It’s Not About Finding Your Purpose

Accepting who you are warts and all

When I started this blogging journey, it was all about my writing. I wanted a place to pursue my passion. I wanted an arena to showcase my work and a venting spot to unleash my unexpressed writing dream. Since then, I’ve moved to Hawaii, bought a house, suffered from a few chronic illnesses and had a baby. Through it all, I realized the journey has molded my intention rather than the other way around. Instead of a place to inspire creativity and to get more writing gigs, it opened up my soul. It’s not just about finding our purpose or living our dreams. It’s about loving your life and finding a way to accept wherever we are in the process. It’s about self-acceptance. Patience. Faith. And courage.

I realized this because I found myself getting too attached to external circumstances. How many people were viewing my blog? How many freelance writing jobs was I getting? Was my work good enough?

Understandable questions to ask when striving for freelance writing success. But it was the meaning I placed on professional achievement and positive feedback that was wonky. Success, attention, like Lady Gaga’s new song, Applause, should not equal self-worth.

Doing well in your profession is important. Never giving up on your dreams is important. But more than anything else, our goal in life should be to find ways to love our self.

Basing who you are and your value on feedback from others or from success will inevitably deplete you. What nourishes our soul, what we’re really looking for, isn’t temporary validation through external sources. What lasts longer than a complement is the belief that regardless of what we accomplish, our lives mean something.

And that doesn’t have to mean BIG, grand, dramatic things. Just because your neighbor, a Facebook friend or a relative has done something so fabulous it leaves your life seem boring and worthless in comparison, doesn’t mean your less valuable than them. Just because you haven’t found “it” yet (great job, relationship, etc.), doesn’t mean you should walk around with your head down and your voice squelched.

It’s not about what you do that matters. You matter because you are here.

The secret is not in uncovering what will make us shine. The secret is that we don’t know we’re worthy of shining.

If we could all take that in on a deep level, the world would be a kinder, more loving, compassionate place to live. When we’re not trying to convince others of our worthiness, we’re ourselves. Being authentically you and feeling good in your own skin are the ways to happiness.

And your true calling?

It will find you on that path.

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Will You Live in Fear or Faith?

{Flickr photo by 27147}

{Flickr photo by 27147}

Between moving to our first home and landing a new writing gig, I haven’t had spare time to write for fun, much less keep up this blog. [insert =( here.] But I know the value in doing it. It’s forced me to sit on the ground with my laptop, exhausted after 5 hours of moving behind me.

Why?

Reflecting on this moment is of the utmost importance and sharing all the mini lessons I learn along the way makes it all worthwhile. Even if there are only a handful of you still reading this now.

2012-2013 has been filled with some of my most exciting and painful moments. I’ve said goodbye to good friends, got slammed with unexpected good and bad news and was continuously tested on my faith. The question that kept looping in my head was: Do I choose to live in fear or faith?

To live an inspiring life, many might assume that it means living a pain-free one. Some might think that true happiness is a life void of difficulty and filled to the rim with constant joy, and luck. Those who feel this way can get pretty tied up in feeling sorry for themselves (I can vouch for my own self-pity parties in the past.). But what they don’t realize is true happiness and joy stems from having the confidence to overcome obstacles, from being able to put one foot in front of the other regardless if you know where that path will lead.

Any one of us can easily fall into the gap of paranoia and fear especially in regards to the news lately. Any one of us can stay in the past and glorify a frozen moment. It’s easy to let yourself get overwhelmed by difficulty, problems and uncertainty. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

On the other side of the fence is hope. It’s still scary there. Unknowns lay like hidden potholes. But love, courage, faith there are stronger. I’m not saying that the road is easier. In fact, if you decide to live your life with faith, it may even be harder. But if you choose it, your confidence will grow. And in doing so, you will reap the benefits of a truly lived life.

I meet a lot of people these days who like to play their lives safe. Being cautious feels smart. It feels like the best way to live your life. But play things too cautiously and you’re putting yourself at great risk. You’re risking your ability to love deeply, laugh loudly and experience the life you were meant to live.

We were not meant to live life problem-free. We were meant to bend in the wind, to fall, to bleed, to shed our leaves and grow beautiful like the trees…

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How to Bring Hawaii to You

{via my iphone.}

No cash to fly tropical this summer? That’s okay. Read this to find out how to bring Hawaii to you.

I’ve only been officially living in Hawaii for 2 weeks (Not counting the 20+ years I grew up here). But after living on the west coast for awhile, I’m starting to pick up on a few things that makes Hawaii, well Hawaii.

When I post pictures via Facebook, it seems to get the most interest. Everyone wants to live here. And although I take living here for granted, I have noticed a few things that makes the islands different from the mainland. I think you’ll appreciate the fact that you don’t need to buy a ticket in order to bring a peace of Hawaii with you home.

If you’re feeling sucked dry and drained from busyness, burnout and overwhelm, try adopting some of these easy, breezy island ways to incorporate a freer way of living into your life.

1. Move slowly.

This is no disrespect to the locals. In fact, I think they are on to something here. Not only is the speed limit significantly slower, but the pace of life is slower. It may not be 100% in your control, if you’re living in a big city or work in high-tech. But even those who live crazy lifestyles can still find ways to carve out time to control the inner chaos by slowing down a bit. This means doing the following: Breathe slower. Walk slower. Fight the urge to rush through traffic, check off all of your to-do list, and get things done fast. It may seem frustrating at first. But after awhile it could feel as refreshing as a spa day. I’ve tried it and my heart rate actually reduced from the 70s in San Jose to the upper 50s here. Miraculous!

2. Smile and be kind to a stranger.

Almost everywhere I go in Hawaii, I’m met with a genuine smile and a caring voice. No more, “How are you doing?” without a second look from bank tellers and cashiers. I actually feel like I’m being seen (just like in Avatar). Try talking to people this way and see if you feel more connected.

3. Do something nice for someone.

Local people hold up traffic. You know why? They’re always letting people go in front of them. I’m not saying we should all do this. In fact, it can get frustrating for the other drives waiting to go. But maybe try it in other areas of your life. Spontaneously buy flowers for a friend, offer to pick up lunch for your grandma, or volunteer to help out someone with an errand. It doesn’t cost much and what you get back will be priceless.

4. Celebrate pau hana time.

Locals play as hard as they work. Don’t expect anyone to answer emails on a Friday or to work past 5:30 in Hawaii. We’re all too busy surfing, running or kayaking to bother. You might thing your life is too busy to devote time to taking care of yourself. But you’re wrong. You’re more likely to do better at work if you’re a happy camper.

5. Making eating “in” again.

People from Hawaii love their food. They don’t just enjoy it. They talk about it. They savor it. They talk about the next time they’ll eat again. I’m not saying we should all pig out on whatever we want to it. But I’m suggesting we forget temporarily about “diets” and being healthy and try to tune into our body, to reconnect with what we need to feel nourished, and feed ourselves with that.

 

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Why You Shouldn’t Give a Bleep About What Others Think

I was reminded today by this quote from this post that we sometimes put off our dreams because of the fear of what others will think.

{via Oprah.com}

Again I was reminded of being 10 and in a pool with little boys teasing me. Oh how I wish I had brought a rubber band for my lion’s mane like hair! Unfortunately the water did nothing to dampen it down. In fact, my hair only grew bigger as did their taunts. Suddenly, I was a “witch,” with nasty crazy hair swimming in a pool full of mean bullies. Sinking my head in the pool couldn’t take away that fact nor could it drown away their hurtful words.

It may seem like a stretch. But in reality, it’s not. It’s that same fear of being ridiculed or made a fool that could be hurting your chances of happiness and success. It’s what’s keeping you from quitting your job, applying for the one you really want or to venture out into the unknown.

“What will they think? Will they laugh? Think of me as a loser? A failure? That I’ll never measure up?”

It’s easy to allow your own fears to control your life. It’s even easier to let in faux voices from past bullies to dictate what you do and don’t do in life.

It make me sad to think you’re doing the same with your own life.

How do we break free from the voices that could rob us of our own voice? 

I think we realize the following:

1. that people are always less concerned/obsessed/focused on us than we think. Most people are too entrenched in their own life to worry about what you’re doing for a living.

2. for those that chat and gossip about you? I listen to my mom when it comes to that one. They probably have nothing else going on in their life.

3. everyone else is just genuinely concerned about you and don’t realize your passion or have half your courage or your faith. Anyone who’s ever ventured out in a life less traveled knows that path is a difficult one. Let those people be your cheerleaders. Let them pave the way for you.

Remember the quote about from Oriah. Forget about titles, and impressing your neighbors.

Be consumed in your passion and your life will eventually catch up to your dreams.

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The Happiest Giveaway Ever on The Inspiring Bee

{via pinterest from acertainsortof.tumblr.com}

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. There’s nothing like a good book to lift me out of whatever deep dark well I’ve fallen in. As a child, books like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and A Wrinkle in Time took me out of the doldrums of long public school days and lonely only child nights. I spent half of my childhood and adolescence at the library. And that’s the truth.

As an adult, biographies, self-help and a few fiction books such as Still Alice inspires me. It returns the childhood magic that I lost along the way with Santa Claus, tooth fairies and possibility. I thrive in the powerful words of a good book. And am thoroughly grateful when a book like this one falls into my lap*.

Happiness from a Book

How to Be Happy No Matter What! published by Blue Mountain Arts and edited by Sarah Nagel (who guest blogged for me here) is a compilation of hopeful quotes, antidotes and words of wisdom from people like Montel Williams, Gretchen Rubin, William Blake and Queen Latifah. While scanning through the list of contributing celebrities, I was both impressed and fascinated by the inspiration that came from them. What an amazing conversation they would have and would I love to be a fly on that wall!

This 60-page book is sweetly designed and is what you would expect from the company who creates beautiful, thoughtful, handmade looking calendars, books, and greeting cards. But there’s something deeper than one an old college friend of mine would call “fluffy” or “flowery” work. In sections like, “Savor the Present Moment, ” “Practice Gratitude,” and “Slow Down and Relax,” there are mini lessons not just on how to be happy, but how to live a more meaningful life. These themes hit home for me since they discuss the topics that I’m most passionate about and that I try to share on this blog.

I think if you’re the type of person who is trying to live your life with more meaning or you’re trying to be more positive, if you’re looking for ways to inspire yourself, this will feel like the supportive friend you need. While you’re getting over the disappointments over the holidays, the fatigue you feel from the chaos, the emotional drain you feel from too much drama, you’ll feel comforted in encouraging words like these:

“Don’t ever lose sight of the gift that is you. Remember what you’re made of. Remember what’s flowing in your veins. Remember what you were given, and remember what you went out and created on your own. Like any great masterpiece, you’re not done yet. Inside you is the best of everyone who has come before you – and the best of everyone yet to be. You can forget some of what life hands you, but never, ever forget who you are…You are a gift to the world!” – Rachel Snyder

A Gift for You

Doesn’t that feel like coming home? To me, it feels like the gift that everyone deserves to hear. It will be the book I read when I’m faced with another writer rejection, when I’m confused about which direction to go, when I’m feeling uninspired and need inspiration.

It excites me just to share this book with you, but Sarah generously sent an additional book to giveaway too. This book is filled with the kind of optimism, hope and motivation that I believe are vital to your journey to follow your dreams. It’s a great fit for The Inspiring Bee readers. If you would like to enter to win this book, just leave a comment below with who or what inspires you or tweet this post. I’ll be randomizing everyone who enters until the contest ends on Friday 1/13. Good luck!

*I received two free copies of this book in exchange for an honest review and a happy book giveaway.

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Making Meaning in 2012

When I reflect back on 2011, I see a bunch of foggy days wrapped up tight, stuffed and oozing out like a burrito from a food truck. It may taste delicious all and all, but the sight…well it ain’t for sore eyes.

In 2012, I want more. I want to rediscover meaning and purpose and passion. I’m tired of settling for status quo. I’m fed up with telling the same story that everyone has told before and continues to tell over and over again. It’s time now to begin authoring my own life.

This bubbling brook began forming months ago. But it was reignited while I was in Sedona and heightened when I returned to Hawaii a week ago. While I was working and attempting to juggle seeing friends and family, I had a profound dream. I don’t remember what it was about or who was in it. But the message was clear:

“You need to survive this so you can write about it.”

The “this” the voice was talking about doesn’t matter. It could be the stress of the holidays, my fears, my health. But the decisiveness of the message and the feeling it left-a sense of hope and inspiration is what’s most important to me.

If you’re feeling worn down and out and have been thirsting to live, not just survive, you understand. You’re ready too.

One of my favorite songs these days is Shake It Out by Florence and the Machine. In it, she sings:

“it’s hard to dance with a devil on your back”

It made me wonder what devils, what fears, negativity, criticisms, are holding us back from living a life of meaning. And can we shake them off if we are aware of them? Will we choose to continue to walk on the same path that’s been cleared for us? And will we die that way? Or will we take a chance and be brave?

Avoiding the Well-Trodden Path

My husband and I went hiking this weekend. But we went late. And the directions on the map were unclear. The quickly setting sun was making my heart palpitate. We were lost. We couldn’t find the well-trodden path and we would soon lose the sun. So we threw our hands in the air, put away that map and made our own path. The experience was scary and yet invigorating. As we walked along the side of the mountain and heard what sounded like owls or cows (they all sound the same in the dark), I realized that all I needed was faith and intuition. We’ve gotten dependent on our technological tools to guide us. Perhaps the answer to living a more meaningful life lies inside of us. Perhaps we had our own inner map all along. But we’ve lost in along the way with cell phones and GPS, with cars, with experts telling us what to do. We gave up the thrill of our lives for the stability of a non-life.

If you want to live with meaning in 2012, toss that map you have in front of you. Take a risk. Follow your heart not your wallet. Yes it will be scary. Yes there will be bumps in the road. Yes there will be cows and owls and scarier things to persuade you to stop and get back on the “right” track. And you can choose to live that way. But since we only have this one life right now, why not consider just for a moment, what your life could be like…if you just took a chance?

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How to Turn a Bad Day Into a Good One

via Pinterest

{Excuse me while I reminisce for a bit with an old SATC episode.}

Ever see the Sex and the City episode where Carrie celebrates her 35th birthday? Her friends want to throw her a small birthday bash. But they are either late or can’t find the restaurant. In the end, she’s the only bell at her ball and has to pay for her $60 b-day cake too.

Yet, at the end of the night when Mr. Big drives up with big red birthday balloons and asks how was her day, she says, “Fabulous!”

I always wondered about that scene.

That is, until now.

You see, I’ve had about 0 bad days recently.

And it’s not because I won the lottery or suddenly lost my sense of reality.

I’ve actually discovered a tool that may help you get out of the funk you’re in.

It’s all about attitude…

Attitude is a concept that parents talk to teens about.

Self-help books

and gurus too.

But I didn’t really “get” it until a few so-called “bad” days weaseled their way into my life recently.

A biopsy.

A missed doctor’s appointment I waited a month for.

But then I decided that like the white scrawls on a green chalkboard, I could

simply erase it

by changing my attitude.

I made a conscious decision.

I DECIDED that external events would not CONTROL my life.

I DECIDED that who I was was more powerful, more whole, much more significant than a few measly circumstances that would one day pass and be an unmentionable memory.

I DECIDED that I would no longer play victim.

I would be the victor.

And I would do it gloriously.

What I needed to do was

LET GO.

I let go of the guilt I felt for a late appointment.

I let go of the expectation I had to live a certain type of life.

I let go of the disappointment.

I instead did one thing with 3 words.

Let it be.

I gave up fueling the drama.

I gave up on the idea of perfection.

I gave up on the belief that I had control over every single aspect of my life.

And in giving up,

I gave a gift to myself.

We don’t have control over everything. Sometimes unexpected events shake us up to our very core. And we feel like we have no choices. But we do. Try telling yourself, “This doesn’t have to be a bad day. This can be the best day of my life. If I let it. If I let myself see past the inconceivable.”

It is possible.

Trust me.

What I got instead of guilt and disappointment was gratitude, laughter, connection and an opportunity to feel empowered instead of disempowered.

It was the best day I could ask for. Instead of being one of the hardest days of my life.

Can you change a bad day into a good one?

I say, “Most definitely yes!”

In fact, give me more days like that one.

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