Friday, November 30, 2012

Happy Thoughts Make Happy Days

The Power of Positivity

Remove the Clutter and Think Happy Thoughts

Remove the clutter from your brain-
These past few days my brain has been moving on high speed. A huge assortment of thoughts have been bouncing around in my brain and they are not the happy kind. I am stressed over upcoming final assignments and my mind can't stop focusing on all the work I have yet to complete. I am concerned that I have been isolating so I have been trying to force myself to go out and engage with people but I can't seem to have fun. Each night ends with me feeling as if I would have been better off staying home. My heart is aching over friendships that I've lost, friends I miss and have not seen, friends who live thousands of miles away and I may never see again. I am puzzled by my unhappy thoughts and recent feelings of sadness. I have almost reached my goal of completing the Fall semester! It is my favorite time of year and I am going to be home for it instead of in a treatment center, far from from my family. Christmas is getting closer every day! My favorite holiday is nearly here! I have so much to be happy about, such a great deal to be proud of, and numerous things to be thankful for. I should be ecstatic! Yet, here I am sitting with a brain full of sad, scary, and negative thoughts. I find myself yearning for the community aspect of treatment. I long for that feeling of be understood. I miss the bonds that I created and feel as if I lack the same type of bonds in my everyday life. I don't want to be in treatment. I want to be home for Christmas. I know I do. But I also want to be surrounded by people who understand me completely, girls and women who know exactly how to help and support me, friends that I connect with instantly. I am lonely because I feel as if I am not understood. I am sad because I rely on the company of my cat most of the time. I wish I had more good friends in my life, more people nearby, and more friends that I have a natural bond with. I do have some of these types of friends but not enough to let me feel fulfilled. 
Confusion fills my mind-
I am so confused as you can probably tell by the scattered characteristic of this post. My thoughts are everywhere and on everything. I can't keep them straight and I don't understand them. It's time for me to take a break from inside my head. I need to remove the clutter and make space for happy thoughts. Right now the negative clutter is taking up all of my brain power and I have no energy left to think happy thoughts. But as we know positivity can be a powerful tool if we choose to use it. So, I am going to attempt to extract these negative thoughts from my brain, clear my mind by removing the clutter, and save some energy to think happy thoughts. I'd like to offer an affirmation for us to concentrate on in the hopes that it will allow us to fill our minds with positive thoughts because happy thoughts make happy days-

I release unwelcome and debilitating thoughts and replace them with positive ones that allow me to appreciate the world around me.

Instead of getting stuck in our own heads- ruminating over unwelcome, negative thoughts- lets look outward and experience life. Our positive thoughts can help us to see the positive in the world around us. But, the first thing we need to do in order to get out of our heads, stop the the cycle of negative thoughts, and appreciate the world that exists around us, is remove the clutter. The clutter acts like a wall- trapping us inside our own minds, blocking our view of the external world, and forcing us to focus inward. It's time that we knock down this wall and allow ourselves to escape. Our positivity has the power to destroy this debilitating wall of negativity. Our happy thoughts allow us to see the world and all of the good it has to offer. These happy thoughts can materialize into happy days. As I release my stress about school I recognize and embrace the accomplishments I have already made this semester. As I let go of sadness about friendships I accept the warmth and love of my family. And as I let go of my confusion regarding the holiday and treatment I take in the present. I see and appreciate where I am  and what I have today. I know how hard I have worked to get to this point and I can't allow unhappy thoughts ruin my favorite holiday or diminish the strides I have made this semester. Once we get trapped in our heads and caught up in the cycle of negative thinking it is hard to find a way out. Well I am offering us all a lifeline right now. This is your out! Stop yourself now! Shut your eyes and repeat this affirmation as many times as you need. Lets picture the negative thoughts being released from our minds. Lets see the space being made within our heads. And now lets watch as positive, happy thoughts fill this newly made space. Our outlook- negative or positive- impacts the way we see the world and experience life. Lets choose to use the power of positivity so that we can enjoy everything that this day has to offer. Happy thoughts make happy days so kick out the negative and welcome the positive! It's time to remove the clutter, tear down the wall, think happy thoughts, and ultimately be happy!

Give yourself a happy day,

Happy thoughts allow us to see the positive in the world around us-

You Can Fly, From Disney's Animated Film, Peter Pan (1953)

25 Days Til Christmas Eve, 26 Days Til Chrismas

A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Goals Straight Ahead

Keeping Our Dreams In Mind

Lets Remember Why We Get Up Every Day

"If you want to make your dreams true, the first thing you have to do is wake up."

- J.M. Powers

Life often seems like a never ending road. We keep going and going and forget what we want, forget why we get up every day, forget our purpose. I find myself questioning why do I continue to pursue my education? Why do I fight stay healthy when it seems so much easier to get sick? Why do I stand up for my beliefs when it's simpler to give in? Why do I get up every day? At times life seems futile. At times it feels impossibly difficult. And occasionally I wonder, what it is the point? It's at these times that I have to think about my life- the people, the things, my passions, my desires- and remind myself of my goals. Keeping my dreams in mind enables me to out of my bed every morning, fight the cold, wait on line for coffee, schlep to class, and complete my piles of work. Ultimately our dreams are the reasons why we get up every day. We can't afford to forget them because if we do we have lost a significant source of motivation. 

Goals Straight Ahead
"A realistic, attainable, challenging and desirable goal creates energy and enthusiasm."

- David Lawrence Preston

Preston also recognizes the motivating power of a goal. We attain energy and enthusiasm in pursuit of our goals. The energy awakens us, drives us to keep going, working hard, and moving forward. The enthusiasm allows us to become engulfed in the required tasks to achieve our goals, passionate about the work that needs to be completed, and helps us to do these things to the best of our abilities.
In order to help me keep my dreams and goals in mind I have created two brief lists. One list consists of my short-term or immediate goals while the others lists my long-term goals.

Short-term Goals                                                                               
  • Finish the Fall Semester
  • Be home for Christmas
  • Become comfortable with my body again
  • Be healthy enough to take care of my kitten, Milly
  • Find something to be happy about every day
As I have said many times before Christmas is my favorite holiday and I can't miss it again this year. I long to be in the comfort of my Aunt's warm home, with my family, surrounded by festive decorations and an infinite amount of love. I want to be healthy enough to take care of Milly. If I get sick again there are two options for her- return to the refuge or live with my parents. Neither choice would be fair to her. She has come to rely on me, she follows me around, waits for me at the door, and I can feel how much loves me although she is unable to say it. I can't allow her to go back to her tiny cage in the refuse. And although she is comfortable in my home, with my parents, I know that she would miss me in my absence. Whenever I leave her I always say, "I promise I'll be back," and can't break that promise by abandoning her if I were to get sick again. Finally I want to find something to be happy about every single day even if it is just for a moment. It doesn't matter the source- a good grade, a funny memory, a conversation with my mom, a cute child- as long as it makes me smile I have achieved my goal.

Long-term Goals
New York City, Central Park
  • Finish my Undergraduate and pursue Graduate School
  • Speak French fluently
  • Live in New York City
  • Get married and have a family- be healthy enough to have and raise my children
  • Be happy in my life and with what I have
My undergraduate career has taken a long a disjointed course. I often get discouraged and feel as if I will never finish. But I have done so much and come so far that I can't permit myself to give up. It is difficult for me to continue as a student when most of my peers are years younger than me and friends my own age are moving on to new things in their lives. But I know that I owe it to myself and to my intelligence to complete my undergraduate education and move on to an even higher level of education that is more specific to my academic interests and ultimately my career. Another of my main long-term desires is to have a family. I always joke that my maternal clock started ticking well before it should have but part of my believe this to be the truth. I dream of being a mother, being pregnant, creating life, and caring for children of my own. I know that in order to create my own family I must keeping my eating disorder at bay. Anorexia can cause infertility and refuse to let my illness interfere with my dream of motherhood. Lastly, I would like to be happy in my life. This goal builds upon my short term goal of finding something to be happy about everyday. Ultimately I would like to be truly happy in life and with what I have. I don't expect to be happy every minute of every day but I would like to be able to say that I have more good days than bad days. And don't want my so-called bad days to debilitate me as they do now. 
Remember your dreams and goals-

"By recording your dreams and goals on paper, you set in motion the process of becoming the person you most want to be"

- Mark Victor

These goals, short-term and long-term, are the reasons that I wake up every morning and keep going no matter how difficult it is. If I have them written out right in front of me I will always remember why I get up every day.  And, as Victor says, by writing out our dreams, we have already begun the process of achieving them, simply by recognizing and recording them. It is too easy to get caught up in the crazy whirlwind of life. We continue to do things, say things, and fulfill responsibilities and in the process we forget why! If we forget the "why?" it becomes easy to fall into the trap of depression, hopelessness, and futility. We need to remember our goals in order to keep going. They can act as motivators for us when we feel weak, incapable, uncertain, or pessimistic. Try writing two lists- short-term and long-term- in order to remind yourself of your goals and bring your dreams to the forefront of your mind. If you have your goals staring you in the face you will never forget the "why?" Once we have managed to answer the why by keeping our dreams in mind we can move on to our final question, which happens to come in the form of a quote-

"How am I going to live today in order to create the tomorrow I'm committed to?"

- Anthony Robbins

I chose to use Robbins quote as my final question because honestly I don't feel I could have said it better myself. However, I would like to expand the time frame and instead ask: How am I going to live in the present in order to create the future I'm committed to? What are we going to do right now, later today, tomorrow, in a month, in order to achieve the goals we have recorded on our lists? I know that for me personally a lot of my goals are dependent upon my ability to stay healthy. In the present I am going to continue to eat to the best of my ability, continue to take the advice of my doctors and team, reach out to family and friends when I am struggling, seek help if and when I need it, maintain a weight that does not jeopardize my physical health. However, there are things I must do in the present that don't relate to my health and well-being. I must remain dedicated to my school work. I should create connections with professors and teaching assistants. I should spend time with friends and maintain my social connections. I will continue to journal, blog, and make time to do other things that fill me with a sense of calm. If I stay true to these statements then I should be able to create the future I'm committed to and attain all of my goals. 
"What must you do?"
What must you do in the present in order to create the future that you desire? Do you merely need to continue what you are currently doing or do you need to change your actions or behavior? Do you need support from friends and/or help from a professional in order to turn your dreams into a reality? Don't be afraid to ask for guidance. Don't be nervous about taking extreme measures. Don't hesitate to make a change. If you are truly passionate about your dreams and goals you will do whatever it takes in order to fulfill them! Make your lists and then don't waste a second to start chasing your dreams!

"Anything you really want, you can attain, if you really go after it."

- Dr. Wayne Dyer

Don't neglect your dreams because they are what drives you,

27 Days Til Christmas Eve, 28 Days Til Christmas

Children's dreams at Christmas time-

All I Want for Christmas Is You, Mariah Carey

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Today's Forecast: Bright and Sunny

Creating Warmth on Bitter Days

Make Your Own Mood Forecast

Today's Forecast: Bright and Sunny
I got a late start this morning and I missed the bit of snow that graced the Philadelphia area this morning. I am not a big fan of snow but it is better than the dreary rain that greeted me as I walked out my front door this morning. Although the weather forecast is calling for 30 degree temperatures and 90% chances of precipitation I am refusing to let it get me down or negatively impact my mood. Today I am making my own mood forecast and it's calling for a bright and sunny demeanor. Today's icy and gloomy weather is just the beginning of the cold days that await us this Winter. In light of this fact we need to figure out how to create warmth on bitter days. I am not talking about methods of staying physically warm- puffy coats, gloves, hats, heaters, hot tea- I am referring to an internal warmth that allows us to shine and feel good even when the weather is less than ideal. We can turn on the news and listen to the weather forecast so we can prepare ourselves and dress properly for the day. But after we turn off the news lets make our own mood forecast. For me today's forecast is bright and sunny. My mood is gradually improving, I feel better today than I did yesterday or the day before, and I anticipate that my bright and sunny mood is only going to escalate over the course of the next few days. I'd like to show you how these mood forecasts can be easily transformed into affirmations.
It may be snowing but I'm full of sunshine !

Today's Forecast: Bright and Sunny-

I will bring brightness and sunshine to everyone that I see today.

Today's Forecast: Warm and Calm

I carry an internal warmth and sense of calm with me as I go about my day.

These forecasts are just a creative way of using the traditional affirmations that we have grown accustomed to. Try it out! If you don't like it or it doesn't work for you go back to using the typical affirmation format. 
As I said before we have a lot of bitter days ahead of us considering it is not even December yet. I can honestly say that I hate the winter. I believe that it's only redeeming quality is the fact that Christmas happens to fall during this season. Christmas is the only day when I welcome and actually enjoy snowfall.

"A lot of people like snow. I find it to be an unnecessary freezing of water."
Winter 2011, Washington D.C.

- Carl Reiner

If it were up to me the weather forecast would always read 75 degrees and sunny but of course this is not how mother nature works. We must accept the unfavorable weather and keep in mind that sunny, warm days will come again. 

"Dear beautiful Spring weather, I miss you. Was it something I said?"

- Kim Corbin

I like this amusing quote because Corbin clearly feels the same way as I do. But we all know it's nothing we have said or done that made Spring go away. Winter is here simply because that is the normal course of nature. We can't sit around wondering we did something to push Spring and Summer time away- we know this is not the case. But we also can't hide out in our rooms feeling depressed or miserable until Spring makes its appearance again. We need to figure out how to carry warmth within us on these bitter days so that we are able to go out and greet the world with a smile! External factors, like the weather, only have the ability to permeate our minds and alter our moods if we allow them to. We need to build up a resistance by creating a strong sense of warmth, brightness, and sunshine that exists within our minds and hearts.

"Wherever you go, no matter what the weather, always bring your own sunshine."

- Anthony J. D'Angelo

Angelo's quote speaks exactly to what I am suggesting. We can prepare ourselves for any natural elements but always being equipped with our own sunshine. We can create and carry this sunshine by making our own mood forecasts or by using positive affirmations on a daily basis. As Winter begins to settle in lets try to make it a point to begin each day with an affirmation that will fill us with warmth no matter how cold or disgusting the weather may be. We can't prevent Winter from coming but we can decide how we are going to respond to it. If we stop living and wait out for Spring we are going to miss a whole bunch of wonderful things- family gatherings, dinner with friends, warm fires, hot chocolate, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day! Create warmth each and every day this winter and continue living. It may be cold and dreary but it's not worth missing out on all that life still has to offer!

Stay warm today- inside and out!

"Build up resistance by creating a strong sense of warmth!"

28 Days Til Christmas Eve, 29 Days Til Christmas

A Family Tradition- Baking holiday sugar cookies with my Aunt !

White Christmas, Bing Crosby

Monday, November 26, 2012

You Are Fabulous!

You Are Enough

Acknowledging Positive Attributes and Feeling Good About Ourselves

After over indulging during the long Thanksgiving weekend I am feeling not so fabulous about myself and my body. The Thanksgiving meal- stuffing, wine, pie, potatoes- and days of eating leftovers has really messed with my mind and sense of self. My bad body image thoughts are completely out of control. My rational mind keeps trying to interject telling me that "It is not possible for you to have gained any significant amount of real weight over the course of three days." And it tries to calm me down by offering advice such as, "Now that you're back on campus you'll return to your normal eating and walking routine. Even if you did gain weight it will come off naturally." Although these thoughts are present my eating disordered thoughts are strong and over rule my rational voice the maturity of the time. I am feeling fat, afraid, and out of control. I am wearing baggy clothes because I am nervous that if I put on jeans they will fit more snugly than they did previously. I am afraid that I won't be able to stop over indulging now that I have started and that my weight will just continue to sky rocket to a number that I am uncomfortable with. And I am feeling out of control because I have not been able to follow the rules and strictures that I usually set for myself regarding food. What if I can never follow them again? What if I just continue to overeat? 

My eating disordered voice is screaming, "You must start restricting now! You need to make up for the past few days! You are fat and disgusting! You are out of control and gluttonous just like everyone else! You have to lose this weight immediately!" The exclamations haunt me every moment of the day and force me to feel uncomfortable with what I have consumed. They evoke a level of fear in me that I can't even begin to describe. The provoke me to feel miserable mentally and disgusting in my own body. They inspire me to want to restrict to extreme measures so that I can take off any weight I may have gained and then some just as a precaution. My eating disorder makes me believe that I am not enough unless I am visibly underweight. It blinds me from seeing any positive attributes that I possess and subsequently prevents me from feeling good about myself. We all feel some remorse or regret after splurging over the holiday. Many of us plan to alter our eating habits for the days following in order to regain a sense of balance. But my thoughts and plans are extreme and that in itself scares me. If I listen to the advice of my eating disorder will I actually feel better? Or, will I begin to spiral down and lose control of the restricting and weight loss? Is listening to my eating disorder worth becoming sick again and potentially missing Christmas for the second year in a row? My rational mind answers with a resounding NO! 

So the question is how I am supposed to believe that I am fabulous no matter what I have eating and regardless of what I weigh? How can we look at ourselves and honestly say that we are enough? I am going to start of with a few affirmations to help us on journey to feeling fabulous-

I give myself all the compassion I deserve and need.

The more I acknowledge my positive qualities, the stronger they become.

I am worthwhile- imperfections and all.

I know it can be difficult to focus on three separate affirmations at once but I felt I needed to include all of them because collectively they cover three important elements that we need on our path to feeling  good about ourselves and believing that we are fabulous! The first element is compassion or self-love. We are so much harder on ourselves than we are on other people. We look in the mirror and pin point faults that others do not see or simply don't exist. We condemn ourselves for our mistakes, yell at ourselves for making stupid comments, and blame ourselves for situations that are out of our control. It is time that we show ourselves the same compassion that we show to others because we need and deserve it just as much as anyone else.

"If you had a person in your life treating you the way you treat yourself, you would have gotten rid of them a long time ago..."

- Cheri Huber

The second element is acknowledging positive qualities. Like I said previously if we can learn to recognize and acknowledge positive attributes that we possess than our supposed faults will begin to fade and seem less important. Acknowledging positive attributes also offers two more significant benefits. It forces us to look past the exterior and think about qualities that truly matter- kindness, intelligence, faithfulness, graciousness. We are more than our weight or shape and acknowledging positive attributes about ourselves that are not based on appearance enables us to see that there is more to us than what we look like. Acknowledging positives also commands us to realize and admit that there is good within us. There are things about us that are exceptional if we take the time to look at our own reflection- internal and external. Seeing these positive elements can help us to feel good about who we are and allow us to believe that we are fabulous! And finally the third element is feeling that you are worth it no matter what you have done, despite the faults you believe you have, and regardless of any mistakes you have made. Just being who you are is enough and is worth friendship, respect, and love. Because I included multiple affirmations and expanded upon all of them I am going to break it down into the three main themes in the hopes of preventing confusion. In order to believe that we are fabulous lets concentrate on these three elements or themes: compassion, acknowledging positives, and feeling worth it.

Because I am struggling so greatly with bad body image and eating disordered thoughts and urges at the moment I want to include a couple affirmations that speak specifically to these feelings and are directed to the eating disorder community. If this portion does not apply to you skip over it and continue reading. Even if you do not have an eating disorder you may find some use for the following affirmations but if you are already overwhelmed with the three affirmations that preceded this section than I encourage you to ignore it and focus on the affirmations the best apply to you and suit your personal needs. The holiday season can be exceptionally difficult for individuals who suffer from eating disorders. But the aftermath of the holidays can prove to be even harder and more draining. During my Thanksgiving meal and the days that followed my eating disorder voice was a whisper suggesting that I not eat the food but not preventing me from doing so. Now that the holiday is over and the deed is done my eating disorder is raging, making me miserable, and driving me to my breaking point. I know that I am not the only person who is feeling this way at the moment.
You are enough-
There are millions of us out there who suffer from eating disorders and need some extra help and encouragement during this time of year. I am going to offer a few affirmations that relate to eating disordered thoughts in the hopes that we can attempt to believe them and continue to move forward with our lives-

Neither the number on the scale nor the size of my jeans dictate my worth.

I can be happy even when I'm not comfortable in my body.

I have more important things to do than fight with my body and my mind.

I chose these three affirmations because they touch upon three themes that I believe are crucial in order to feel good about ourselves: a number is not a reflection of worth, happiness, and purpose. The first affirmation is a very typical one, used frequently in the eating disorder world, so I am not going to take the time to discuss it. However I would like to pay special attention to the last two affirmations which concentrate on happiness and purpose. Lets first look at happiness. 
Bad body image day-

Today I feel fat and miserable in my body. But, why should I allow that to ruin my day? Are there not other things in my life that can bring me happiness despite my discomfort? Just because we are having a bad body image day does not mean that we have to dwell on it and sulk. Instead we can distract ourselves by doing things that bring us joy- go to a movie, get a manicure, hang out with friends- and not let our physical insecurities debilitate us. Bad body image may be unavoidable at the moment but it does not have to dictate our mood or the way we conduct ourselves today. Just because we don't feel completely comfortable does not mean that we have to be miserable. Don't give yourself a moment to sulk! Suck it up, distract yourself, and do your best to enjoy the day. Your body image will most likely improve if you are active and involved in the world. Now lets think about the third affirmation about purpose. Today my eating disordered thoughts are loud and out of control. They are interjecting when they are not wanted and preventing me from doing the things that I want and need to be doing. I have class to go to, assignments to complete, and a personal project that I would like to work on. 

I don't have time for these thoughts !
But I am so in my head that I cannot focus on any of these tasks. I am physically present but mentally absent. I don't have time for this bull shit. I don't have energy to waste fighting with my body and arguing against the thoughts in my mind. I have a large purpose, more important things to do, and I cannot waste valuable time toying with my eating disordered thoughts and playing the anorexia game. I have bigger and better things to do in my life, productive things that will add to my happiness and well-being, significant tasks that help move me forward and bring me closer to my goals. I know how difficult it can be to believe that the number on the scale does not matter. Honestly, I don't believe it myself. To me every pound still matters and every calorie counts. Holidays are not an excuse to over indulge and whoever said "It's on the inside that counts" is full of crap. But if I can focus on my want for happiness and my purpose than maybe I can quiet the eating disordered thoughts and escape the torment that currently exists within my head. Whether you have an eating disorder or not we all have insecurities and they don't necessarily have to relate to physical appearance. Yes, everyone, especially women, is slightly vain and has negative thoughts about our bodies. We say things like, "Our feet are too big," "I hate my thighs," "My stomach is flabby." 
As always I need to add some humor-
But we also feel inferior in other areas of our life as well. We won't ask a question in class because we are concerned we will look dumb. We refuse to hold hands with people because we're self-conscious that our hands are clammy. We refuse to speak out because we dislike our voice or accent or believe that we don't speak as eloquently as others. We won't contribute to conversations because we think we are boring, don't have anything interesting to add, or that people won't listen to us. All of these insecurities have the ability to interfere with our every day lives. How can we buy shoes if we don't want anyone to see our big feet? How are we supposed to learn anything or we refuse to ask questions?  How can we order coffee if won't let anyone here our voice? How can we make friends if we are too afraid to get involved in conversations? Insecurities can be exceptionally debilitating but only if we allow them too. If we can counter our insecurities, give our shortcomings less significance, and truly believe that we are fabulous than our negative thoughts will not be able to prevent us from living our lives, feeling good about ourselves, and trusting that we are enough just as we are.
This kitty does "not give a shit !"

"One of the greatest journeys in life is overcoming insecurity and learning to truly not give a shit."

- J.A. Konrath

Konrath suggests that by overcoming our insecurities we will learn to not care what other people think about us and perhaps this is true. But do all of our insecurities stem from fear of what others may think or how they will respond? I know some of my insecurities are related to the opinions of others but a great deal of my insecurities come from within. I don't think anyone else would consider me fat, yet, I am still insecure about my body. I am insecure because it doesn't look exactly how I want it to look, how I think it should look, and what I think my appearance says about me as a person. Although others would not condemn me for over indulging during the breaking and perhaps gaining a pound or two I am still insecure about it. The insecurity stems from a hatred for myself not from a fear involving what others may think. I believe that a great deal of our insecurities have nothing to do with other people and have more to do with ourselves and our own opinions. Not "giv[ing] a shit" does not mean we are insecurity free. I can honestly say that after all I have experienced in my life there are very few people and opinions that I truly "give a shit" about. My sense of self-worth comes from my own opinions, my personal ideas, and my own view of myself. So the question is: How do we challenge these insecurities that are not based in the opinions of others but instead rooted in the way we give value to ourselves? I don't possess the words to answer this question so as usual I am going to rely on two quotes to help us attempt to figure it out-

"Certain flaws are necessary for the whole. It would seem strange if old friends lacked certain quirks."

- Goethe

"There are two kinds of perfect: The one you can never achieve, and the other, by just being yourself."

- Lauren King

I want to briefly look at these quotes in connection with each other. Both quotes focus on the need to accept all aspects of who we are in order to be ideal versions of our true selves. Goethe talks about the necessity of flaws in order to be complete. We love our friends and they love us in return despite faults. None of us would be the same people if we didn't possess these "quirks," odd attributes, or shortcomings. We all have qualities that we dislike but without them we would no longer be the selves- friends, daughters, mothers, siblings- that people in our life have grown accustomed to and love. King brings up a final point about perfection that I found interesting. We are constantly being told that "no one is perfect" but maybe this is an inaccurate statement to make. Perhaps King is right in say that there are two kinds of perfect. We can achieve perfection by remaining true to ourselves, accepting our faults,  acting in accordance with our beliefs, and making use of our positive attributes. By believing that we are enough we have found perfection! I am not sure if these quotes adequately answered my question but they have definitely helped me in getting on the right path to figuring it out. No matter what makes you insecure and regardless of why try to remember that not only are you enough but you are fabulous just as you are.

Continue to focus on the positive and remember to treat yourself well,

I know, I am absolutely fabulous!
Beautiful, Christina Aguilera

29 Days Til Christmas Eve, 30 Days Til Christmas

Sunday, November 25, 2012

"Be Kind. No Exceptions."

Thoughts for This Blustery Morning

Affirmations and Quotes

As soon as the cold weather sets in it is easy to become grumpy and miserable. The bitter weather and shorter day light hours have a way of making us unhappy and our negativity can filter into the way that we behave and interact with others. We can make a million excuses for why we don't treat others with kindness- the weather is bad, we're in a hurry, we're having a bad day, we're tired, we're stressed, this time of year makes us depressed- but at the end of the day all of these reasons are bullshit. It's not difficult and takes little effort to treat others with kindness so I am here to tell you to be kind, no exceptions! I try my best to treat others with kindness despite how I am feeling personally. I greet familiar faces with a heart-felt hello and a broad smile. I talk to everyone I come into contact with- cashiers, strangers in line with me at Saxbys, professors, friends and acquaintances I see on the street, classmates. I try my best to help the homeless population that inhabits my campus, offering to buy them some water or something to eat, even respecting their request for a cigarette if I am feeling exceptionally generous. I do my best to avoid confrontations with my family (which is not always easy) and express my love for them as much as I possibly can- in words, with hugs, by squeezing their hands and other making other loving gestures. I treat my kitten with utmost kindness- snuggling and kissing her, singing to her, speak to her softly, offering her treats every once in a while- and her purring response lets me know that my kindness is bring her happiness. Being kind serves a dual purpose- it makes me feel good because I am able to make a positive impact and the recipients of my kindness are brought some joy as well. To get us started this morning I'd like to offer two affirmations for us to think about-
Greet everyone with a smile !

I greet everyone I meet with kindness and a smile.

I live my life with a kind and friendly demeanor that is contagious.

Both affirmations can be useful in achieving our goal for today: kindness. But I'd like to pay special attention to the second affirmation that I proposed. Lets not underestimate the power of our kindness or the ability of a friendly smile. Moods are truly contagious. Have you ever been out with a friend who is in a bad mood, being pessimistic, or just being a downer? It can be really frustrating to deal with someone's negativity when you are attempting to have a good time. Their pessimism spreads like a disease and can bring the mood of the entire group down. Well, the same premise works with positivity, kindness, and good moods. Your simple acts of kindness can make someone's day and inspire him/her to be friendly and nice to the other people in their life. Now those people are in a good mood as an indirect effect of your initial kindness and they will carry their happiness on to other people whose moods may also be brightened. I don't need to go on because you understand how this cycle works. My point is that kindness is contagious and smiling at just one person can have monumental effects and end up impacting more people than you can even imagine. 

"Today, give a stranger one of your smiles. It might be the only sunshine he sees all day."

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

It cannot hurt to simply be nice and it does not take a great deal from you. Give someone a smile because you have an endless supply. Make a kindness a daily practice, ultimately it will become natural to you and you'll find that it is more difficult to be nasty than it is to be nice. You will also discover that you feel better about yourself when you are making others feel good rather than hurting people. Have your ever accidentally or intentionally hurt a friend's feelings? How did you feel after the fact? I'll be the first to admit that there have been many times when I have hurt people in my life. Sometimes I was mean intentionally because I was feeling irritated by the person. And sometimes I have hurt people unintentionally, not knowing that my words or behavior would have negative consequences. However in both situations I ended up feeling like shit. I felt guilty for hurting another person. My mood was brought down because I had contributed in spreading negativity. I was disappointed in myself and sad that I had inflicted pain on another person. The feelings of victory, empowerment, satisfaction, and vengence that I had hoped for did not come. What I have realized that being kind makes me feeling more successful, empowered, and satisfied than being mean ever has. Yes, being kind benefits those who surround us but we gain from it as well. And the fabulous thing about it is that there are possibilities for us to share a kind and friendly demeanor with the world.

"Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible."

- Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama

Every situation offers the opportunity for you to be kind. And every person you meet- cashier, brother, Aunt, friend, acquaintance, doctor, homeless man- deserves your kindness, no exceptions! Don't discount a single person that you encounter in your life. Everyone you meet will be happy to accept the kindness and respect that you have to offer. There are so many miserable and nasty people in this world that go through life being rude, ignoring, or being just plain mean to the people that they encounter everyday. Your unexpected kindness will be like a breath of fresh air and the recipients will most definitely be thankful for the positive and friendly interaction. So what is the basic point of this entry? Be kind, no exceptions! The possibilities are many. Your resources are infinite. And the results are more than worth the effort. Practicing kindness everyday will change the way you live your life and is a small way to benefit the lives of others and the world at large!

Be kind to everyone everyday,

Be Kind. No Exceptions. We are all struggling with something and could use a friendly face!

30 Days Til Christmas Eve, 31 Day Til Christmas

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Countdown To Christmas

31 Days Til Christmas Eve

Time to Get Merry!

If you haven't realized yet the Christmas season is my absolute favorite time of the year. I am not sure what it is about Christmas that gets me so excited and merry. I will admit I am sucker for the festive Christmas lights and decorations. The holiday music makes me smile and warms my heart. As soon as Starbucks releases its holiday cups my heart begins to race a little bit. Once the cheesy Christmas commercials start playing a get filled with a feeling of warmth. And of course the anticipation of receiving gifts is exciting. (The shopaholic in me can't help but love the idea of receiving clothes and gifts cards that feed into my clothing and accessory obsession.) I'll admit that I get just as giddy on Christmas morning as an adult as I did as a child when I was waiting to see all the toys that Santa left for me underneath the tree. But I think the true reason that Christmas brings me so much joy is because of all of my happy childhood memories that are associated with it. We always celebrate the holiday at my Aunt's house because my Jewish father never permitted us to have a Christmas tree, or lights, or anything associated with the holiday. But I almost liked it better that way. My Aunt's house was and still is the hub for Christmas festivities, holiday gatherings, and family traditions. As a child we celebrated Christmas all month long and it started with the tradition of picking out our Christmas trees. We always have a boys tree and a girls tree (one for my brother and one for me) and there is always an argument over whose tree got the prime location of the family room and who got stuck with the living room. We could never remember whose tree was where the year before so every year there was a debate over who got the family room last year. As a young girl I always wanted the biggest tree on the lot (regardless of the fact that it was 5 feet taller than the house's ceilings) and it wasn't until recently that I learned that my Aunt and Uncle were only pretending to let me get that tree and in reality had picked a different more appropriate tree without my knowing. We painstakingly decorated the trees- girls decorating their own tree and boys decorating theirs- and we received "special ornaments" every year. The were unique ornaments that my Aunt and Uncle gave to me, my brother, and my older handicapped cousin that were specifically picked just for us and were exceptionally different than the traditional filler ornaments used to decorate the rest of the tree. Now that so many years have passed we have accumulated such a huge number of "special ornaments" that there is no need for filler ornaments any longer and we barely have enough room on the tree to fit all of the "special ornaments."
Christmas Eve day was spent in the my Aunt's kitchen helping her bake pies and prepare for our Christmas Eve dinner. We always spent the night at my Aunt's house and awoke Christmas morning to pile of gifts so high that we could barely get into the family room. (Santa was always very generous because my brother and I were of course at the top of his nice list.) Christmas day was spent investigating and putting together new toys, relaxing in our PJ's, preparing yet another feast, and enjoying each other's company. My childhood Christmases are some of the best memories I have and they have clearly stuck with me. I think that this is the true reason why the Christmas season brings me so much excitement and happiness. 
It pays to be on the nice list !

"There is a garden in every childhood, an enchanted place where colors are brighter, the air softer, and morning more fragrant than ever again."

- Elizabeth Lawrence

Perhaps I love Christmas because it allows me a brief amount of time to return to the glorious days of my childhood. A time when a new baby doll was a treasure, when I considered apple pie a meal, when I wasn't too self-conscious to belt out Christmas carols, when my Aunt was the queen of Christmas, when Santa ate the cookies and milk I left, when joining my Aunt and Uncle for Midnight Mass was an adventure, and when Christmas was magical. Christmas is still magical for me and I believe it always will be. It connects me to the happiness I felt in the past and helps to alleviate or dull any of my current pains or concerns.
As soon as Thanksgiving passes I know that this magical holiday is right around the corner and my favorite time of year has arrived. Because of my love for Christmas I have decided to start my countdown now! It is officially 31 days til Christmas Eve which means that it is time for us to start celebrating, feel the positive energy, and begin to get merry! 

"I wish we could put up some of the Christmas spirit in jars and open a jar of it every month."

- Harlan Miller

While we don't have the ability to put this Christmas spirit in a jar and store it for later we do have the ability to get in the spirit as early as we please and make it last as long as we choose. I am choosing to feel the spirit now and am hoping that it will last until after New Years Day! Get yourself in the mood and feel the Christmas spirit. Feel the joy, excitement, love, energy, generosity, and merriness now! How do you get yourself in the mood? While I do have a few suggestions to share you with you, remember that you know yourself best, you know what it takes for you to feel the spirit and get merry!

  • Listen to Christmas music. Create a Christmas playlist and/or turn on your favorite Christmas CD and play it while you are going about your day. There are even some radio stations that are playing only Christmas music from now until Christmas Day!
  • Decorate. Put up lights and Christmas paraphernalia in and around your house! It's impossible not to smile and feel a bit of cheer when you are greeted by festive Christmas decorations.
  • Be kind and generous. Feel the positive energy of Christmas by sharing it with those around you. Being nice to others- holding the door for a stranger, greeting the cashier at Starbucks, smiling at people on the street- will not only make you feel good but will help spread the kindness and cheer.
  • Start your Christmas shopping early. It seems that Christmas comes earlier and earlier every year. Sometimes it feels as if it's not really here even when it's only a few days away. Start your Christmas shopping earlier to convince yourself that Christmas is truly on its way. Plus, it's fun to go toy shopping and nothing is more fulfilling than knowing that the gift you're buying is going to bring a huge smile to a child's face!
  • Begin sending Christmas cards. Everyone enjoys receiving a personal holiday greeting from a friend. Resort to snail mail and buy some pretty holiday cards (I've had mine stored away for a few months now.) Make a list of who you want to send cards to and start writing. (Add some fun stickers if you want in order to add a little something special!) It will get you in the holiday mood and those receiving your cards will be both surprised as well as happy to hear from you!
  • Start your own Christmas Countdown. Make a special calendar to countdown to Christmas and mark off every day that passes. If you have kids it could be fun to put it on your fridge and let them put a sticker on each day that goes by! As you see it gradually getting closer your joy and excitement is sure to grow.

Try some of these tips and see if it helps you get in the Christmas mood! This is the time of year when snow is welcome, children's smiles are contagious, families come together, and love and joy abounds. It's never too early to get merry so lets start the countdown to Christmas! Join me in celebrating the upcoming holiday- it's the most wonderful time of the year!

Don't hesitate, it is time to get merry,

31 Days Til Christmas Eve, 32 Days Til Christmas

Christmas is on it's way !
It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year, Andy Williams