Saturday, June 30, 2012

Rocky Road- More than Just an Ice Cream Flavor

Maneuvering a Bumpy Path

How Do We Avoid Tripping or Falling?

In life we are not guaranteed an easy way or a clear path. Sometime we have to realize that we've encountered a rocky road. But then what do we do? How do we manage to make our way over the bumps, the twigs, the rocks and reach our final destination unscathed? How can we find the energy and motivation to keep going even when the road seems impossible? To be quite honest, I just don't know. I don't seem to have the answers to these questions as I encounter some major rocks. I find myself having a hard time keeping my balance and finding the strength and skills to maneuver my bumpy path to reach an unknown destination. Life can be hard and gives no promises or guarantees. Where do we find the momentum to keep going and face the hardships when our future is full of question marks? What if the future is full of crap? What if our final destination doesn't end up being worth all the bumps? These are questions I am currently grappling with and I just don't seem to be able to find fulfilling answers. I want to have the answers, I wish I was full of infinite wisdom that I could give to myself as well all of you, but my mind just seems to be empty. I am going to turn to some quotes, per usual, as an attempt to find some answers or at least motivation to propel myself forward on this crazy path of life.

"Until you reach the end of the road, there's still time to change the path you've chosen."

-Susan Gale

"Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple."

-Dr. Seuss

“Sometimes our light goes out, but is blown again into instant flame by an encounter with another human being.” 

-Albert Schweitzer

“A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.” 

-Lao Tzu

So here we have a number of diverse quotes. What do they all mean? Can we apply them to our thoughts as a means of getting through the rough times in our lives? As Gale says, we have the ability to choose our paths, if this is true than we can get off the rocky road at any time we choose. Wouldn't that be nice? Just make the choice to choose a new path for your life and pursue it. Or Dr. Seuss explains that some of the most complex questions have the simplest answers. So my complicated and intrusive thoughts may be quelled with the most simplistic answers or means. And Schweitzer insists that no matter how down we feel there's always the possibility that at any moment a friendship, relationship, or interaction with another human can bring us back to life! I know I have experienced this gift before but somehow the light continues to go out when I least expect it. I can't constantly rely on a chance encounter with another person to help me and bring me out of a downward spiral. But perhaps the most insightful of all is Lao Tzu who insists that those who enjoy their life the most are those who appreciated the past and are not focused on the future or end result. I don't know if any of these quotes are right or helpful or able to provide answers to me or any of you but I do believe they can't hurt. Seeking inspiration or motivation to guide you in your life, help you in your journey toward happiness, or drive you to continue trying every day cannot harm or inhibit you. Searching for inspiration- quotes, books, lyrics, music, people- is proof that you want more, that you're trying to maneuver the road, prevent yourself from tripping or falling. As long as you keep searching you haven't given up or completely lost hope. If you still have hope you can still be propelled forward to reach the happy life you deserve inspite of the hard times. We may have a rocky road but we are not the only ones who have been dealt this path. Others have been given similarly taxing lives- struggles, adversity, pain- and conquered them. With the knowledge that it's been done before we can face our personal trials with the confidence that we are capable of doing it as well.

Keep striving to manage the bumps along the way,

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Getting Back to Happy

A Scientific Formula for Achieving Happiness

Follow these Steps for Guaranteed Success

Sorry to disappoint but this post is just a picture no quote, context, or commentary. I came across it and knew immidiately that I need to post it! No, it's not actually a scientific formula, and no I guess success can't be guaranteed (nothing in life is really a guarantee I suppose.) But it's simplicity and truth touched me- look at it and give it a try! It's nothing you haven't heard before but visualizing it seemed like a novel idea to me.

So go for it! Why not? Happiness is always worth a shot!

If you're not happy do something about it,

Never Neglect Yourself

Making Time for Your Personal Needs Everyday

The Amazing Effects of a Little "You Time"

These last few days have been ridiculously hectic for me in terms of work because it is the end of my first summer session (and I thought it would be a good idea to go on an adventure to Six Flags yesterday when I really should have used the day to finish my work). But anyways, even prior to that irresponsible and atypical choice I was still frantic and crunched for time with assignments due one after the other after the other in both my classes. For a while I dedicated every waking moment to class work, I stopped journaling, and decreased my blogging as I'm sure some of you noticed. All of a sudden I started to feel completely miserable. My thoughts were swarming, confusing, and non-sensical and I couldn't even manage to fully focus on the tasks I needed to complete. I didn't understand what was going on! Yes, I was stressed but that's life as a college student. I've been stressed before. It shouldn't result in mental agony. Than all of a sudden it hit me, I had stopped expressing my thoughts and feelings in my journal or on this blog and subsequently had stopped unburdening my mind on a daily basis. I had altered my routine, eliminated my me time, and allowed my work to take over because I felt pressed for time. Well, as a result the time I spent working was less productive than if I had taken an hour or so at the start of my day to relieve myself through writing. Despite the incessant work I began journaling every morning again as I had done previously and suddently my thoughts began to calm down a bit. It did cause magical results- I still had confusing and intrusive thoughts but they were not nearly as loud or frequent. I could utilize the time I spent working more efficiently because my head was significantly more clear. So what does this mean? What is the point of this little story?

“You will be your best self when you take time to understand what you really need, feel and want.” 

- Deborah Day

Not only are we better versions of ourselves when we understand what we need but when we actually fulfill these needs. No matter how stressful or busy your day is- whether it's work, or family, or mounting errands, or a messy house, or a combination of multiple things- we will perform better if we give ourselves a little time during the day to meet our own needs. It's not about you coming first, it doesn't need to have a selfish connotation, we can think of it as being the best we can be for others by taking the time to care for ourselves. No matter what your need is whether it's journaling, taking a bath, reading, anything you do that helps you relax or positively impacts you take the time to do it. If you neglect yourself by ignoring your needs or discontinuing a useful practice because life is just getting too crazy you, your family and friends, and the tasks at hand will suffer as a result. Giving yourself a little "you time" every day, it can be 10 minutes or an hour or more if you need, can have amazing effects on your capabilities and positively impact others besides yourself. We all have personal needs and when we allow ourselves to fulfill them is when we are able to be the best versions of ourselves!

Give yourself some time to take care of you today and everday,

That's right, just relax if it's what you need-
No, we can't always get what we want but it's up to us to make sure we get what we need.

You Can't Always Get What You Want, The Rolling Stones

Monday, June 25, 2012

Emulating the Energizer Bunny

Seeking Energy to Propel Me

Morning Affirmation and Thoughts

My energizer role model-
I am not feeling as energetic and alive this morning as I did yesterday. This lead me to go on a search for energizing quotes or an affirmation that would help me develop some momentum to push me through this lazy morning feeling and carry me through the rest of the day ahead. Little did I know this search would not be an easy task. Most of the quotes referred to mathematical equations and science leaving me feeling a bit defeated. How can I use a quote to help me muster up emotional and physical energy if there is not one to be found? Instead I was lead to this morning affirmation that mentions feeling energized but is not its main focus.

Today I choose to be joyful. I look at life with wonder and appreciation. I find joy in even the smallest of pleasures. I feel refreshed and energized. My positive attitude heals and renews me.

This affirmation is decent in aiding me but is it enough? Maybe my mistake is in my wording. I don't want to simply feel energized, I want to be energized. There is a key difference in these two similar statements. To feel energized is merely to have it influencing you where is being energized is literally to embody energy. This is what I want! This is what I need to get me through the tasks ahead of me today! It is when I started searching for quotes about being energized is when I found the results I was looking for-

"And what is a man without energy? Nothing – nothing at all."

- Mark Twain

"Life begets life. Energy creates energy. It is by spending oneself that one becomes rich."

- Sarah Bernhardt

Now that's the energy I'm after!
Now these are the type of energizing, motivational quotes I was look for to help propel me forward this morning. Twain's claim that we as human beings are energy. If we lack it we are non-existent. If becoming nothing isn't enough to scare me into becoming energy than Bernhardt's quote provides a less negative spirited incentive. Following the concept that life creates more life, energy too results in the creation of more energy. By exuding energy we attract more to ourselves and in that sense "become rich" with energy. So, the only way to have more energy is to begin with at least a bit of it. Energy drives our every actions, without it we are unable to be productive, enjoys ourselves, or do much of anything. I'll leave you with one more historical quote to push this notion that energy is crucial not just to our own existence but the larger, global picture as well-

The energy of the mind is the essence of life.

- Aristotle

Our energy is the driving force of life itself. How selfish are we to deny the world of our potential energy. For this reason as well as many others we must strive to not just feel energy but actually become it, embody it, exude it. I hope one of the resources I have provided will you help in your tasks for energy or personal quest to become energized. We won't wake up everyday feeling full of life. Sometimes we need a little emotional push (and a touch of caffeine) to get us started!

Wake up, be energy, get going!

A little humor never hurts and always helps to get me started in the morning-

And if none of that was enough to get you going try this Beach Boy's classic- their music always remind of family car trips down the shore (played via cassette of course)- this upbeat and positive song should surely help to wake you up in addition to your caffiene fix!

Good Vibrations, Beach Boys

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Breathe, Breathe, Breathe

Breathing as a Tool for Relaxation

An Evening Affirmation Focusing on Breath

The night has arrived and it is time to prep ourselves for sleep. I have had a relatively good but busy day and only hope that you all have enjoyed decent days as well. Tonight I have chosen an affirmation that concentrates on a tool I frequently utilize in order to induce feelings of relaxation and calm. Breathe deep breaths through your nose and into you belly, count to five in your mind, exhale and release the breath and any tension you may be holding. I had a therapist once tell me that anxiety and stress are impossible to exist within our bodies while we were are engaging in this meditative breathing exercise. 

I breathe slow, deep, cleansing breaths that sooth me. I close my eyes and listen to my breathing. I inhale peace and contentment. I exhale all my worries. I drift off to sleep easily and sleep well. Tomorrow I wake free from negativity.

Read this affirmation and try to employ the breathing tactics I mentioned above. Inhale refreshing, calming breaths that inspire and enable feelings of gratitude and satisfaction. Exhale, releasing stress, worries, and negativity that you've been carrying or encountered during the day. Shut your eyes, continue to breathe and concentrate on your breath alone. You should be asleep in no time and awake ready for the new day.

Inhale, exhale, repeat, and sleep,

Breathe, Michelle Branch

Quiet Sunday Morning

A Moment of Solitude

Silence in the City

I woke up on the earlier side this morning (for me at least) because I wanted to spend some time blogging and I have a lot of work to do for school because my last week of summer session is approaching. I was in a better mental space than I have been for quite a while and was motivated to face my tasks for the day. I put on one of my favorite dresses (which always helps to keep me uplifted.) It's hard for me to be down when I love what I'm wearing even if it I don't LOVE the body it's on. Anyways, I stepped outside into the bright morning sun and everything about the day seemed beautiful.  It's not too hot yet (although it's supposed to reach almost 90 again) and the usually busy and chaotic streets of West Philly were silent, empty, full of calming energy. I took in a deep breath and looked around- so few people, so little sound, glorious! This may in fact be my favorite time of a day here. 8 AM on a Sunday morning when most students are still asleep, the professionals are off from work, the locals have yet to venture toward campus, and it seems like it's just me in this great big city full of people. I want to hold onto this moment, this scene, and this calm forever. But I know like all moments it will pass. Slowly but surely people will begin to awake and venture out. The stressful energy that Penn students exude will be released, the loud voices of local inhabitant will break the silence, and this soothing energy will evaporate. But the glory is that I know it existed and can attempt to hold on to it through the rest of my day.

"The great omission in American life is solitude; not loneliness, for this is an alienation that thrives most in the midst of crowds, but that zone of time and space, free from the outside pressures, which is the incubator of the spirit." 

- Marya Mannes

Me enjoying my moment of solitude-
Being lonely does not mean your actually alone. Loneliness can exist in a room full of people. Loneliness is a feeling of being disconnected it is not a physical or situational state. I am alone at the moment and I am at peace, soaking it in, calmly doing what I wish- this is solitude. It is a misconception that being alone means we're lonely or that we desire company. So often all we want is to be alone to reground ourselves, enjoy our own company, relax, or treat ourselves. Being alone doesn't directly correlate with loneliness while being surrounded by people doesn't imply good company. Oh how nice it can feel to be alone, comfortable with yourself and your thoughts, and in a state of authentic solitude. It is too hard to find in our world today especially when living in a larger city: Seek it, find it, enjoy it!

The rare city scene that I'm currently taking in.

"Finding solitude in the concrete jungle is powerful and peaceful."

- Mike Dolan

Whether you live in the suburbs, the city, or somewhere in between find the powerful and peaceful gift of solitude and carry it with you throughout your day.

Breathe, relax, and embrace the day,

Hard to Live in the City, Albert Hammond Jr.

Reclaim Control

Your Body, Your Day, Your Life

A Morning Affirmation

I woke up this morning feeling a little better than I did last night- the magic of an affirmation and sleep perhaps? Either way I am happy to feel this way and I am hoping that it will continue throughout the day yielding an improvement for my day as a whole. Because I have been in rut pertaining to my body image I have chosen an affirmation this morning that focuses on self-worth as a constant. Yes, I am feeling ok today but I and we cannot let bad body image days set the tone for the rest of our day. We need to
reclaim control of our thoughts and opinions of ourselves. In doing so we have the ability to reclaim control of our days and lives as well.

Kids can be so perceptive and smart-
My beauty cannot be defined by my physical appearance. My worth is constant and undeniable. Today I celebrate the beauty of my mind and my spirit. Today I appreciate the amazing and unique individual that I am.

Carefully look at the words of this affirmation, absorb and embody them. We are not our bodies. We are not our negative thoughts. We are our beautiful inner cores that reflect our true beliefs, faith, and worth. We are strong, unique individuals who deserves to enjoy everyday no matter what the scale says or what we see in the mirror.

Reclaim your control and worth today,

It's the characteristics inside that define and give us worth.

I love to hate on Britney Spears but this song is too perfect for the theme of reclaiming and strength (so please excuse the musical quality of my song choice...)

Stronger, Britney Spears

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Keep it Simple

An Evening Affirmation

I am really having a difficult time kicking this bad body image aside. It's been plaguing me for days now and I don't know why it is sticking around this long. Usually I don't feel this gross for such a long period of time and I am tired of taking it up space in my brain. Because my mind is so cluttered I am going to keep this post simple as well as the affirmation. Maybe the simplicity will serve me well and potentially you also.

I've done all that I can, today. I let go and relax. I give my body the rest it needs. My mind and my resolve are renewed as I sleep. I wake refreshed, recharged, and able to handle anything life presents to me.

I am not in the proper mental space to offer any insight or commentary on this affirmation. I pray that I can repeat this statement, believe parts of it, and find some comfort in these words. Goodnight to you all and I hope that we all awake with the skills and strength to face tomorrow's events both good and bad. 

Best wishes for a sound and secure sleep,

"Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication." - Leonardo da Vinci

"Life should be so simple, I wish it were just that simple-"

Friday, June 22, 2012

Inhale Peace, Exhale and Release

Letting Go and Accepting Sleep

An Evening Affirmation

Today and yesterday have been more difficult for me mentally for a variety of reasons. I have been trying to release my feelings of tension and negativity but it hasn't been easy. I am struggling to find a sense of calm and am hoping that this evening affirmation will help me this evening and guide me toward a deep and uninterrupted sleep.

I let go of shame and guilt. I let go of struggle. My body and mind are more relaxed and peaceful. I sleep through the night and wake refreshed and renewed.

Feelings of shame and guilt are two of the most destructive emotions we can have. They tear us apart, break down our confidence, trick us into thinking we are not worthy or capable. As we close our eyes and snuggle under the covers I pray that we are able to let go of these negative feelings that only serve to intensify struggling. We can free ourselves from shame, guilt, and struggle tonight and wake up tomorrow with a new outlook, confident in our strength and abilities.

If only letting go of feelings were as easy as releasing a bunch of balloons-

Let Go, Frou Frou

Maybe They've Had it Right All Along

The Truth in Classic Quotes

Old Does Not Mean Out of Date

While I was searching through lists of quotes the other day I found a quote from Charlotte Bronte's novel, Shirley. I have never read any Charlotte Bronte classics but this quote I came across is so on point and sounds as if it could have come right out of my own mouth.
 This insightful quotes needs very little introduction and makes me want to investigate her writing more. If she wrote this I can't imagine what other powerful statements may be hidden within the pages of her classic novels. 

“G-d surely did not create us, and cause us to live, with the sole end of wishing always to die. I believe, in my heart, we were intended to prize life and enjoy it, so long as we retain it." 

- Charlotte Brontë, Shirley

These words speak directly to a notion I have mulled over for a long time. What is the purpose of life? Surely G-d's divine plan holds more for me and us than simply suffering and toiling until death. I think our purpose, G-d's plan for us, is to enjoy ourselves and our lives while we have the chance to do so. We are not on this earth forever but while we are we should strive to make the most of it!  I think it's a shame that so often classics are disregarded as boring, irrelevant, or out of date. I don't think there is a statement more relevant to me and my life right now than Bronte's quote. The discovery has encouraged me not to just explore Bronte's works but classic in general. There is surely more truth and meaning in them than I could have imagined. Maybe it would serve all of us well to stop obsessing about the greatness of the new or the knowledge of the future and take a look back- there is merit, relevance, and greatness in the words of past scholars. 

Live your life in the present while appreciating knowledge from the past,

Model for a Time Machine

So this song has absolutely nothing to do with this post but it's so cheery and I thought it was kind of relevant in the spirit of taking a look back and appreciating the past. I can't help but love an oldie!

Daydream Believer, The Monkees

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Sleep is Medicine

Utilizing the Healing Capabilities of Sleep

A Powerful Evening Affirmation

It is officially evening and I have had a long, emotionally packed day defined by stressful academia, uncomfortable social interaction, and caloric consumption that has consequently resulted in horrendous body image and anxiety. I don't know what your individual days were like but I personally am in need of a strong, meaningful, and calming affirmation tonight.

Each breath I take soothes me. I breathe in comfort and contentment. I exhale burdens and worries. My body releases the tension of the day. Healing sleep comes easily. I wake feeling energized and fearless.

As I always do I'll pray to G-d that tomorrow is better than today but in addition I will pray for a sense of inner-peace that will allow me to forgive myself for any of today's mistakes, disregard regret, and provide me with a deep and uninterrupted sleep.

I wish you all the same peace that I long for,

Never disregard the value of prayer, G-d's love, and peace.
Let peace exist on earth and within you tonight and every night-

Let There Be Peace on Earth, Vince Gill

Opting for Optimism

Expect Something Great to Happen

It's Never Too Late to Have a Good Day

I know, how cheesy and unrealistic is this post, right? As an eternal pessimist I always am anticipating bad things to happen or making my wants seem completely illegitimate or unfeasible in order to avoid being hurt or let down. All this time I spend waiting for something bad to happen detracts from good things I am experiencing. A good day is just an opportunity for something to occur and ruin it while I bad day is inherently bad and holds absolutely no hope. What a terrible way to live! My Mom often tells me "we are what we think about most." If this theory holds than my pessimistic thinking is bound to manifest itself in a negative personality and an unhappy life. What if are way of thinking does really affect how our lives unfold. Lets believe this to be true, at least for the length of this post, and imagine the great possibilities of opting for optimism- Think optimistically! A good day could maintain its quality or even become great! A bad today has the potential to turn around at any moment and become good. Life is extraordinary in the sense that anything can happen at any moment and potentially change our day even our lives! Maybe by thinking optimistically we will attract goodness or perhaps this way of thinking will simply allow us to recognize positivity in things that we once failed to acknowledge. Either way it seems that if positive thinking correlates to good and happy experiences why even contemplate thinking negatively? 

“One of the things I learned the hard way was that it doesn't pay to get discouraged. Keeping busy and making optimism a way of life can restore your faith in yourself.” 

- Lucille Ball

So look at that, Lucille Ball gives us another reason to be optimistic. Maintaining a level of positivity doesn't just allow us to experience more good things but even provides us with a stronger foundation of faith in ourselves. Having an optimistic outlook in general can shift how we view our abilities and selves. Not only will we see and appreciate greatness in the world we will recognize the positives within ourselves. It seems that optimistic thinking has a lot of potential in terms of benefits so why do people, myself included, lean toward pessimism? I can answer for myself that I use pessimistic thinking as a means of protection but a lot of the time this protective measure is unnecessary because I good amount of the time things actually work out. All of preparation for failure or rejection is futile. So I guess my main point is simply consider the options, weigh the benefits and cost, make a choice. Optimism inherently expects and stimulates good things while pessimism naturally expects  and perhaps consequently encourages bad occurrences. So in short optimism has the potential to create positivity and pessimism, while sometimes protective in nature, has only the possibility to breed negativity. This brings me to a finally question: Is it really that difficult of a choice?

“For myself I am an optimist - it does not seem to be much use to be anything else.” 

- William S. Churchill

Remember it's never too late to change your thoughts and your day,

Keep smiling- it's not so bad!

This song is a personal favorite and keeps me optimistic- "...things are gonna get easier...they're gonna get brighter..."

Ooh Child, The Five Stair Steps
Two thumbs up!

Just a little silly!