All For One!

The phrase “it takes a village” didn’t come from nowhere. This video warmed my heart and filled me with so much happiness! When one person succeeds around us, we ALL succeed. This beautiful South African community GETS it.

 

So often, even the kindest and more considerate of us gets bogged down with the “me, me, me” of life instead of the “we, we, we!” It’s easy to get lost in the demands of our own lives or just think about “me and mine.” I know I do! But, when I see a scene like this one, it’s just a reminder of how shortsighted and selfish that mindset is, not to mention isolating. We are all on this planet together, a beautiful way to be!

Love,
El

Grads Without Gigs

It’s graduation season which means I have had a lot of conversations recently with young women I mentor lately, either formally or informally, about their careers and their futures. But today, I had the opportunity to speak with a young woman who graduated last year and still hasn’t found a full time job, much less one in her chosen field. Seeing this new crop of grads heading into the workforce just reminded her of the anniversary of her own graduation and her former feelings of hope this time last year turning into frustration now.

We had a good conversation, and of course, I offered her words of encouragement and practical approaches to the job search that she said helped, but still, I could tell this was difficult for her… in part because of her own self-imposed limitations.

“I can’t move where I want to because it will be too expensive.”

“I can’t look for a job too far away from where I live now, because the commute would be crazy.”

“My field is not common in this area. The gigs are rare and not coming up.”

All valid points, by the way. She wasn’t just making excuses or being lazy. But – all those reasons struck me as having the same theme: MOVE!

In this case, it really is likely a “move” in both locality and mindset needs to take place, but for many of us – especially new grads – it may be one or the other.

FEAR HANDCUFFS US! We tell ourselves that we can’t do something and back it up with ‘credible’ reasoning saying that whatever we want to do doesn’t make sense or that it is too risky. We end up short-changing ourselves and the rest of the world from the people we are supposed to be as a result.

This is something that I have to remind myself about to be honest, because the older I get – especially now with a husband and child and dog to consider – I have become much more risk adverse. Once I realized that, I began to make it a habit to try and do something that scares me regularly, like keeping up with this blog, indoor skydiving, recently taking Amharic classes, or trying [solidcore] for the first time (which I am now addicted to, by the way, and go three to five times a week!). Doing something you are afraid of keeps you YOUNG, keeps you SHARP, keeps you EXCITED! It’s super important to remember that as you grow older, but it’s also important to remember when you are indeed young.

If you are feeling stuck, think about what you really want, where you really want it, and how you really want it, and then MOVE your mind, body, or both and take the first step. The first step is the scariest, but then… it’s just another step on your path to actualizing the gifts that are you. Do something new, out of your comfort zone, and STOP DOUBTING YOURSELF. No more excuses. You got this. We got this!

Love,

El

 

The Present of Peace…

I came across a quote today that might be old to you, but I had yet to hear it.

“If-you-are-depressed-you-are-living-in-the-past.-If-you-are-anxious-you-are-living-in-the-future.-If-you-are-at-peace-you-are-living-in-the-present.”

“If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present.”

Lao Tzu, Father of Taoism

It rings true to me by and large (with the exception of seasonal depression, which affects me and doesn’t fit into the ‘living in the past’ perspective) and it amazed me at how simple and right on it was.

We are bombarded with expectations of ourselves, both from without and within, at such an early age, it can be extremely difficult to just “be at peace” in the now. Honestly, for Type-Aers like me, it could down right feel frivolous at times. As a kid, I was taught to focus on school and get great grades so that one day I could get a great job and live a great life as an adult. It makes sense, but there wasn’t really a lot of room for the “now” in my head even then. Everything was about building up a resume toward that end goal.

I fancy myself a painter, but I refused to take art classes in high school once I figured out that languages would count as an art credit. Always the overachiever, I made up my mind to forgo something I really wanted to do and take four years of Spanish, three years of French, and two years of German all as a high school student. I loved that I was the first person in the school’s history to take all three languages offered. That was a cool little internal bragging point, but honestly, although I walked away with the basics, I know I should have just really, thoroughly learned one or two tops and taken an art class to feed a passion, not ignore it. My thought (that I know see was flawed) was that art just wasn’t ‘serious enough’ when I could do something else with that time that would make me even more attractive to colleges. There could have been a balance, but I was all or nothing.

Later, in college, although I had plenty of fun with friends when I did go out, I put self-imposed rules on myself not to really let loose too much. I would skip week day get-togethers, telling friends it was a ‘school night’ and only allow myself to go out Friday or Saturday nights (rarely both in a single weekend). Good… I guess. But in four years, not one Tuesday or Thursday night outing or happy hour just to live and be present? That’s just weird. I swear I didn’t do college right. lol!

In elementary school, I was always thinking about middle school. In middle school, high school. In high school, college. In college, work. While working, marriage. While married, motherhood. Now in motherhood, it’s a mix of it all: work, marriage, kid… and the ‘what next’ of them all. I don’t suffer from anxiety, but my goodness! With all the running thoughts we as women have, it’s amazing that we all aren’t. It would be understandable.

Thinking about the past – what went wrong, who did what to hurt me, how an experience let me down – was something I grappled with very significantly twice in my 20s. I met both bouts of depression with too much sleep and too much sugar/carbs/food in general, finally pulling myself out of them with a huge dose of self-love, healthy lifestyle changes, and exercise. It wasn’t simple to stop thinking about the past. In fact, it was a lot harder than I thought it would be. The past is what makes you, after all. But once I started thinking about the singular DAY I was on, and, in many cases, just the hour, I was able to breathe, focus on the NOW, and… wait for it… ENJOY myself and appreciate the breath in my body and promise of the day ahead.

I am not saying that serious bouts of depression are as simple as just changing your perspective. For some, therapy and/or medication is a must as well. But for the majority of people who experienced depression the way I did (again, this is outside of seasonal), the shift in mindset and perspective can be the singular ‘cure’ you are looking for – IF you can push yourself out of the quicksand feeling of being stuck in a pattern of disappointment.

If you haven’t already done it today, give yourself 5 to 10 minutes RIGHT NOW with no TV, no phone, no music, …nothing and just BE with yourself, in your stillness and breathe… deeply… purposefully… s l o w l y.

Don’t let your mind wander too much or you will be thinking of nonsense or to-dos sure enough and that defeats the purpose. Breathe – focus on your breath. Close your eyes. Ignore the thoughts in your head that worry about if you fall asleep or not. So what if you do? Rest your mind. We give and give and give of ourselves every day to everyone else – our families, our friends, our employers, perfect strangers! Give yourself time to recharge. Give yourself the present of peace: NOW.

Love,

El

 

 

Smile of the Day

When a new student sat alone, a fellow classmate took notice and tried to befriend him, only to realize that there was a language barrier she would have to overcome. Instead of giving up on communicating, she took it upon herself to go the extra mile. Read the whole story here on the Huffington Post and see the heartwarming clip below. This is what we need more of in the world! Hats off to this young woman and the parents who have already raised her with so much love. And hats off to this young man as well. Going to school in a new place that is unfamiliar and not knowing anyone is a scary thing, yet he does it because he knows it’s important for his future. We can learn so much from both of these kids, truly!

Love,

El

Distorted World View

Part of the reason I think we find our world in the state that we do today is lack of empathy and a skewed worldview in which us and people like us (i.e. communities that we are familiar with and embrace as our own) count more/mean more/are superior than those who are not. The acceptance of this mindset is not always purposeful or apparent, but rather latently and even passively absorbed by way of falsehoods passed off as fact via flawed education, inaccurate news reporting, and word of mouth distortions of truth.

I came across this article recently about how a more accurate World Map won a presitgious Japanese Design Award. Created by Hajime Narukawa at Keio University’s Graduate School of Media and Governance in Tokyo, the design just won the grand prize from Japan’s Good Design Award as Spoon & Tamago reports. It beat out over 1000 entries in a variety of categories. The world map is now used in Japanese schools.

mapmapamp

Created by Hajime Narukawa

Notice the not-so-subtle differences (how Africa is finally to scale, how much smaller the US looks, etc) and take note of how receiving accurate information feels. Does the map just look off to you? If so, that’s saying something. I means what’s wrong has been taught to you as right for so long that right looks wrong. It means that it’s time to see beyond what people say is the truth and look for the truth yourself. Let this map be a reminder of that.

Love,

El