Take the Leap

Take the Leap

“Take risks. If you win, you will be happy. If you lose, you will be wise.”

It’s leap year! We get an extra day this year! What will you do with your extra day today? Thinking about having an “extra” day made me think about taking risks. (I don’t know where my mind gets this stuff, but there it is.)

If there is “extra” of something, then we can take a risk without worrying about wasting it or losing it. So, this leap year, with our extra day, we have the opportunity to try something new and take a risk with it.

While journaling today, make a list of things that hold you back and risks you want to take. Then write about what might happen if you take those risks. There could be positive and negative outcomes for those risks, but either way the risks offer a learning opportunity. The possibilities are most likely so much more than just that, but without taking the leap, we will never know what is possible.

That’s it for today. I am now going to write in my journal. So, I am challenging myself as I challenge you to take the leap and take a risk!

Featured photo by Erik Dungan on Unsplash.

Rough Times

Rough Times

I recently came across a little card that I wrote to myself that said, “I choose happy!” I started to cry, ironically, because it brought back the memory of why I wrote this note. At that time, I was struggling to get out of bed in the morning and getting through the day was difficult. I thought my world had ended and I felt sad every single day. So, I wrote my note, “I choose happy!” as a reminder that I can choose to wake up with a different mindset and give myself a break from the sadness I was feeling. It helped me get through those difficult days and today, I still make the choice each morning to “choose happy!”

Finding that little note was a reminder to myself that I had made it through one of the most difficult challenges I would ever face.

Nobody likes going through difficult times. Whether the difficulty is because of health, relationships, career, or loss, these rough times we face can be so challenging. When we are first presented with the issue we are about to face, our first reaction is to resist it, fight it, and try to prevent it from happening. We do not want to have to deal with the struggle and yet in reality, there is nothing we can do to stop it from happening. I wish there was a magic cure, but there is no shortcut to the pain we are about to face.

I personally was faced with a life altering challenge about three years ago. I do not want to go into details because of how it may affect some of the people in my life. What I will share, is how I got through it. And no matter what you are facing right now, you will get through it. How you do this will depend on choices you make along the way. I decided from the onset of my challenge that I would become stronger and better than I was before it started. I would like to share ten things that helped me in the hopes that it will help you too.

  1. One day at a time; one step at a time. “Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations.” When faced with a challenge, we want the quick fix. Take the pain away. But the process of recovery isn’t that simple. Slow down and just get through the day. Tomorrow do the same. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
  2. Remind yourself that what you are going through will eventually pass. Time is a healer and the hurt will lesson more and more each day. “Tough times never last. Tough people do.” There are more rainbows in your future.
  3. Read articles about your specific challenge. Get tips to help you wherever you can. Search, “how to overcome . . .”
  4. Keep a journal. Write about your good days and your bad days. Keep track of your little victories along the way. Make lists of what helps you feel better. Write about why you are grateful.
  5. Accept what is happening to you. This doesn’t mean you have to like it or agree with it. Just stop resisting. When I was pregnant with my first son, my birthing instructor said, “Labor is going to hurt. If you fight against it, it will hurt worse. So, lesson the pain by accepting that it is happening.”
  6. Make yourself visual reminders. I hung positive quotes, sayings, and pictures all over my apartment. Everywhere I looked, I had something staring me in the face to encourage me to keep my chin up. I also made myself a flip book of positive affirmations that I keep on my desk.
  7. Appreciate your friends and family. “Hard times will always reveal true friends.” I would not have made it through without the people around me. My sisters especially really supported me in a way that I could never repay them. Take the time to appreciate your support system.
  8. Ask yourself what you can learn from this experience. “Forget what hurt you, but never forget what it taught you,” Shannon Alder. Be a life learner and see this difficulty as a way for you to grow. Try to find the opportunities within the difficulty. It will change you so make it a good change.
  9. Be aware of the good days. Celebrate the days that you feel wonderful. I remember that as time passed, I would have more good days each week. Eventually, I stopped tracking my good days because the bad days occurred less and less.
  10. Allow yourself the space to heal. Sometimes there is no reason why this happened to you, it just did. There are no answers to your questions that will help. Forget the blame, forget the guilt, let go of all the confusion in your head.

Remember, you are not alone in your struggle. Somewhere, someone is experiencing exactly what you are going through too. You will get through whatever it is you are facing. Decide to rise above it and not be defeated by it. Three years later, I can honestly say, “I am better because of it.” My difficulty made me a better person and I wouldn’t trade all of the life learning opportunities I had to face to avoid the pain I experienced. In a sense, it was worth it. Not all challenges will bring that result, so I am grateful to feel this way right now.

Nobody likes going through difficult times, but rest assured, things will get better and you will get through it. If you are at the beginning, middle, or end of your struggle, keep going. Here is a quote that helped me focus on the day I would feel better. “When life looks like it is falling apart, it may just be falling in place.” Beverly Solomon

Side note: I found all the quotes used in this article on google. Some of the sources were not mentioned and even after searching I could not find the author. I apologize for not being able to give proper credit.

Featured photo by 30daysreplay on Unsplash.

Deep Sleep

Deep Sleep

When I wake up in the morning after a really good night’s sleep, I know my day will be great! I feel fully rested and the thought of a cup of coffee seems more optional rather than necessary. I feel like I can accomplish anything.

How can we wake up this way every morning? I have tried different approaches towards getting deep sleep without needing a prescription of course.

My secret, or what works for me, is taking the time each night to wind down. It is simple really. And even though I know what works for me, I am sometimes so tired that I just want to climb in bed, or I decide to watch a movie while falling asleep. Then, halfway into the night I am tossing and turning, regretting that I didn’t follow my nighttime ritual.

When my kids were small it was easy to follow a bedtime routine. After dinner, my kids would play until a certain time. Then it was time to pick up their toys and get ready for the next day. After that they had their baths, put pj’s on, and brushed their teeth. We would pick up their rooms and choose some books to read together. Every night it was the same, so every night they knew what to expect. When it was time to turn out the light, they were ready to sleep.

This routine worked well for our family for many years and it got me thinking. Why not do the same thing for me? We have our morning routines to help us get ready for our day but few of us create a nighttime routine to help us get ready for sleep. After a busy day it is sometimes hard to shut our thoughts off, but by creating this sort of nighttime routine, we can help our minds prepare for sleep. There are three parts to my evening wind down ritual that are very similar to the routine I did with my kids.

The first part is what I call – Next Day Prep. Think about what is on your mind at night. Most people are thinking about the next day demands such as meals, what to wear, what appointments are scheduled. For this reason, I like to do “next day prep” as the first part of my nighttime routine.

  • Meal prep for breakfast, lunch, dinner for tomorrow. Chop and prepare as much as you can for tomorrow’s meals. Thirty minutes of effort tonight will greatly reduce the stress of food prep the next day. You can prepare lunches and take food out of the freezer.
  • Layout your clothes. Choose your outfits at night so getting ready in the morning is easy. If you go to the gym in the morning, set your workout clothes out or maybe you need to pack a gym bag. I like to put my clothes in the bathroom so I can get in the shower and everything is there for me to get dressed.
  • Write down tomorrow’s to-do list. Having your day planned out in advance will save you so much time in the morning. You will already be prepared to hit the day running.

The second part is Get Ready for Bed. These are the things you know you will do with or without any sort of routine like brushing your teeth, washing your face, and putting on pj’s. Relaxing in a warm, bubble bath may sometimes be part of this time.

The third part is Quiet Time. Allow yourself at least thirty minutes of quiet before going to sleep. This means no cell phone, or ipad, or tv. It does take some restraint to unplug before hitting the pillow, but you will notice a big difference in your sleep. During your quiet time, you can choose what you like to do to wind down. Some nights I journal. Other nights I might do ten minutes of yoga stretching and then meditate. Some nights I read. When I am ready to turn out the light, I play a meditative app which lulls me to sleep.

You owe it to yourself to enjoy a deep sleep and wake up feeling refreshed. It is simple, just three parts to a winding down nighttime routine — next day prep, get ready for bed, and quiet time. Get ready for a really deep sleep!

Featured photo by Kate Stone Matheson on Unsplash.

Journaling

Journaling

When I was younger I had a pink diary with a key. I could lock the pages so I felt safe writing my secret thoughts and feelings. No one else could see what I wrote.

Today, we don’t have diaries; we have journals. By definition, journaling is keeping a record of daily experiences, thoughts, and activities. People no longer need a locking diary to journal because they openly share their lives on social media. The need for a key to lock up our thoughts isn’t necessary when we post online for the world to read, but this isn’t appealing to everyone.

Some of us like the idea of pen and paper.

There are all kinds of journals. Some are just blank for you to designate as you wish or just write your daily thoughts. Other journals have a theme or specific purpose like a gratitude journal. There are also nature journals, art journals, or dream journals.

Journaling is a healthy habit that helps to clear our minds and record our thoughts. The process of putting our feelings into words is amazingly therapeutic. It is one way to document our lives and, in some ways, gives our lives meaning and value.

The best way to make this a daily habit is to set aside a block of quiet time to dedicate to your journal. Ten minutes is all you need, but sometimes you may start writing and want to spend longer with your journal.

So, pick up a journal, your favorite pen, and empty your mind on to the paper. It doesn’t matter how you journal, when you journal, what you journal, etc. All that matters is that you give it a try!

Featured photo by Carolyn V on Unsplash.