Monthly Archives: January 2015

Fresh Start

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Life is full of ups and downs. Trials and errors. Successes and failures. Struggles and celebration. Rising up and falling down. Like most people, I have experienced all of these things. Like others, I have fallen many, many times.

But it is not the fall that matters – it’s going to happen sometimes and we can’t avoid it. It’s how we get up that counts. Do we get up bitter and ready to fight the world? Or do we get up, dust off and try again, taking and learning from the lessons of the fall?

Only we can make that choice for ourselves. We can choose to live in anger and spite, or we can forgive, move on and try to do better than before.

What caused the fall (an illness, a break up, a job loss) is not as important as how we rise again.

I fell hard in October. And I ended up laid curled on the ground for some time before I was able to start pulling myself up. In fact, I actually fell further before I found the strength to try to get up.

It was the hardest fall that I can remember, and it knocked me right out. I lost my purpose, my sense of self, my reasons to keep going. For a while, I gave up. I had lost the will to fight. My strength was depleted andJ I had no desire to repair myself again.

If it had been up to me, I’d probably still be in a ball on the ground. But I had people surround me and shower me with love and support. They were patient with me, knowing that they couldn’t pick me up. I had to do that for myself.

They let me find my way, all the while showing me reason after reason why I needed to rise again. So when I slowly began to drag myself from the ground, it wasn’t for me. It was for them. For my parents who cared for me. For my sister who spent time with me. For my friends who called and texted me, for my church who prayed for me, for the long distance friends who sent messages, for my nieces and nephews who always gave me a reason to smile.

And as I began to rise for them, I found the strength to rise for myself as well. To recapture my spirit, my passion, my positivity, my love and my life. I reminded myself of the life still ahead, the God who loved me and had it all worked out. I reminded myself of my own worth and why giving up is not an option.

So, three and a half months after my fall, I am starting fresh. I am beginning again. Not only do I see a future, but I am excited for it. And I have got so many people cheering me on.

Once again, I feel like the luckiest girl in the world.

A week ago I got a new job. It happened really fast. It was the first and only job I applied for. I had an interview on Tuesday morning and got an email less than an hour later asking me to go in for training that night. I was in training Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Yesterday I worked my first shift on my own.

I’ll admit it is all a bit overwhelming. Today was my first free day and I was wiped. But it is a good ‘wiped’. It is an accomplished ‘wiped’.

The job is at a local, family run gym that has three locations in Essex County. I am mainly working at the Lasalle gym. It is a fairly stress free job that allows me lots of face to face interaction with people. It’s the meeting and getting to know new people that makes me feel alive. I love working the public! I am able to use my customer service and people skills in a chill work environment with lovely co-workers. And to top it off, I get to wear yoga pants and runners to work! Can’t beat that 🙂

It is a very active job, and since I’ll be at the gym for work anyway, I have no excuse not to work out, which is so important for both mental and physical health.

I’ve also started a new hobby and kept up with my writing, which are both giving me a sense of accomplishment and joy. I have been writing, even if it is just a little, every day.

The hobby I’ve taken up is jewelry making. And it turns out, I am actually pretty good at it. I love it and find it relaxing, and there is the potential that it could become a nice little side business for me. People have already expressed an interest in purchasing some of my pieces. Crazy, huh? I never imagined that would be something I would do.

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It’s all a fresh start.

And it has been a wonderful reminder that no matter how hard I fall, I can always get up. There is always something new around the corner to try. There are many reasons to rise again and keep going.

As you face a fall in the future, or if you are in the middle of one now, be encouraged. Once you hit the ground, the only way to go is up. And you can do it.

There are people who love who are cheering for you and need you to get up again. But more importantly, you need to rise again for yourself.

You are filled with beauty, talents, gifts, skills and love, and the world needs you. You are here for a reason. Remember that the next time you are struggling to get up.

And I promise I will too.

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Childhood Dreams

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My mom was going through some boxes in her basement today and came across the first book I wrote. It was about my dog, Tuffy and it had been ‘published’ at my elementary school in Waterloo. I was 7 when I wrote it.

As I was looking through this short story I wrote and illustrated, it struck me that even at such a young age, writing was something I wanted to do. It was a childhood dream, then a teenage dream, then an adult dream.

We all have so many dreams as children, and they often change multiple times as we grow up. For instance, when I was a pre-teen I wanted to be a dolphin trainer because I was in love with dolphins. That led to me wanting to be a marine biologist (although at the time, I had no idea what that meant; I just wanted to swim with dolphins and whales).

In my early teen years I wanted to be an actress. I felt so invisible in my life, and thought if I could become a famous actress, then people would have to pay attention to me. That eventually led to me wanting to work behind the camera.

As these various dreams flew into my world and then quickly faded away, one dream always stuck. I wanted to write. I didn’t know exactly what kind of writing I wanted to do and I explored all aspects of it – poetry, short story, novel, articles, newspaper, script, etc. I even won a couple of awards in my teen years for my writing.

All I wanted to do was write.

Yet, as I think about the past decade, I wonder where that dream went. It was still there, deep inside me, but it got pushed aside, as so many dreams do when reality hits.

The realities of paying rent, buying food, having a car and just trying to survive take over, and dreams are often forgotten. As we grow into adulthood, responsibilities pile up, and suddenly there’s no time for that childhood dream.

How many people have experienced this? Their dreams pushed to the side when life got real and payments had to be made? How many of us give up on the dreams of our youth?

For a long time, I did. It was never intentional, but life happened and different priorities became important. For me, living in Toronto, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to pay rent as a writer.

And as my career[s] took flight, my time was filled and at the end of the week I was too tired to focus on writing. I also needed to fit in groceries, laundry, cleaning, socializing. And my work week was never a 40 hour week; I was a workaholic and would often stay late or bring it home.

Yes, life happened. And my dream, the one dream I’d held on to since childhood, was put on the back burner.

At 31 years old, I am finally pursuing that childhood dream. I have this blog. I am taking a writing course. And this week I wrote the first chapter of my book.

My writing may never go anywhere. I may never publish my book or write for a big magazine. My mother may be the only one who reads my work. But I have to try. I owe it to that 7 year old girl who wrote a book about her dog.

And I owe it to the 31 year old woman writing this blog. Because I don’t want to get to the end of this life and regret not going after my dream.

Life is short, and it moves so fast. The older I get, the faster it goes. And I want to live the life I’m meant to live.

I’m not meant to sit at a desk answering phones or organizing someone else’s schedule. I’m not meant for logistics or management. If I have to do jobs like these to make ends meet, so be it.

But I am meant to be a writer. That has been my path since I was first able to put words on paper.

I’m chasing my dream. And if it doesn’t work out, that’s ok. At least I tried.

But what if it does work out?

Think about the dreams of your childhood. Think about the dreams you have as an adult. Are you putting them aside? Are you burying them beneath other priorities?

Dig those dreams out, and chase them. Even if you have to work at them at midnight when your family is asleep because that is the only free time you have. Do it.

Don’t look back 30 years from now and regret not trying.

Pursue those childhood dreams.

Goals

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I mentioned in my last post that I don’t do New Years resolutions. I haven’t for a few years. I find resolutions hard to keep because there is no leeway with them. You either do it or you don’t.

One definition of resolution that I found is ‘a firm decision to do or not do something’.

So, an example of a [common] resolution is ‘I am going to work out 5 days a week’. It’s a wonderful resolution as are many others, but if one week you only work out 4 days instead of 5, it can leave you feeling like a failure. And that often leads to giving up the resolution all together.

Resolutions are intimidating, and most people create ones that are nearly impossible to keep.

Again, this leads to a feeling of failure. It discourages you and then you just give up.

I prefer to make goals.

Goals are much friendlier and easier to follow through on because they seem to have less pressure placed on them.

Some would argue that resolutions and goals are the same thing. They are definitely similar, but still quite different.

The definition of goal (from the same place I got the definition of resolution) is ‘the object of a person’s ambition or effort; an aim or desired result’.

So you have resolution (a firm decision), and goal (an aim or desired result).

Goal seems much less scary. It is kinder and feels attainable. There’s a little less pressure and if one week you don’t fulfill your goal of working out 5 days, it’s not a big deal. You’ll just try again next week.

I also don’t believe that goals should be only set at the beginning of a new year. Yes, that is an obvious time to set some goals because moving into a new year can feel like a fresh start.

But we should be making goals throughout the year. Goals should be made monthly, weekly, daily. We should be constantly reaching for something more, a challenge, a way to better ourselves, a way to stretch our minds, a way to get out of our comfort zones.

Since it is the beginning of a new year, a fresh start, I have begun setting goals for myself. Some will be more difficult that others, but I will go after all of them and do my best to achieve them.

I’ve spent the last 3 months trying to heal from a bad breakdown/depression. It has been difficult and it has taken longer than I expected.

But as I’ve worked on healing, I have also been rediscovering myself, and the direction of my life. I am now at a place where I feel strong enough to move forward, to get back out in the world and go after some goals.

So, I thought I’d share some of them. Writing them down for all of you to read will give me more strength to throw myself at them. And if I can encourage or inspire anyone with my goals, that makes any struggles I may face worth it.

1. Write every day. In the last year I have rediscovered my passion for writing. I’ve always wanted to be a writer so it’s time to make an honest go of it. Whether it becomes a career or not, it needs to be a daily part of my life.

2. Finish the writing course I started last year. That got shoved to the side when life got a little crazy. Today I picked up the study materials again.

3. Give back. The last few months I have been focused on myself and getting better. It’s time to get out of my own head and start giving back through my church and through volunteering.

4. Pay off lingering debts. This is a scary one since I don’t have a job right now. But when I am earning money, my goal is to be wiser about what I spend it on and distribute more to debt payments.

5. Growing my church. I began a church gathering in early 2014 and it has been incredible. We have already seen lots of growth. But I look forward to seeing more. I want to be a better leader to those already in the gathering, and I want to bring more people to God.

6. Recognize my own strength. I’ve been through a lot in my 31 years. I look back at some of my struggles and sometimes I am amazed I survived. But then I look at where all of those struggles have brought me, how strong they have made me. The strength given to me by God, and those around me. Sometimes I forget how strong I am.

7. Stop worrying about what others think. This is a tough one for me, and I think for many others. It is one I’ve been working on for a long time. I fear judgement. I want to be liked, to be accepted. When I stopped working, my biggest fear was what people would think of me. But I am learning to say who cares. I know what I think of me. I know what my friends and family think of me. And I know what God thinks of me. That’s all that matters.

8. Appreciate my family and friends more. I have the most amazing family, and the most incredible friends, but I don’t tell them that enough. I want to actively show them how much I love them and appreciate them.

So, those are some of my goals for 2015. Some are carried over from past years; they are goals I want to be continuing to aim for all of my life. I haven’t listed all of my goals. Some I’m not quite ready to share.

But with these goals, those shared and those not, I know I am taking the right path.

I am embracing a new year and a re-newed me.

 

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