Tag Archive | self empowerment

Nothing is Impossible

During Thanksgiving dinner I was relaying a story about how I was planning to become a member of a local government board. Without skipping a beat, my 21-year-old niece looked at me and said, “Yes, Aunt Joanie, you can be on the board.” I replied, “I know, I am going to be.” She then said, “Of course you can if you believe it.” To which I stated, “No, really, I am going to be on the board.” She came back with a resounding, “Yes, I believe you can!”

At this point I was laughing hysterically because I realized that she was reinforcing what she believed to be wishful thinking on my part. She was cheering me on guided by the advice that I (and her mother) always offer her: that anything is possible with a positive attitude and belief in oneself.

Even though I was actually appointed to the position and wasn’t referring to making a wish come true, I was so proud of her (and shocked that she actually listened) for getting the message.

And what a powerful message it is: anything is possible when you believe in yourself!

Think about that for a moment … anything is possible!

When was the last time that you truly believed anything was possible, that you could achieve a goal or make a dream come true?

It isn’t always easy have the confidence to believe that you can make anything happen. The routine of daily life beats you down and often you’re left jaded and depressed. Fear has a way of sneaking in and governing the way you live. Naysayers remind you of your shortcomings until their beliefs become yours too.

Climbing out of the rut we call life can be a challenge. But, guess what? You have the power to change every aspect of your existence. But, in order to do so, you have to do two things: you must decide what you want and you must believe you can do it. Everything else will follow; you will find a way.

As another year comes to an end and a new one begins, with endless possibilities, it’s the perfect time to examine where you are in your life and where you want to go. Once you know the direction, create an action plan, educate yourself, and get moving!

Remember … nothing is impossible when you believe Im Possible!

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Do You Know When You’re Happy?

“If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands, if you’re happy and you know it clap your hands, if you’re happy and you know it and you really want to show it if you’re happy and you know it clap your hands”

Thinking about this song brings back joyous memories of dancing around my family room singing it with my children and perhaps, even having it sung to me as a child. The lyrics are simple and yet so profound – if you’re happy and you know it, show it (feel it, live it, experience it).

This past weekend I tried something that I had never done before. One of my friends invited me to a Tarot card party where an expert would offer private readings. Intrigued, I agreed to attend. During my reading, the woman said something that really struck a nerve with me; she told me that I don’t know when I’m happy.

Interestingly, this thought has been on my mind in recent weeks, ever since I interviewed Dr. Rick Hanson, the author of Hardwiring Happiness. As a result of our discussion, I have been contemplating whether or not I truly feel happiness. Dr. Hanson spoke with me about how we let life pass us by, never realizing the joy of our experiences, thus allowing peace and happiness to elude us. He explained that when we feel pleasure, really let it sink in and focus on it, we are not only happier people in the moment, but we change our brain chemistry resetting it back to its natural resting state – its responsive mode – which refuels and repairs the body, makes us feel peaceful, happy, and loved, and helps us to act with confidence and compassion.

I don’t know when I’m happy. Boy was she right. Even though I know better, I still expend energy reminiscing about family members that have passed on, a marriage that fell apart, betrayals, missed opportunities, time I believe to have been wasted. I rush through my days barely picking my head up to notice all the blessings that have been bestowed upon me, not allowing myself to be content. Then I wonder why I have moments when I feel sad, unfulfilled, lonely, anxious, and depressed. It’s an inside job!

How about you? Do you let yourself feel joy and gratitude or do the good times pass you by? Do you see the blessings in your life or do you ruminate constantly about what’s missing, what you wish you had?

Dr. Rick Hanson’s advice? Spend a few extra seconds concentrating on something happy and joyful. Let the experience linger. Really notice it. Appreciate it. Be grateful for it. If you see a beautiful flower, look at it a few extra seconds. Don’t just glimpse at it and move on to the next thing. Savor pleasant experiences and make this become a daily practice. According to Dr. Hanson, this is all it takes to make a dramatic change in your brain and in your life.

So, next time, when you’re happy, KNOW it, FEEL it, SHOW it and remember to clap your hands, stomp your feet, shout hooray!

Say What You Mean and Mean What You Say

How many times has someone told you that he or she was going to do something and then it never materialized? How many times have you promised something to another only to let that person down?

Promises are powerful. They are given to fulfill a need of another. When someone makes a promise it is usually made with the best of intentions and in that moment, the person believes that he or she will be able to complete the offer. Then the person goes off like a busy little bee, involved in the tasks of daily life, and his or her words become a distant memory.

The problem is that the recipient of a promise remembers every word said. Often, spoken words are a life jacket to a drowning person and that person clings to them for survival.

After my mother and sister passed away (my last two remaining nuclear family members) and my divorce became final, a few people told me that I would never be alone, that I was a member of their “family”; I was their sister. Surviving unimaginable grief, I clung to those words as a source of comfort. Then, as time passed, holidays came and went, special occasions were celebrated – graduations, birthdays – and no offer of inclusion was made.

My story is just one example of the many letdowns people experience. What about a child who is promised your attendance at a dance recital or sporting event? A boss that is guaranteed a completed task? A friend that is offered help with a problem?

Heartbreak and disappointment are the result of empty words and offers made in haste, even with the best of intentions.

The next time you are about to make a promise think about what you are going to offer. Take time to reflect before you state it. Weigh the pros and cons and examine your life situation to be sure you can fulfill your end of the deal. Think about the long-term ramifications.

Be honest about your capabilities. Stop being a “yes” person or “the big man on campus”. You can’t please everyone and it’s much better to do nothing or say you can’t do something than offer an empty promise.

Examine your motivation for making the offer. Are you trying to make someone feel better for the moment? Do you want to be liked? Are you trying to gain something for yourself?

Remember that your words may only be words to you but to another they can mean the world. If you’re not sure that you can fulfill a promise, then don’t say anything. Adopt the rule in life to say what you mean and mean what you say.

Follow Your Intuition…It Knows the Way

Throughout the last four years, my professional life has taken many twists and turns. There are times that I operate by the seat of my pants learning as I go along, praying for the best possible outcome, following my intuition and my heart.

Recently I began to work with a person that was assigned to my company’s account. From the moment I met him, my entire body screamed, “be careful!” There was something about him that told me not to be too trusting. All the warning signs were there – my intuition was on the job.

Now I’m the type of person who wants to trust everyone and I usually give people the benefit of the doubt many, many, many times. I want to believe that others have the same agenda and motives so I push my inner guidance aside.

This person dangled golden opportunities in front of me; he offered me more than I could have imagined – everything I wanted. It would be easy for me to get caught up in his promises. But there was always that nagging feeling inside of me.  Something didn’t add up. There was never a straight answer to my questions, always a tap dance.

After our first meeting, I couldn’t sleep for a few nights. Even though I was excited about what was to come, I felt sick every time I recounted the possible opportunities to my friends. My body tightened and sometimes I actually shook. My nerves were on end.

But because he was answering my prayers (or so I thought at the time), I pushed the warning signs aside and worked with him. I took what he said and turned it into what I wanted to hear, what I wanted him to say.  But there was always that nagging feeling inside of me.

As time passed, he began to request more and more from my company in return for the promised opportunities, which by the way, never materialized. I finally decided to listen to my inner guidance, which was SCREAMING by this time, and I called him out. Once I stopped taking what he said at face value and held my ground, all the promises immediately disappeared. He showed his true colors.

It took months of anxious moments and many sleepless nights before I found the courage to follow, what I knew from the beginning, to be the right direction. I knew all along what was right for me; I just chose not to listen. Thankfully I found the courage.

Does this story sound familiar? How many times do you make something fit the way you want it to while all the time knowing it’s wrong for you?

We all want to believe in others and try to please others, but at what cost? How long can you stay in a dying relationship or in a job that’s making you sick? How many times can you keep saying “yes” while inside you’re screaming “no”?

We all have inner guidance to point us in the right direction. The problem is, more often than not, we don’t listen. It’s not always easy to stand up for what we want – sometimes it seems impossible – but it’s always worth it. The moment I stood up for myself I began to sleep better and feel more relaxed – I could breathe. While I may not have gotten what I wanted at this time, I know something better will come.

Learn to trust yourself. Follow your intuition – it knows the way. You are stronger than you think and wiser than you know.

If You’re Feeling Helpless, Help Someone

I am a firm believer that when you are going through a difficult situation or experiencing pain, one of the best ways to promote healing is to help another person. Taking the focus off of yourself, even if only for a brief period, works wonders and often provides the distance necessary for clarity in your personal situation. Helping another person is medicine for the soul

I have often spoken about the grief and loss that I have experienced with the death of my family members and divorce, so whenever the opportunity presents itself, I try to follow my own advice.

A few weeks ago, Hurricane Sandy ravaged my home state and the communities in which I spent a great deal of time while growing up. According to forecasters, my home region was a direct bulls eye of the storm. Living through the night of a Hurricane was a scary experience. It was the first time that I was alone in the house during such a terrifying event and I had all kinds of crazy thoughts as I waited in frightened anticipation of what would happen. Would a tree fall on the house and I would be trapped inside with no one here to help me? Would the roof be ripped off the house? Would we flood? Would I be lying dead inside and it would take days before they found my body? How would I handle the situation alone?

When the light came up, I experienced feelings of fear and intense loneliness. I was truly on a path of self-pity! However, as the days followed and I watched the events unfold and saw the extent of the devastation in surrounding communities, I began a shift in my attitude. Instead of feeling sorry for myself and my situation, I counted my blessings for surviving the storm unscathed and only mildly inconvenienced. I began to take the focus off of myself and put it where it belongs … on helping others.

For two weeks I focused on coordinating a relief effort and along with more than 100 volunteers, we were able to collect enough items to fill three large trucks to transport to a few southern New Jersey communities.

During the transport, one of our destination sites rerouted the truck to a different location. Just before reaching the rerouted destination, the truck was stopped by a police barricade where the driver was informed that he could not continue into the town. The truck driver decided to go directly to our second scheduled location. Along the way, while on a road that was not part of our mapped route, the driver stumbled upon a small church with a tent community (yes, displaced people are living in tents). He stopped the truck and met the residents, all of whom had lost their homes and personal belongings. They were struggling to stay warm. The driver unloaded all the items that were earmarked for the original destination, coats, blankets, bedding, clothing, food, and gave them to these people. I believe our truck was guided to that location – directly to the people most in need!

Those are the kind of miracles that happen when you step away from yourself and shift your focus to serving others. I no longer think those crazy thoughts that consumed me for a brief period. Had I not made the shift I would be wallowing in pointless self-pity wasting precious time, and I would have missed watching something positive come from such horrific destruction.

So, the next time you are down, lend your hands or heart to someone else. It is truly the best medicine!

The Black Hole

Have you ever experienced times when life seemed so hopeless that you felt like you were in a deep, dark hole and no matter how hard you tried or what you did, you couldn’t climb out?

I have. I have actually spent a great deal of time in my hole.

Being in that hole is the scariest feeling imaginable. The air is heavy and you feel all alone; there is no one to help plan an escape strategy or offer rescue assistance.

When I was in my hole, I cried and tried to scratch and claw my way out. I pitied myself for falling into the hole and was envious of everyone above ground. I prayed and prayed and when I didn’t get the answer “I” wanted, I yelled at God for abandoning me.

One day as I was expressing my dissatisfaction to God, I came across this:

I asked God for strength to achieve success, He made me weak so that I could humbly learn to obey.

I asked for health to do so many important things, He made me infirm so that I could do better things.

I asked for wealth so that I could be happy, He gave me poverty so that I could be wise.

I asked for power so that people could value me, He gave me weakness so that I could know my need for God.

I asked for a friend so that I would not have to live alone, He gave me a heart so that I could love all my neighbors.

I asked for things that would brighten up my life, I received life so that I could brighten up things.

I received nothing that I asked for, but I got all that I had hoped for. Almost in spite of myself, my humbled prayers were answered. I am the most richly rewarded of all.

Those words hit me like a ton of bricks. I had been missing the point. I spent so much time clawing my way out of the hole, searching for a ladder, that I didn’t see the rope that had been given to me. I realized that just because I wasn’t getting what I wanted, didn’t mean I wasn’t getting what I needed.

I had to reevaluate the way I viewed my situation and circumstance. Instead of being sad over my loss or broken relationships, I realized that there was something I needed to learn, which is why I had to go through a particular experience. Once I looked at the events in my life differently and accepted them as blessings and lessons, no matter how painful, and not as punishment or the result of being unloved or inferior, I was able to find peace and use what was given to me to climb out of my hole.

I still fall into my hole from time to time, but it is usually for a brief period of time and I now know the way out.

Wayne Dyer once said, “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”

If you’re looking for a ladder to climb out of your hole, try changing your attitude and perception. Accept that you are being given a blessing for your growth and that everything is in perfect order according to a greater plan. You may just be amazed at what happens!

Don’t Wish Away Your Days Waiting for Better Ones

“The trick is to enjoy life. Don’t wish away your days, waiting for better ones ahead.” I recently stumbled upon this quote by Marjorie Pay Hinckley. Marjorie’s words got me to thinking about my life and how I have rushed most of it away, not being fully present or savoring the joy of any moment.

When I was a teenager, I couldn’t wait to “grow up” so I could drink or go to college or get married. When my children were infants and toddlers, I muddled through most days in anticipation of the evening when they would go to sleep or when they would be older and more self-sufficient. When I was the caregiver for my parents, I struggled through those years frazzled and exhausted. When I held job positions that were unfulfilling, I wished for the day that I would find employment that made me happy. Looking back, I can’t recall one period in my life in which I wasn’t looking ahead to something different or “better.”

The sad thing is that it took tremendous loss to wake me up: the loss of my marriage, the deaths of my parents and siblings, my children growing up and moving on with their lives. Now, in the prime of my life (this is how I now label any stage of my life), I strive to live in the present. All those quotes about leaving the past behind and not worrying about the future are so true. When you live in the past or try to anticipate the future, you miss the here and now.

When you are dealing with a challenge, look for the positive and learn from the experience. If you are caring for a sick loved one, treasure every minute because I promise you one day you would give anything to nurse that person again. If your children are driving you crazy, remember that sooner than you will like, they will be moving out and starting their own lives.

Remember that all the seemingly insignificant moments – good and bad – are as Paul Anka said, the times of your life. Enjoy them all!