Friday, July 1, 2011

Change your mind

The first step to changing your life, in my opinion (is there any other?), is changing your mind. Simple in concept, perhaps not so in least for most. Somehow, I have done it. There are a few contributing factors (being sick of being sick of myself is a solid start), but one thing that really helped me focus my energy was a book. One simple little book. Here, read this entry on my other blog. If you're open to the possibilities of everything positive thinking can bring to your life, read it. If you're just tired of trying everything and getting nowhere, read it. If you are surrounded by negativity and gagging to change it, read it. Better yet, practice it. Nuff said.

So, how has my mind changed? Assuming (because I'm gangster and I don't care if assuming is dangerous) that you have read my last entry (and if you haven't, what the hell?), you know some things that I've been doing. I mentioned my new arm graffiti and have safety-pinned a photo of it to the top of this entry for good measure. Beautiful, no? The kanji says Kaizen. Literally, Kai means "change" and Zen means "for the better." Now, it's typically a Japanese philosophy tied up with bows for the work place, but I like to repurpose philosophies just as much as flea market finds. It's about doing something every day to better your life. In the work place that would be things to work more efficiently, save money, produce a better product, keep clients happy, etcetera. In my life, it is applied to everything. Every single day I will do something, anything, to better my life. Maybe that's as simple as a bouquet of fresh flowers, journaling to purge my brain of clutter, a nap to boost the energy...if it brings you joy, moves you forward, helps you reach a goal, betters your life in any little way, or just simply makes getting out of bed worth it. Eventually, the harder life improvement tasks (cleaning your house, looking for a job, eating healthy, moving more, taking care of yourself and living a great life) will get easier, or at least become something you can tolerate and get done anyway. The more of those things you do in a day the better. That's part one.

Part two is the L&G. The Love and the Gratitude. Let's face it, being in a bad mood and pissy about everything and whiney and bitchy is, more often than not, easier (far too easy for some). Finding the bright side to every bad situation takes epic creativity sometimes. However, how does the negativity make you feel? Tied up inside, anxious, a right cranky mofo? Usually, it even takes an actual physical toll on your body (tired, achey, sick). Now, how does positivity make you feel? How does a wicked good mood cause you any mental or physical distress? So, in the long run, which one is harder? Be thankful, be happy, be positive. Find joy in even the smallest things and eventually you'll find joy in everything. Focus more on what you do have than what you don't have (unless what you don't have is diabetes or cancer or the like, in which case, how's about being happy about that, too). If that new bouquet of flowers is literally the shining star in your day right now, then sit there and stare at them and bask in the glory that is petals and pollen until your entire being is smiling. Now find something else that makes you happy, rinse, and repeat. If the sound of a snoring puppy makes you giggle as hard as it does me, give your dog some Xanax and start laughing (I kid, naturally, no puppies were harmed in the bettering of my mood). Start thanking people. Thanking God (whoever your God may be). Thanking the Universe. Thank your mailman, your barista, your mom, your gynecologist. Whoever and whatever...just start saying thank you. Start imagining the things you want in and for your life with such great detail and enthusiasm that you feel like you already have it.

These are the first two things I've done to change my frame of mind and subsequently my life. I'll write about other things next time, but for now...Kaizen, bitches!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Be the author of your life story.

Yesterday was my 35th birthday. It was probably the best birthday I've had...which is weird considering I didn't do anything. I watched some TV, talked to a few friends, got some flowers from my aunt, had pizza with Mom and Dad followed by some super ridiculous dessert. I don't think I even left the house. Perfect. I had an amazing couple days with my sister last weekend going to a movie, out to dinner, out to breakfast, to a Portland Timbers soccer game...still, nothing profoundly epic, right? So what is different? What is so great about this birthday?

My attitude.

Those of you that have been following me for quite some time know how the last few years have been for me. Unemployed Student was my defining title for a couple of them and last year that downgraded to just plain Unemployed once I graduated. I would spend most of my days looking on the internet for job opportunities, jumping through any necessary hoops to apply, tweaking my resume to suit each job. More often than not I made myself look like I was dropping design like a bad habit and professing my unwavering desire to answer someone's phones for the rest of my life. I teetered on the edge of depression and sometimes fell head first into it. I found joy in nothing (especially blogging). I didn't want to be around anyone. And if I was forced to be around anyone I found it physically exhausting pretending like everything was ok with me and that I was still attempting to find the bright side to every situation.

My lowest lows were usually right before I was about to run out of unemployment money and when I wasn't sure what extensions I had left. As soon as I would find out I had another few weeks of grace I would breathe a sigh of relief and start all over again. I still didn't want to hang out with friends, though. I didn't want to explain what I was and wasn't doing. I didn't have it in me to listen to the great things they were doing...inevitably feeling worse about myself if I did. I didn't feel like I was particularly interesting to be around, so I continued to stay to myself. It's better to drown alone then to take everyone down with you as you scratch and claw your way back out, right?

Eventually, I stopped worrying so much. Eventually, I remembered that everything just has a way of working out for me. It always has. I have been quite lucky that way. I might worry and stress at the time, but my life is one example after another of how everything that happens is proven to be for the best. That everything has a way of working itself out and I come out stronger in the end. So what if I lost my job in February of 2008? I had grown to hate that job and losing it was a weight lifted off my shoulders and a chance to throw myself into school. So what if all the resumes I sent out resulted in zero phone calls? I have spent the last year dipping my talented hands into so many pots that I can now say that I'm a Freelance Graphic Designer, that I'm a writer, that I'm an artist, that I'm self-employed, that I'm a creative dynamo living the dream. Eventually, I surrounded myself with love and gratitude for everything. I stopped letting everyone else's baggage become my own, stopped walking on eggshells, stopped internalizing, stopped letting everyone else shine brighter than myself. Eventually, my weight stopped defining me, stopped holding me back, stopped mattering so. damn. much.

I find joy in everything now. I wake up happy. I think of something I want to do and I do it, or at least put into action whatever necessary to achieve it. I have sent away for my passport, finally, and I'm going to go to Ireland next Spring. I've lost almost 15 pounds in the last couple months. I visualize what I want and it happens. I said I would win the lottery, I won $4.00 (I need to learn to be more specific). I've always wanted to go to sporting events more often and now Portland has an MLS (soccer) team I couldn't be more excited about. So, I got my sister and I tickets to a few games and got us on the waiting list for season tickets for next year. A couple weeks ago I wanted a new tattoo, I went and got it the next day. It's big and on my forearm. It's to remind me to do something every day to better my life. It's working.

All these years of talking about bettering my life, of not taking the backseat approach. All this time wasted waiting to lose weight before doing anything. I'll get my haircut when I lose 20 pounds. I'll buy new clothes when I lose 50 pounds. I'll start traveling when I lose 100 pounds. No more. Maybe I won't get on a plane until I've lost more weight, but no one says I can't drive down to San Francisco or up to Canada. I've lived a life written by everyone but me. A life dictated by fear. I am the author of my life story and I'm choosing to make it an adventure. What will you write?