Discussing April’s Challenge

Acting with “great love” has proven to be quite a challenge. As today is the first of May, I wanted to give you all a brief update on three things I discovered about myself during my month of following Mother Teresa’s advice and acting with great love:

1. I hold others to (impossibly?) high standards. When focusing on acting with love, I realized how often I get upset with others for not living up to my expectations, my high standards. And is that really their fault? Sometimes they have no idea what was even expected of them! So in the last few weeks I’ve begun to learn that forgiving others for small shortcomings is a great way to make your everyday life happier. I’m less upset with the random driver who forgot to use his signal, or a friend who shows up 20 minutes late.

2. Being mad at yourself is not a great way to start the day. Here’s an example: I have a terrible time waking up in the morning, and I press the snooze often. While this is something I’ve been working on, I really nag at myself and feel bad when I realize I’m up late and will have to skip straightening my hair or making eggs for breakfast. The easiest way to wake up in the morning is with self-love. You forgive and move on with your morning – it’s that simple.

3. Genuine gratitude is the best. Saying thank you to the person bagging your groceries? Tipping your waiter? It’s easier to say “thank you” when you really mean it. In the last few weeks I’ve had more conversations with those providing a service to me than ever before – and I leave the store/restaurant/coffee shop feeling better than when I came in. While I’ve always been good at saying “Please and Thank you” (Thanks, Mom!), it was focusing on acting with love that has made usually automatic interactions more real and positive.

great love

Small Things with Great Love

[Let’s just say March was busy and move on from there.]

This morning I was looking for some snippet, some quote, some tea-ism to bring feel-good motion to my day. Before I even tried a Google search, this little quote came to mind:

“We can do no great things, only small things with great love.”
Mother Teresa

In this short sentence Mother Teresa shared that the greatest thing we can do in this life is to complete every task and live every moment with great love. While she’s saying a lot of things here (I’ll leave the true analysis to philosophers and theologians), this is what I got out of it: Our greatest, most powerful ability as humans is to love greatly. And, it is possible to make a difference by doing small things backed by this great love.

So I started thinking: What would driving to work “with great love” look like? How would buying our groceries “with great love” feel like? What would raising our children, talking to our parents, passing by strangers, or sending out emails “with great love” look like?

As part of living 2014 to the fullest, I’ve decided that I’m going to step away from my New Year’s Resolutions for the rest of April and focus on doing small things with great love. I’m honestly not sure what this is going to look like in my day to day. Do I think I can complete every action with great love? Probably not even half. I’m human. But I’ll report back here during the process and once May hits, to let you know how it goes.

Celebrating Success

Today is the last day of January. How are you doing on your New Year’s Resolution(s)? Do you feel like you’re succeeding or falling off the bandwagon?

Something to consider: You never fail until you stop trying.

So you skipped the gym or messed up your budget by buying an expensive purse. It’s OK. Accept it. Move on. Start over.

Today, in the spirit of ending January on a positive note, I’m celebrating my victories and not dwelling on my flops.

1. Less screen time, more reading and writing: This month I’ve written twelve blog posts (including some for submission elsewhere) and made it halfway through Quiet by Susan Cain.

2. Enjoy the morning: Although mornings are still difficult, I’ve only had to rush out the door once in the past two weeks.

3. Embrace yoga and start running: Aside from living through Couch to 5K sessions, I’m enjoying my post work-out yoga stretches. I’ve also made it to 1-2 yoga classes a week.

4. Explore groups that promote growth: My book club meets next week and I’m so excited to discuss Quiet!

5. Cook more, eat out less: While I still enjoyed eating out over the weekend, I’ve successfully made it through one week on my own cooking.

6. Gain financial stability: Guess who has health insurance and disability insurance? This girl.

7. Set aside time to relax: This has been the most difficult resolution thus far. I’ll be focusing more energy here in February.

Joining in. Or why it’s OK I gave up on T-ball

I’m not a “joiner.”

Picture five-year-old me: light brown hair up in a ponytail, oversized black t-shirt on, water bottle in hand. Crying. First t-ball game of the season and I’m supposed to walk in front of a group of people and hit a ball. And then they expect me to run around the bases. I didn’t even like practice! They changed my team’s coach three times! And when I take the first sip of my water, the cap springs off and I’m instantly drenched. It’s hot, I’m wet, I’m dirty and we’re going home.

My mom didn’t make me go back to T-ball. Honestly, I don’t think she could have. I wasn’t much for giving into peer pressure and if I felt a good awkward social situation coming on I could sit with my eyes fixed to the ground for hours. It wasn’t just that I didn’t like t-ball (although I didn’t then and don’t now…Is there really anything wrong with not liking to play sports?). It was that I didn’t like having to be a part of the group. I had to survive by other people’s rules.

I was an introvert. Still am. AND THAT’S OK. I’m a fully-functioning adult. I try new things. I have friends. Seriously, just check Facebook. I was even part of a literary club, once. I honestly believe that there is nothing wrong with my desire to not force myself into joining activities that I have no interest in. I don’t think I was ever going to like T-ball. But I do find it frustrating that my lack of “joiner” abilities has stopped me from joining in on things I want to do. School, be it K-12 or College, provided me with ample opportunities to join in on activities that interested me. But now that I’m an “adult,” it’s easier to stay with routine and avoid trying something new.

So in the spirit of 2014 and all things new, I’m taking my introverted self and sending her down the rabbit hole. It’s time to feel tiny in a big room and face the Queen of Hearts all in the name of intellectual and social growth.

So, I’ve joined a book club. That’s going well. Ironically, this month we’re reading Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain.

I’ve also talked myself into joining a couple’s small group through my boyfriend’s church.

This resolution may prove to be interesting. I’ll be sure to tell you when I’ve met the Cheshire cat.

Turning can’t into can: Running

As Americans we seem to define ourselves by what we can and cannot do well. As Mid-westerners, this becomes even more apparent as we stereotypically define what we can’t do, but have issues “bragging” about what we can do well.

I find myself saying that I can’t cook. I’m not even the least bit athletic. I’m bad at small talk. I can’t dance. I can’t sing…

These “can’ts” can be so limiting.

This year, I’m going to prove myself wrong on one of my most proclaimed “can’ts.” Running.

You see, I can’t run. Or at least that’s what I’ve told myself since I first started struggling with “The Mile” back in Elementary school during the Presidential Fitness Test. But I can run. Yes, I have a few obstacles. I have weak ankles and some knee problems, both of which can be managed with the right shoes and proper stretching. I’m 24, healthy (if a bit out-of-shape) and determined to prove myself wrong. To be honest, I’m hoping by reversing this can’t into a can, I will start to see improvements on my other so-called limitations.

As of this week I’ve begun Couch to 5K training. I’m even using a nifty free app. And boy, am I bad at running.  If you read my New Year’s resolution post, you’ll notice running on the list. Right now I can do about 1.5 miles. On a good day. I’m also going to yoga at least once a week to add flexibility and help keep my core strong.

In an attempt to keep myself committed (and honest), I’m going to update you all on my weekly progress. Maybe I’ll somehow inspire you, as well.

There are already so many road blocks in life. My own negative voice shouldn’t be one of them.