Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Keep Your Focus

A photographer takes a picture of a beautiful single flower that grew through the concrete of an urban sidewalk. He focuses solely on that flower so that all you see is its vibrant colors, beautiful lines and awesome "I can grow anywhere" attitude. Now take that same flower and pan out to see it's entire surroundings and your mouth would be open in disbelief. How could a flower so beautiful and so perfectly unharmed, be on a street with condemned buildings, graffiti or trash? Well, it's all about your focus. Do you choose to see that flower for all it's worth or do you look at its surroundings and write it off? Where it happens to be at that moment really has nothing to do with its will or its beauty, does it? 

In life it's all about focus. Where do you let your thoughts lie? Do you see the beauty through the rubble or do you choose to bypass beauty just because the elements aren't ideal? So often we get caught up in what life is supposed to look like that we don't even see what's right in front of us as a blessing. We compartmentalize what it means to be happy, successful, beautiful, kind,etc. It comes in so many colors, shapes and sizes. Every person's moment of bliss is different and that is why the world has such a gorgeous rainbow of people. We all get to choose what our slice of __________ (fill in the blank) looks like. Pretty amazing! 

So, why does it take so long for some of us (I being one of that some) to let this click in our minds? Why are we so concerned with outside voices, forces and ideas that really have no clue what it means to inhabit these shoes? Why do we let ourselves get hurt, feel less than or question our inner voice? Well, I believe it's all about focus. Just because people look at you and create what you are in their mind based on your surroundings, looks or success level doesn't mean they are right. In those moments, you have to stay focused on who you really are.  It's tricky and there's no way I've even come close to mastering it, but it does require daily effort. You must silence those mean voices in your brain and create a new dialogue in your mind. For instance, you're catching up with someone you haven't seen in a while and they say, "You're still working there?!?!?!" in a tone that is clearly rude. You have two options here - you can think ill of them straight away and dismiss them or you can focus on you. Focus on the fact that you really love your job and question them back if you must, but don't wilt or make excuses for something you clearly love doing. So often we dumb ourselves down or act like our thoughts don't mean as much as someone older or seemingly wiser and it only does ourselves a disservice. If you go along with them and change your thinking to mirror theirs, you're also doing them a disservice. You're leading them to believe 2 things: 1 - that it's okay to talk negatively about your life and 2- that you feel something you actually don't. You've got to own your present state of being with a firm belief in it. You are relevant and everything that makes up your life matters! 

For this gal - yep, this girl typing away as she works at the job some deem below her... Well, this gal is at work on a Wednesday and she's writing. Yes, she's interrupted by answering phones and creating schedules, but see she's interrupted and not the other way around. Okay, let's get out of that third person rant. See I have a job where I have a lot of time to do what I love. I work hard and I'm always ready to get pulled back into the work, but for the most part I get to live in a land of writing. My greatest love affair is with words. How you can mold them to shape an entire scene. How you can rhyme them to get a point across in a more graceful way. Just now, as I type, I get goosebumps because I'm tapping into my word space. Thoughts are continuously bouncing around this brain and most of the time they come out in rhyming form, but every now and then I just feel compelled by an idea or vision and I have to rant. Blogs are amazing for this type of thought and so here it is... FOCUS. A small word with big intention. I heard that word and instantly got a vision of a beautiful daisy growing out of the sidewalk. I panned out in my mind and I saw a desolate, trash ridden and filthy city. With that image came inspiration and the entire first paragraph of this blog. 

Focus is the key to everything. When we allow ourselves to focus on what's important, we truly tap into ourselves. We have to keep that aim straight and we cannot let anything take our vision away. That's the struggle, isn't it? Take an astronomer, for instance, who's looking through his telescope up to the array of stars and possibilities. He's just found the exact star he was looking for when someone walks by and knocks his telescope out of focus. He's got to regroup and get realigned so that he can see what his eyes were locked on just moments before. It's certainly a setback, but it can be remedied. It's all a mind over matter scenario. In daily life, we let ourselves get pulled this way and that way to accommodate or be there for others. No, I'm not saying to stop being there for people or stop being kind because love and kindness are the heart of life. What I'm saying is you must find a way to keep centered and focused on your life's purpose all the time. To embody your reason for living, every single second. 

Now sometimes it's not 100% clear what exactly you were put here on Earth for. Sometimes you just haven't come across your passion yet and in that instance I say just be OPEN to everything. When you're not sure which way you're supposed to go, closed doors or stubborn views won't help you at all. You will just find dead ends which will in turn make you miserable. BE OPEN... There's nothing to lose! You could learn something or enjoy something. Give yourself a chance to find your passion! 

Now if you're like me, you can't seem to find just one passion to settle on. Yes, I feel passionate about many creative avenues. I am in love with singing, writing, and creating in various visual forms: painting, crafting, film making, etc... So, how do you FOCUS on just one? You have to choose the one that's pulling you towards it the hardest. There is one, you just have to get in tune with it. Then, set time aside and really envision the finished product. Personally, I want to finish my novel. Yes, I have many unfinished projects such as my paintings, my script, my poetry book, etc... But to try and tackle them all would be far too overwhelming.  So, I'm going to aim my strongest FOCUS on my novel. That's what is calling to me now and I'm going to follow that spark in my belly asking me to finish it. Unfinished bits make for a heavy conscious. Your mind starts to whisper, "you've got so much left undone... there's never enough time... what were you thinking starting all these things? you're never going to get anything done..." Quiet that voice that's trying to mess with you. Take the one thing and tackle it and then once it's finished, move onto another passion project that's calling you the loudest. That follow your gut thing is actually true. Your being will tell you what to do... you just have to be OPEN.  

Focus on that which will fulfill you. Focus on what matters at this very moment. Listen not to the negative nellies, but to that fire in your belly. Your being wants to get focused. It wants you to feel secure, self assured and at peace. It's all up to you to train your brain to treat you kind. We spend so much time striving to be kind to the outer world (which is so important, don't ever stop that!) and yet we neglect ourselves. Don't listen to anything that doesn't serve you. As Jason Mraz sings in the song Hello You Beautiful Thing, "My thoughts are all I got so I try to make 'em brave! And I know, I know, it's gonna be a good day!" Keep your thoughts brave! Always be YOU! Get focused! 

Monday, February 24, 2014

Human Inconsistency

White lies, fibs, omissions and misgivings are tools that some use to reduce the chance of hurting someone else's feelings. Not up to attending that lunch meeting, "I'm not going to be able to make it, I have to go to the doctor that day." When in fact there is no such appointment. You ask someone to come hang out and they never show. Text later: "I was sick. Sorry I missed it." When in reality they just needed a day to chill at home. The truth is that excuses are really hurtful if ever it is found out that the reasons given, were actually not 100% true. A good friend will ask, "How did it go at the doctor yesterday?" and then you fumble and you lie again, "They had to move my appointment" or "I rescheduled it because of (fill in blank here)." When it starts to unravel, that's when you hurt people. The lie is worse then just being up front and saying, "I don't feel like it." 

I love this quote by Mark Twain, "If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything." It's so true. If you just live in truth, it's there, out in the open and you can just be. You don't have to reach for the script you wrote last week and try to adhere to that fake plot. You are at peace with your truth. Now I don't pretend to be some saint and yes I have had my fair share of fibs to keep from hurting someone else's feelings. I, as most people do, hate to hurt anyone's feelings and I want to be there for everyone, but as one person - it is impossible. 

The word, "No." is one that people cringe at and yet it is a tool that was added to our vocabularies for a reason. Boundaries are important. You must take care of yourself too. If you had a bad day or you're feeling down, you have a right to those feelings. We are here to serve a greater purpose to those around us. Giving is the name of the game, but when you feel in your gut that you don't want to do something, just tell the people around you straight up. Honesty is far better in the long run. As long as you are kind and well spoken, most people will understand. Those who don't understand, well that's on them and not on you. You have to be who you want to be which includes taking part in what you want to take part in. When you really look at the people around you, most of them do exactly as they please. So why aren't you affording yourself that same luxury? 

The human condition is ever changing, ever flowing and we weave in and out of practice. We decide we want to be honest, open and change. So, we embrace that way of life and it lasts for a week, a month, a year... Then, an uncomfortable circumstance comes up and we feel put in a corner and we go against our grain. This is because we are human and we make mistakes and very few things stay at the forefront of our mind. So much to do, so much to remember, so many ways to be that our center can occasionally fall into the shadows of life. Yes, we mess up and then we beat ourselves up because of it. We are so hard on ourselves. Some would say that we should be hard on ourselves because that is how we become better people. Others think we should give everyone a break. Truly so confusing to me as to what is right? Thus is the question of life, isn't it? There really is no right answer... 

There's an inconsistency to humanity. Kind people have the power to hurt people and sometimes do. Mean people have the power to be kind and sometimes are. There are people who say they couldn't hurt a fly and yet they are the first ones around the water cooler bad mouthing someone. If I'm not mistaken, just because you're not saying those words to the person directly, that doesn't mean it's not a form of hurting them. There are people who vow to be as honest as Abe, but then they turn around and tell you the most far fetched story to prove their point. If I'm not mistaken, that's lying! There are those who dislike it when you nag them about quitting one of their bad habits and yet they have no problem nagging you to move forward in your own life. It's along the same lines - if it bothers you when someone points out a flaw then why would you point out their flaws? If it's tit for tat then just own that, but realize it's a losing game and just mean. 

I am to blame in all these areas. Luckily I've seen and I'm still open to seeing the error of my ways. Honesty is my motto for 2014 and so far so good. I've always been an open person, but I want to be honest about my needs and wants and just say, "I don't want to," if that's my truth. People respect you more if you don't make excuses. Luckily when it comes to me, I'm happy to be an open book. If you want to know my flaws, I'll tell you. If my secrets will help get my point across, they quickly become truths and no longer secrets. Sometimes I may give too much information (TMI), but I don't care. I want to be open, honest, and true. I want to be seen as an open book because this is how you reach people. When you sit closed and guarded you learn nothing and teach nothing. 

I've been unkind and it hurt me more than any mistake I've made in my life. It sits as a reminder of how not to act if I should ever have the same situation arise again. When evaluating the circumstance, it all came down to youthful naivety and ego. When you trust, you can get hurt. When you are put down, you should just rise above and realize you're better than what is being said. Self esteem is important too. If you have none, the words of others become truth. Your brain latches on and tries to make you think they could be right. Whenever you're going through anything, you can't truly be objective and see from all sides. Once you get past it, learn the lessons and look back - you see so much clearer. Give yourself a break. I had to. I had to say, "You're human, you made a mistake. I forgive myself." There is no way to take it back so you have to move forward and learn from it. 

When you have a lot of different family units and an array of friendly circles, you encounter so many personalities and so many different views. The biggest thing is to stay consistent with your inner bell. We all have that inner feeling that let's us know, "Hey you, you're not being yourself." When you hear it - readjust, be mindful and be you. It's so easy to fall into the traps of being what everyone else is, but you can't - you are you. The best example of a person in my life who embodies this idea is my Brother. He is 100% himself, but he is so personable and kind that he can fit into any group of people. It's amazing to watch. His confidence of spirit, his amazing presence and ease in any situation is remarkable. He can engage with any age group and the way he holds his ground without ruffling any feathers is a gift. I admire him so. Drama free. 

Drama. We create every piece of it that enters our life. All that drama consists of is your reaction to a circumstance. How you feel, the way you speak about it, what you think and how you act - you have the power to be drama free. Drama is a time waster and a happiness eraser. It serves absolutely NO PURPOSE. So why are people dramatic? Well, perhaps they are actors/actresses and need to stay in character, but most people are dramatic because they are bored. Perhaps life is at a standstill and they embellish and fib to heighten life to a level of exciting. It's still lying. It's like the BIG FISH story. The fisherman holds out his arms all the way and says, "You should of seen it, I almost lost my pole, the fish had me fighting to reel it in. IT WAS THIS BIG." Then, you see the picture of him holding the fish and it was half that size. To most, the fact that he caught a fish at all, is great story and yet for some reason, he didn't think that was enough. We are all enough! Life, on its own, is amazing.  

There's also the daily dramatics. One thing goes wrong and you get angry or stressed and then everything spirals out of control. You dropped your coffee and then ripped your dress. You got a bad parking spot at work, you didn't get that promotion, you got a speeding ticket and so on and so on... If you let all those things become BIG things they will take over your day and sometimes even your week or month... The reason for that is you are putting negative energy into each issue that arises. You are sending out a message to the universe that you react to negatives. So, guess what, the universe is going to give you more negatives... It's the law of attraction. If you take on each setback with light and love, you will find yourself with more days that go right. TRUST ME! Drama free is such a happier place to be... 

That brings me to kindness again. Some drama stems from the mere fact that someone chooses harsh words instead of using kind words to get their point across. Like the expression, "Don't poke the bear!" We are all capable of pushing people's buttons - especially when it comes to people we know very well. Usually these people are the ones we hurt the most. We think, "they'll have to forgive me because we're always around each other." Still, there's nothing fair about that. If you constantly pick at a person, they will eventually growl - just like that bear did. It got poked one too many times and it finally had enough. I'm not saying that's a good way to behave either - you should nip any comment that hurts you in the bud and open up the dialogue so you can have a better relationship. So often we don't want to start a war or have tension when really it's worse if you don't say something because you're just holding onto it. Communication and kindness will equal peace and tranquility and that's what we're all after, isn't it? 

As I've said before, I merely write these things to get my thoughts out there, maybe start a conversation, and to instill these principles back into myself. I am not a preacher. I am a writer. I think, I feel, I write it all down in hopes of becoming a better person. Along the way if I touch someone or make someone think then I've got a little frosting on this cupcake. My goal is to be better and to keep thinking and speculating on how life is truly meant to be. I'm no expert, I'm no angel and I realize I am to blame in all the scenarios above. I take responsibility for all the flaws and imperfections of my soul because in them I can plant flowers of hope and change. May some of these seeds find their way into your garden...