of Forbes or People. Or reading a chapter of that book you never have time to read. Perfect for airports, doctors office, car shop.
  • Learn a new language. Try Duolingo. You can do this in traffic, in line, really anywhere.

Aprender un nuevo idioma es bueno para el cerebro.

  • Clean out your wallet. Throw out old coupons, organize your cards, and find that loose change at the bottom of your purse.
  • Strike up a conversation. You’re both in the same predicament, why not chitchat and maybe make a new friend?
  • Write.  If I didn’t have to wait, I wouldn’t have written this post. Write a letter, a poem, an essay, or a list of things you need to do.

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  • Relax, breathe and just wait. Finally, an opportunity to do nothing.  Waiting can be a beautiful experience if you think of it as a welcomed time to slow down, put away your stuff and just be present.

I have a busy life and I know I’m impatient.  But waiting doesn’t need to be a chore.  It can be a welcomed change of pace.

Well, my wait here is over. Just under three hours and I almost (remember where I am) enjoyed myself. At the very least, I was productive and I did something good for my health. I am happy to say I got a normal result.

Do you have any suggestions that can help make waiting more tolerable, or productive?

I didn’t forget…here’s the bonus.

Bonus tip: Feed your brain with useless knowledge. This will come in handy for a game show or the next trivia game night.

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Do You Want To Know What “It” Is?

Does this dress make me look fat? What do you think of my essay? How did I do? Did you like the cookies?

We all ask questions like these, but do we really want the truth no matter what? Do you want to know what “it” is?

Are you familiar with the old testament story of King David and Bathsheba?  David not only committed adultery with her, but had her husband killed and then made her queen.

David’s advisor Nathan saw the evil in David’s actions and soon made him see it as well by telling David a parable about a rich man who stole from a poor one. David was livid that the rich man could be so heartless. Then Nathan dropped the bomb: you are the rich man.

David knew he had done something reprehensible. He could have cast Nathan out from his court – but he didn’t.  He needed accountability.  He desired truth.

Sometimes we can be too involved or blind from our own denial that we don’t see things as they are. Do you want the truth, even if it hurts? My fingers are paused on home row. It’s a tough question even for me. I want to say yes because I know it’s the wise choice.  I can’t grow without truth. Yet it’s in my nature to avoid pain.

I think the best you and I can ask for is to have people in our life who are honest, but not brutal.

Instead-we-will-speakThe more I think about it, truth trumps pain.  I may not like it, but I don’t want sugar coated lies.  Does this dress make me look fat? Obviously or I wouldn’t be asking. You don’t need to quickly say yes. Tell me it doesn’t accentuate my best features or it’s a nice dress but I look stunning in the black one.

At the end of the day, I’m with Neo.  Give me the red pill. I want to know what it is.  How about you? Truth? Reality?  Or stay asleep in a fantasy world?

It’s time to wake up. Take the red pill. Find out what “it” is.

8 Zombie Inspired Habits That Lead To Happiness

Zombies are repulsive and terrifying.  They have decaying flesh, disgusting teeth, and no social skills. But they can teach us how to be happy.

Happiness is defined as a mental or emotional state of well-being characterized by positive emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy.

The zombie has no emotions, so he is neither happy nor unhappy,

he just is.

He takes each day as it comes and doesn’t worry about tomorrow. If I could pick one key to being happy, it would be the zombies way of being fully present in the moment with no worries. If you can make that a habit, you can kiss discontent goodbye.

8 zombie inspired habits that lead to happiness

  • stick together
  • don’t whine, gossip, or say mean things
  • share
  • be patient
  • don’t sweat the small stuff
  • get plenty of exercise
  • adapt to your surroundings
  • don’t be a picky eater

Happiness is always a choice. The only ones who I excuse from not being able to choose happiness are the clinically depressed individuals who are thick in the illness, not yet being treated, not responsive to treatment, or in a state of anhedonia.

Let the little aggravating inconveniences that are bound to happen to you be exactly what they are: small annoyances that are insignificant, not worthy of your time or emotional investment.

You can be unattractive, have rotten teeth, and nothing but the clothes on your back, and still be happy. In pursuit of happiness, look to the zombie.

Just don’t eat anybody.

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3 Ways To Get Noticed

You can write a better than great blog post, but if you only get a handful of readers, are you ok with that? Of course not. The point of blogging is to share your opinions, experiences, and knowledge with the world.

With a potential 3 billion people audience and 150 million bloggers worldwide, getting people to read your content is a challenge.

It starts with an intriguing headline.

Ask a question. Solve a problem. State a claim. Make a list.

Your reader has clicked in, now you need to deliver what you promised.

BAM! Get to the point.

We all scroll and skim. Trim the fat and get to the meat or we are off to the next headline before you can say, Tic-Tac Sir?

Dumb-and-Dumber

Next,

Give me eye candy.

Break up your text with cool-with-attitude pictures and images that invoke my emotions and make me want to stay awhile.

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Then,

Teach me.

Life-hack me. Tell me something I didn’t know. Give me a short cut or a brilliantly unique perspective.

Make me come away with thinking, finally, after so much digital time suck, I have found you.

There you are!
There you are!

Plus!

Give me a bonus.

Something I wasn’t expecting whether it be a tip on free stock photos or a link to Starbucks secret menu.

Most of us bloggers are small satellites in cyberspace.

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To get noticed don’t be run-of-the-mill average. Stand out even once, and your audience will keep coming back for more.

How To Tell The Difference Between a Poser and a Real Friend

Mark Twain
Mark Twain

Do you agree with Mark? So do I. Then why would you or I, or anyone else seek out people who belittle their ambitions?

That’s the five hundred and seven thousand dollar question.  Maybe because you didn’t realize until now that a certain person was making you feel small. There are many passive-aggressive and other damaged individuals in our lives that pose as our friends.

How do you know if you have a poser verses a genuine friend?

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How do you feel after you spend time with this person? Lifted up or crushed down? Posers use you to make themselves feel better.  They don’t care about you because they are the center of the universe. Fake friends say things like,

You always. You never. What’s wrong with you? What’s wrong with me?Nothing. Oh, something came up. Of course you can trust me. I won’t tell a soul, cross my heart. Who’s side are you on? I can’t stand her (Oh hi Angela, we were just talking about you! How have you been?!) 

I know you didn’t seek out this person who makes you feel small.  It just happens sometimes. And you certainly don’t deserve to have your nose rubbed in your mistakes or your flaws constantly pointed out. We are all flawed.  We all make mistakes.  We are the same. We all have thoughts that would shame the devil.  No one gets away with I’m better than you attitude cause it ‘aint true.

You are a nice person, and that’s why you haven’t said sayonara to this freak yet. Life is short even when you don’t think it is. Free yourself of toxicity! If it’s family, free yourself emotionally and learn how to deal with these difficult people.

Now seek out people who build you up, who make you feel important. Genuine friends don’t place conditions on your relationship and they definitely don’t pack a knife for stabbing you in the back.  You know the pure of heart because of how you feel when you’re around them. Do you feel loved? Encouraged? Happy? Accepted for who you are?  If you do, then that’s evidence you have got yourself a real friend, and a treasure!

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As the philosopher Balastar Gracián once said, True friendship multiplies the good in life and divides its evils. Strive to have friends, for life without friends is like life on a desert island… to find one real friend in a lifetime is good fortune; to keep him is a blessing.

As you travel through life may you know the difference between the impostors and the real deal. And in turn find good fortune, and be blessed.

My Thoughts on Social Media

Everyday I ask my self why do I bother with social media?  Why am I on Twitter? I’m not a rockstar.  Why do I write for LinkedIn? I can’t compete with the influencers. I am an amateur photographer  with less than 20 followers on Instagram and have a no frills WordPress blog. I do everything the gurus tell me to do.

  • Retweet
  • Engage
  • Converse
  • Use hooks
  • Blog regularly
  • Follow back
  • Tweet links, photos, have a Paper.li,
        and so on.
and so on.

Still, I am so small. Pale blue dot kind of small.

I think social media has been bad for my self-esteem.

Unless you are in the camp of the gurus, big star musicians/artists, famous founders/ entrepreneurs of successful companies, high Klout score tweeps- whatever that means…

Social media might be bad for your self esteem too.

How do I know this? Because I just do. I work in psychiatry. A long time ago I was a teenager in public school. I was the tallest girl in my class. No one asked me to the prom.  I’ve raised three kids. I blog. I get self-esteem.

P1130608Do you feel alone, faceless, passed over?  Have you hurt inside when a troll directed an opprobrious comment at you?  Have you felt dejected because your favorite band, artist, author, colleague, influencer never acknowledges, retweets, likes, or follows you?

Maybe it seems like all your followers or connections are eggs, fake celebrities, f-bomb droppers, spammers, or tweeps who don’t speak your language.

I say social media is a self-esteem mutilator and reminds me of high school. A place I tried so hard to fit in, but never could. God, it was brutal.  And life in the digitalsphere can be brutal – if you let it.

So don’t let it.

Get your self-esteem boosts by living in the real world, not the digital one.  Post with the intent to lift up others, and you’ll find yourself lifted too.

Surround yourself with those you love, who love you.  Be in the presence of real people. Get out, enjoy your life. It’s a vapor that is fleeting.

If you find a real friend or connection on social media, consider yourself lucky.  I am lucky.  I now realize social media is what it is and I’ll use it my way: to share nuggets of truth, inspiration, beautiful, fun things with you. If someone doesn’t like what I share, oh well.  I won’t let it crush my spirit.

I won’t pretend to fit in.  Because I don’t.  And I can honestly say, I’m fine with that.

6 Places I Find Inspiration for Writing

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All the top social media blogs I read tell me where to find ideas for hot blogging content.  So off I go browsing Amazon’s top sellers for my niche, check out Drudge, and see what’s trending on Twitter.  Next stop: Copyblogger and time suck some more, and then I notice the clock has tick-tocked to dinner hour and I’ve got nothing written.

What is wrong with me? Do I have writer’s block? Am I a procrastinator? Or am I trying too hard and discouraged because I’m such a teensy fish in a multitudinous ocean.

If I don’t come up with a killer headline, or a list of how-to’s and secrets that will change your life – I am DOOMED.  You will leave me to read a better scripted blog post by a social media rock star who has the content that delivers what YOU want.

The influencers’ advice isn’t working for me.

Truth? I want to write what I want to write in the way that I write.  I know there are at least three people who read my blog and come back faithfully. Thousands would be cool. But three is enough. Instead of being a me-too writer I’m a come-alive writer.  And I will write for three.

Where I Find Inspiration for Writing:

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  • Conversations: I talk to people and listen with the intent to learn.  I find out who they are, what they’ve been through, what they like, what their dreams and aspirations are. I ask, “Tell me your story.”  That’s the best content you are ever going to find.  Real life, real people.
  • Museums: I took the above picture at the Rochester MAG one sunday afternoon.  That’s my son off to the side listening to the pipe organ concert.  It was transcendent, holy.  I was moved to reflect and consider the lilies.  As I stroll the museum halls I take notes of ideas, my feelings, and memories invoked by a work of art.
  • Nature: It is vital to be quiet and escape from the constant connection to the digital world.  Whether it be sitting on a hillside, playing in the snow, walking through the woods – some of my best writing comes from being still and listening to the heartbeat of nature.
  • Family: Past, present, and future. Aunts, uncles, sisters, brothers, parents, grandparents, pets. I read old letters or journals from those who have passed. I talk to my boys and ask about their day.  They are my muse. I’m blown away when they tell me they liked what I wrote. I’m euphoric when I see them write, read their words, and consider maybe I inspired them, just a little?
  • Music: I will often listen to an album and either write by hand or type on a blank page unedited, freely, continuously until I’m satisfied I’ve emptied my creative bucket.
  • Experience: Crazy things have happened to me. I have cheated death. I have teetered on the edge of cliffs and have had rocks thrown at me. I could fill a thousand journals with knowledge, wisdom, thoughts, fears, truth.

There is inspiration everywhere, we just have to keep the internal critic away and use whatever inspires us.

Here’s a nugget of truth: write what you like, in your voice.  Don’t try to fit the mold, break the mold. And in the end, be you. The world wants to hear what you have to say.

Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.

Howard Thurman

Do You Really Want to Know What Your Doctor Thinks of You?

Did you know you have a right to see your medical record? And if you find a mistake you can request it to be corrected, or if you disagree with something your provider noted, you also have a right to write your own note stating that.

So why do we feel like we are snooping when we steal a glance at our “chart”? It’s our record, our right. Or are we afraid of what we might find out?

Health Information Privacy rules of protection has been around since 1996.  Along with the right to view your chart, you have the right to:

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I hope you want to know what your doctor thinks of you – your relationship with your provider should be one that is based on mutual respect and trust.  If you find out otherwise, it’s time to find a new health care partner.