Don’t Worry Be Happy -W.I.S.E. Project 2017 #TenaciousTuesday

I recall a time not so long ago that I ridiculed people who read self-help books. I cannot pinpoint when and how I became enthralled with the wildly popular genre but in the past several years about 90% of my reading has been dedicated to memoirs and self-improvement. I take courses and workshops and online boot camps dedicated to understanding myself better and reaping more joy from the world around me.

I went from So What to Don’t Worry Be Happy on the musical scale of life.

When I initially started the W.I.S.E. Project I was going through a period of uncertainty and unexplained sadness and though I was going through the motions I wasn’t living a life that was bringing me a great deal of happiness. I made some changes right away in my life by being more mindful and aware which lead to me doing a relationship study and exploring the connection between our emotions and our actions. I made a conscious effort to try to control what I search and see online and to make choosing happiness and gratitude a priority every moment of every day.

I still get sad, angry, emotional, bitter and annoyed but I am much more aware of the cause of these feelings and I know that my actions in those moments of distress truly matter. I believe it was Brené Brown that first said, “You cannot selectively numb emotion.” What she meant by that is if we numb the bad emotions in hopes that we will never experience pain or anger we will also numb those delightful feelings of happiness and joy that we want to feel as well. It would be like taking a brilliantly colored rainbow and putting a bleak filter on it, making it dismal and uninteresting. It still passes for a rainbow but it it isn’t vivid and gleaming.

I think we all want the same basic things from life, we all want to live a happy and fulfilling life, but I respect that we all follow a different path to get there.

Newly “Happy” people are like people who were very successful on a diet or that just found Jesus.  They are excited and they want to help you have the same experience. The problem with that is that we are all individuals with different thoughts, feelings, beliefs and challenges, what works for one may not be a “one size fits all” fix.

In the past month, I have encountered the same thing repeatedly relating to the happiness experience and I thank my husband for encouraging me to look at things in a new way, especially in those cases that relate to our teenage daughters. I was leaning too far into the “don’t worry be happy” approach to guidance which gives very little regard to the vast emotions that we; as humans, experience daily.

Though I still wholeheartedly believe that gratitude breeds abundance and happiness is a choice, sometimes shitty things happen to us and we have every right to feel shitty about them. Telling someone who is hurting to “get over it” or to look on the bright side” is probably not the best way to be supportive. We experience feelings for a reason and they deserve to be acknowledged so that we can keep moving through life making the very best choices we can in the moment.

We are hardwired for struggle, if we respond to our pain, our sadness, our fears, we are admitting that our feelings are real and that they deserve our attention. We cannot overcome that which we refuse to acknowledge.

There has been a hopeful shift in the way that I relate to my teenage daughters. By acknowledging their fears and their pain instead of quickly dismissing it by telling them it won’t matter in twenty years or that they need to get over it, I have observed the emergence of their own coping mechanisms. My husband reminded me to think back to when I was a teenager and how things that may not matter to me now were a very big deal. It was a huge eye opener, and so effective to put myself in their shoes, at their age for just a moment. They are assured that their feelings have substance and that pain has a beginning, a middle and an end. I am seeing them accepting their fate and recognizing the steps they need to take to move through their difficult emotions, without holding unto the bad energy or passing it along to others. As a parent, it is very satisfying to watch their character reveal itself.

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I was quite annoyed the other week as I was discussing a situation with some friends and one proceeded to tell me how I felt and how I should feel about the circumstances. I thought that is was presumptuous to tell me how to feel. It gave me a moment of pause to consider if I have been guilty of the same thing.

There is a great deal of people in the world who wrap themselves in pain and anger and live their entire lives blanketed in misery. Unlike those people, people that are willing to experience the emotions that visit them, to identify their cause and travel through their struggles, hanging on to the lessons only; are probably some of the happiest and most intelligent people I know.

Diminishing and disregarding the feelings of another does not make us a shining example of anything. Even though we may think me may mean well, in our attempts to help we may be unwittingly devaluing their emotions.

One of the society’s biggest problems is that we listen only to respond. Sometimes people just want us to listen, not to tell them how to feel or how to fix their lives, they just need us to listen.

“Sometimes all a person wants is an empathetic ear; all he or she needs is to talk it out. Just offering a listening ear and an understanding heart for his or her suffering can be a big comfort.”
― Roy T. Bennett

Part of Me-W.I.S.E. Project 2017/Tenacious Tuesday (Self Love)

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In the summer of 2012 when my daughters were 7 and 12  I took them to see Katy Perry’s Part of Me. To say that Katy was at the height of her career would not be an understatement, she played to sold out shows in arenas in 124 cities all over the world during her yearlong California Dreams tour.

There was an Alice in Wonderland-esque meets fairy-tale feel to each show and she played both Alice and the Princess flawlessly. Many a pink tutu, ruffles, lollipops and glitter were exhausted during every performance. It was everything I would have expected from a live Katy Perry Performance but so much more.

Filmmakers Dan Cutworth and Jane Lipsitz gave fans a unique experience which was a culmination of backstage pass,  front row fantasy and raw human emotion. Perry never faltered in her commitment to her fans, giving stellar performances night after night, all the while defying exhaustion and facing some incredibly challenging difficulties in her personal life.

In October of 2010 Katy married comedian Russel Brand; embarking on her first career altering tour just four months later in February of 2011. Perry went to remarkable lengths to fan the flames of her marriage, often taking her only days off to journey across the Atlantic to be with Brand even though he was unwilling to put forth an equal effort to stay connected to her and their marriage.

As the tour wore on Brand continued to push for a family but Perry was not in a place to commit to being a full-time mom. She continued to sacrifice her time and her health for a man that appeared to want to exert a certain measure of control over the young songstress.

I know for a fact that at 7 and 12 years old, my daughters were not impacted by the movie in the same way that I was. I watched a woman in the throes of super stardom, lift herself to the an amazingly high throne in the pop music industry and at the very same time get broken up with; in a text, moments before having to get ready to go onstage.

I watched the movie again this past Friday and I recall her being rushed to the stage while her team was quietly uncomfortable, wondering if the singer would perform. They attempted support and encouragement but it was apparent that they were uncertain as to what exactly was going on and how to react to it.

Katy, faced with the reality that her marriage had crumbled, doubled over sobbing a couple of times on the way to the stage. She was overcome by grief and sadness and as a spectator, having watched her vulnerability unfold and her marriage emplode, it was gut wrenching. You could almost feel the tightness in her chest, the heaviness in heart, I must admit I choked back some tears myself.

As they say in the biz, “the show must go on” and it did.

Katy  was on a platform under the stage, in Brazil I believe, and tech was waiting to rise her up. As she was waiting she wiped away tears, and then spun the candy embellishments that rotated across the chest of her dress, nodded to be lifted up and plastered on the best smile she could manage under the circumstances.

Ready or not, it was time to be Katy Perry the star, Katy with the broken heart would have to wait.

I was so moved by that moment. Her pain wrapped itself around me like a blanket.

To this day, I cannot fathom how Katy was able to will herself to perform that night. I think society is somewhat programmed to believe that stars are exempt from feelings, that somehow money and fame trumps pain and anguish. On the contrary, I cannot imagine enduring that type of all-consuming heartbreak in the public eye.

Strangely, that performance may have been the best one of the tour, possibly of her career. She was able to connect with the audience and her own lyrics in an authentic and emotional way. I am certain the love and energy of the crowd that night and the nights following must have helped  to keep her together when the cards were falling down all around her.

Some tough times followed but in adversity Katy Perry found redemption. She made her mess her message!

When Katy Perry released her album Prism, she said that the title came from her letting the light in. In the midst of a crisis she found her identity and the genuine need for self-love.

For several reasons, I became a bigger fan of Katy Perry after her public despair and the transformation that occurred following that difficult time. I heard an interview subsequently where she said, “What I need is self-love, first and foremost. I think everything follows in such a fantastic way after you have that love for yourself.

We give little pieces of ourselves to the people we love, but when we truly love ourselves there are parts of us that can never be taken away. Our worth, our value and our sense of who we are as a person, independent of our relationships.

You can temporarily chain a heart but you cannot break a soul.

Have you experienced heartbreak? Have you been able to let go of the pain and grow from it? Do you view vulnerability in relationships as a strength or a weakness?

Good Vibrations-W.I.S.E. Project 2017

I’m back.

 

I have been gone from here for almost a month and though I thought about you often I had committed to spending some quiet time with my family and though wonderful, enlightening and sometimes hilarious thoughts ran through my mind, I was way to relaxed to form complete thoughts and put them in black and white.

For those of you that celebrate the holidays I hope they were wonderful. I had a quiet and relaxing holiday with my family but we are well into the new year now and I have a feeling it is going to be a good one. Whatever may be and however it ends up-good or bad, it will happen and I will either be swept along or I will lead the way so hold on…

While I was writing my last W.I.S.E. Project Post in December I was feeling a little bit of uncertainty about where to go from there but I got a lot out of the project and if nothing else it is a reminder to seek happiness and joy in every single day and that does require effort from me. I can get easily overwhelmed by the world, media, politics, sensationalism and my own first world problems. Seeking reasons to be happy has been good for me and something I hope to continue always.

A very important thing that emerged for me during the 2016 project was energy. I would like to think that I possess good energy and I quickly began to discern the things and the people that energize me and the experiences and people that are constantly in the withdrawal line taking my energy and depleting my balances without adding anything meaningful to my life.

I have believed for some time that our physical body is just one small part of our being, and I also believe that our physical body could not exist without the spiritual life force that perpetually guides it. The different parts of our bodies, energetic and physical are coupled together and effort as one, exchanging energies with the environment.

I know, I know, some of you are reading this and wondering what kind of hippy dippy mumbo jumbo I am trying to sell you. I am not trying to market anything at all, I am simply sharing with you that I am learning more about life force energy and how it connects our mind, body and spirit and how I can use that knowledge to lead a better life.

Last weekend I took my daughter and her friends to the trampoline park. I was sitting on a sofa in the corner reading an enriching article and a Muslim woman asked me if she could sit down. I have to admit, on a glance I am often quick to assume that a Muslim woman and I would have nothing in common, but that is not always the case. This particular lady was full of good energy and her eyes sparkled with it. She had a beautiful little boy with the most stunning brown eyes and he had dumped nacho cheese all over her, him and the floor and she was attempting to clean it up. She chatted amicably to me as she did and her beautiful boy charmed me with his almond shaped eyes and his magnetic smile. The minute they left I went back to my article and if there wasn’t a smile on my face there was one in my heart. A moment later two ladies came and sat on the sofa beside me, there was plenty of room but I felt immediately crowded. The energy had shifted quickly. The ladies were close to my age and they were talking about their friends in a very gossipy and malicious manner. They were reading private messages aloud from their texts and Facebook and making comments calling their “so called” friends idiots and stupid. It made me extremely uncomfortable to the point that I had to bite my tongue and refrain from telling them how horrible their behavior was. Their kids came over as they were out of breath and needed a break. One of the women was quick to shout at her son to “go away, stop pissing me off. You only have an hour so go play and stop wasting my goddamn money!” The kid told his mom that he needed to catch his breath and she continued more of the same tone and talk to make certain he stayed away from her. The other mom seemed to agree with her friend but quietly told her son to just walk around if he needed a break. When the kids walked away the one woman continued on her rant, calling her son a ‘fucking idiot’. At this point I felt like I was going to explode and I wavered between saying something and minding my own business.  Ultimately I decided to mind my own business but I was affected by it. The most vocal woman suggested they download Tinder ‘to make fun of people’. The other woman asked why she had been on Tinder (a hook up site) when they had both been married for years and she replied that it was ‘fun to check people out and make fun of them’

As appalled as I was later that evening I was contemplating the times in my life that I had been that unhappy that I spent my free time with people I thought were friends, gossiping about other friends.I am sorry I was ever that person, but I was. Maybe not to that degree but I certainly was guilty of sharing secrets, breaking trusts and talking about people that I called friends behind their backs. I don’t ever want to be that person again. We are all guilty of a little bit of mindless chatter, I am not perfect and neither are you but I like to think that for the most part if you are my friend I try to have the best of intentions and I hope you will do the same for me.

Misery loves company, people that are unhappy take solace in the fact the others are unhappy too. Unhappy people share their unhappiness in the way of bad energy the same way that happy people share their good energy. It would be impossible to never be affected by negative energy, it is like getting a cold…you didn’t want it, you didn’t ask for it, but you have it all the same. There are precautions you can take to not get a cold. You can wash your hands frequently, you can refrain from shaking hands with someone who has a cold, don’t share drinks. In the same token you can take steps to make sure that the majority of the energy that you exchange is good energy and you will find that the more good energy you put out into the world, the more you will get back.

I actually just had a discussion with my boss today about how last year I started spending a lot of time by myself, I wasn’t even joining my coworkers for lunch. I needed to take a step back and find myself in the silence and sort out my own energy and find a way to be sympathetic to the stories and problems of others without taking them upon my shoulders. It was something that I had to do to heal myself and I feel really good about it. When I was learning to distinguish between good and bad energy I spent more time with my family and my dogs. I got my energy from the sun, the grass and the trees instead of noisy, crowded places.

I have been feeling inspired to further research energy and learn more about how our emotional, mental, physical and spiritual wellness are all affected by the functioning of our energetic body. I know that there are many different ways you can look after your energy and there is one that has always fascinated me and that is Reiki. Many years ago I had a Reiki treatment and it was such an intensely energizing and healing experience that the memory stayed with me. I have been trying to get my husband to go for a Reiki treatment so that he can let go of some of the negative energy that weighs him down. He has tried Energy massage that works with chakra balancing and he thought is was a positive experience. I decided to explore the universal life force that is Reiki on my own as a means for personal growth and to keep myself in optimal mental and emotional health. I am pleased to say that I have obtained my Reiki level 1 and I plan to continue through the levels and hopefully in the future I can attend workshops and do some practicum and maybe share the gift of Reiki with others.

I have some other fun stuff that I am working on but I am trying not to overload my brain. I do have a tendency to get really excited about things and take on too much and then I feel stressed and lose interest. I will keep you updated on my journey and I really hope that if any of you are excited about something you are learning or you are engaged in a new activity  this year you will share it with me.

One thing I decided too do a little differently is alter the W.I.S.E. Principles. I think they were really good to keep me focused during the beginning of the project last year but focusing on them took me away from my initial pursuit to be more mindful and find joy in the present.

Instead I would like to use the W.I.S.E. acronym to describe myself or an aspect of my personality that I am proud of and elaborate on that somewhat throughout the month. You can creatively choose your own.

The W.I.S.E. project will continue to be a way of life, a means to focus mindfully on the moment, to invite abundance into my life by being grateful and to invite joy into my life by being present. Breath in-be present, breath out-be free!

A couple attributes I came up with quickly are Warrior, I am actually doing a Warrior goddess course and I think that without knowing many of us are warriors, I am insightful, I do not remember dates or facts or history the way some people do but I am intelligent and I am often keenly intuitive. I am strong, I know this without a shadow of a doubt, I think it is common for people to be fearful and doubt their strength but once you know…you know! I am eager, always eager to be better and to learn new things and to love the people I love with my whole heart.

W-Warrior

I-Insightful

S-Strong

E-Eager

Be W.I.S.E. friends!

 

 

 

All You Need is love-W.I.S.E project 2016

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I am an just ordinary girl in an extraordinary world but I set out at the beginning of this year wanting to paint my surroundings in bold and vibrant colors and live a life full of joy. Truthfully I know I am not ordinary, I always knew. Even back when I was nine years old sitting on the old wooden step at my country home with a notepad and a pencil and imagining all the wonderful things that I could put on that page…I knew. Somehow with time and circumstance I lost myself or perhaps I gave pieces of me away and I never really got them back. Today I call myself a work in progress but I have reunited my mind with my soul and it is a much nicer place to be.

Thanks so much to the universe for keeping me on my toes with your constant challenges this year. I would like to believe that I have passed all of the damn tests and that we are about done with this nonsense. I “womaned” up! My warrior spirit cannot and will not be broken. I am tired though and never mind that I have been insanely tired since 1999,  the complete mental drain of the past several months has left me a new kind of tired that I didn’t even know existed and no matter how many weekends I spend in my pajamas, curled up in fuzzy blankets the feeling has not been alleviated.

My husband and I realized last night that he has been gone for eight of the last twelve months. His struggle with depression and being away from his family and my struggle to try to be more compassionate than I am hurt and lonely has definitely changed us.  Had I  not began this little project I started  almost a year ago and made a conscious effort to live mindfully and seek joy and be grateful I really am not sure who I would be right now.  Some days were torturous. The loneliness, the uncertainty and the longing has been difficult, but mingled with all of that has been a sense of gratitude for what I have and the people that I love and those that love me unconditionally.

In short, I think the project has been a huge success.  Focusing on the present instead of the past or the future is really difficult and takes a lot of practice and though I am not a master by any stretch of the imagination I have made leaps and bounds. Had I not learned to be mindful and practice meditation I would not have been able to sleep at night through these demanding times and the insomnia would have rendered me useless.  I have a job, a family and three beautiful pets that depend on me so I occasionally need to sleep.

I cry and I feel sadness but I also know that I have the capacity to feel immense joy and I  do. I have learned a great deal about gratitude and how it reciprocates.  You will never live a life of abundance until you learn to express gratitude for the great gifts that you already have. I have learned how creativity and purpose in life bring me a great deal of joy. I have learned that the right connections with the right people can energize me and in the same token that time spent on the wrong things with the wrong people can suck the life out of me.  I am responsible for the energy that I put out into the world and eventually I will attract the right people into my life.

I have learned that the wonders of the world are not just places; they can be things that we often take for granted such as touch, sound, smell and sight. The significance of these things may habitually go unnoticed but I guarantee you that it is these little things that you will miss the most if they are suddenly taken away. There were eight months this year that I missed the sound of my husbands voice, the touch of his hand, the smell of him after a shower or the sight of him after a long day. There are days I would have traded anything for just one of those things.

We often look at things without actually seeing them, without appreciating them and we put value on the wrong things.  The sunrise and the sunset are miracles that we see everyday and sometimes we fail to realize their worth or truly appreciate their beauty, the same as we take people for granted because we assume they will always be there. We stop noticing how bright their smile is or how they are always there when we need them.

We undervalue traits such as courage, compassion and curiosity and what would the world be without them?

We think of forgiveness and vulnerability as weaknesses instead of the huge strengths that they are. Having the courage to forgive someone, sometimes even ourselves can be so important. To not forgive, to hold unto negative feelings of hurt and shame can be an enormous deterrent to living a good life. Having compassion for others can help us see the world in a whole different light. I actually dislike the dictionary definition of compassion because it refers to it as sympathetic pity, nobody wants to be pitied, but we could all use a little kindness and concern, a little understanding instead of judgement and someone who genuinely cares for us and our situation.

Humanity needs love and compassion for survival yet we have been treating these things like luxuries instead of needs.  The Beatles told us many years ago that all we need is love.

Generosity, patience and love will take you further than money, education or social stature.

I have learned about the anatomy of trust and how important it can be to set boundaries.     Brené Brown describes trust as BRAVING in a wonderfully authentic way and I think that everyone can learn something valuable from her.

What have I learned about myself?

I have learned that I am a warrior and I will fight for the people I love and the things I believe in until there is no fight left in me. I am an eternal optimist but not in a fairy tale romanticized way. I know there is a lot of bad in the world but I genuinely believe that the world can be better and I know that there is goodness and light in me and if I can affect one person with it that is change.  I have learned that I like myself and that is way more important than worrying about who does and doesn’t like me. The most important thing that I can do for me is to be true to myself and honor my wants and needs and not try to change myself to fit into a box that was not built for me.

My December W.I.S.E. Principles are wonderful, invincible, shining and expressive.  You may interpret these any way you see fit but for me I want to enjoy the most WONDERFUL time of the year with my family. I already know that I am invincible and Christmas will not defeat me. I have learned the importance of time this year and I am elevating that above everything else. I will not be taken in or conquered by commercialism or the need to fill a space under a tree instead of a space in my heart.  I want to be a shining example for my children about the real spirit of Christmas so that one day they can share the same spirit with their family. The most precious gifts we can give each other can never be bought, only given. I want to be able to express my love, my excitement and my joy. I want to express my gratitude and my feelings about the true meaning of Christmas and one day when my kids look back I want them to remember the time and the love that I gave them, not the time I spent at the mall buying them things. My Christmas wish for all of you is that no matter how many gifts you give or receive that you continue to be grateful for the gifts that you already have and that you realize that those who give you nothing but their time are giving you the most precious gift of all.  All we need is love, love for ourselves, love for others, and love for the world we live in.

“I have found that if you love life, it will love you back”

~Arthur Rubenstein

 

Happiness doesn’t happen by accident

I discovered a lot of amazing people on the internet this year, I never found them before because I was not looking for reasons to be grateful and happy. It is phenomenal the things you will discover when you commit to gratitude and living a more joyful life.

 

Beautiful Day-W.I.S.E. Project 2016

Charlie Chaplin wrote a poem about self love in which he states “When I began to love myself I stopped stealing my own time and I stopped designing huge projects for the future. I have always felt happiest when I am making a contribution but I think at some point I started equating my self worth with how busy I was and how much I was contributing to the lives of others. Some days my biggest contribution is playing a game with my kids or cuddling with my dogs and that is OK.

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“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”
Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

 

The snow is falling softly outside my window to the tune of the little drummer boy and my heart is full of so much joy, love and gratitude. Despite the many obstacles I have been faced with the past several months I am feeling warm and full of the real spirit of Christmas.
I remember a moment last week when I was so overcome with sadness that I wondered if there was such thing as a happiness plateau? Do we manage to only create so much happiness and then we just flat line? Even as I contemplated the question I knew the answer. We can only be as happy as we choose to be and the wall that I had hit I had constructed myself with pain and fear and guilt. How can I be any happier when others are suffering? My future is so uncertain so I should be afraid instead of joyful? I am hurting so how can I still be happy? These are the messages that my heart sends to my brain to keep me just happy enough. It is my cross to bear, my mountain to climb, my plateau to surpass.
I have learned so many wonderful things this year and as I reflect on the past eleven months I cannot help but feel that despite the difficult times and uphill battles I have continued to grow as a person. I spent a lot of time by myself, I got to know me again and I took care of me when times got tough. I feel like the W.I.S.E. Principles were a good guideline, they especially helped me in the beginning months of the project when I needed something to focus on other than the bad news that filters through our TV, social media and Facebook everyday.
I think one of the biggest successes for me with this project was recognizing the importance of self love. Charlie Chaplin wrote a poem about self love in which he states “When I began to love myself I stopped stealing my own time and I stopped designing huge projects for the future.”

I have always felt happiest when I am making a contribution but I think at some point I started equating my self worth with how busy I was and how much I was contributing to the lives of others. Some days my biggest contribution is playing a game with my kids or cuddling with my dogs and that is OK.
Chaplin goes on to say “Today, I only do what brings me joy and happiness, things I love to do and that make my heart cheer, and I do them in my own way and in my own rhythm. Today I call it “SIMPLICITY”.
I love this so much, it makes my heart smile.
When you make an honest and firm decision to live mindfully and create a life that brings you joy, it is essential that you prepare to simplify. You may need to limit your exposure to media, certain friends or family members, reconsider your busy schedule and really focus on things that make you feel good.
Things do not look exactly how I expected them to look at this point in the project but to be honest I think they look exactly how they are supposed too. There is always going to be something to overcome, there will be hard times and tears. If your focus is a happy life, no matter what you face you will face it and you will be your own kind of happy. You will find the lesson in pain and you will face each day with grace and gratitude because the only way to invite abundance into your life is to be grateful for what you already have.
Because this is a project it is only fair that I tell you what I have found are the top ten things to creating a happier life.
Sharing-When we share a smile, our time, a kindness or a compliment it activates the pleasure area of your brain. Kind and unselfish actions release endorphin’s in the brain that not only boost happiness for us but also for the stranger we smiled at on the bus or the person we held a door for at the bank. It is one of many simple changes you can make that will make a huge difference in every day. You may need to remind yourself at first to make a small change each day but after awhile this will come naturally.
Improving Relationships– our relationships can be a source of great pleasure and immeasurable pain. Some relationships take more good out of you than they ever give and you need to determine whether they are healthy for you and worth it. Living a good life has a great deal to do with the people we surround ourselves with so making improvements in our relationships, setting boundaries and sharing with and supporting our loved ones is important. it is OK to express our wants and needs but it is also important that we are willing to take a deep look at ourselves and make some changes to promote growth in our most important relationships.
Energy– People and experiences can give us energy or draw it from us. We often are given what we seek in life so if we seek happiness and joy we are often attracted to people that are happy and joyful. You will start to recognize the people that give you energy and those that drain you. Dedicating a lot of time to people that are negative, attention seeking and miserable can be physically and emotionally draining. Some people, like me, draw energy from quiet times alone or with my loved ones and I am drawn to people who not only do good in the world but they seek out good as well. Everything from the shows we watch on TV to the people we follow on social media can add our subtract from our good energy.

Nature
-Nature will always give you the answers you seek. A breath of crisp mountain air, the sound of crashing waves, birdsong, trees swaying in the summer breeze, these are all things that can calm and rejuvenate us. We crave these things and often we need to get out of our head and get outside and find a little solace in the great outdoors.
Gratitude-No matter what difficulties we face in our daily lives we always have plenty to be grateful for. Nothing invites abundance into our lives more than being grateful for what we already have. People who are truly grateful for their life, for the people in it, for the sun that greets them in the morning and the moon that lulls them to sleep each night are among the happiest people in the world even when times get tough.
Science/Faith-We all have circumstances and environmental issues that work against us, even our genes which we have no control over can play a factor in our happiness but it is important to always remember that at least 40% of our happiness is intentional and that means we have complete control over it. For me, studying the science behind happiness gave me permission to be in the driver’s seat of my own life, knowing with certainty that my intentions could and would help create the experience I wanted. Faith-I lumped faith in with science and I realize some of you will not like that but I am not going to talk about religion. For many, their religion and their faith is something they are very vocal about. For me it is very personal and as I continue to grow so does my faith. I think it is important to have something to believe in and to trust, to be thankful for in times of abundance and to draw strength from in times of hardship. No matter who or what you pray to I think it is a wonderfully joyous thing to have faith!
Head of the class– We never stop being a student. If we are open to new ideas and we seek opportunities to learn and stay engaged in our lives we trigger a lifelong curiosity and our accomplishments and the knowledge gained help to boost our confidence, self awareness and overall well being. With the internet at our fingertips we have such amazing opportunities to filter through the crap we often accept as fact and commit to real learning and growing as a person.
Indomitable Spirit– We cannot always determine what life will bring us but we can be responsible for the attitude we bring into our lives. We cannot live a life free of pain or circumstance but if we learn from our pain, learn to sit with discomfort and take the lesson from it we will be amazed at how enduring and strong we are. We have the heart of a warrior and though we may be knocked down occasionally the only thing that can hold us down is our own attitude.
Accepting who you are and where you are in life– Emotions like happiness, joy, gratitude and love are the gifts that keep on giving. Though we cannot always control our circumstances and the curve balls life throws at us just when things are going well, we can work hard to take the good out of every situation because those positive feelings I mentioned above are the gateway to a spring of positive emotions. We have to be willing to accept who we are and where we are in life without comparing our lives and accomplishments against those of others. It is a skewed and damaging measuring stick. What we see on the surface and through social media can often paint a distorted view into the lives of others. It is a very small window to a much larger picture. Accepting where we are in life is a very important part of being mindful. If we are focused on the past or on the future we lose sight of the present moment which is so precious and the only thing that is available to us.
Control-people who have a sense of control over their life are the happiest and this can be a little misleading because there is so much of our lives we cannot control but you can do the things you do with purpose and meaning, whether that is being a parent, a friend or an employee. Do what you choose to do in a way you are proud of and develop a sense of who you are, knowing that there will always be another mountain to climb and knowing with certainty that you have the strength and the grace to climb it and continue to grow as a person. You will continue to grow and change every single day, you are not the same as you were yesterday and because you are in control of your life you know that this time next year you will not be the same as today. You are in control!

In the next couple of days I will post the principles for the final month of the W.I.S.E. Project 2016 and some thoughts as we head into the holiday season. Be W.I.S.E. friends.

“People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.”
Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

 

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Round and round-W.I.S.E. Project 2016

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I am just going to sit here for five minutes, if you talk to me please know that I am not listening

I know I keep saying it but I really love fall. I am just as sad as anyone when summer comes to an end, mostly because I know that the bitter cold of winter is right around the corner.

Fall I can appreciate. I like the cooler mornings and comfortable temperatures for sleeping in the evening; I love cardigans, homemade soup and hot drinks. I like the way the trees huddle together showing off their colors, proudly boasting stunning shades of gold, orange and red, and lightly dusting the landscape with a layer upon layer of vibrant color. My shade of lipstick changes, my clothes change, and my choice in foods change but the biggest change of all, one that I can never quite prepare for is the change in my sleep patterns.

Changes to temperature, the amount of sunlight we take in per day, atmospheric pressure, humidity and precipitation influence us in many ways, both positive and negative. For the last three weeks I have been struggling to get up and going but once I do I am happy to enjoy the rewards of a crisp autumn day. I feel grateful and fulfilled and I sail through my work days with plans to be productive in the evening only to be hit in the face with the three o’clock brain break.  So I struggle through my afternoons with tired eyes and big yawns. I am barely finding the energy to throw together meals for my family before putting on my jammies.  It’s hard to be productive when your brain is dormant from 3 pm onwards.

So I give in to the sweet promise of an early sleep, hoping for an early rise but repose is futile. My brain is lethargic, my body is already in a coma like state but something is compelling both of them to get up and move. So I lie there suspended somewhere between awake and dreaming, easy and agitated, tranquility and tempered.

When you go to bed exhausted expecting a soft fall into dreamland that ends up to be a fitful night of  restlessness, it is the equivalent of biting into a chocolate chip cookie only to find out that it is oatmeal raisin, the result is less than gratifying and quite frankly it leaves you a little pissed off.

Yesterday I dragged my tired ass out of bed and stumbled through my morning routine. The kids had made supper the previous evening and promised to clean up so I found the kitchen in shambles, which they refer to as spotless. I picked at the clutter for a bit and decided to leave it till after work and maybe it would be better. I lumbered through my day as sluggishly as the day before knowing that I had a bank appointment to sign papers, I had to drop books at the library and my youngest had voice lessons. I really just wanted to make it home in time to shower and change into comfy jammies and pour a glass of wine in time for Greys Anatomy. I talk about drinking wine a lot; I find the time to drink wine a lot less than I talk about.

I arrived in the bank in lots of time to be able to sign the papers, pick up Haley, run to the library and get Haley to lessons on time. I waited in line at the bank which seemed to take forever and a day. Clearly some people have not discovered online banking. The teller was super pleasant and went on an unsuccessful hunt for my papers. She could not find them and consulted everyone in the building before a kind lady took over and informed me that the papers were at my bank branch 20 minutes away. Why in the world would I have thought I could walk into any branch and sign the papers is beyond me. This branch was close and convenient for me and my brain was already two hours into break. I think the kind lady could tell that I was frazzled and that I my day was a succession of going round and round and stifling yawns. She was able to help me from that branch and I was able to continue on with the rest of my responsibilities on time and they only thing I had to give up was peeing and brushing my teeth. That seemed to buy me some extra time and on the way to lessons and I was able to stop and pick up my very first pumpkin spice latte of the season.

I read a little at lessons and on the way home my daughter was full of stories from welcome week at Junior High. I still have a hard time believing she is now a Junior High student. In my head she is still eight years old. She was talking away and not even breathing in between and I sort of zoned out. I went on a little vacation. In my head I was still and quiet. Then I hear “Mommy, Mom, Mommy…are you there? Why are you not talking? I am talking and talking and talking and you are not saying anything.” I needed to figuratively splash cold water on my face and re-engage. We talked about school and the birthday party she is going to on Saturday and her friend that is a boy but not her boyfriend that she would be upset if any of her friends dated him but only because it would be weird not because she likes him that way even though his name comes up constantly and she thinks he is so funny!

It was late so we picked up Subway as we had a two for one coupon. We got home and the dogs met us at the door, Rocky’s black fur was full of White powder, he had cardboard hanging out of his mouth and Buddy was walking around in circles and hanging his head, the pantry door was wide open and the remnants of Aunt Jemima Pancake mix and an empty box of Trix was on the living room floor. I was so mad but all I could think of was “Silly dogs, Twix are for kids!”

As annoyed as I get with them I love them to pieces and I feel like they are just kids faced with temptation. Like when I was a kid and my mom would bake cookies and tell us we couldn’t have any till later and then she would find the cookie container half empty and at least one of us kids with traces of chocolate on their face. I also like to believe that the dogs love me so much that if they could clean up they really would. I wouldn’t have to tell them the same things over and over.

I gave my oldest daughter grief about leaving the dogs in the house when she left and leaving the panty door open, she quickly informed me that it must have been her sisters fault and recounted to me how she had already cleaned up the garbage they got into. I noted the garbage that was stuffed back into the container so full that the lid would not even latch. More temptation for the dogs, like sitting me at an all you can eat buffet and telling me I can only look.

Nobody would think to change that garbage and nobody had fed the dogs, or the cat, or picked up their laundry off the bathroom floor, or wiped off the stove they cooked on or cleaned the tomato sauce they dropped off the tiles in the kitchen. But alas, I am too tired to even argue so I wiped up the tomato sauce, cleaned off the stove, tidied the counters and  ignore the wisps of dog fur that have collected around chairs and table legs and in every visible and invisible nook and cranny. I pour myself the glass of red I have been promising myself for a month and mentally prepared to go round and round again tomorrow.

I am not going to lie, September was a difficult month for me, but I kept trying and in that there is no failure.

Be W.I.S.E. friends. .

Eye of the Tiger-W.I.S.E. Project 2016

Being yourself is one of the most courageous things you can do, finding yourself is a phenomenal accomplishment!

I honestly love this time of year when cool mornings give way to days full of abundant sunshine. The hint of fall can be felt in the air and seen in the changing colors on the trees and the colorful sweaters that the neighbors are wrapped in as they walk their dogs around the lake. The changing of the seasons always seems like a good time for a life change, no matter how big or small. Whether it be a new pair of boots, a new hairstyle or if you are very ambitious a whole new you.

Time to break out the socks and settle in, focus on what is important or refocus on the things that matter to you most. I call this eye of the tiger. Rising up to the challenge of our rival, and most often our rival is fear and doubt. 

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE SUMMER and I have mourned its premature passing just the same as you, but just as the flowers die off, the seasons change and in parades another one with something new but yet just as familiar as home. 

 If John Green wrote about fall he would say it comes like you fall asleep, slowly and then all at once. One day you are mowing your lawn in the afternoon heat and the next you are watching from your window as yellow leaves fall slowly to the ground and pool at the base of your maple tree.

Leather boots, cashmere sweaters, pumpkin spice lattes and savory soups, this is our fall to embrace.

This month as part of the W.I.S.E. Project I am embracing wellness, improvement, savor and effort.

I am continuing to take some wellness courses and I am learning so many new things. I am also committing to unlearning some bad habits and untruths.

I signed up for Brene Brown and Glennon Doyle Melton’s course on the Wisdom of Story which is about owning our stories and committing to writing our own brave endings. A couple of years ago when I wrote Thousand Acre Heart I was able to come to terms with a lot of hurt and diminish a great deal of shame. I have been continuing to work on that and I have realized that we need to stand in our pain and deal with it because if we run from it will follow us and it is never far behind. I had stifled a lot of feelings surrounding the time of my son’s adoption as well as the death of my father, and problems I have faced in my marriage. I finally realized that to get mentally healthy I needed to feel the pain and examine it and then let it go and keep the lessons.

I just read Glennon Doyle Melton’s book Love Warrior. I think it is an exceptionally powerful book and the thing that I found very identifiable is questioning the lessons that we are taught by society and readily accept about weight, beauty, our gender specific roles and how damaging those can be. Often we tie our worthiness and our expectations to very socially distorted norms. 

Glennon talks about the importance of sending our true and authentic selves out into the world each day, not the representative of ourselves, the person that we think society wants us to be. We will quickly lose sight of who we are and we are Warriors, made to love and fight through the struggles that life deals us. We do not need to create a version of ourselves to go to battle for us.

Being yourself is one of the most courageous things you can do, finding yourself is a phenomenal accomplishment!

Be W.I.S.E. Warriors

Pain is not a sign that you’ve taken a wrong turn or that you’re doing life wrong. It’s not a signal that you need a different life or partner or body or home or personality. Pain is not a hot potato to pass on to the next person or generation. Pain is not a mistake to fix. Pain is just a sign that a lesson is coming. Discomfort is purposeful: it is there to teach you what you need to know so you can become who you were meant to be. Pain is just a traveling professor. When pain knocks on the door—wise ones breathe deep and say: “Come in. Sit down with me. And don’t leave until you’ve taught me what I need to know.” 

~Glennon Doyle Melton