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Here’s the Thing…

Just as I suspected, CX Worx got me out of my (mental) funk (but left me with a physical one…major sweat fest). This release was mixed with three new tracks, one for back and two for standing strength. We did something called the superman with tubes that defies the term burn, and the rowing we did was all in my lower back. Of course I felt lifted after such a hard workout!

But here’s the thing: I haven’t figured out what to do about anything. I’m still thinking and praying on it. Last night, I didn’t get much sleep. I woke up during the night, and instead of dropping back off, my mind just kept going in circles, trying to figure out how to improve things. It was like a rat in a maze that just kept hitting dead ends. Blah.

I do have a positive mental attitude today. It’s going to be a better day than yesterday. It’s Friday, for one thing. For another, I’m going running, a challenge that always makes me work harder. I found a piece of a story I am writing that I had forgotten about, from nearly two years ago, that’s setting off a good creative buzz on it. In fact, quite a few of my writing projects are going well right now. Finally, my mother is back on her feet, literally and figuratively. There’s a bit more to smile about today. Let’s see if I can hold on to my joy for a full eight hours.

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Monday Motivation: Accentuate the Positive

I’ve been having conversations lately about my approach or philosophy to life and dealing with challenges. I hinted at this in my Season for Getting Serious posts (Season for Getting Serious, Seeking Out the Blessing, Hurry Up & Slow Down, etc.), but with the next few Monday Motivation posts, I want to give you a few key components to my sunny disposition about life, even in times of distress.

I may have shared this little ditty on here before, but in case I haven’t, I’ll introduce it. This is part of a song that was in a play my Theatrical Musical Troupe leader wrote and I was involved with in the 7th or 8th grade. I don’t know if she wrote the song or if it’s a real song. **Edit: The internet is a wonderful thing. I did find out where the song came from. Ironically (and very fitting for this post), it is a war era forties song. That exactly fits in with who Mrs. Wilkins was as I knew her. I always imagined her to be like one of the Andrews Sisters, with a smart army skirt and pillbox hat on, part of a trio of leggy ladies singing for the soldiers. :D). Lyrics can be found online.*** I could share more if I were in Michigan; I’m almost certain I have the song somewhere (I keep everything). Anyway, the song:

(You’ve got to) Accentuate the positive

Eliminate the negative.

Hold on to the affirmative;

Don’t mess with Mr. In-Between.

Periodically, these few lines will rewind in my head when I’m having a rough time of things. It doesn’t matter if those rough times are a consequence of my wrong actions or I’m a victim of circumstance; my brain is armed with little sayings, scriptures, and yes, even songs from 7th or 8th grade plays that pick my spirits up.

I wish I could tell you what this song was specifically addressing in that play written by Mrs. Bettye Jean Wilkins, French teacher and Theatrical Musical Troupe director at Washington Middle School (shoutout to Mrs. Wilkins! :D); sadly, I don’t remember. What I can tell you is what this means to me.

When you are confronted with situations and circumstances that are trying, you have the ability to decide how you are going to meet the challenges inherent in such circumstances. My 7 Habits calendar has talked a lot about being proactive rather than reactive. Being proactive means that we’ve already decided before the circumstance has occured how we are going to confront problems. Reaction is a response to and action. It is dependent on what is done first. If your attitude or behavior is dependent upon your circumstances, the weather, what someone said about you, or what you got on a test, you are reactive. You are responding to a stimuli based on how you feel. My aunt had me take a course in reaction strategies when I worked for her. Reactive strategies reports were reports in which we had to write what someone did and how we reacted, justifying our reaction based on the appropriate strategies we’d learned. In essence, they were gauging whether or reaction was congruent with the proactive responses we had in place. Did we handle the situation correctly? Did we do what we had practiced and studied, or did we let our natural reactions get the better of us?

Over the years, I’ve worked at making this my natural reactive strategy:

  1. Accentuate the positive. Accentuate means to make more noticeable or prominent. Basically, look on the bright side. What positives are there in my life? Do I have resources and/or a plan or strategy in place to overcome this obstacle? Positives can be directly related to the situation or just positives in general.
  2. Eliminate the negative. Systematically get rid of the negative. You need to remove negative thoughts, destructive or non-productive thoughts, and self-defeating language from your head. Work at remedying every negative aspect of the situation. Leave cracks or crevices in which negativity can hide and breed.
  3. Hold on to the affirmative. What you know to be true and correct should be held on to. Plege your allegiance to a course of action or attitude and stick with it. Don’t be wishy-washy or indecisive (Don’t mess with Mr. In-Between).

I’m almost preternaturally optimistic. This is not my natural state (ask my mother). I had to teach myself to be optimistic, to seek out the blessing in a situation, not to stop for a prolonged period of time in Depression Station. I get disappointed and upset just like anyone else. I can feel a bit beat up on by life. But what I’ve always found to be true is a phrase I’ve already shared with you (hey, that rhymed!): I am uniquely qualified to conquer my trials. That’s a distinct positive! I have all the tools necessary to eliminate the negative. I just have to hold on to that affirmative statement. All previous trials have been like beating a video game villain in one of those quest/journeying games: once I’ve won that particular battle, I’ve been gifted a power, ability, or treasure for the war. No battle you win is a hollow victory you walk away from empty-handed, if you know how to:

Accentuate the positive. Eliminate the negative. Hold on to the affirmative; don’t mess with Mr. In-Between.

At least, that’s my two cents. Leave yours in the comment section…and look for the next posts in this series.

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Monday Motivation

Here’s something you should know about me: I don’t give up easily. I say I will just let something go, move on to something else, quit while I’m ahead, throw in the towel, but I don’t. Not usually, anyway. What happens is I grumble and complain for a while, go over all the reasons why it’s just not possible for me to do something and how everyone will understand, then I get up and try again.

I do this almost every morning. I used to be a chronic late/absentee person. If you know me know, you may find that hard to believe. I hate being late. The thing is, I wake up most mornings and don’t want to go to work or to the gym. I don’t want to have my dreams of being a writer crushed. I am afraid of failing, of possible rejection, or making the wrong decisions. I don’t see anything wrong with this. It’s perfectly reasonable to feel afraid of letting yourself and others down; what isn’t acceptable to me is letting that stop you from trying.

Despite my rant against the machine that is running, no stupid physical activity is going to beat me back to the bus. I’m going to punch running in the face, as a tee-shirt on one of the running blogs I follow so perfectly summed it up. The fact that it’s been harder for me to get started is only going to make it feel that much better when I succeed at doing it, and doing it well.

What I didn’t tell you was when I bought that cold compress and Harlequin  comfort package, I bought a couple of Runner’s World featuring a beginner’s guide. I’ve been looking through the articles and expanding my knowledge bank of running. I’ve been learning about good running form, stride, how to land, shoes, fueling, cross training, etc. I may not have the running shoes or the completely healed feet to run now, but I’m committed to cross training and learning to stretch and warm up properly until I can get back in the running game again.

If you have experienced a little bit of failure recently, it’s OK to mourn over it, but it’s not OK to just throw in the towel because it didn’t work this time. If at all possible, pick yourself up and try again. Tell yourself how good it will feel when you finally do succeed. Learn from past mistakes and don’t make the same mistakes twice. Be tenacious. If you’re like me, tell yourself all the reasons you have for giving up, and feel doubly accomplished when you try again and succeed. Ignite your competitive spirit. Acquire more knowledge to help improve your chances of success. Put up inspirational pictures and sayings. Find someone who believes in your dream and is willing to support you. Whatever gets you to lace up your shoes and get out of the door.

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Seeking Out the Blessing

If only all of us could recover from our low points as they do in romance novels! But why is this called Alimony? Anyone? Image by Stewf via Flickr

Note: I’m so excited about being Freshly Pressed I can hardly stand it! I’m still answering all your comments, but keep them coming! Feel free to laize around here and explore.

Let’s say you’ve taken stock of your year and all you can come up with is failure. Sure, you’ve done one or two things right, but somehow, the specter of the things you did wrong (or didn’t do at all) casts a hug shadow over them. You can’t stop yourself from trying to “save the year,” to cram some positive returns into a year of losing ground. Yet the calendar keeps changing and where you are stays the same.

I’ve been there. One of my lowest points was sittingon a green plastic bench in the kitchen of my aunt’s business where I was working for the summer, wondering how I would continue college without the scholarships and loans I’d had the year before. Even lower was  the point in November when I wasn’t in school, still didn’t have a job, and led a life of Harlequin romance novels and insomnia. We won’t even talk about the week I got fired and my apartment complex was sold and my lease terminated, or freezing nights with no heat or hot water that didn’t come from my stove.

But no matter how hard situations get, we have to seek out the blessings in life. People get tired of telling themselves, “I am still alive and I still have my health and strength” when they are cold or hungry or worried about where the next mortgage payment will come from. People don’t think the positives outweight the negatives when they’re brokenhearted. So how do you find the “real” blessings? You have to look at yourself honestly.

While I was frantically looking for a job and an apartment in Oct/Nov of 2008 (deep in the recession), I realized something: I’m qualified to be in this position. I had a degree (just barely–Aug. 08), I had the tenacity to persevere and not give up until I found a job, and I had a faith in God that had grew to levels it even startled me. Here I was jobless and nearly homeless, and I was at peace because I knew it would all work out in my favor. But, what if someone else, someone who wasn’t as strong, was in that position? What if someone else who couldn’t take a year off and work all the hours God sends to get back in school had lost their scholarship?

A phrase I like to say to myself is “I’m uniquely qualified to conquer my trials.” Look what I can take! Look how well I chose the people around me who are still helping and supporting me! See how I inspire others when I tell them I’ve been there and they can battle through. See how sympathetic and empathetic, how tender all this has made me to other people’s situations.

My encouragement to you, in this little series on how to really “save the year,” is to seek the blessings where they may be found. Where is your hard work finally bearing fruit? What did you finally do that you’ve been trying to accomplish forever? What still gives you a reason to smile?

Maybe you don’t know how to start changing the things you want to change, or accomplishing the goals you set forth. I propose that you start by seeing what wonderful things you already have, and telling yourself “I’m uniquely qualified to conquer my trials.”

That’s my two cents. Leave yours.  

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Downsizing & Deciding What’s Important

Flagellants mortifying the flesh, at the time ...
Image via Wikipedia

While getting ready for moving, I’ve been downsizing my possessions, trying to figure out what’s important, what I should keep or give away and what should be thrown away. The one thing that kick-started this process was a coworker having a yard sale and asking for donations. I gave away clothes, bedsheets and books by the pound. I felt light and free.

I think it’s time to downsize and decide what’s important in other areas of my life as well. I have too much stress and am not seeing any of the positive changes that I would like to see in my life, and I think it’s partly because I am holding on to a bunch of junk physically, spiritually, and emotionally.

The focus of my year was supposed to be on accountability–making sure that I was living up to the goals and expectations I made for myself, making adjustments where necessary, but always getting better. What actually happened is I turned it into a year of self-flagellation for not meeting goals. It became a pity party/ self-abuse session that has lasted nearly a year.

It’s time to refocus my mental energies. I need to concentrate on the things I have accomplished and those that I can still accomplish. I need to have an accountability partner who can help me identify areas in which I can improve, and ways in which I can achieve that improvement. 

I have grown a lot in the past year, and I can continue to do so if I approach life with the right attitude and work ethic. I’ve let too much negativity creep in. As I prepare myself for another year, I am vowing to remain positive and look for ways to reach my goals without berating myself. I will reward the minute progress I make towards achieving a goal as well as the completion of a goal. Rome wasn’t built in a day…all that jazz.

How are you going to emotionally downsize? What’s important to you that you’ve been neglecting, and what are you going to do about it?

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Yesterday I went out to my car during lunchtime, intent on getting to the bank and getting a money order, squeezing in a meal in between before I had to be back at my desk, to find my tire flat. Happy Monday to me.

But it wasn’t only the tire that was deflated; my spirit was deflated as well. During the past few years, I’ve been through so much that a flat tire shouldn’t even be a blimp on the radar screen of my problems. It was a case of the straw that broke the camel’s back.

In case you are new to me and my story, I will briefly recap some of the highlights, or lowlights if you will:

  • July of 2006, I found out my financial aid had run out and I couldn’t finish college where I was going, out of state.
  • August of 2006, I went back to school at a school in Michigan, but didn’t have transportation to get to school, nor the money for books.
  • November 2006, I returned to Florida to work for my aunt and establish residency here.
  • August 2007, I was finally able to return to school and graduated August 2008.
  • Late October/Early November 2008, I lost my job and my apartment complex was sold. My lease was terminated, I had no money, and nothing but faith.
  • November 2008, I find a new job and new apartment and start over. I am working as a temp., terrified of losing my job, and barely able to meet basic bills.
  • March 2009, my Stepfather dies.
  • May 2009 I am hit from behind in my car. The car is totaled, I have neck and shoulder problems, and am again scared to death of losing my job.
  • June 2009 I am hired permanently at my job.
  • January 2010, my bank account suffers from multiple ODs due to bank error; I lose half a paycheck. I still haven’t fully recovered from this.
  • June 2010, my complex holds on to a check for rent and deposits two at once, overdrafting my account and almost putting me on the street–again.
  • Now, still wrangling with my (soon to be ex-) apartment complex and a flat tire.

When, oh when, will life get any easier for me? I’ve tried to live right, keep faith, continue to be as good a Christian example as I can be, but after several years of hardship, my optimism is flagging. I’ve always been the type of person who tried to see God’s purpose in things, tried to be optimistic about the trials I am going through, but now I feel that I’m beginning to lose hope I’ll ever be anything but struggling. What I really want to do is take a week or two off and hide under my covers. But that won’t solve anything.

A coworker helped me put my spare tire on. We turned the tire round and round, but couldn’t find any nail or punctures in the tire. The treads were perfect.The tire didn’t appear to have any problems. It seems as if it just…wilted.

That’s how I feel…wilted, like a tightly closed wilting rosebud.

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Press Along to the Goal…

I’ve been avoiding writing this entry for long enough, and with good reason. I should have updated you on my progress on the year’s goals a long time ago, but there’s not much to update you on that was positive or, at least, entertaining.

At the moment, I am sitting at my computer waiting for some chicken breast to cook for a very experimental Hamburger Helper (yes, I am making HH with chicken breast tonight). I’m watching Alex & Emma, an awesomely bad romantic comedy centered around one person’s burning need to write a novel in less than thirty days, and the woman he hires to transcribe this masterpiece. It’s very fitting, all considered.

At this point, I am trying new things and ruminating over old problems and blocks. The groceries are new. I haven’t bought groceries in a while. This should stop me from eating pizza and cinnastix at random hours of the night because I’m too exhausted to go buy something and cook it. There are no quick meals, though, and no beef or pork. I just have chicken, tilapia, and turkey with a variety of vegetables and pastas. This is good. Really. Except when I’m hungry and have to wait until it’s done before I can eat. Just the usual problem of wanting things to happen right away, a product of being in the microwave generation.

That’s the real problem with the goals, I guess. They’re not happening fast enough…or at all. Mostly, it’s my fault. I haven’t put the time and effort into them that I should have. I haven’t put the time and effort into anything , really. The exercising was going well, but I wasn’t losing weight, so I haven’t been doing as much. It didn’t seem worth it. My financial situation is starting to look better in the long term, but the short term is still rocky. I am still playing a bit of catch up here and there, but I’ve managed to stop the bleeding. (And get new work shoes…Yes!) I haven’t written here everyday, obviously, and I haven’t submitted anything to anywhere, so I’m four submissions behind. Spiritually, I’m growing, but I could be growing more if I read more of my Bible, prayed more often, and got back involved in some ministries/committees at church. All in all, I think it’s time to start all over  again.

There are a million and one things that I could talk about, but they’d merely be distractions from what I’m supposed to be doing: making Hamburger Helper and working on something–dad’s chapter, Mrs. V’s group home work, my own writing. I could continue washing clothes and cleaning the apartment. I could watch some groundbreaking television or a few movies. Either way, I need to get productive.

I decided to give Mr. P a rest for the time being. He has been featured a lot lately, one way or another. I am instead going to develop a new page for New Readers, one that gives a good synopsis of the blog, has a list of people I mention frequently and their “blognomers,” and few other things. Keep looking for the new page. In the meantime, I have chicken breasts to flip!


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Accentuating the Positive

It’s very early in the day, and early in the year, but there are some positives. I turn 25 this year. That’s not neccessarily a positive; it’s just a fact. However, things change when you’re 25. One change I’ve already noticed is….my car insurance is dropping for $40! Whoo hoo! Hip Hip Hooray for growing up, I guess. That, combined with my raise, will definitely help me reach the financial goals that I have for the year.

I have gotten off to a better start than I thought that I would. I’m usually a slow starter, if I can ever get myself to start. I find all sorts of reasons to put off starting, or to slow down, especially if it involves something that I should be doing. Sometimes I want the results but can’t convince myself to do the work it takes to get there. There are still a few areas that fall into that category, but I have quite a few successes.

I have been working out at least three times a week, which was part of my health/fitness goal. Eat more vegetables and healthier foods, and I have increased my water intake. I have written here everyday, even though one post didn’t get finished until slightly after midnight. I’m finding ways and means to have more accessible funds. I worked well enough to earn a raise,  paid my car payments on time enough to get rid of the buy here, pay here and have the loan taken over by a legitimate, report to the credit bureaus company, and having the SunPass reduces my toll payments by 10%. 

There are still many areas to be worked on, but I am off to a good start.

You’ve got to…”accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative, hold on to the affirmative, don’t mess with mister in-between!” –Betty Jean Wilkins, my 7th & 8th grade French teacher and Theatrical Musical Troupe Leader.  That’s easier said than done, but I do the best I can with trying to live up to it. 

Don’t worry, the next few entries will be more interesting.