Organizing my Life

Hi, friends. I’ve had some challenging but rewarding months since the last time I posted. I started life coaching in March, and it’s been truly enlightening. I realized that some of the challenges I was facing with life overall were due to not being fulfilled in my current role at work. I’ve since started on a track to become an official instructional designer (even though I have many years of experience in that role without the official label), and I am loving it. I realized I couldn’t be happy with myself and my life if my days were spent just proofreading technical materials without having a greater purpose or applying my creativity to what I was doing. I am much happier now after taking the courage to speak up and make a change, and it’s making my organization and efficiency better as a result. I’m also taking the same approach for my personal life, specifically my novel writing and the overwhelm and insecurity that hinder me from moving forward.

My life coach and I discovered, first and foremost, what doesn’t work for me. With my novel, I kept coming up with impossible timelines because I was overly ambitious and anxious about getting it done, but with my already busy life, it just wasn’t realistic. I would fall short, hate myself, and stop writing altogether. Then rehash my schedule and repeat the same pattern. Obviously, this is the opposite of what I set out to achieve.

But then my life coach and I realized what does work for my highly sensitive mind and heart. Positivity. Reflection on what I’ve already accomplished. Thinking about starting where I am, not how far I am from the finish line. We came to the conclusion that a comfortable setting is very important to me (such as a cozy coffee house), as is going back to the pure judgment-free creativity I had as a child (mostly by sitting on the floor and playing music while I work). So I’m scheduling coffee house writing sessions (with the companionship of a fellow writer and great friend), and making my office floor a comfortable workspace at home. I also created a spreadsheet where I log my daily accomplishments–in all important parts of life, not just writing–so that I can look at it before I try to write and see everything I’ve already done to reach my ultimate life goal–making the world a more compassionate place.

The icing on the cake is that my two life-long best friends have also joined me in using the goal spreadsheets, and now I feel closer to them than ever in adulthood. We encourage each other, see each other’s goals and accomplishments, and that makes the tasks at hand no longer look like mountains. It’s hard to see a mountain when you focus on the small rocks in front of you, and when you look back to see how far you’ve climbed.

So let’s keep climbing, one step at a time, until we reach the top. We’ll get there. Just believe. 🙂

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Don’t Give Up

I’m writing this post as much for myself as for you. Lately, I’ve felt as though I’d rather just give up. Even the best intentions can lead to failure. Sometimes a day starts off stormy, and then a heavy storm cloud hangs over my head for the rest of the day. Sometimes a day starts off sunny and bright, and then a storm cloud builds over me slowly…maybe I put it there myself, or maybe there’s an external cause beyond my control.

Whether the day starts off right or wrong, once the storm hits, how do you push through it instead of giving up and letting it defeat you? In a torrential downpour, I know all I want to do is find shelter and curl up with a blanket. Hide. Wait it out. But what if the storm won’t go away unless you stay in it? What if the answer is to let it rain on you, soaking you to the bone, making you cold and uncomfortable, until you’re numb to its effects? What if staying in it will make the sun come out again to dry your sorrow and shame and to recharge you with energy?

I’m not sure I’m making sense. Perhaps this extended metaphor got away from me. It happens. All I know is that hiding when it storms does not make me any better, and it does not make the storm pass any faster. So today I’m going to make an attempt to be brave, and I challenge you to do the same. Stay in the storm. Let it rain on your face. Embrace it. Persevere, even while you’re afraid, cold, shaking, ashamed, and soaking wet. The sun will come out in God’s perfect time. It always does. And until it does, empower yourself to push through the storm. Don’t let the storm defeat you. Be your own umbrella.

Reflection on 2014

This past year has been one of the best of my life, and I consider it the year of self-discovery. On January 1st, I learned I was a Myers-Briggs INFP (the idealist/dreamer/healer) and not an INFJ, as I had thought for over a decade. This revelation allowed me to give myself grace on my difficulty with focus. It also helped me embrace my spontaneity and flexibility as positive qualities rather than negative ones. Around that time, my therapist also helped me discover that I am an Enneagram 4 (the individualist), just like her, which explains why she’s such an amazing match for me.

Moving from the abstract to the concrete, I recently refreshed my wardrobe to reflect the way I feel on the inside, and I’ve found some peace in that congruence. I feel like a stranger who passes me in the street now would get a better sense of what I’m about. Perhaps I’m being silly or too analytical, but there’s something comforting in the thought of people getting a glimpse of your soul when they see you.

After what I learned in January and along the rest of 2014’s journey, it seems so fitting that the year should end with a life-changing diagnosis that echoes my January revelation. I have ADD. I’ve suspected as much for years, and the frustration with my inability to focus peaked when I realized I couldn’t make myself sit and rewrite my 11-year-old-and-counting novel, despite an editor-approved outline and the possibility of publication with a small press I adore. My frustration has built for years as I struggled with a dysfunctional schedule and equally dysfunctional mindset, all wrapped in chronic fatigue. Again and again, as I searched for an answer, all my troubles were blamed on anxiety. But then one day it clicked. My GAD was treated. So was the depression that lingered in the background for years. The remaining anxiety came from untreated ADD interfering with my life.

I’ve only been on treatment for ADD for a few weeks so far, but I instantly noticed a difference. It’s like I could finally navigate through a mind that once felt like mud. As I reflect now, I suspect there is some link between INFPs and individuals with ADD. Mostly, I just see ADD as a blessing of creativity at the cost of a scattered brain.

In the midst of reflection on these deep realizations I’ve come to about myself and my life in 2014, I cannot leave out the most significant part of the year. After waiting multiple years for the day to come, on April 7, 2014, I brought home a missing puzzle piece in my life…Charlotte the Therapy Cat. It’s amazing how much more joy and laughter she brings to our home, and I’m so glad to share her with others through Furry Friends Pet-Assisted Therapy. I had years to anticipate what it would be like to finally bring her home, and it’s been every bit as wonderful as I had hoped, while also being full of surprises and lessons…as life always is.

So now we wait for 2015. I feel like the theme of this coming year will be change. Positive change. I pray that I’ll have a clear mind to help me reach my goals, awareness of God’s guidance for my life, and the opportunity to put all I have learned in 2014 to good use for the greater good of others in 2015.

What do you hope for in 2015?

Happy New Year to you and yours. May it be your best year yet. ❤

The Need for Validation

Like many other individuals out there, I care way too much about what people think. I’ve been known to define my self worth based on how others view me and what value they see in me, if any, rather than how I view myself. Sometimes my mind is so polluted by the opinions of others that I honestly don’t know how I think or feel about myself or any given topic, because I’m stuck people pleasing, worrying, overanalyzing, and trying to control how I’m perceived.

The fact is…we can’t control how we’re perceived. Some people will love us, some people will hate us, and some people won’t care either way. I saw a quote this week that shook me to my core because it rang so true:

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This quote is so wise. It forces me to think about the way I live my life. Why do I so desperately seek validation from others before I can see any of my own worth? Why do I ache to be loved by others before I can love myself? Why do I need to feel understood? Handled gently? The world, generally speaking, is not a loving, gentle place, but I’ve been blessed to cross paths with many kind-hearted, understanding people whom I love dearly and who love me back. Sometimes love comes in a brief connection with a stranger over a profound topic. Love builds us up.

But eventually, we crash and burn. A harsh word, a misinterpreted comment, an imagined slight, a moment of rudeness, an angry opinion, a mocking laugh…all these things can burn away the love that others give us, leaving us dark and empty.

So what are we to do? As a Christian, I first need to accept God’s unconditional love. But no matter what our beliefs, we need to learn to accept our own love. We need to be so filled with steadfast love that the ups and downs of the world won’t affect us. This is far easier said than done, and I’ve yet to achieve it, but I want to try. I hope you will try, too.

So before you go seeking validation for who you are and what you’re about, find it in yourself and in your faith. That is what will always remain, and that is all we truly need.

Peace be with you, dear friends. ❤

We All Dance with Our Struggles

To all my lovely readers, friends, and fellow sensitive souls, I offer you my sincerest thanks. I never know where God is going to lead me, but I trust that it’s where I’m meant to go. You have been a big part of making this week one of the most joyful of my life.

The start of this week was very rough, and I won’t pretend that it’s not terrifying to share these details. Monday was an emotional day after a disappointing appointment with a psychiatrist. Like the majority of highly sensitive people, I struggle back and forth in a dance with anxiety and depression, mostly anxiety. That said, I am in a significantly healthier and happier place now than I was several years ago. I’m blessed to have the best therapist in the world. I’m blessed to have healed and grown. Walking into the new doctor’s office, I felt like I was past the labels. Or at least the label of depression, since I feel so much joy on a daily basis. I love God. I love my husband. I love my family. I love my dear, sweet cat. I love my friends. I love my job. I love writing. I love playing the harp. I love my life.

But the doctor didn’t see me for who I was. My therapist agreed. My amazing writer friends, who turned Monday around into a good day by nightfall, comforted and reassured me. Suddenly the labels didn’t seem so bad. After all, it’s just a dance. It doesn’t need to be a fight. There doesn’t need to be a stigma. There doesn’t need to be shame. If I didn’t have the depth of feeling and emotion I have, the good and the bad, I wouldn’t be able to produce any writing worth reading or music worth hearing.

So on Tuesday, I awoke with a new vision and purpose. Shelter for Sensitive Souls. My blog and Facebook author page, once barely breathing, lit up with life. Connections. Interactions. I realized that I know exactly who I am, who I want to be, and who I write for. I write for God, I write for myself, and I write for you. And I thank you, from the depths of my soul, for reminding me that there is worth in my existence. In my writing. In my soul. ❤

Obstacles are Opportunities in Disguise

As writers, we come across many obstacles in our journeys. For me, it’s getting a finished draft into a draft ready for publication. Revising our work again and again is such an important process, but it’s also draining, and it takes a lot of strength to persevere.

But what if we start looking at the obstacles in the path to writing success as opportunities? Maybe we’re not where we want to be yet, but we’re so much further along than we were. Let’s try together to visualize what it’s like to be at the point of success, looking back to where we are now. Visualize the current obstacles as opportunities instead, and someday that position of success will be real.

How can you view your current obstacles as opportunities today? What daily step can you take toward your goal as a writer?