Choosing your priorities: Setting down the BIG rocks first

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THE BIG ROCKS OF LIFE

There are many versions of the story I am about to share with you but the main concept remains the same.

A professor stood in front of his class and pulled out a one-gallon, wide-mouthed mason jar and set it on the table in front of him. He then produced about a dozen fist-sized rocks and carefully placed them, one at a time, into the jar. When the jar was filled to the top and no more rocks would fit inside, he asked, “Is this jar full?”  Everyone in the class said, “Yes.” He then reached under the table and pulled out a bucket of gravel. He dumped some gravel in and shook the jar causing pieces of gravel to work themselves down into the spaces between the big rocks. Again he asked his class, “Is the jar full?” “Probably not,” one of them answered. “Good!” he replied. And he reached under the table and brought out a bucket of sand. He started dumping the sand in and it went into all the spaces left between the rocks and the gravel. Once more he asked the question, “Is this jar full?” “No!” the class shouted. “Good!” Then he grabbed a pitcher of water and began to pour it in until the jar was filled to the brim. Then he looked up at the class and asked, “What is the point of this illustration?”One eager beaver raised his hand and said, “The point is, no matter how full your schedule is, if you try really hard, you can always fit some more things into it!”

“No,” the speaker replied, “that’s not the point. The truth this illustration teaches us is: If you don’t put the big rocks in first, you’ll never get them in at all.”

 

What are the BIG rocks in your life?

Sit back for a moment. Close your eyes and just THINK. Let your mind contemplate about what makes you happy, eager, excited or scared. One of my biggest fears, and I’m sure yours as well,  is staying stuck in a place with no room for growth.

You are SMART, you are AMBITIOUS and you are TALENTED. Now tell me dear, what are your dreams? If tomorrow you could wake up and live the life you wanted, what it be like? Where would you live? What would you do?

Dreams take work-24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The days are exhausting and the sleep will never be adequate but the rewards are the stuff of dreams.

It’s not about having time. It’s about making time and choosing to make things priorities, placing the BIG rocks down first.

 

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It’s all in the perspective. At times, it might feel like you’re not really working toward your goals because you’re not making any obvious steps toward them. I’ve learned though, that anything you do can potentially be a step towards your goals depending on your purpose. You can’t lie to yourself. I mean, you sort of can, but you wouldn’t be successful and if you were successful, that’d be scary.

 

Any goal can be broken down into little steps. Each of those steps has mini-steps that compose them. It might feel like you’re not moving, and it might seem to be going at a snail’s pace but small steps add up to big steps that almost always seem to miraculously happen overnight. They didn’t!  Each step, no matter how small is progress. It’s only a matter of time before it adds up.

It’s sort of like how the leaves on the trees always suddenly appear one morning.  There is an interim period that if studied closely involves the budding of the leaves-their development at night and day-hidden from sight. In the same way, your progress will not always be visible. Have Faith that your efforts are building something that in due time, will sprout beautifully and evidently to the world.

 

Make realistic goals. You can and should DREAM BIG, but start small.

Each day is a blessing and its full of opportunity, but only if you take it.

You have 1,440 minues every day. How are you using them?

 

Self-discovery and choosing the right path for YOU

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You will quickly learn that many people think they know who you are. In fact, before you have the chance to speak or present yourself, people will pigeon-hole you into a certain category or place. They are quick to define, judge and even dismiss you. But, who’s to say they know what they’re talking about, anyway?

YOU HAVE… at some point or other, I’m sure!

You see, like most living beings, we rely on reinforcement to either motivate us to stay or to leave, keep at it or quit. We are creatures of habit.

Change is nice and speaking of it and all the glorious possibilities is grand.

What stops us then?

FEAR! Oftentimes, we are plagued with the fear of failure and although we are in constant agony at our current placement-it is still familiar.

 

The devil you know is better than the one you don’t [know].

We resist change so much that we wade in the same water, long after the tide turns, the temperature drops and the water gets murky. We stay stuck in toxic relationships, jobs and situations long after we should have left. We begin to think that living unhappily is the norm.

Today’s topic is about Self-Discovery and choosing the right path for YOU (and no one else).

 

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We stay where we are because it’s comfortable. No matter how much we hate it, we become comforted by the familiarity of it all. We create comfort zones and don’t dare exit them out of our fear of the unknown. We procrastinate and put off for a later time anything that has the potential to place us out of the comfort zone and into new territory.

Your comfort zone is dangerous. In fact, it can be DEADLY. Staying within it can and will cause your creativity and ambition to rot away. You are so much stronger than you realize.

Perhaps the reason we procrastinate is because on the most basic level, we fear we are not doing a good enough job. We push things into the safety of later.

Today I’d like us to view our comfort zone as a cage.

There is a condition referred to as “Cage-bound behavior” among some birds. As the title suggests, it has to do with the fear exhibited by caged birds to never fly out of their cage. The remarkable thing about this is that these birds will chose their barred cell over freedom time and time again.

Many of us are like those birds.

Today I challenge you to get out of your comfort zone. Think about something you would like to do but have put off for later (i.e. Go hiking, take a dance class, write, sing, etc) and start making the steps NOW.

YOU ARE GOOD ENOUGH. 

Within you lies enormous talent, ability and strength. You do not know the immensity of all that you possess (not yet, at least). But just because you have the skill and talent, you better WORK! (Rupaul’s Supermodel song tone)

In the end, making the changes and being successful comes down to one simple word.

CONSISTENCY

You have to fight hard at what you want. Others may not support your goals but you must remember this is YOUR dream not theirs. You have to wake up with purpose and know that every step you take is in propelling you forward. FALL FORWARD. In other words, use your failures as motivation and as stepping stones toward your goals and dreams.

Do the difficult things while they are easy and do the great things while they are small. A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” ~Lao Tzu

Stop living your life in comparison to anyone else. Be in competition with yourself and no one else. The other day, I was listening to Iyanla Vanzant, famous life coach, as she counseled listeners on her show. A young woman complained about not having the motivation to lose the additional weight and she felt as though she hit a  plateau in her weight loss. Iyanla’s response was simple. It is not important to you, so therefore you’re not doing it.

You see, many times we do tasks out of obligation. We do things because we should or it is expected of us. The same can be said for weight loss. Everyone would like to look like a movie star but dig beneath the reasons why and you will quickly see that many of the reasons have to do with being seen as beautiful in the eyes of others.

No one can define your beauty, intelligence or talent. NO ONE except YOU. YOU are an equisite and rare find. You are unlike anyone else. Embrace all that makes you different and who you are. Love your body NOW, before the diet and journey.

You are perfect. If you truly want to lose weight because it is important to you, then you will. Any change, whether it be weight loss, change of careers or relationships requires work and sacrifice. At the end of the day, you will be motivated by the reasons that resonate with your inner being.

It all comes down to figuring out who you are and what matters to YOU. Part of it is accepting that your self-discovery may not resonate with everyone else. Please remember what I am about to say. In fact, you may start to say this to yourself when confronted with criticism or negativity in pursuing your life’s goal. Are you ready?

You are only responsible for your happiness and no one elses’!!!!!!

Discovering who you are and pursuing the path that fits your wants requires you to be accept the anger, disappointment or criticism of others. Perhaps your parents want you to be a Veterinarian but you would rather be an Artist. They will be furious to know you’re not following their wishes and may threathen to not pay your tuition or cut you from their will. At the end of the day, we have many choices we must make. Life is sort of like a scale. You have to pick the side that weighs the most. Ideally, if you like the profession, you could do both until you’re established enough to pursue your actual goal full time. However, sometimes life doesn’t allow us the luxury of having our cake and eating it too. In other words, sometimes we have to pick a path. Both choices will have their share of good and bad. The right choice is the one you think you won’t regret one day when you’re laying in your death bed thinking of all the choices you’ve made and the opportunities taken and not taken. I think Robert Frost said it best in his famous poem, “The Road not taken.”

The Road Not Taken

by Robert Frost

 Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

There’s a famous saying that says one day we will be laying in our death bed and depending on the choices we have or have not made, we might have our dreams standing by us with looking at us in anger because we never fulfilled them and we were the only ones that could. The graveyard is said to be the richest land because within it lies books never published, songs never written or sung, buildings and inventions never built.

Explore all the talent you possess and go after your dreams. We’re not promised tomorrow, so what are you waiting for?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anger and it’s power over us

 

For a long time I thought I had moved on from past hurts and disappointments. I felt that by treating certain people in disdain and avoiding them, I would be protected. After all, I didn’t need them-to HELL with them!

On the inside, I still harbored the memories of what they had done. I held on to that anger. It comforted me in all my righteousness.

But, I was still hurt by BOTH their lack of recognition for what they had done and for the acts they presently committed.

Why didn’t they love me, accept me or believe in me?

 

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I was living a life of contradiction-an oxymoronic life actually.

Oxymorons can be defined as, “A clever set of exact opposites which are supposed to represent two opposite sides of the spectrum but somehow also reflect the great GRAY in between(Not to be confused with 50 shades).”

I started to reflect and began to analyze everything including the name of my page.

The Quiet Scream-a perfect oxymoron and a perfect example of everything in-between; all that is implied but not directly expressed. A scream is by no means quiet unless there is something stopping the sound from being heard. A tree that falls within a forest still makes a sound (despite popular belief), just as a scream only heard in your head equally makes its mark through your feelings, thoughts and ultimately behavior.

So why so serious? (Indeed, the correct way to read that is the way Heath Ledger’s Joker character said it)

Joking aside, why are we so intent on hiding from the truth? What’s wrong with being sad, or angry or even scared? The myriad of emotions are very much like a rainbow. Would a rainbow be as beautiful without the color blue, or red or even indigo? NO!  All the colors are important and make a rainbow, a rainbow.

Within each emotion is a subset of that emotion- the healthy version and the unhealthy one.

Let’s start with ANGER.

ANGER is a great emotion. It helps you re-affirm your boundaries. It helps you discover what you don’t like so that you may recognize what you want.

The main difference between healthy and unhealthy is basically whether or not you have control over your emotions. Do YOU use them to guide you or do THEY take over and control you?

I very much believe that certain elements, although not visible, can take up physical space. Take AIR for example. You can’t see it, but it’s everywhere. The proof is that you’re breathing it but can you see it? NO!

Emotions are quite similar. You can’t see them but you can certainly feel them. Holding on to Anger takes up space within your spirit. After a while, anger can transform into a dagger-like object that is one sided and only hurts YOU.

Although Anger is important-we should only use it to help guide us to our feelings and then we have to LET IT GO (Just like that annoying Disney song).

Letting it go is not easy, not at all! It involves forgiveness. Forgiveness is in no way an acceptance for what was done to you. Whatever past hurts you experienced at the hands of others was WRONG. Whether or not they ever recognize it and take ownership is a separate matter entirely. You may not have had control for what was done to you in the past but YOU are not that same person anymore. You’re bigger and stronger. YOU have control now.

Forgive them for YOUR peace of mind. They may not be deserving of this act but above all else, you do not deserve to carry around this emotion and keep getting hurt. You deserve peace and happiness.

Forgiveness is a very conscious effort. In order to get an intangible object out, you must change its form. Make it tangible-make it visible. There are different ways to do this but some of the more common ways may be to write a letter to the person, journal about it or speak it out loud to someone else or just yourself. The point here is to expel it from you in a concrete form. Make sure you get it all out. Don’t hold back!

Once it’s out, VALIDATE IT. Recognize the pain and hurt and perhaps even the role you played in it. Allow the tears to expel from your eyes. Imagine that each tear is wiping away the dirt that has built up over time. This is a cleansing.

As you speak the words, imagine all the pain being carried away. If you wrote a letter-burn it and imagine the ashes carrying away their power over you.

You are free now.

I read somewhere once the notion that instead of building ourselves up, we are instead removing the toxins and false beliefs that have piled onto us and that are not of our true nature.

I firmly believe we were born with EVERYTHING we are meant to be. All that skill and talent is already inside of us but perhaps life has exposed us to persons or situations that have made us see ourselves differently.

Imagine you are in a fun-house of mirrors; you see your distorted reflection and believe it to be accurate.

Similar to the Plato’s Allegory of the cave, what you have perceived to be reality may be distorted and not in its truest form.

“…Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.

Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.

We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?

Actually, who are you not to be?

You are a child of God.

Your playing small does not serve the world.

There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.

We are all meant to shine, as children do.

We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.

It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.

And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.

As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

 

‘A Return To Love’ (1992) by Marianne Williamson

Today, I challenge you to make peace with your feelings and to let go of that, which you cannot control.

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Grief, an all too familiar visitor

 “Grief is like the ocean; it comes on waves ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim.”

― Vicki Harrison

 

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There are moments when you need to cry.

“We need to cry like we need to wash a dish or wipe down a dirty wall. Tears serve as the cleaning agent to our soul. When we cry we wipe away the dirt that has tainted our vision. It releases the negative energy that has been bottled up inside. But it also leaves us vulnerable. It allows others to see what we desperately attempt to hide behind our eyes. The demons inside become exposed. “

 

How do you keep moving on when you lack the energy or drive to do so? When a terrible tragedy comes barging your way, it can make you feel as if you’re not in your body. You are standing out, looking in and what people see before them is a hollow shell that blinks and breathes but has ceased to register. With the pain, comes a sense of emptiness-a numbness.

 

For a mother, who has just experienced her young son get shot for being at the wrong place at the wrong time, she must keep moving on for him. She is the trunk of the tree-the solid foundation to a family of FIVE.  They need her strength to not fall completely apart. She simply does not have the time to stop and register her own feelings. Like a pile of papers, they are thrown to the side for processing later. Everyone else’s needs are paramount. So how does this mother keep moving forward, as she faces the possibility that her young son may never walk again? She moves forward because she MUST. Because, even if living causes her agonizing pain, her son NEEDS her. And she is not the owner of her life, her children are. The moment each one was born, she signed her life away to them. Her happiness, her wants and her needs no longer take top priority.

 

How about the sister that receives news of her sister’s body in a pool of blood on the street in another country? The uncertainty of it all, the comforting of the mom, the calls that need to be made and confirmation that it is indeed true. Her time to cry, is as she holds her sister’s last photograph in her hand in the quiet darkness of her room. She must stay strong for her mother and her nieces. And, as she travels to a far away land for the burial, she desires to visit the place where her sister stopped living. She wishes to look for those who committed the crime to their face. She does not. SHE CANNOT. Like the mother, she is also obligated to her loved ones. She must portray an image of strength and keep moving on. There’s a bar next to the funeral home and with each drink, more tears descend.  It is then, she feels the tremendous pain within her. As she stands by her sister’s casket and looks at a person whose years on the street has changed her physical appearance so much, that for a moment, she wonders if this is really her. She glances at the door every now and then imagining, and hoping her “real” sister come walking in to say she is fine, she is well, she is …ALIVE.

 

For my part, I prefer my heart to be broken. It is so lovely, dawn-kaleidoscopic within the crack.

-D.H. Lawrence

 

Strength is a lovely word and a trait we all wish to have, but may not realize we have, until we truly need it. When we have no choice but to LIVE and PUSH-ON day by day, hour by hour, minutes to seconds. When you have to remember to breathe, even if you don’t want to-WE FIGHT.  Fight, until we can’t anymore and then continue moving on. Once the task is accomplished, we will undoubtedly look back and marvel at ourselves.  For now, we are our own heroes. We accomplished the seemingly impossible and lived to tell about it.

 

There is an undeniable beauty within the pain. Amidst the chaos, it propels you forward. It reminds you of the non-permanency of everything and in doing so, allows you to appreciate the little things.

 

Life comes at us from all directions.  Issues are like piles of paper. Some you file right away. Some, you place aside and some get placed on top of endless other piles of paper to be filed later. But then, later never comes.

 

Perhaps the secret to overcoming grief and trying to avoid it- is not waiting for later and appreciating where you are NOW. Let the ones you love, know it. Be proud of yourself and where you are, right now. You have fought many battles but yet, here you are.

 

Marvel at your strength.

 

We are not all born at once, but by bits. The body first, and the spirit later… Our mothers are racked with the pains of our physical birth; we ourselves suffer the longer pains of our spiritual growth.

-Mary Austin

 

You never know what’s coming for you.* Appreciate your life so that when the sad times come-you can at least remember the good times.

 

 

 

 

 

*Quote by Eric Roth from the movie, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.”