Life & Death, Points to Ponder

I just stood there, letting it all sink in…

I was listening to a Mexican folklore tale about the afterlife.

It started like this:

There are three deaths: the first is when the body ceases to function. The second is when the body is consigned to the grave. The third is that moment, sometime in the future, when your name is spoken for the last time.

Those last few words haunted me.

That point in the future — perhaps way into the future — when your name will never be mentioned again.

It’s actually a little scary.

But think about it. That moment will happen.

And it’s a stark reminder that — no matter how much we think otherwise — life is just a handful of fleeting moments.

There was a past without us, and there will be a future without us.

It’s a reminder that we need to embrace life in this moment. It’s designed for living, and nobody is getting out alive.

So, the next time you’re stressing out over minutiae — take a moment to consider this piece of Mexican folklore.

As the closing song in Avenue Q concludes…

Each time you smile… It’ll only last a while.
Life may be scary… But it’s only temporary.
Everything in life… is only for now.

Love, your #1 fan —

Things You Wish You Knew #7

Reaching Your Full Potential is Subjective

For some people there’s a wicked lot of pressure to reach their full potential as determined by someone else; and an huge weight if that potential is not reached. For others, there’s a ton of pressure to reach their full potential as determined by themselves; which can be accompanied by self loathing if that potential is never reached. For those who feel pressured to take a specific path, without being  in alignment of the path, comes concealed frustration, unhappiness and discontentment with life. For those who lack social support or guidance and flounder to find direction, any direction, brings the exact same concealed frustration, unhappiness and discontentment with life. Where are you?

TYWYK@17 # 7 is Reaching Your Full Potential is Subjective. What I mean by that is do what makes You happy. You’re never going to please everybody. If you find that working at a coffee shop or being a laborer is what makes you happy for whatever reasons it does, then you have found Your purpose. If you Feel you need to travel the world on foot sleeping in shelters until you find your meaning of life, then you’ve found Your purpose. “Finding your purpose” can be a daunting task for some, and easy for others. At 55, I’m still searching for mine. Maybe I’ll never find it because I haven’t opened myself up to see opportunities as they are presented to me. Maybe I’ll never find it because I was not born into a family that nurtured and groomed me to find my own purpose. Maybe I’ve already found it and just can’t see it.

In this day and age, we (in America) are truly blessed as a result of the relentless work of this Country’s forefathers and ancestors to have worked tirelessly for better lives for their children, and guess what – that life is here and now, and available to you. No where in history has it ever been more acceptable to follow your dreams, your path and be your own identity. It’s now acceptable, to some degree, for children to not follow in their parents footsteps running the family business or becoming the DR. the family aspired them to be.

My boyfriend is blessed – he has been working in the same industry since he was in the Army, over 30 years ago; and he’s still very happy with what he does every day for 50 hours a week. I, on the other hand, have had more jobs than you can shake a stick at. Some jobs provided just an income, while others provided me with a great sense of satisfaction and meaning. When I became a mother, which was truly the most rewarding job of all, I “quit my day job.” Not too long after my 2nd child was born, I started a bridal magazine in NH. There were pieces of it I loved and pieces of it that surely were more part of the grind. What I did not realize then is that I could have found balance in that job. Taking the good with the bad – I simply did not have those skills in my tool box to recognize that with all good comes some heavy lifting too. AND, what else I didn’t realize when I was knee deep in it was that I actually was doing what I had always wanted to do. I was writing and publishing a magazine! BUT, it was only a 16 page magazine in its first print. When I sold it, 10 years later, it was 96 pages. I did that. I built that and for some reason, I simply couldn’t see the beauty in that achievement nor could I give myself any credit for the accomplishments. Additionally, I created a #1 google ranking website and penned a wedding advise book. It was never enough for me, AND no one ever said to me anything like, “Wow – look at all you’ve done. You’re amazing. Good job.” Ever. Therefore, I kept striving for more, right? Why not? I hadn’t received validation therefore I must not be achieving anything worthy of it.

If you’ve not yet heard of Maslow’s Theory of Hierarchy, or Theory of Human Motivation, human basic needs are explained in a pyramid fashion. The idea is one cannot reach Ginger's wellness wheelthe top of the pyramid, without having first achieved the previous levels on the pyramid. And, while I had already achieved success by doing what I had dreamt of doing, I did not realize it because earlier layers of my self development had never been developed.

How does this relate to you and finding your purpose is that you may already have found it, or achieved it, but because you lack development in the previous layers of life you simply cannot see it. You could be under pressure from someone else to be or do something you have no heart in doing or being. There’s plenty of research in this area that shows commonality for those who have disappointed their loved ones results in confusion and low self worth, possibly substance use and other health issues such as depression or heart disease. Feeling like you’re never enough is an awful place to be.

I wish I learned when I was 17 that what other people want from me is their problem not mine. I can’t own that and neither can  you (well you can – and that’s your willing choice to live with and find happiness within that).

 

How do you find your purpose? Find clarity in what truly makes you happy. There will likely be more than one thing that you find true joy and happiness in; seek and find balance between them. Look to your own core values to determine the road you’ll walk. Don’t be afraid to go against the grain! You’re more likely to regret conforming than you are to regret breaking free. I’ve never heard anyone say, doing what I love was the worst decision I’ve ever made in my life. Take your time, but keep moving. Life will unfold exactly the way it is suppose to for you when You Do You.

Just for Today – Can you focus on what you want the next 10 years, 20 years of your life to look like? Can you find clarity in your goals?

Choice Wheel by Ginger RossThe Combination Notebook:

Choices – Life is short. You Can create your Past and You are defined by your choices. #Be your own authority #Be your own advocate.

Perception – Open your mind to other possibilities-often times we are so unaware of the lies we live with, even the one’s we tell ourselves

Expectations – Let go of them

Beliefs – Question their validity and reality

Energy – Choose the type of energy you want to absorb and exude (negative or positive).

Life is like

“Life is like a combination lock; your job is to find the right numbers, in the right order, so you can have anything you want.”

Brian Tracy

Things You Wish You Knew @ 17 #6

Social skills build inner confidence & happiness

Social skills are a MUST in constructing our mental health and well-being and can lead us toward a happy and fulfilling life. Too bad they’re not often taught to us while we’re growing up! There may be a number of reasons for this: Building on #5 “Challenge everything you’ve been taught” Have you been taught social skills? Nowadays, they are not taught for a number of reasons such as both parents working, parents not having been properly taught social skills by their parents, etc. If you don’t have social skills, it doesn’t make you a bad person. You simply never learned them. I never did!

As I mentioned in a previous lesson, the only means of communicating I knew was sarcasm and short, abrupt responses. The strange part of this is that I always thought I was being funny and therefore accepted. I was once referred to as a “Bitch on Wheels” at a hotel job where I ran the banquet department (and my perception of my behavior was that I was friendly!). One day, a friend once asked me, “Why are you always so angry?” The truth was I didn’t know I always appeared angry. I simply never looked at myself – do you? Also, in reflection, I lived with a sense of never feeling comfortable or at ease. I was always nervous about what I was going to say next and never really paid attention to what the other person was saying, and I guess this always projected as anger.

So what are social skills anyway? They are the tools that enable us to effectively and harmoniously interact and communicate with others, or more simply put, how to get along with others. Most of us can easily come up with examples of ineffective social skills, where we practiced them or witnessed them in others. Maybe it’s laughing at the most inappropriate time, like when someone says something serious or sad. Maybe it’s not letting someone finish a sentence before you finish it for them. Maybe it’s always getting criticized for certain actions. Maybe it’s not getting the job promotion you want despite the fact that you think you do a better job than the person who is getting promoted, and telling everyone else about it.

That’s something that happened to me for the first time when I was only 16. I was working at a very busy McDonald’s and my job was “on the grill.” I was responsible for cooking all the burgers and the buns at the same time. I was good—I could “turn-lay” those burgers faster than anyone in the place. Then came evaluation time when I received a raise of only five cents an hour and a colleague, who couldn’t turn lay even half as fast as I did, received a fifteen-cent raise. I promptly approached the manager about this grave injustice, demanding to know why my co-worker received a higher raise. Without hesitation, my boss replied, “Because he never complains and you complain about everything.” Ugh, my world reduced down to the size of that nickel. As I write about that moment, I recognize that I’ve never had the courage to ask for a raise since that day. Wow!

Looking back, that pivotal point in time stifled me because I didn’t know how to process that information with the other person, and I sure didn’t understand or accept the truth of what was said to me. I’m pretty sure I quit that job soon after the snub, clinging to the belief that they didn’t value me the way I deserved to be valued when the reality was that I didn’t have the social skills to value others.

Social skills include both verbal and non-verbal communication. Some examples:

  • The ability to listen, follow directions and refrain from speaking.
  • The ability to feel empathy and connect with others.
  • The ability to share and join in activities, and to ask for permission and wait your turn.
  • The ability to appropriately ask for help and to apologize to others when needed.
  • The ability to take full responsibility for your mistakes or shortcomings in what you do and how you act, and to receive constructive feedback (such as my five-cent raise!)
  • The ability to recognize and respect another person’s point of view, and to express concerns or differences in a non-threatening manner.

Here’s an illustration of what happens to those who lack many of these basic social skills. A college student shares an apartment with two other people. One of the others never does their own dishes, is constantly eating the others’ food supplies, never takes out the trash and invites their partner over without telling the other two. It’s clear that this person is seriously lacking in social skills. What about the other two roommates? An example of healthy living would be for them to have a conversation (not a confrontation) with the slacker to express their concern over the lack of respect being shown them. However, neither wants speak up because they lack the confidence-self-worth-and skill to speak up and respectfully confront the other person—they’re afraid they would hurt the other person’s feelings and cause tension in the apartment. Hello! There’s already tension, and for a 20-year-old this tension can compound itself and rear its head in so many ugly ways, such as turning to substance use for relief, or depression, anxiety or even panic disorders. The next thing you know, one of those quiet roommates may stumble into another relationship that involves power and control without even knowing it, until their life becomes unmanageable and they have a moment of clarity wondering 20 years later “Where the heck am I and what happened to me?” Then, they spend the next 10 years in therapy and support groups trying to unlearn everything they thought was right!

Yes, if I knew what good social skills were when I was 17, it could have saved us a whole lot of trouble. But no matter how old you are or where you are in life, you can learn and practice the kind of social skills that will bring you less worry, less stress and more room in your head for positive things!

Just for Today – Can you pause before you speak and think about what you’re going to say? Ask yourself; is it kind or is it necessary.

Just for Today – When you do speak, can you choose words that are well thought out and coming from a place of love?

Just for Today – Can you speak up for yourself, in a respectful manner?

The Combination Notebook:

Choices – You decide if you want to build your social skills and awareness.

 

I wish I knew what social skills were when I was 17 because having them would have kept me out of a lot of trouble and I would have been able to manage and redirect personal inner conflict.

Today, I practice keeping my mouth closed and when I do say something I am diligent in having my words come from place inside of me that is conscious, thought out, and from love. There are certainly times when I think about being inappropriate either through an action or with words, however, choosing the aforementioned always keeps me out of trouble in mind, body and spirit.

Choice Wheel by Ginger RossChoices – You decide if you want to build your social skills and awareness

Perception – Open your mind to other possibilities-often times we are so unaware of the lies we live with, even the one’s we tell ourselves

Expectations – Let go of them

Beliefs – Question their validity and reality

Energy – Choose the type of energy you want to absorb and exude (negative or positive).

Things You Wish You Knew @ 17 #5

Everything you learn(ed) from your parent(s) may be wrong.

Bountiful research exists on how we become the individuals we are. Believe it or not, most, if not all, of your personality traits, beliefs, traditions, strengths and behavior were developed by the age of 18. There have been many debates about whether nature (your genes) or nurture (your upbringing) has more influence. Some research suggests that both play a major in your development, and I buy into this theory.

You may notice that you have many of the same gestures or thought processes as your parent—these characteristics are nature. You also may notice that you’ve taken on some, or many, of their behaviors, such as how to socialize, how to express anger, how to dress appropriately, as well as different manners and values—these are examples of nurture.

Let’s dive deeper here. Let’s say that you have a strong tendency, or need, to control others or to have the last word. Perhaps your form of communication leads you towards always getting into arguments with other people. Maybe you’re never satisfied with the performance of others and you always think it would be easier if you did it yourself. (It’s actually not, but that’s another topic!). Maybe you’re always anxious or nervous, or you burden yourself with the highest expectations of yourself. Maybe you eat out every day, spend a lot of money, shop all the time and have way too much “stuff.” All of these pieces make up who you are and they are usually learned behaviors that have been mirrored from some social influence in your life. Or you learned them as a protective mechanism for your internal beliefs.

Now let’s look at the other side of the equation: the reality that simply because you learned these behaviors from your parents doesn’t make them acceptable, appropriate or healthy. You’ve learned them and whichever ones you don’t like, you can unlearn them—starting today!

On belief that I had taken on form my upbringing was that the only way to communicate was through sarcasm and anger. It took me nearly half my life to recognize that my tone was sharp and people often perceived me as always being angry. That certainly was not the person I felt like inside, or that I wanted to be. To learn how to communicate effectively, I had to un-learn what I had been taught and believed.

I had many more beliefs to un-learn. I lived under the impression that I was a respected and capable person, but that was only because I could achieve anything for anyone

Everything you thought you knew is wrong

Courtesy of https://quotefancy.com/quote/1033086/Tom-Stoppard-It-s-the-best-possible-time-to-be-alive-when-almost-everything-you-thought

else. That was part of the identity I had forged form my past. For years, I lived in a dark, lonely place where I always seemed to be searching for something. In reflection, that something was my own identity. Also, because I didn’t have anyone cheering me on to pursue my dreams while growing up, I didn’t believe I could have real dreams of my own—and go after them. After much floundering I un-learned these beliefs and built a life that is truly my won, which includes finding work with meaning and purpose.

So now I’m here to assure you that even if no one believed in yourself in the past, you can believe in yourself now. And if you don’t like the ideas, rituals and beliefs that you were raised with, you can change them. Life is short; your journey starts today. What are you waiting for to make your life a life full of becoming you and making every day the best day it can be?

 

Just for Today – When the lights go out, can you look inside of yourself and be happy with your behavior that you are creating now, not the behavior that you learned back then? Can you believe in yourself?

Choice Wheel by Ginger RossThe Combination Notebook:

Choices – Life is short. You Can create your Past and You are defined by your choices. #Be your own authority #Be your own advocate.

Perception – Open your mind to other possibilities regarding beliefs and behaviors. Often we are unaware of the lies we live with, even the ones we tell ourselves.

Beliefs – Question their validity and reality, especially if they seem to belong to someone else!

 

Expectations – Let go of them

Beliefs – Question their validity and reality

Energy – Choose the type of energy you want to absorb and perspire

 

 

Things You Wish You Knew @ 17 #3

Your Voice is Beautiful because it belongs to you.

My voice is beautiful because it belongs to me. The third thing I’d like to share with you that I wish I had learned @ 17 is that I am beautiful because I am unique, and a one of a kind. You are beautiful because you are unique and one-of-a-kind. The entire structure of the US social idea promotes comparing ourselves to everyone else. This a deeply damaging message to tell yourself, your children, or anyone for that matter. When you are comparing yourself to someone else you are in fact comparing apples to oranges, or pickles to tomatoes, or a bicycle to an airplane (you get the pic?). Naturally, we all share some commonalities, such as breathing, brains (?), etc….but overall our absolute beauty lies in our individuality.

As I refer to my voice being beautiful, I am referring to the actual sound of my voice – which I have always struggled with the sound of it. It has only been very recently that I’ve come to accept the actual sound of my voice as being pitch-perfect, and that came from considerable work on my self worth, self esteem and accepting that I am a unique product of the universe. Behind my voice is a beautiful, innocent little girl that was conditioned by her environment – hearing many, many times that I was stupid or:

  • “What were you thinking?”
  • “You can’t do that.”
  • “You want to do what with your life?”
  • “Can’t you do anything right?”
  • “You’re an idiot!”
  • “No, no, no, no.”

Sometimes, even said in jest, these words leave affect people seeming invisibly; scarring them on the inside and inhibiting their growth, cowering their self esteem, self worth, and self confidence to flourish with their god given natural beauty.

Recently, at a training I was conducting, I asked a young, attractive gal to read out load off of the PowerPoint presentation. She replied, “I don’t want to read, I hate my voice.’ I could completely relate to her. She actually had a pretty nice voice; to her, however, it sounded ugly. Her thinking is directly related to her own self worth and lack of acceptance of the beauty of human nature coupled with individual uniqueness. I told her I could relate and that I once too felt that about my voice – sure I’m no Carrie Underwood or Celine Dion when it comes to harmony and perfect angelic like tones. I am, however, equally as important and beautiful on the inside and the out as anyone else. I carry my own special gifts and talents in this world and SO DO YOU. If you don’t believe this concept that is likely because you haven’t uncovered or discovered who you are, or what your voice is. Finding your voice is about finding your identity and being OK with that identity. People will always judge – and that says more about them than it does about you. As Taylor Swift says, “Haters gonna hate.” That’s not healthy and does not produce a happy life. If you haven’t yet found your voice, know that everyone brings the ability to love one another to this world and that, by itself, is beautiful and so are you!

Just For Today – tell yourself you are beautiful.

The Combination Notebook:

Energy – It requires a ton of energy to dislike yourself and your voice; you own the choice to turn that negative energy to positive.

Choice Wheel by Ginger RossChoices – You get to choose what you want to believe and every choice has a consequence; some good – some not.

Energy – Be aware of your energy levels when you’re angry versus when you are happy. Feel the difference.

Beliefs – are usually learned behavior from your upbringing.

Perception – Perceptions are built from environments. You get to choose what you want to think ad believe.

Expectations – are built from perceptions, and again – environment. These are learned behaviors. You can change them.

Choices – Unhealthy or healthy – conform to society (generally unhealthy) or maintain high ethics, morals and values (healthy).

How do you choose to use this day you’ve been given?

Healthy choices, friends.

 

 

Stuck – Don’t even want to hear yourself talk

You’ve heard the saying, “If you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say anything at all”?

Over the past few years, I have tried hard to keep negative talk and criticism from coming out of my mouth; or even entering into my mind #energy. Recently, I find myself engaging in it. In a matter of 20 minutes I managed to offer a better way and reason why the what my boyfriend was doing was not the way I would have done it.

Taking life too seriously – lighten up. At the end of the day does it matter where the soap dish goes in the shower? Is it permanent? How much does it really effect me if it doesn’t go where I would have put it? Time for a gratitude list.

#Choice Challenge – can you identify where you are not living and let living. Can you hear where you’re imposing your ideas and beliefs on someone else and working hard to get them to see it your way? Do you have those moments where you wish you didn’t say anything at all? Your choice challenge is to let go of the control today. The world will still revolve if things are done your way, or if someone makes a mistake – that’s how we grow. Be kind, keep your mouth close (unless safety is an issue) and spread love.

Your comments are welcome, always!
Thank you for powering up today

Ginger

P.S., This type of energy is generally learned. You can unlearn it with simple mindfulness and cognitive (conscious) turning it around, or simply keeping your mouth closed.

 

Choice Wheel by Ginger Ross