Monday, August 31, 2015

Make good thought habits



photo by Jenny Ingalls Nelson

Ever find yourself obsessing over something small? The other night I was laying in bed completely obsessing over whether my husband turned off the gas grill. Now, my husband is very responsible when it comes to things like that, but I got the thought in my head and it just kept going and going and going... How would I get the cat out if the house caught on fire? What could I grab? All kinds of anxiety-driven thoughts, but never once did I wake him or walk outside to check. I let myself spin.

What we focus on, whether it's spinning at night over a gas grill, or gratitude during the day, trains our habit of thought. 

Speaking of gratitude, it's no coincidence that when we're grateful, we are happier, calmer and even healthier. The more we focus on gratitude, the more we find to be grateful for. We are training ourselves to think a certain way. We are creating thought habits.

Just like physical habits, we can be intentional about our thought habits. I don't believe in mantras that feel untrue or inauthentic, but I do love a list. Want to create some good thought habits? Start a list of things you're proud of, grateful for and/or love about yourself. Write 3 things every day, and watch as your focus shifts and your thoughts evolve.

Most importantly, cultivate awareness of your thoughts. Even when my thoughts were spinning about a gas grill, I was aware that they were anxiety-driven. When I'm intentional about gratitude or proud of myself for something, I am very aware of how I feel. I feel happy and content and I stand a little taller. Those are the thought habits that I want to create.

Thanks for being on this journey with me.

❤,
Lara

CLICK TO TWEET: Make good thought habits.



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Sunday, August 30, 2015

First Parturition




Turns out pain switches
Off and on. The breaks are great
Final bliss, extreme




Kimberly G. Jackson studied literature at Yale and New York University, but now reads and writes poetry just for the love of it. 

She lives in the suburbs of Boston, Massachusetts.
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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Kick Ass Self Kindness


I recently had the pleasure of chatting with Andrea Owen of YourKickAssLife.com. We get real about kindness, courage and most importantly, self-kindness and ways to start treating yourself differently. 

What started as an interview, ended up being a good ole girlfriend chat, so sit back and join us for 30 minutes that will feel great and give you actionable ways to be more kind to yourself!



video




Life coach. Mom. Author. Roller Derby Rebel. Hellraiser. 
Andrea Owen is passionate about empowering women to value themselves and fiercely love who they are.
She helps women get what they want by letting go of perfectionism, control, and isolation and choosing to practice courage instead. 


You can learn more at www.yourkickasslife.com.
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Monday, August 24, 2015

Choose your happy



photo by Jenny Ingalls Nelson

Kate Courageous, who happens to be joining me on Tuesday September 15th to co-host a free workshop on overwhelm for KOM's Love Notes recipients, defines courage as feeling afraid, diving in anyway, and transforming. Did you see that 2nd part - the one about diving in anyway? Yeah. That's the action.

Like courage, happiness is something we choose with our actions. When I think about the times in my life when I was most unhappy, they are also the times when I wasn't taking action. Well, that's not necessarily true. I was doing a lot of complaining and talking about the problem, but I was taking no action toward happiness. Not surprisingly, once I dove in, transformation happened.

It's so tempting to get stuck in the place of negativity - that place where we curl up with our sadness or feel like we deserve better - and never take action. When I look back on a particularly challenging period in my marriage, I clearly remember many weepy conversations with girlfriends, lots of brooding and anger. I curled up with those things for months, and you know what? Nothing good happened. No transformation and certainly no happiness.

What shifted things was action. Talking to my husband. Expressing my feelings. Owning my shit. Viola, transformation, and yes, after some work that we both wanted to do, happiness. Is it easy? No way. Is it worth it? Most definitely. The relationship that we have now (the one that's a great source of happiness) is a direct result of the action I took.

This week, I invite you to look at places in your life that aren't the happiest. What actions could you take to increase your happiness? We get this one life, and we have so much more power than we realize. Choose your happy.

Thanks for being on this journey with me.

❤,
Lara

CLICK TO TWEET: Choose actions that make you happy.



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Friday, August 21, 2015

Lies I have believed about myself

Post by Leanne Banks for the Kind Kindred series.


image courtesy of Victoria Henderson on Flickr

We come to the beliefs of who we are mostly because of what others tell us. At least that’s been my experience. I was one of those people who didn’t really seem to have an identity of my own. I became like whoever I was spending time with. I mimicked their mannerisms, patterns of speech, taste in music and fashion. I never had a sense of who Leanne was. And so, most of what I learned about myself, I learned because of other people. And these beliefs have not been easy to shake. It’s only very recently that I have found all of the following to be untrue:

1. I have no self-discipline
This is an untruth I learned from teen magazines featuring articles about healthy eating, exercise and skin care routine. I learned this from movies and TV shows too. To be healthy and thin with flawless skin required dedication and will power. It asks us to say no to that chocolate and lazing on the couch, opting instead for the lettuce leaves and a jog. I was never able to say no to the chocolate, and salad was just blah and tasteless.

I have carried this belief in my poor self-discipline well into adulthood. Despite all evidence to the contrary I still catch myself declaring my state of ill discipline on occasion. The truth is I am disciplined. I’m a single parent with a full time job – I’m disciplined. I see things through. I don’t give up at the first sign of discomfort. When I realized that I needed to lose +30kg I was disciplined in following the eating plan. I have been disciplined with exercise too. I trained to swim the Midmar Mile, I trained to run 5km and then 10km, and now I’m training to run a half marathon in October. I completed #100happydays last year and right now I’m close to completing the #the100dayproject. Creating something every day for 100 days demonstrates discipline. I’ve also learned that discipline does not equal perfect.

2. I was never good with girls as friends
This is a belief I picked up relatively late in life. Enough women around me were saying it (and still say it) and being the chameleon I was, I took their statements about themselves and made them statements about myself too. The belief goes along the lines of “I’m much more comfortable around guys,” “I don’t like hanging out with other girls, they’re too bitchy and there’s too much drama,” “I’m one of the guys.” The truth about my friendships is that I’m comfortable with men and women. Throughout high school, university and adulthood I have had close girl friends. Who I didn’t like was girls I didn’t know, girls who had what I wanted, girls who seemed to live on Easy Street, girls who dated the boys I liked. I felt threatened by these girls, like they were somehow showing me up. I didn’t trust them. But I always have girl friends who I love dearly. I’m a girls’ girl. :-)

3. I am a terrible mother
I know that just about every mother out there can relate to this one. I struggled tremendously with post-natal depression after my daughter was born. It was one of the most painful times of my life. My experience of motherhood in that first year was as far removed from what I’d learned in movies and magazines as you could get. I’d heard that motherhood was this heavenly, fulfilling experience filled with bonding and a deep sense of place and purpose in the world. I didn’t have that. My first year of motherhood was about keeping both myself and my daughter alive. I wanted to die. It was so, so, so, so, so hard being a single parent. Even though I had the most incredible, lifesaving support from my Mom, my Dad and my Stepmother, I was drowning. My daughter was this wonderful bundle of love. She was not a difficult infant, not sickly, didn’t have colic. And I couldn’t appreciate it. And so the belief of terrible mother was born.

I struggled more or less until my daughter was about 3 years old. At that time I got into a relationship with a guy who was a wonderful Dad to her. Our parenting styles complemented each other. We were great parents together. The turning point in this belief came from him. He was always suggesting that I give myself a break and stop beating myself up for times I got it wrong. He read me a quote that says “There is no way to be a perfect mother, and a million ways to be a good one.” (Jill Churchill) I still have that quote stuck up in my kitchen. Yes, I’m not a perfect mother but I am a damn good one. More importantly, I’m the best one for my daughter.

4. I have no purpose/passion/talent
About 4 years ago it seemed that every article I read suggested we find our purpose, discover our passion and pursue that. I struggled with this. People would ask, “What are you passionate about?” And I couldn’t answer. I’d go blank. I’d be thinking, “Ummm, my bed, reading, being with my daughter, being at the beach.” Hardly lofty passions, right? I just couldn’t think of one thing to pursue. In hindsight, I guess I was passionate about all those slowed down activities because life had been tumultuous in the year or so before this. My Mom had been diagnosed with cancer (she’s all clear now) and the aforementioned relationship had come to its dismal end. My purpose was (and still is) to be the best Mom for my daughter.

Then I started writing again and a light went on inside of me. At first I wrote poetry; most of it bad, some of it I like. I even had a poem published. Seems I do have a bit of talent after all. Earlier this year I discovered #the100dayproject and I started writing a haiku a day for 100 days. Today is day 93. The daily discipline of writing and creating and sharing my art lit up a whole bushfire inside. I have so much to say. I have some writing talent. I don’t have to sing a rock song, I can write a rock piece. I want to write and write and write. Doing this honors me.

5. I am not worthy of a wonderful, loving man
Again, I know many people who hold this belief too - men and women. It looks like settling for less. Amazing woman with low self-esteem settles for a man who doesn’t share her desires to start a family, because having any man is better than having no man. Wonderful man who’s insecure settles for a woman who cheats on him, because at least she comes home to him. I’ve been these people too; settling for less because I don’t believe I’m worth more. I came to this belief because I was told once at some point that I was only good for one thing. That’s all it took, just one man saying it that one time. In addition, movies and magazines tell me too. I’m not thin enough, pretty enough, smart enough, successful enough to earn the love and commitment of a wonderful man.

I don’t believe this anymore. Since the aforementioned relationship ended, I have had many painful months and years proving to myself that I’m unworthy. In the end, all that pain brought me closer to God and His loving grace. I am forgiven and so I can forgive myself. My actions today are those of a woman who knows she is worthy of a wonderful, loving man. Whether or not he’s out there is not something I can control. But in the meantime I’m living the best, most fun life.

What untrue beliefs are you holding on to? Looking at the truths of our lives makes it easier to dispel the myths of our lives. Shine the light of honesty into your dark corners, that’s where your treasure is hidden.


I am 40 years old, mother to an amazing 12 year old, vegan, Christian and actively involved in my church, recovering addict (14 years) and a member of a 12 step fellowship. I live in Durban, South Africa. 
I blog at Leanne With Purpose.
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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

I don't want to close my eyes




Once the stars took a breath in,
it became evident the moon had been
too busy with rising to appreciate
all of their beauty and mysticism.
It was much the same way with the
weather when the rain would harbor
a seeded jealousy for the sun, but
the sun would be bitter and scorched
when there was no water. Being
filled with the passion of wanting
to never miss a thing, not
wanting to disappoint,
it creates a heat in me comparable
to a Texas summer. And that meant
feeling as though the heat would
lay down on top of you, the weight
almost suffocating, and there is not
a lot you can do to stop the hellish
heat. Tonight, the moon rose at dusk,
and nature stood still as the sun
remained out as well, even if only
for a few minutes. Compromises are
possible, it would seem. Do you hear
that? That is the sound of the
air conditioning coming on.


Published writer & ‘Unique-tivity Guide’, Renee Avard-Furlow runs a successful site where she shares her writings & reflections, offers spiritually-based services and shares ‘Magic Musepirations’ monthly. 

She currently has two short eBooks available on Amazon, with more planned & is writing her poetic memoir, due out in late 2015.

She can be found at: www.reneeavardfurlow.com, on Facebook  and Twitter.
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