Archive for June, 2012

The Importance of Second Chances and Forgiveness

June 29th, 2012 | 4 comments

bigstock--155353877Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.

~Mark Twain~

When I was younger, I felt that I was very good at reading people and situations.  I trusted my first impressions.  And they stuck; meaning if you didn’t make a good first impression with me, it was hard for you to get a second chance….and that was that. But I missed the boat on this one;  first impressions don’t always give the complete picture, so if you meet someone who leaves you less than impressed, consider giving them a second chance. You might be pleasantly surprised.

We all know from personal experience how painful it can feel to be misunderstood or judged. Yet, it seems we all pay it forward.

And if you hurt me? I did not forgive easily. I held on to things, for a very, very long time.

I’m not proud to admit that.  But it’s the truth.  I can say it because, years later I realize just how closed my mind was to possibility.  How I limited myself by never giving life or the people in it a second chance. I really missed out on getting to know some really great people because of my unwillingness to give second chances or extend forgiveness for people being human.

The funny thing about that is….I always had an expectation that someone would extend a second chance to me.  I always thought I was deserving…..after all, I’m only human right?

I’ve been thinking about that lately.  I was reflecting on some things from the past and suddenly realized I had completely forgiven someone who had hurt me.  It’s funny, as people talk about this intentional living, but I was kind of surprised by the fact that all that darkness no longer existed in my heart.  In fact, I felt peace and compassion for that person, and also recognized my own position in how those circumstances came to pass in the first place.

It has freed me.  So, I wanted to share…maybe there is someone out there in the universe that will read my words and realize they are ready to let something go that has weighed down their lives for far too long.

Consider this if you need to forgive:

  • A second chance extended to another person is also a second chance for you.  Don’t limit your potential by closing your mind to the possibility of change. Your decision that someone is not worthy of forgiveness is in fact a statement saying you are not worthy of peace.
  • I heard once that every person we meet is in some way God in disguise.  If this is the case, what was the lesson this person was designed to teach you?  Did you learn it?  Have you grown as a person because of it?
  • What are the benefits to your life by holding back forgiveness?  Are you happier?  More peaceful?  Focused on the present moment?
  • Do you understand that forgiveness does not mean condoning anything?  It doesn’t change the wrong, you are simply making a choice to stop carrying it with you. It doesn’t mean that you are extending an opportunity for this person to hurt you again.  Forgiveness is about your personal decision to make your life better.
  • Extending your forgiveness will not be able to fix everything.  Maybe the person who hurt you will remain angry and hurtful.  This is not about changing that.  Release the burden from yourself and let them go.

The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong. 

~Gandhi~                 

If you hope someone will forgive you:

  • You can’t push it.
  • You can’t make it happen.
  • You can’t demand it, beg for it, buy it, or expect it. You can try, but receiving forgiveness on your terms in not authentic.
  • You simply have to live your life as a person who is worthy of it.  Be the person who deserves forgiveness.  Learn from your mistakes, and live each day a little better than the last.
  • You can hope for it, you can pray each day for it.  But it may never come.  And that’s not about you or the work you’ve done to grow as a human being since you made the mistake.  That’s about the other person’s readiness and ability to deal with the hurt.
  • Part of hoping for forgiveness is extending it to yourself.  You will never be able to become a better version of yourself as long as you are replaying the mistakes of the past.  That is not to say you should not be accountable.  But at some point, it ‘s time to allow yourself to live the life you’ve been given.  This quote has always resonated with me:

You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection. 

~Siddhārtha Gautama~

At points in my life, I’ve been on both sides of the forgiveness coin; working on extending forgiveness, and hoping someone would forgive me for my mistakes.  And what I know for sure is this.  The time I spent away from love was time wasted.

When Stephen died, and my life was stripped bare, I had clarity.  And there was not one transgression that was worthy of my time.  I realized that this fragile, “go this way once” life was far too precious to spend all my time looking over my shoulder, to only find regrets or some weak justification for negative emotions. I feel like I’ve been given this job to do.  To tell people it is all about the love. To let people know they will be okay.

That scares me, as some days, I feel like someone is going to pop out and say, “Hey lady, I remember you.  You weren’t always love and sunshine….sometimes, you were a real b*t%h with a capital B.

And the truth is, they would be right.  Each morning, as part of my gratitude, I give thanks for the clarity that Stephen’s life gave me on how I should live out the rest of my days.

But, it was a hard way to learn the lesson.

Now, I know that some will read this and be quick to say, “Sure Kelly, but there are some things in life that are simply unforgivable. You don’t understand.”

My response is : Is that really true? Or is that the limitation you have set on your situation and how far you are willing to go? Look around for examples of people who have extended forgiveness in the most unforgivable of circumstances?  What allowed them to take the step?

Extend the same tolerance to others as you would want from them.  We’ve all screwed up at one point or another.  I know I have on many, many occasions; “cringe-worthy” moments that I am not proud of, and mistakes that I still pray on each night.

My life changed when I decided to extend the same patience and forgiveness to others as I had hoped people would give to me.  My life changed when Stephen taught me that there is no grievance more important than living a life filled with love.  It changed me and I believe it can change you….

Wishing you the peace in your life that only forgiveness can bring,

Kelly

Help Find a Cure… Yeahbutitis….

June 26th, 2012 | 1 comment

The world is a great mirror.

It reflects back to you what you are. If you are loving, if you are friendly, if you are helpful, the world will prove loving and friendly and helpful to you.

The world is what you are.

~Thomas Dreier~

I recently had an opportunity to talk with two people I haven’t seen in some time.  We chatted about this and that, and they provided updates to me about how things were going in their life.

Since the last time I had talked with them, they went on a trip and they bought a new car.  Their child had a glowing report card from school, with perfect grades.  And much, much more.  To me, it seemed like they had a multitude of blessings.  From my vantage point, life was good……

However….they did not see it like I did.  Let me explain.

When I complimented them on the beautiful brand spanking new shiny car, I received this response.  “Yeah, its beautiful, but you would not believe what we had to go through at the dealership to get what we wanted.  Oh my God, the service was atrocious, and…..”

When I exclaimed that their trip to such an exotic location must have been an experience of a lifetime, I received this response.  “Yeah, it was good, but we probably would not go back there again.  The food was mediocre at best, and I didn’t like the bedding at all.  Couldn’t get a good night’s sleep.  And don’t even get me started on the bugs!”

Whew….the heaviness of the conversation was overwhelming to me.  So, I thought, I’m going to go to a safe place, their child.  Surely, their will be nothing negative to report on their pride and joy, the fruit of their loins….right?

Wrong.

When I complimented them on their child and the wonderful academic success, they responded, “Yeah, but you know, you always have to be pushing if you want to see grades like that.  It’s like it never ends. And some of the teachers this year were really something!”

I need to be honest, I couldn’t wait to get away from these people.  I like them, but the negativity was oppressive.  Nothing was good enough.

Do you know anyone like that?  No matter what good is happening in their lives, they always see what didn’t work out.  So, when you try to celebrate the blessings of their lives with them, they come down with a bad case of “Yeahbutitis.”

Yeahbutitis is a common disorder found only in humans. It is contagious, as persons exposed to an infected human tend to absorb the negative thoughts, and perspective can be shifted with prolonged exposure. Characteristics of the afflicted human include:

  • Cannot accept something as completely good, and must find fault with some aspect of the experience.  This is the opposite of the cloud with silver lining effect.  Yeahbutitis  sufferers recognize the day at the beach, but focus on the sunburn, the jellyfish, the sand in their sandwich or the obnoxious sunbathers adjacent to their spot on the beach.
  • Yeahbutitis is not related to your personal circumstances or situation in life.  People from all walks of life, income levels, and cultures can be affected. It is related to your internal vision….what you choose to see in your life.
  • Treatment:  a strict daily regimen of gratitude, refocusing your life on what is good.  This doesn not mean that you are denying the imperfections.  Rather, it means you are focused on what is working in your life.  Treatment has shown to have  remarkable results when the patient is ready to make a change.

I know this is a silly way to describe it, but think about it the next time you are talking about your life.  What’s your focus?  What about your social circle?  Do you know anyone like this?

As a recovering Yeahbutitis sufferer, I know it’s not easy.  But recovery is possible.

We all know that life is not perfect.  There’s always going to be ants at the picnic, or flies in the ointment. And there’s going to be worse than that if you want me to be completely honest.

That’s why it’s important the celebrate the good when it comes.  Don’t lessen your celebration by feeling that you need to acknowledge what’s not working.  Trust me, we already know that life is not perfect.

Celebrate the good now, and all those one little things that make life’s imperfections a little easier to deal with…..

Let’s find a permanent cure for Yeahbutitis……by counting your blessings each and every day.

Everyone has his burden. What counts is how you carry it.

~Merle Miller~

Wishing you a day filled with silver linings,

Kelly

Self Awareness and Taking the Emotion out of Eating..

June 24th, 2012 | no comments
Photo courtesy of Google Images.

When we give up dieting, we take back something we were often too young to know we had given away: our own voice. Our ability to make decisions about what to eat and when. Our belief in ourselves. Our right to decide what goes into our mouths. Unlike the diets that appear monthly in magazines or the thermal pants that sweat off pounds, unlike a lover or a friend or a car, your body is reliable. It doesn’t go away, get lost, stolen. If you will listen, it will speak.~Geneen Roth~

Well, ten days left.  It’s hard to believe that 90 days have already passed. Here’s the update.

Eating

It is going well, but some days are better than others.  My husband and I keep going back and forth a bit on eating, trying to keep our choices somewhat low in carbs, but counting our calories.  Even with carbs, we are making the right choices, and using moderation, which I think is the key to this whole thing. I’m just not the kind of girl who is never going to eat a piece of bread ever again….and I think that is okay.  But maybe I am the kind of girl who will choose whole grain instead of white.  Now, I must be honest….does the menu feel a smidge repetitive at times?  Oh my lord, yes.  But, we are working on it…we are changing our lifestyle, so it’s going to take a bit to learn new recipes etc.

Exercise

I am a faithful step taker.  10,000 per day. Sometimes that comes easy, and others, I feel I may need to sleepwalk to achieve the target, but I usually reach it.  I love to hear that beautiful watch alarm for my Bodybugg, announcing “Your step count has been achieved.”  I could tell you I am enjoying every step, but that would be a bold-faced lie.  Some days, as soon as I hear the first chirp of that watch alarm, I press stop on the treadmill and can’t jump off that thing fast enough.  But, I am moving faster than I ever have, and I am jogging for longer periods….feeling good about the strides I’ve made.

I do need to continue to work on strength training.  I have not made it a priority, and it has probably stunted my results somewhat.  I hate to admit that, but I need to fess up.  I will keep trying in this department.

Emotions

When I was growing up, we used food to celebrate events.  We also used food when consoling another in times of trouble.  We used food in quiet times.  There was summer special food and winter special food.  We had cookies that were tucked safely away for “the company” in the deep freeze.  I’m not sure why my mother never put a padlock on that thing, as every time we actually had any “company” she would go to that deep freeze, only to find an empty tin with crumbs rolling around in the bottom.

I tell you this because food has always been a part of the narrative of my life.  So, on this journey, I have learned more about the emotional part of my eating than anything else.  It hasn’t always been easy to come to terms with the fact that although I feel like a strong woman, I can sometimes have huge crutches I lean on in life, and they are usually made of potato chips and chocolate bars.  It’s also not easy to admit that those crutches still sit in my closet.  I feel I am more aware of them than I ever have been, but they still exist for me.  When life is just not comforting, I want, or need an easy fix.  So, do I have this completely figured out yet?  Nope.  But am I self-aware and really getting there?  Absolutely.

And I think that’s the key.  I don’t have it all figured out, but I am listening to my body, and realizing that if I become still and really listen, I already have all the answers.

The past 90 days have shown me that it may not always be easy….but it’s worth it.

So, tune in next week for the results!  So proud of my husband, for his drive and his support.  We’ve already started talking about our next fitness challenge to get ourselves ready for Christmas.

Keep on stepping…

Kelly

The Truth About Your Comfort Zone…

June 5th, 2012 | 2 comments

We cannot become what we want to be by remaining what we are.

~Max DePree~  

It’s less than one month until the fourth.  I always said I was not going to be one of those people who looked at the “day” with dread.  So, each year, I’ve tried to create something positive on the anniversary of Stephen’s death.  Last year, it was Just One Little Thing.  In less than a year, over 10,000 people (fondly known as JOLT’ers) from 20 different countries have joined me to find gratitude in the simple things.  Not a cure for a rare disease I know, but I am proud of how it has grown, and how it shifts the perspective of me and others towards gratitude.

This year, I decided to take that positive energy and focus on my health with the 100 day JOLT challenge.  I want to continue to do good in this world as a way of honoring Stephen and Brendan, and improving my physical health can only better enable me to complete the task.

So, with one month left, and 70 days punched, let’s talk about The Comfort Zone.

The Comfort Zone.  It’s so secure, it’s a safe place I know.  It feels like an old quilt on a cold fall night.  It’s the one place where I know I’m okay, no one pushes you to be something you’re not.  The comfort zone serves snacks.  The comfort zone does not judge….most of the time.   It is a place that keeps anything different at arm’s length; could be people, foods, physical activity, potential for change, potential relationships,  or personal growth.  There is a sign on the door of the Comfort Zone that says, “No different allowed.”

Is it all bad?  Hell no.  Sometimes, it feels good to sit in it for a while.  Sometimes, we just need comfort, in whatever form we can get it.  But here’s a couple of points I’ve been pondering.

  • We all have one, and we all need to go there from time to time. But if we live in the zone, are we really alive?  For me, I am discovering a zest for life by pushing myself a little harder than I would have in the past.  Is life not made for challenge? Our comfort zone can sedate us into thinking that life is supposed to be without struggle.  And, let’s face it, that is a load of horse manure.  Life is a balance of struggle and peace, and our mission is to find the happiness in both.
  • In the zone, you cannot fail.  It is designed for preservation.  But the flip side is you cannot really succeed either.  Not at those big lofty goals that sit outside of the confines of your area of comfort.  And this is where your desire for change comes in…when you want it bad enough, the walls that kept change out become barriers to your success that you must push down.  For me, I was ready for renovation!
  • The zone can keep you busy, but what are you really doing?  Are you busy keeping yourself safe from life’s fluctuations or are you busy riding the wave of change towards what you want.  The one thing I know for sure is that no matter how hard you try to fortify the walls of your comfort zone, change comes anyway.
  • Looking at my own life, I realized it just wasn’t all that comfortable.  In fact, as each month passed, I feel like I don’t need to be in the safe place anymore. I have become more comfortable with exercise, with sweat, with blisters, with hunger, with drinking enough water,  and with feeling the feelings that may have been previously medicated with toasted coconut ice cream from Kilwins.  I still go back to my safe place, as we all do, but I know that it is just one of many rooms in my house. 

The comfort zone.  After seventy days of stepping outside of it, I now realize it wasn’t all that comfortable. It didn’t really comfort me.  It only served as a place of illusion, preventing me from seeing not only the things that need to change, but my strength and ability to make those changes happen.

The comfort zone exists because of fear….fear that we are not good enough, that we are not strong enough, that we can’t lose the weight, get the job, find the partner, make a change……but the truth is, you can do whatever the hell you want in this life.  You just have to decide.  I have this posted on the bulletin board in my office,  and wanted to share with you:

Fearful

Emotions

Appearing

Real

That is what fear is….nothing more.

I hope that my fellow JOLT’ers who are part of this 100 day challenge are having as much fun as I am, and learning that our fears are only illusions, and not an indicator of our capabilities for success.

Here’s a big shout out to discomfort…..all kinds of discomfort…changing me one challenge at a time.

Kelly