Tag Archives: self-love

Own Your Day or it will Own You…

17 Jan

Thanks for joining me here today!  It’s going to be an awesome day ahead – or is it?

It’s been almost 18 months since I’ve posted on this blog and today is the day I do something different and start posting again.  Since June 2015, a lot of things have happened in my life – both positive and negative (I’m sure it’s the same for you!) – the most notable that I haven’t earned an income since May of last year, despite having the expertise, experience, putting myself out there, having tons of positivity, optimism, and donating my time to my industries (through various volunteer Board of Directors work.)

For whatever reason, I’ve hit a brick wall in terms of income (I can’t collect unemployment as an independent consultant,) and… yet I’m surviving, and it’s time I got back on the road to financial abundance.  I’m not sure exactly HOW that will happen, but meanwhile I’d like to share a few of the survival tips I’ve learned as I start posting twice weekly from now on.

attitude

I’ve found a couple of awesome life coaches/friends who encourage me to stay positive despite the financial lull and sometimes a lack of positive supportive people in my life.  Maybe this resonates with you?

I’m grateful for so many things in my life (health, friends, opportunities, partnership, inspiration….) and as my world changes and I become more abundant (here’s hoping!) I’d like to encourage others, through my blog posts here, to know that life doesn’t end when you hit a gap in earnings!

I’m a Big Proponent of Positive / Optimistic Thinking

I love books and motivational speakers and reading anything that promotes good health, self-love, and the Law of Attraction (making dreams come true!) – and I love promoting people and things that create positive energy, so I’d like to share two great inspirations I found today: (Thank you to both Maria and Marie !)

  • One Wise Life – daily Facebook motivational sessions.  Maria Flynn of OneWiseLife.com hosts an incredible, daily 9:30 EST Facebook Live session. – Today’s session was very relevant to me:  “If you Don’t Own Your Day, Your Day will Own You.”  Here’s the link to the rebroadcast (click on the pic)

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  • MarieForleo.com videos  – today’s segment was about the importance of a positive attitude with some great advice:

marie-forleo-attitude-jan-17

Becoming my own Cheerleader…

One of the ways I’ve discovered that I can be productive, do market research in customer service and put myself out in the mainstream to find new work (hopefully in my specialty) is to bartend at major sporting events.  While the financial gains are yet to manifest, it does remind me that cheerleading is an important part of sporting events – and also in life.

One of my goals in 2017 is to finally write (and take the journey) to become my own best cheerleader!  I hope you’ll join me along the way, keep reading, and share this blog if it resonates with you.  Sometimes I feel like a lone eagle who joyfully supports, inspires and (hopefully) motivates others – and I’m learning that I need to do the same for myself.

I’d love to hear your comments – or brickbats.  Blogging can be a lonely sport – and I’m hoping something I say might inspire you along the way.  And if you have ideas on how I can find contracts, speaking engagements and just to say hi – drop me a note (caroldekkers at gmail dot com.)  Thanks for reading and…

Have an awesome week!

Carol

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Graduation day revisited… it’s never too late for your dreams!

4 Jun

I graduated from mechanical  engineering many moons ago with the wide-eyed dreams of youth backed by a zest for the future and a century’s worth of wishful thinking.  For the next few years, life was a dream… jobs were plentiful,  I was a newlywed and new mother,  and even though finances were precarious (my husband went back to university to pursue a new career in a new city when my daughter was 4 months old) I had nothing but optimism for the future ahead.  What was woefully missing, and I never realized it, was a sense of self (as in self-acceptance, pride and self-love.)  While my business sense of self was intact, my personal worth and persona was based on the views of parents, husband and friends. As such, I found happiness only when others accepted me and I was making them happy.

Fast forward to today with grown children,  grandchildren, years of experience, age and financial uncertainty.  Jobs in my niche are scarce, ageism is rampant, savings are small and I wonder if I’ll ever be able to retire… hardly the image of success according to the “others” in my past, BUT, that’s all secondary to the fact that I’m truly happy.

Life has had many twists and turns, highs and lows, successes and failures, and I  finally realize that all of the external success and acceptance by others in my life was a red herring.  Happiness comes with self-acceptance and self-love, and without those, happiness is fleeting. Certainly love, parenting, friends, adventure, money and other things are important,  but not when it comes at the expense or with the exclusion of self.

Good things from others in my life are the icing on the cake, but the cake is a foundation of self-love and self-acceptance.

Today as I see so many celebratory posts about parents and graduates, I find that I am revisiting, with new eyes, the dreams and hopes of graduation.  The difference this time is that the hopes and dreams are based on being in love with myself first… and others second.

I’ve included below some of my favorite motivation/graduation style sayings. They resonate with me and I hope that a few will do so with you – no matter where you are in life and in love.  Celebrate who YOU are and reach for the stars!

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National Offline Day – August 3, 2014

27 May

I traveled back from London, UK to Toronto last Friday, May 16 after a week of working, and I was dismayed to read the headline article in the Daily Mail about a recent study linking heavy internet to negative outcomes for our youth (click on the image that follows or the link beneath it to read the article.)

Not that I hadn’t been hearing rumors about the negative effects of online and the lack of good, solid communication skills prevailing in North America and Europe (and not just in our young people) … I just didn’t expect the widespread results found in this latest research.

So, I’d like to declare Sunday August 3, 2014 as National Offline Day!  (Here’s the link to the Facebook event page I created: https://www.facebook.com/events/1492244714326734/?source=1#)

The intention is to unplug for 12 hours from social media and be a day for families, friends, and especially children to reconnect with each other and meet people the old-fashioned way – in person!

Here’s what I propose:  Sunday August 3, 2014 from 9am to 9pm (in whatever time zone you are) commit to go offline and unplug for 12 hours!  (After 9 pm, post photos of your experience and add comments to the Facebook event.)

You can use your cell phone to MAKE CALLS only – no texting, no Facebook posts, no tweeting, no email – for 12 hours.  Spend time through direct one-on-one contact with your kids, your friends, meet new people, get in contact with your fellow human beings (or connect with the good in yourself!)

Have a picnic, a beach day, a craft brew bottle share, a bbq – anything you normally would do – but without any online exchange.  Will you support this – what do you think?

Share the idea around, and let’s just do it!  Can we make National Offline Day August 3, 2014 happen?

Background

Here’s the article in the Daily Mail May 15, 2014 you can read for yourself, the Headline speaks volumes!

daily mail web usehttp://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2629866/Heavy-web-use-harms-childs-mental-health-Every-hour-raises-risk-warns-watchdog.html

While I don’t agree that the Internet CAUSES mental illness (in the same way that the internet cannot cause weak ankles, poor vision or the like) – I do agree that we have nurtured unconscious alienation from each other through “the advancements in communication” technology.

Kids are the first to suffer from a lack of physical love and words of affection – exacerbated with technology. Kids need connection, hugs, kind words of affirmation – in other words direct human contact!

That’s the reason behind National Offline Day August 3, 2014.

(Sidenote, I do agree that the internet has many positive results such as creating community among those who feel alienated in offline life, but bear with me for a moment.)

Online technology has become an excuse for poor one-on-one communication – regardless of age!

Communication experts note that messages received rely on body language and tone, with only 7% of the message getting through based on the chosen words.  With today’s instant messaging and other online forms, 100% of the message relies on words (or stupid acronyms like Laugh Out Loud – LOL.)

Let’s make a point of getting in touch with each other this one day a year (to start) and maybe create it more often too!

Have a great week (as you read this post online!  And probably were alerted to it by Facebook or Twitter… LOL!)

– Carol

Everyone can use a little “pruning”…

13 Jan

By the title above and the fact that I live in Florida, you might be led to think this post is about regularity… thankfully (at least from my viewpoint) it’s not!  It’s about making room in your life for new growth, new experiences, new insights – no matter how old you are!  In fact, today is the youngest you’ll ever be again in your life, and if you’re reading this post, it is so much better than the alternative…

It’s probably obvious to you that we’re all born into the world completely pure, unadulterated, fresh, … we are like an oak seedling just sprouted. We are ready for nourishment, sunlight and warmth (love), and ready to take on the world. For most of us at this point, life is good.

By mid-life, we’ve weathered seasons and storms and our branches bear witness to years of events.  Our heads are filled to the brim with memories of experiences, hurts, biases, judgments, opinions of right and wrong, conditions, critiques and rules — so much so that there is barely room for anything or anyone new.

oakWe find that we are now solid oak trees, each of us bearing a customized pattern of branches forged through a unique set of events, circumstances and relationships. These branches bear witness to our life experience and often form a mismatch of uneven projections shooting out in myriad directions. During warm summers (the good times in our life), these imperfections stay hidden, obscured by bountiful leaves and we can fully bask in our beauty.  When winter sets in (the less than perfect times of our life), as it invariably does, our branches and scars are exposed bare leaving us feeling vulnerable and bare.  Over the years, our “branches” build up layers of  moss and hide skeletons of dead wood – emotional baggage – that can impede our natural growth. Sometimes this buildup happens overnight (such as a lightning strike or other stressful event), but more typically it accrues over time, seemingly unnoticeable as we go about our daily routines.  That is, until something jolts us to observe that dead wood and moss impedes our  future growth.

A colleague once told me (after a tumultuous time in my life):  “You really need to prune your life – get rid of the dead branches (the toxic relationships and ways of thinking that no longer serve you) to make room for new growth.”

The analogy was “bang on” (as we say in Canada) and her advice came flooding back to me today as I read the following:

1003924_560500844040225_309166825_nIt hit me – to accomplish ANY of these things means getting rid of dead wood in our heads… taking out the rote programmed reactions and ways of thinking.  Replacing the emotional baggage and dead end thinking with considerate, thoughtful, intentional responses to life.  One at a time…

“Learn to love without condition.”  Wow, this means I need to be conscious of and lower the biases (and judgments) that lead me to love others with conditions.  (The conditions are like a wall intended to protect me from future hurt – but ultimately it limits potentially great relationships!)  I need to consciously CHOOSE to accept and simply love people as they are, without conditions, (just as I would like to have happen to me.)  This sounds like a good habit to adopt.

“Talk without bad intention.”  Sometimes I reassure myself that I already do this, but if I am brutally honest, sometimes the good intentions are skewed when I am talking to someone with whom I have an imperfect past.  If there has been some mal-intention on the part of the other (even perceived) some mal-intention back could occur.  To talk without bad intention requires me to clear my head of judgment, before I speak, so that the words come out pure and the tone is positive.  This gives the other party the chance to simply be and respond without their defenses being up.  Sounds like another good habit to practice.

“Give without any reason.”  If you’ve grown up with a scarcity mentality like I did (there’s never enough money, food, jobs, time, energy to go around), giving can end up being biased and giving ends up with some sort of expectation.  Giving without reason means letting go of the need to get anything back in return (today or any day!)  Giving without any reason, just because I can – this is another habit that will enrich my life!

And “Care for people without any expectation.”  For me, this one hinges on my childhood learning of the “Golden Rule (do unto others as you’d like them <expect them> to do unto you.)”  This learning always set me up for failure because it implied that there would be reciprocity – that kindness begets kindness, generosity begets generosity, and so on.  The reality is that when I expect (not hope) something of others, I am imposing on them MY rules/code of behavior, my background, my need to  control – and that is simply not fair.  Letting go of the dead wood that expectations bring allows me to care for others as I can, while first taking care of my own needs (first.)

Pruning the dead wood in my  life takes concentration and work to properly trim (not chop) so that I remain whole and healthy.  Too much pruning at once or in the wrong season can be worse than not.  Figuring out new habits, such as those above, is a journey to remove the old (negative) habits of judgment, bias, reaction, and reliving old hurts, and replace them with new (positive) habits of acceptance, love, response and openness.

While old habits die-hard – I realize that this old dog can learn new tricks and the added bonus is that my new life is enriched, full, and thriving!

Wishing you a great week!

Carol

 

What’s Love Got to Do with It?

2 May

I don’t know if it’s the email spam lists I’m on or where I hang out (the beach) or what’s on TV (I seldom watch) – if you’re not coupled up, you just don’t count.  In the news, the debate about gay versus straight marriage has become tantamount as if marriage and coupledom is the only way of life.

But consider that with over 1/2 of marriages ending in divorce, and an equal split between singles and married adults in the US and one has to wonder why the 50% of singles are nonplussed.  When I survey most of my single friends, many would prefer to be in a committed loving relationship to being alone and would love to find love (wouldn’t we all!)  One friend of mine is miserable because she loves many male friends but professes that she really needs to be “in love.”

The pursuit of love (in my estimation) is a red herring – looking to “find love” should be a misnomer because love is all around us (and in us).  Romantic love (the kind in the movies and fairy tales) is fun, often fleeting, but it is only one kind of love – one that depends on another to fulfill us.  That’s where the problem lies – reliance on anyone other than ourselves to feel love!

Having been married half my life to someone who truly loved himself (and I him), I am discovering that the key to true love can only be found through “selfless self-love” – truly accepting oneself for the combination of beauty, faults, strengths and weaknesses we see in the mirror.  Many grow up without the self-esteem to know that we need to be attracted and attractive to ourself first and foremost before we can truly share love with anyone else.  Yet this is the ultimate truth – self-love is the root of happiness!

I frequently quote don Miguel Ruiz’ The Four Agreements because I truly admire and embrace the essence of his work.  The First Agreement “Always live with integrity” truly expresses the core concepts behind self-love.  I used to think that this agreement simply meant one should be honest and ethical – but that is so far off!

“Always live with integrity” means never, ever say anything to yourself that you would not say in love to a best friend.  So, the “I’m too sensitive, too xxx, whatever” needs to be banned forever from one’s vocabulary (both to yourself or to others!) and replaced with “I am who I am and I love me.”  Taking care of oneself first is like putting on your own oxygen mask first on an airplane – it allows you to function AND be able to share with others!  For me, this was an incredible concept as I was always told (and taught) and experienced that I had to give before I received.  Yet, by not giving myself the love I truly deserved, I gave away my sustenance and what I needed to truly survive.  Self-love is not selfish, it is selfless and necessary!

If you’ve read this far (and I’m almost done my rant for the day!) – you might be thinking that I am professing to become as narcissistic as the person I am no longer with, but this is wrong. Or you might be saying “how could you grow up without knowing self-love and putting yourself first?” (It happens to more than me, I guarantee it!)

I’m not saying one should become obsessed solely with oneself, but rather that finding love in the world means starting with truly accepting and loving ourselves.   We truly deserve our own true love.

So, what’s love go to do with it?  Loving yourself in all your splendor is the right thing to do – and once you’ve mastered that – love has found YOU!

Have a great week!

Carol

Why Do I Care What YOU Think?

4 Apr

Why do we care so much about what other people think (about us?)  Every day I meet people who bemoan about how someone in their life diminished their achievements, pooh-poohed their plans, or expressed a lack of support for their ideas.  Somehow we’ve gotten it into our heads that people who purport to love us (and tell us that they only want the best for us) have opinions worth more than our own!  And this is such a fallacy!  Yet we do the same thing to other people without even intending to.  (Which begs the question:  If you knew that your opinion caused someone to feel badly about themselves… even to the point of giving up – would you think a bit more before YOU spoke?)

Realistically, it is only YOUR own opinion of yourself that should matter. And yet we falter…

I grew up with the adage “How can you do/say/think that?  What would the neighbors/friends/strangers think (of you?)  It was almost as if people on the street without any regard to you or your life should have a level of control over who you are! It was as hogwash then as it is now, but so many are still caught up in the trap of “what would so-and-so think?” – the truth is that it just doesn’t matter.

The opinions of others have nothing to do with me (or you!)  I’ve spoken at hundreds of conferences over the years and I am always amazed at the diversity of evaluations that come back from attendees.  They range from the polar opposites of “Couldn’t stand the presenter, didn’t learn a thing…” to “Best presenter I’ve ever seen – make sure you invite her back. Excellent!” – all from the same presentation! The rest of the audience lies somewhere in the middle, with the majority of people offering no comments at all.  What should I believe about my presentation – the best, the worst, or somewhere in the middle?

None of them!  All of the opinions from the audience are from THEIR perspective – based on what they like and how they perceived me. No one knows me except for me!  When I speak, I give it my best and that is all I can do.  When I leave the stage and feel good about what I’ve done, that is all that should matter – I’ve done my best.  Yet, of course I do read the evaluations (and they are the basis on which I am asked back!) – and they do still affect me.  BUT I am learning to ignore the outliers (both positive and negative) because they are so much less a reflection of me than of the audience members and their own frame of mind!

The only approval we should ever strive to meet is our own.

If you’ve read anything I’ve written over the past two years on this blog, you’ll know that I’m a fan of author and motivational guru don Miguel Ruiz and his landmark book The Four Agreements. When my daughter first gifted me a copy almost 10 years ago, I read it but the concepts just didn’t sink in at first.

Now, 10 years later, I fully embrace the concepts even though I still get tripped up by life’s little circumstances that suck me in and zap my energy!

Cover of

Cover of The Four Agreements: A 48-Card Deck

The Four Agreements just for introduction purposes (see my other posts on the subject for more insights) are:

1. Always live with integrity: I used to think this meant to live honestly (with high ethics and morals), but it really means: become your own best friend!  Love yourself unconditionally and never, ever say anything to yourself that you wouldn’t say to your best friend!  (i.e., Banish your inner critic and rid yourself of the negative thoughts like “I’m not good enough, pretty enough, thin enough, rich enough – any of these!  Replace them with positive and realistic self-love endorsements such as “You are kind. You deserve love. You are a great person! (Which goes beyond appearances!))

When you’ve had a lifetime to build up your defenses with a damaging inner critic (mine was so strong it almost led me to suicide!) – often put in place to protect you from the (inevitable) onslaught of unsupportive but well-meaning people in your life – this can be a major life change!  But it is necessary – if you are not your own best friend who loves you for all you are – you’ll never find happiness. Happiness starts and ends within – so start today by loving yourself!

2. Don’t take anything personally: This one was also tough for me, but it makes so much sense.  Think about it – if you wear something new out to a party and three people come up to you saying variously:

  • “What a great color on you – great outfit!”
  • “Oh, from the looks of that outfit, you’ve gained a few pounds.”
  • “You look tired, maybe it’s the outfit, you really shouldn’t wear those colors.”

Who is right?  As I’ve stated above – none of them are “right” – they are all opinions.  If you feel good about yourself and how you look – that is all that matters.

When we stop taking the responses of others personally (they are not personal – they are only a viewpoint from another,) life gets so much better!

3. Never make assumptions: Agreement #3 also takes getting used to. When we realize that not everyone thinks like we do, it makes sense to stop and ask questions to clarify what others tell us.  A couple of years ago I was dating a guy who I really cared about and he told me after a few weeks that “I have no feelings for you.”  I was devastated because I took it to mean that he didn’t care at all about me, and I immediately started crying when he said this. He couldn’t figure out why I’d be upset because he meant that he wasn’t in love with me, he cared about me but wasn’t in love (he was going through a divorce at the time… I should have seen the red flags there!)  My interpretation was that no feelings = no caring.  I’ve since learned to try not to react and instead ask questions first to make sure that what I hear and interpret is the same thing as what is meant.

In life, we make so many assumptions about WHY others say, think, do, or act based on OUR opinions.  When we ask questions to find out WHY – the answers may pleasantly surprise you!

4. Always do your best: This one can be the easiest to embrace because it is tied to #1. If you are always doing your best, it is harder to tell yourself you could have, should have… anything.  When you do you best (at the time, given the information and resources at hand) – you can never could have, should have done anything differently!

All in all, it really shouldn’t matter to me what YOU think about what I write, what I say, what I post – yet it still does.  We are at the core, social creatures who are domesticated to care about others and respect the opinions and thoughts of others.

In this journey of life, I’m finally learning to put MY OPINION of myself first… and everyone else’s second to tenth.  It’s not always the easiest thing to do, but if I don’t accept and love myself – how can I expect anything of anyone else?

p.s., Comments?  I’d love to hear YOUR opinion – it doesn’t change the fact that I did my best in writing this post, but I’d still like SOME feedback.

p.p.s. Remember to register for the upcoming True You Discovery retreat May 3-5, 2013 in beautiful St Petersburg Beach, FL. Visit www.spiritualconnections1-trueyoudiscovery.com for full details.  I also wrote about this in my last blog post.

Have a good week!

Carol

 

Care and feeding of the Royal We

22 Aug

 

 

Icon from Nuvola icon theme for KDE 3.x.

Icon from Nuvola icon theme for KDE 3.x. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

It seems to be a trend (at least here in Florida amongst friends and colleagues) that people over 40 are “waking up” to the realization that we’ve taken care of the world (spouses,children, friends, children of friends) and all the while – neglected the most important person in our life – ourself!

 

Readers here are familiar with my journey of self-discovery, of learning to say no more often (instead of the altruistic and over-committed “yes”), and “putting on my own mask first.”  One of my biggest learning points to-date is that I am a unique and wonderful person worthy of the best that life has to offer – and furthermore, no one deserves love more than the Royal We (me, myself, and I).

 

This should be something that everyone on earth feels about themselves as well!  We all deserve unconditional love and respect from and for the Royal We – no matter what the rest of the world dishes out – in a healthy and non-narcissistic way that serves us AND the world.

 

This is an important point – a NON-NARCISSTIC way.  (For many years I was in a relationship with a spouse where I loved him, and he loved him… love of oneself to the entire exclusion of another you are in relationship with does not work!  We can love ourselves and love another – as separate beings in a healthy way.  In this post, I am simply talking about finding solace in loving and accepting yourself for the wonderful human you already are.)

 

Self-love did not come instinctively to me – or maybe it did at birth and then I overrode it with intensive training whereby value came only from serving others to the exclusion of myself – so I often find myself slipping back into old ways of putting others first.

 

For this reason, I put together a short checklist I call:

Care and feeding of the Royal We:

 

1. Remember that the Royal We can be tempermental and may not always agree on the best course of action.  Be kind and live with “integrity” and never, ever say anything to yourself that you would not say to a best friend.

 

2. Each person on earth has their own path to journey including the Royal We.  Respect that your own path is uniquely yours and yours alone.  Others may come and go along your path but you must remain steadfast and true to the truth known by the Royal We.

 

3. Wherever you go, there you are… with the Royal We.  Take care of both the emotional and physical health of the Royal We so that your time together can be as blissful as possible.

 

4. You are never alone when you are with the Royal We. Some people wake up to the realization that they have neglected themselves for a lifetime – learn that the Royal We are loyal, steadfast, caring, wonderful – and some of the best company you will ever meet.

 

5. You can be alone and not lonely, and lonely when you are not alone.  I wrote about this in the earlier post: Alone but not Lonely.

 

6. Others will try to put their own interests ahead of the Royal We and use guilt and coercion to make you abandon the Royal We.  Do not be swayed to give care to another before the essential needs of the Royal We are taken care of.  The one exception is dependent children who, at times, must take precedent.

 

7. Dedicate conscious alone time to be with the Royal We.  Do not allow others 24×7 direct access to the Royal We – put up healthy boundaries to protect the Royal We’s rights.  Take care to safeguard your rights to good sleep, healthy food, relaxation, quiet time, emotional space.

 

8. Do not stay where the Royal We are simply tolerated, instead go where they are celebrated!  Life is too short to be amongst those who simply tolerate you but make little attempt to understand, accept or celebrate the wonder of each one’s Royal We.  Once you understand the vast contribution possible through self-love of the Royal We, it is folly to simply accept the status quo of existence.  Find friends who are also healthy in self-love and create a healthy community of support and love!

 

The Royal We are not an end unto themselves, but rather a construct whereby emotionally healthy people can interact, relate, and create supportive, nurturing communities one person at a time.  Mastering self-love is the key to being able to generate love for others, and it is a critical first step to successful relationships beyond the Royal We.

 

Have a great week and don’t forget to celebrate yourself and your own Royal We!

 

Carol

 

 

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