Gratitude Confetti When Times are Tough

How many times have you been to hell and back? Maybe in this post-election, holidays-are-coming time of year, you feel the embers of hell at your feet right now. Any type of suffering…physical, mental, familial…it’s hard. The only way to get through it is to sort of turn your hell beast into some sort of anti-superhero.

Kind of like this…
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Why? Because the saying goes, “what you resist, persists.” The more you DENY that your situation sucks right now, the more it holds a grip on you, keeping you from DEALING WITH IT and moving on. You stay stuck. And you burn up. Ouch.

Painful times can help us grow and discover who we are and what we really want out of life. Whether you are in hell right now because it’s your first Christmas without a loved one, your traditions have changed due to separation or divorce, your kids are away from home, you lost a job or your business is suffering, you’re worried about the state of the country with Trump at the helm…know that no matter what THIS TOO SHALL PASS. In some situations, it means you have to get out of your own way to LET IT.  The gurus say that it isn’t the situation that causes us unhappiness but in our REACTION and THOUGHTS about the situation. In other words, it’s us, not them. It’s our own mind that causes us misery.

So what are you going to do about it? Mope for the next four years…or take action to work on a social cause to make a difference?

Spend the entire holiday in mourning…or do something special to lift your spirits or create a new tradition?

I get that “making the most of what you have” is easier said than done, but it is possible. Is it weird and awkward when you switch up a tradition? Can be. But it can also be better than you expected. I had to learn to let go of the importance of “the date” versus an experience around a holiday because I have shared custody of my kids so I have to be flexible and make sure they experience a beautiful time despite what day we celebrate.

The holidays aren’t the same if a loved one has passed and honestly the holidays don’t have the same BIGNESS as they did when my grandmother was in charge of our holiday merriment – and she’s been gone 25 years. They don’t have the GIDDINESS from when my kids were little and we did the whole Santa thing and waking extra early for unwrapping gifts, either.

Because it makes me happy, I put out holiday photos of the kids when they were little and elfish. This year I even added a photo of my grandparents to my mantle display so I can remember the two decades of holidays spent with them and honor their memories.

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Now my kids are older and it’s my third Christmas with the man who recently asked me to marry him. I am so full of love and gratitude and that’s what life is really about, isn’t it?

pic by Valerie Sebestyen
pic by Valerie Sebestyen

My antidote to surviving life’s hellish times is to THROW GRATITUDE LIKE CONFETTI. It’s like throwing water on the fire – extinguishing some of the pain and soothing the burn. Gratitude makes you realize not all of life is so terrible…there’s always something, someone, to be grateful for.

List your confetti…heck, maybe you should even write them down on a  piece of paper, cut them up and throw them over your head. Add the little things, too. I’m so thankful for Lipsense because I can kiss Chris and drink coffee and it still stays on my lips. I’m thankful my daughter is so chatty with me. I’m so thankful for bride tribe of supportive girlfriends. An on and on. List it. Live it. Volunteer. Whatever works to cheer you up.

Namaste. Happy holidays.

xoxo—ready.aim.grow—>

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Is JOY on your True Do list?

Standing in front of sixty business people last week, a familiar friend surfaced.

She visited again as I sailed down the hill in my neighborhood on my bike, just feet behind my 7 year-old.

Even more surprisingly, she showed up yesterday afternoon in downtown Edmond while I stood with a camera in front of two girls doing leaps and jumps I won’t even pretend I can pronounce.

The friend? Joy. Not a flesh-and-blood girlfriend, but the emotion that seems to sneak up on me when I least expect it. Why? Because I haven’t put her on the to-do list – which I’ve renamed my True Do list this year.

Last year was my hermit year. I worked like crazy, made good money, and was productive as hell. But. Make that, “BUT!!!” I was a wee bit stressed out, even after I started a regular practice of yoga and meditation (which helps immensely.)

But JOY? Not so much. We had some good times, some good trips, some fun family memories, but I didn’t feel joy. Was it me? Was I so stressed I didn’t let her in or was she so buried under my to-do list I didn’t let her catch a breath? Maybe. But no more.

My True Do list means I’m doing more for fun, for me, for replenishing and recharging. At first I was afraid it would be selfish, but then I realized it included other people! I’m saying yes to getting out there, like speaking to the LOYAL leadership class last week in Oklahoma City. I had a blast speaking about branding and got some great feedback. I thought, “I need to get out more often!” And when my little guy who won’t be little for long asks me to go ride bikes, I say, “yes.” No matter what I’m doing, I take a break and go for a quick ride, which is something I’ve loved to do since I was his age.

In writing DANCE MOM SURVIVAL GUIDE I get to work with one of my best girlfriends and we get to include our dancing daughters, which brings us all closer. That photo shoot was fun because I let it be. The girls were loving it and I got caught up in their energy. I felt young and light and almost like I could jump in the air like them! (But, um, no.)

I think the key to making joy a #truedo is saying yes to the fun, diminishing stress where we can and staying in the present moment where there is only the now, not a what’s-next. If you’re a list-maker like I am, why not keep a list of things that bring us joy? From the little things like putting my favorite creamer in my coffee (mocha) to how much fun I have Saturday mornings in hip-hop to the bliss I feel while gazing up at the moon and stars from my hot tub. What would me on your list?

How can you incorporate more joy in your life? Let me know if it sneaks up on you, too.

xo,

Malena

What’s holding you back?

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This week I’ve encountered several versions of a similar theme: inability to move forward on something. In one the person admitted to me she hadn’t been writing even though that had been a big goal of hers earlier in the year. I shared with her my advice about morning pages and making a commitment to your writing every day, no matter if it’s only thirty minutes.

Yesterday my husband told me he had writer’s block, but his had to do with his pain level and afternoons being the hardest on him. I get that way with migraines – an inability to work at my highest level when I’m feeling at my lowest. You either push through or come back fresh later.

Last night I read an old article from O Magazine on creating a writer’s agreement with yourself. If that’s what it takes, then go for it. Type something up so it’s official. I know for a lot of our Buzz Books authors, it’s the looming deadline that keeps them on track.

Even though I gave myself a deadline on my young adult short story for the SOMETHING WICKED anthology, I had trouble completing it. I’d think about it and a sinking feeling would hit me. Yet I promised our editor, Mari, that I’d get it to her this weekend and if I don’t write in the morning while my brain is fresh, honey, it ain’t happenin’. What was holding me back on the story was I didn’t feel I had enough conflict. I’d set it up well and then…nothing. The characters and setting are all based on my GODDESS SISTERS series that will be out soon, so it was simply feeling uninspired about what action would carry the story through. What got me over the edge was doing a bit more digging into mythology. I can’t believe the story was right there all along. I’d already called it Arach War and had made Athena my main character without realizing there was a Greek myth about Athena and Arachne. Geesh. I LOVE the story now. Even my 7th grader knew about the original myth as they’d studied it in reading writing workshop the year before. Now I can’t wait to share it.

While there is no easy answer to what’s holding you back, I’ve found that with a little introspection followed by a commitment, I can forge on or find the new direction I need to get through it. Now that school is starting, I’ll have more quiet time to write on new projects as well as working on growing our Wings rewards program at Buzz.

Here’s hoping you will take the time to find out what’s holding you back from your dreams.