DON’T START TO MOLD

This post I cannot claim entire credit for. In fact, it was a great collaboration of ideas. My friend came up to visit from out of town and within five minutes of sitting down together we were coming up with great ideas to assist people in living more positive and rewarding lives. Interestingly enough these ideas were not solely generated by things we have read or learned in some random seminar, but by our own life experiences.

Allow me to let you in on a little of our conversation. Mold, mildew two words that seldom if ever garner a positive response. How do these conditions exist? Moisture is trapped on a surface and is not allowed to evaporate or escape. Eventually mold and mildew begin to form. Once they take hold they grow and spread rapidly. Unless the area is treated with a special cleaner (I have found the one above to work especially well) and well ventilated. In other words, the moisture must be allowed to escape and evaporate or the mold will reappear.

As most of you know this is not a website dedicated to bathroom cleaning, but to becoming the best versions of ourselves. How do the two connect on this issue? It refers to grieving. Not so long ago my friend had lost his mom. In a vain attempt to maintain an image he fostered he fought his grief. He kept all the tears he had inside for fear of appearing weak or sad. Much like our example above, by keeping his tears, or moisture, inside of him he began to form mold and mildew inside his spirit. It continued to grow and overcome him from the inside. killing off his happiness, his ability to socialize effectively with others. He even tried to treat the problem by drinking. It was no more effective than washing mold with water. It may looked good at first, but the mold came back stronger than ever.

It wasn’t until my friend finally let his tears flow, until he got that moisture out of him that he was able to move forward. The mold and mildew inside his soul dried up and went away. He was able to become happy again. Not that he still did not grieve and miss his mother, quite the opposite, he was honest about those feelings and allowed them to show.

If you have pain, if you have grief, do not hold in your tears. Do not let society or others dictate how you express that grief. If you do your soul may begin to mold. Let your tears flow. Be honest with your feelings. If you need help, please seek help. Whether it is the shoulder of a good friend, a support group or one on one therapy, give your grief an outlet. Then and only then will you be able to heal.

WHY I DO WHAT I DO

Early in my writing career, and every so often to this day, I ask myself the ever important question, “Why do I do what I do?” This may seem like an odd question to be asking yourself, but knowing yourself and why you do things is important to developing a strong why. Having a strong why is what will keep you doing what you are called to do long after the urge to do it has passed.

My answer is really twofold. The first part is a spiritual one. I believe this is what the creator has called me to do. I was given a gift to be able to find the light in even the darkest situation. This didn’t happen overnight and on occasion takes longer than on others, but eventually I see the positive in everything. I was also bestowed with other gifts as well. When I was a small child riding the city bus with my mom she quizzed me on vocabulary and now I have a rather large vernacular. In what can be viewed as either a blessing or a curse, I am very empathetic. I feel the pain others go through and as such, have a strong desire to make this world a better place.

On the more secular side of things, I have a very strong desire to share what I learn. Why? Why not just keep that knowledge to myself and use it to create a life I love? I certainly have done the second half of that. I do indeed love the life I live. It is not without its challenges, but I love it. My life is in a constant state of improvement. That in itself is exciting to me. I know that no matter how good or bad of a day I am having, I will learn something in the future that will allow me to reduce my stress and increase me joy even more.

Back to the question at hand, “that’s all great, but why feel compelled to share it with others?” Those of you who know my story will have some idea why. My life as a writer and seeker of light began in the darkest of situations. My job was being downsized, my health was in serious trouble and my relationship was in the dumpster. It was out of this despair that a determination to learn how to transform the life I was living to a life I would be loving was born.

As I began to learn and apply things my life began to transform. I noticed the people that were in my life had a lot of the same struggles I had faced. Wanting to see everyone experiencing the joy I was, I began to share everything I was learning. In return, some amazing things happened. First, people shared with me things they had learned and we compounded our knowledge. My friends Amelia and Sharon come to mind. Second, I found myself surrounded by people who were not only grateful, but becoming more joyful and positive, just like I was. This was not only more pleasant to be around, but helped make my journey that much easier and more enjoyable as well. Truly proof you receive that which you give away.

These are the main reasons I do what it is that I do. It is also reasons that all of you should do what it is you have been called to do as well. When we share our gifts and knowledge with each other, we not only brighten each other’s lives, but begin to create a shift in the world at large. We create a ripple effect and the gift and knowledge we share can touch the hearts and lives more people than we will ever know. I can’t think of a stronger why to share the gift of you with the world.

USE YOUR PAIN

This man is Inky Johnson. I highly recommend you look up his story, but I will give you a brief outline here. Inky was born into challenging situations to say the least. A very poor neighborhood, 16 people living in a two bedroom house. He had to sleep on the floor. Once a week he got to sleep in a bed…with 5 others. He was surrounded by family and friends going in and out of prison. Truly a recipe for disaster.

Inky decided to take a different path. At the age of 7, with some help from a coach, he decided he was going to play professional football. He practiced every day. Often running light pole to light pole with no shoes on. Eventually he received a scholarship to the University of Tennessee. With 8 games to go he was told he was going to be a first round pick. Imagine being told finally you will be able to erase generations of hurt, pain and financial suffering for your family. He immediately called his mother and grandmother to inform them they would no longer have to live in poverty.

Two games later while making a tackle that all changed. Inky felt like he had the wind knocked out of him. He woke up in the hospital where he was told he had to be rushed into surgery or he would die. Waking up from  that the doctor said he had some bad news. Considering he was still alive, Inky was confused. The doctor explained he had sustained nerve damage and would no longer be able to play football again. Imagine being that close to helping your family, having worked all your life, never cheated and it is stolen away in one play.

The reality of what he was left to deal with sank in when the doctor informed him “Son, you will never be able to use your arm again. You will never be able to use your hand again.” Inky’s reply?  “No disrespect sir, but I am going to use this arm and hand everyday. I am going to use it to inspire people. I am going to use it to help people not give up.” Today Inky Johnson is a motivational speaker and has several videos on YouTube.

When I heard that I had to fight back tears. Wow. I pray that I would be able to see things that way. Which is ironic, because that is what I am challenging all of us, myself included, to do here today. We have all had pain in our lives. Most of us not to the magnitude of the story above, some even worse. My question to you is this, what are you going to do with that pain? My answer is this, you went through the pain, put it to use for you. Use what you have went through to inspire and push you. Use it to motivate and give hope to others. DO NOT WASTE YOUR PAIN.

Maybe someone broke your heart? Use it to not only motivate you to make your next relationship your best relationship, but to help those who are also heartbroken. You lost your job? Use that as a tool to motivate you to chase a job you would enjoy. Do so while maybe helping at a meal program helping those who are in an even tougher situation. Turn your pain from a liability into an asset.

TAKE THE LESSON

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Often in times we can feel defeated. This is a natural and not to thrilling part of life. There will always be pain. Pretty inspirational so far huh? This blog, and my work is not about denying reality, but rather learning to thrive in any circumstances. So what do you do when pain strikes? Sometimes a moment to yourself of quiet reflection is needed, as long as it does not turn into hiding from the world for days on end living in the pain. Sometimes it shows us that we may need to distance or eliminate certain people in our lives, but we must be careful not to start losing our faith and trust in everyone. Sometimes pain will have us evaluate situations we are in and determine if they are still in our best interests such as relationships, jobs and friendships. We must just guard against becoming bitter and resentful towards the world. In all of these we must remember to take the lesson. If it is a person causing us pain, we must decide if it is worth keeping them in our lives. If not, and we still do we will still have the pain. If it is a job that does not fulfill us we are quite literally committing spiritual suicide. If we go to the opposite side of the spectrum and decide because one relationship left us hurt that all relationships are hurtful we will be denying ourselves the love we deserve.

This reminds me a lot of working out. When you first start working out, or any new physical exercise the following day can leave you feeling like you played a game of chicken with a semi…and lost. If you stay too long in trying to wait until you feel back to normal to try again you will just get pain and have to start the cycle all over. That being said, if you just decide “this hurts and working out is painful and bad” you will never get healthy and shape the body you want. We must grow from the pain and not let it destroy us.

Please share this post with everyone you might know suffering from pain. thank you for helping me help others.

THE FIRST OF MANY

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This will be a week devoted to words that shape our lives and begin with the letter ‘P’. Not only is it the first letter of my last name, but as you will see when the week progresses there are a lot of words that fall into this category.

First word up, ‘Pain’. It may seem odd for a blog on living an amazing life to feature pain as its first word of the week, but that is only because we often think of pain as a negative. What do I mean pain as a negative? Who doesn’t think of pain as a negative right? If you ask anyone “would you like some pain?” chances are the answer will be a resounding no. Here is the bad news, pain will always be a part of our lives. Here is the good news, that doesn’t have to be the bad news. Pain can be our servant and not our master. We can learn to use pain and not let it use us.

So How can pain be a good thing in our lives? First of all let us understand one thing, in many ways it already has been. As a child if you touch a hot stove your body gives you pain. In most cases we remember that and never touch a hot stove again. Thus, we save ourselves bodily harm that could cause us severe damage. Let us look at emotional pain. Someone does something and our heart gives us a dose of pain. Often this can be worse than touching the hot stove. So how on earth is this good? It can be if we understand it is showing us something about both ourselves and the other person. Maybe we did not communicate to the other person our standards and what hurts our feelings? Maybe we need to be a little more cautious with how much we open ourselves to this person. In some cases the pain may even mean we need to limit and maybe even remove this person from our lives.

One final way we can use pain to serve us is in the accomplishment of goals. In life we do things for two reasons. One of which is to reduce and eliminate pain. The other we will discuss tomorrow. So how can we use this to improve our lives? Let us say our goal is to live a healthier life. Try taking yourself for a run and see how far you can get. Find a full length mirror and get undressed in front of it. These things may seem very unmotivating, but when we understand that personal dissatisfaction can be a tremendous driving force we can understand giving ourselves small doses of pain can push us in ways we may very well need. How many times have you heard someone say “I’m sick of feeling/looking this way!”? If their pain is great enough they will change it. Same with motivating us to help others. I am a firm believer in helping the abused be it adults, children or animals. When I see the commercials with the starving children or abused animals I want to reach right out and help. I want to eliminate their suffering.

The one caution is we must not let ourselves be consumed by pain. As powerful as pain is, it is only one side of the equation. Next post we will look at the other half of this powerful life-changing tandem. So please read both and understand life is a balance.

As always feel free to share this post with anyone and everyone you think it may help.

TURNING THE ENEMY INTO A FRIEND

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What does this African proverb mean? Let us take a look. Several times in this blog we have discussed the inner battle we fight. From doubt, to negative or defeating self talk the greatest enemy can often lie between your own two ears. So how important is it to win this battle? Let us take a look.

A friend of mine and I were discussing people, more to the point members of your own family not supporting you or what you do. It can be extremely difficult to hear things about yourself that are negative or hurtful. It can be even worse when those things are not true. Add on top of that the pain of having those statements coming from family or close friends who should be the very people on your side.

So what can we do when this happens? Here is the bad news right up front, if you live long enough and take any chances or have an opinion it is going to happen. Whether it be out of jealousy, intimidation or any other emotions the other party might be feeling people will attack you. Quite often this may be for doing the very best you can do. Again this can come from their own feelings of inadequacy. What can we do when that happens? Truly it is a painful experience. There is almost a feeling of betrayal. The first thing we must understand is that what they are saying is their opinion. Les Brown, one of my favorite speakers once said “Do not let other people’s opinions about you become your reality”. They can sight all the facts and figures they want. They can mention as many other people as they want, but it does not have to define us.

How can we make sure it does not define us? By getting right with ourselves. What do I mean by getting right with ourselves? Become the kind of person you can be proud of. Whatever you are currently doing, do it to the best of your ability. Always be kind. Be the kind of person other people want to be around. Know and accept your flaws. If you can work on them, then do so. Be the best version of yourself that you can be. When you bring greatness into the world than all of the critics can do is offer you their opinion. Know that if they are judging you on a mistake you made yesterday that you are committed to work on and correct from today forward than they are convicting an innocent person. Most importantly know the only two people who are fit to judge us are ourselves and our higher power because those are the only two people who truly know who we are.

As always I invite you to like, comment and share this post to your hearts content.

ADD MORE PAIN…

Ok, I know what must be going through your head. “Isn’t the point of an amazing life to reduce the pain and increase the pleasure?” Normally I would agree, however we are talking about using pain to your advantage.  That is one of the tricks of living a more productive and positive life.  We can’t always control every situation in our life, but we can use it to our advantage.  Let me give you an example.  Just a few days ago I learned my current position at the post office will end in the first week of September.  Now in the past my reaction would have ranged from anger to frustration and even a little worry and sadness.  Well my reaction this time surprised even me.  When the lady informed me of this situation I greeted it at first with a sense of indifference.  I was just collecting information and not taking it personally. Then I thought to myself “ok, I have no control over this situation so what can I find that is good in it?”  All this happened in my head without any conscious effort on my part.  Ok, so I must confess the next thought was “Holy s#$t this stuff I am preaching works!”  Which gave me one good point there.  It provided me with proof in my own beliefs.

What about the pain?  Great question.  Obviously no body likes to feel bad, be it anger, sadness, fear or any negative emotion.  In this case I looked at the situation and had to realize in the next two and a half months my future is very uncertain.  So what to do with those feelings of uncertainty.  Surely that is not something you would want to feel in an amazing life.  Hold on, not so fast.  In this case I realized perhaps this uncertainty was just a reminder to finish my book I have been falling behind on.  Perhaps there is someone out there who could really use it and without the motivation of losing my position I would have not completed it on time?  Pain of any nature is a warning symbol.  When we touch something hot the pain tells us to move away so we don’t become further injured.  The point here is to ask yourself “what is this painful experience trying to tell me and how can I use that to my advantage” This may sound a bit far-fetched for some of you, but trust me it works.  What does the anger and hurt you feel after arguing with someone you care about tell you? First it tells you that you do care or it wouldn’t hurt so bad.  Also there was some hurt that developed between you two and you have to learn what it is and how to prevent it in the future. It also presents you with a chance to increase your connection with this person by how you address and solve this problem. How about the sadness of the loss of a loved one?  In 2010 I had unfortunately had to attend 5 funerals. Four of which were for people under the age of 40.  What good can you possibly take away from situations like that?  How about the fact that you should let people know you love them while they are here.  That you really can question yourself on what is worth being upset about and what legacy you want to leave behind before it is too late.  It has been said that in the pain of every failure lies the seed to our greatest opportunity.  So next time a painful situation arises in your life, or if you are in the middle of one right now.  Ask yourself these two important questions. What is this pain trying to tell me and how can I make it work for me?  Have an amazing day filled with passion my friends!!!