“I Can Do This!” 2018 Focus

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Graphic made at canva.com ~Explanation below~

You may have guessed (or already know) that my keyword for this year is “Energy.”  I have many goals, and I am at a point in my life where I need to make them happen.  I don’t want to wait for a better time.  Even if it takes years to reach a goal, the time to start is now.

My morning mantra will be- “Let me get moving.”  That’s a great start for energy.  Of course, I’ve charted out some things I have to do.  Stretches to get limber and not feel old or sore all day.  I intend that to become like second nature to me.  Then the list goes on.

I’ve done this because I read somewhere that a resolution is nothing without a plan.  This is so true!  Working a full-time job can tire a person out.  Yet, I want to reach for more than a Mon.-Fri. workplace.  I need energy to do that.

I do hope the graphic is visible and easy to read for all.  In a nutshell, it lists what I want to become a regular part of my mindset and my daily routine in an attempt to generate more energy for my goals and to affect the world around me.  I truly believe this works.  I mentioned the morning stretches, because “Let’s get ready to move freely,” is better than “Crap, my back is sore, I HAVE to get up.”   Gratitude, music to help me get going.  Singing in the shower, expressing love to my family, asking God to inspire me to help someone else today.  Complimenting others I work with, using a 5 to 1 positive ratio for my interactions with students.  Then, there’s time to do what I love:  reading daily, a writing routine (not necessarily daily but when I am moved), blogging on my goals/progress or mindset once weekly and adding the flash fiction blog entries once or more weekly, avoiding work e-mail at home, and being thankful for it all.

My discovery of a focus keyword for this year was inspired by an entrepreneur on social media.  Mindset is such an important thing!  Truly, when you must do something physically challenging, they say to find a focal point.  Why can’t it be a word?  If you are interested, this blog post sets my intention to make Energy my focus and explains why this might help me greatly:  A Word for My Intentions

A Word for my Intentions. #amwriting #newyear

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I was reading a social media post by a young entrepreneur on New Year’s resolutions.  Instead of making resolutions, she is focusing on a key word in her New Year as she did at the start of last year.  Her results sounded amazing.

There is so much I want to do and so much I have to do to be a positive source and a strength for my family and my students.  It wears me down at times.  Sometimes I forget to tap into a source of strength for myself.  Faith is great, but I still get tired.  What do I do with my faith?  I pray that bad things don’t happen to the ones I love.  Perhaps I should be praying more often in thanks for the good that has happened, forgetting the bad and the scary road that events can take as they have in the past.  Moving forward from the past is important.

At any rate, I know the power of positive thinking.  I know that I need yoga, God and faith, my family, friends, relaxation, and healthy food.  Yet, I still could improve my attitude.  Words affect one’s attitude.  I often wake up in the morning, thinking, “Crap.  I have to get up.”  “Crap.  I can’t lay on my back anymore.” That’s a pretty crass word to use in greeting my day.  So I plan to stop making that my first word in reaction to a new day.

My key word for 2018 is going to be “Energy.”  There is so much I want to do, and I will not give up.  I plan to continue doing what I can to help others.  I will continue writing and hopefully improve my writing, publishing, and networking skills as an author.  But I  still plan to be an inspiring educator (even more than I have been), a source of strength for my son and mother, as well as a woman who is faithful to God and her own principles.  I will also know when I need to relax and give that time to myself.  These are my goals.  Energy is the word that will manifest that attitude.  I don’t have to bounce off the walls or be a gymnast.  I am talking about mental, intellectual, and psychological energy.  I will not say ‘Yes’ to everything that comes across my plate, but I will be accepting of new experiences.   (By the way, there was one year when I came close to saying yes to everything.  I don’t regret it; it was a great learning experience, but I see that it couldn’t go on forever…). I will channel my energy into achieving the results I want from life.

What’s the best that could happen?  This is what I need to focus on.  The best outcomes will be that I influence countless students to love reading and writing, that I let them leave me as more developed humans than they were before knowing me, that I become a source of strength and giving to others rather than a collector or hoarder of objects, money, or knowledge, and that I become a writer who is never out of ideas and never too beaten down to improve my craft, never too hopeless too continue or too broke to take a break from working and do what I really, truly love.  All of this is in addition to having time for my family and loved ones, enjoying time and sharing of myself with my boyfriend, friends, etc.  In doing these things, I want to feel I have some measure of control over what I am doing in my life.  I will not be a slave to money.  Or fame, or any other contest whereby I’m judged or measured up by the numbers.  This is the best that could happen.  I will not even voice the worst.  Why?  Because I am not worried about it.  It does not exist unless my thoughts can breathe life into it.  Having wasted parts of my life on worry, I see the results it can have.  I’m not going to worry about it.

This goes back to a favored quote by Nikki Giovanni,  writer, poet, activist, and educator.  This quote spurred me on when I was a 20-year-old college student, questioning my place in the world and where my priorities lay.

 “There is always something to do. There are hungry people to feed, naked people to clothe, sick people to comfort and make well. And while I don’t expect you to save the world I do think it’s not asking too much for you to love those with whom you sleep, share the happiness of those whom you call friend, engage those among you who are visionary and remove from your life those who offer you depression, despair and disrespect.” – Nikki Giovanni

If you’d like to read more about my thought process at age 20 (I sure needed a lot of work) and how she inspired me just by writing the words I needed, please see my blog entry at Nikki Giovanni, You Inspire Me! 

This year, instead of worrying on the worst that could happen, I will live a life of purpose and spend my time and my words on voicing the things I wish to come about.  All of this will be centered around the key word:  Energy.

I’ll let you know after this year how it works!  If you were to choose a key word for this year’s intentions, what would that word be?

With Credit to the Bard, while the storm rages, around and within #Mentalhealthmonth

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***May is Mental Health Awareness Month.  This month is also the two year mark since my son’s graduation from high school.  It was a stormy time.  He was changing, going through some crises, and caused an awful lot of worry in me.  I don’t think I always handled it well.  But I am learning and growing, working on my mindset and ways of thinking.  I previously wrote this elsewhere, and would like to share.  This is my story to tell.  One day, he will process the events in his life, and tell his own story.***

~2014~”Nothing is good or bad, but that thinking makes it so.”  This quote by Shakespeare sums up a lot of my lessons learned from life.  A break-up with a boyfriend, a change of schools, a dad who saw me once a year from age ten on.  A mom trying to keep it all together for her two kids and not always hiding it well.  An outwardly gregarious husband (now known as “the ex”) who was loved by everyone when he drank, except me.

Yes, so much has made me strong and laid the groundwork for the life of an independent woman.  Let’s look at some of these words and how simply the spin we put on them makes the world of difference:  strong.  Known to some as harsh.  Bitter.  Tough.  I have been called some of those, simply when someone did not like what I was saying.  It is all in perception.  I have been tired of being strong.  It is all in how you see it.  Now, independent.  Called, by some, lonely.  Alone.  Self-centered.  Sad  (well that’s just interpretation).   Wait, let me take self-centered and put it in a neutral category.  There are sometimes when that is not bad at all!  Self-centeredness is only bad if you think it is.  Thank you, Shakespeare!  Sure, it can be selfish, but other times, it is simply knowing oneself and it is powerful.  When you are way too centered on others you cannot know yourself too well.  In fact, you can easily lose yourself.   This brings me to the subject of WORRYING.

Sure, these events were all only two weeks ago.  But a lot has changed since then.  I have been given the gift of loneliness, self-reflection, and time to be self-centered since my son went out of state to work for the summer.  It was a tough transition at first.  Now I feel that I can say I am getting there.  It is nice to wake up in the morning and think “What do I want to do today?”  Or to know that if I am going to the beach, I will stay as long as I want, and if I want to silently watch the waves and passersby, I will do that as long as I want until I feel hungry or tired.  Not until someone else says, “Mom, let’s go.  I’m hungry.”    So, while there have been more things to worry about, such as, how he gets along with me ex, accidents at his job, his decisions regarding school in the fall, I am learning to worry less.

I have thought a lot about the power and the effects of worrying in the last few months.  My son became argumentative, turned 18, didn’t like being told what to do.  Got a $200 speeding ticket in MY car, while I was at his side warning him repeatedly.  He was starting to hang with the wrong crowd and some bad habits were involved, some flirting with danger, even.  He had one crisis that resulted in an ER visit.  I did not like comments I found on his instant messages.  But I raised him well…..says every good parent.  Doesn’t matter.  At some point they do things because we told them not to.  Turning 18 brought some bad attitudes back in him.  Luckily, he did get all his credits and was eligible to graduate. We won’t talk about the dual enrollment class he blew off….because he “didn’t need it to graduate.”  He walked away from school and blew off the last day of classes which could have brought up two grades for him.  I kept telling him to get a job and he kept saying, “I have a headache,”    “I’m too stressed, let me wait until after graduation,” or the best, most annoying:  “You can’t push me.  It’s not motivating me.”  Needless to say I worried a lot.  Sometimes in arguments, he would say, “I’m not going to the graduation.”  This was after I had sent out invitations and had family members making travel arrangements to be here for the event.  Such emotional blackmail.  He’d say that because he was tired of me getting after him about a job, cleaning his room, etc.  The last few weeks he was here, I disapproved of his laptop addiction, and dropped it off at my boyfriend’s house.  That was a little bit of worry off my shoulders.  All this worrying was stressful.  It made me tightly wound and sometimes I felt ready to explode.  But what I did was more like imploding.  I made forgetful mistakes, totally air-headed blunders that co-workers noticed (harmless, I swear!).  I obviously needed a rest.  I was worrying too much about what would happen, based on the things that had gone wrong in the preceding weeks.  Yet, all that had gone wrong was a learning experience, and actually could have been good.  It all depends on how you looked at it.  I saw the negative, and feared more bad things to come.

I knew I would be so much better once the graduation actually happened.  Yes, I got sick of my son, leading up to the event, but there was no way we would miss this culmination of so much hard work, frustration, and persistence…..on both our parts.  Of course, he did Senior year all on his own.  No tutors, no after school sessions.  He did it.  I always, unfailingly, told him he could do it.  I deserved this celebration as much as he did.  For him not to go to graduation would have hurt me deeply.

The day of graduation was intense and left lots of doors open for worry and anxiety.  My father and brother were on the road and I’d have to meet them an hour before my son was due at the graduation venue, as they did not have the official entrance tickets yet.  My ex-husband was here the night before and it was decided he would take my son to the “required” rehearsal that morning, downtown.  One less thing off my plate.  Instead of showing up at our house at 8 am as requested, he showed at 8:20.  Stood outside talking to the neighbor in Spanish for 5-10 minutes.  I respect our neighbor and chose not to interrupt.  It gave my son time to find his socks and shoes.  Still, a nagging worked at the back of my mind.  Rehearsal time was 9 am.  A graduate memo had stated doors would be locked at 9:20 and no one could enter after that.  And this blasted man, that I used to be married to, was taking his sweet time.  I finally opened the front door and just stood there.  He finally came to the door and collected our son then left.  My worry was working up a storm in my mind.  Would they make it on time?  There was nothing, nothing I could do about it now.   So I was worrying.  Worrying is probably defined, somewhere, as our attempt to control things or people that we CANNOT control or change.  We just don’t want to give it up.  Let me tell you, over the years, this inward storm of worry has caused emotional and physical havoc in me.  I know this.

There is a writer I have just started reading; his name is Greg Braden, who writes about God, spirituality,  and Science.  The book is called The Divine Matrix.  In the first chapter, he discusses other researchers and scientists and their theory that consciousness works on the ebb and flow of the whole universe and nature.  Not that humans control it all, but we are part of it, as we have consciousness.  So do animals, plants, all living things.  He also says we are all part of one ebb and flow.  Amazing, huh?  In addition, he says that our consciousness causes living things to respond.  I am seriously buying into this.  Here is the problem I see.  They do not always respond as we want them to.  Hence, the destructive property of worry.  Worry is so repetitive and seems to pick up power the more you entertain it.  It has turned inward on me and caused anxiety, digestive issues, back and neck pain, etc., etc.  Do you know how many illnesses are stress-related?  If you are a teacher I am sure you have a good idea…..

So if our consciousness causes other people or living things to respond, and they do not respond as we wished, this can be very dangerous.  Worrying never changed how another person reacted in my life.  It only turned my intense concentration inward, and therein lies the power of negative thinking.     Telling my teenager that he worried me only made him more intent on getting out of my house, finding his freedom, oh, and on not listening to me.  Teens don’t like guilt.  Who does, anyway?   I have developed a theory ( probably already proposed by someone more important), that intense worry, when you really focus on it and give in to it, can really cause damage.  It may not make the thing happen that you worried over, but it is going to damage the thinker.   That is one disastrous possibility.  And a part of me thinks that this storm in my mind may cause something else undesirable to happen.  Maybe I’ve seen too many movies.  But if damaging my mental state is the only negative outcome, that is still bad enough.  As the writer says, consciousness affects the world around us.  Our consciousness,is in many ways, our perception of the things around us.  Which reminds me of perceiving the proverbial glass as either half-empty, or half-full.  I’ve lived with worry all my life.  When I was 20, my dad went in to AA for a drinking problem I only remembered when looking back.  He took me to some meetings.  I learned a lot from that.  I also learned that worrying over someone else’s problem isn’t good for anyone, nor will it solve it.  It interferes with your own growth as a person.  I have known this a long time.  Yet I still worry, and I constantly fight against it.

So there I was,  9 am the day of the graduation.  Lying still on the floor.  Taking deep breaths.  I was incapable of doing anything else.  I had to calm down.  I knew I was too worried.  Got a call from my ex.  “Traffic is really bad.  What time did you say they lock the doors?”
“At 9:20.  Just GET him there!  And call me when you all are there.”  That gave me twenty more minutes to worry about this one little start of the day.  Or to work on not worrying.  Without rehearsal he could not attend graduation.  But I had to stop thinking about that.   Deep breaths, some stretching.  I also said a few prayers…for them to get there safely, for my sanity.  I had so many things to do that day.  Looked out the window at the plants outside.  Did NOT look at the clock.  (That was hard).  Lots of deep breaths.  Never did I holler “Serenity Now!”  In hindsight, that may have helped. 🙂  I did not want to go crazy with worry.  I wanted the strength and clarity to face my day.

I finally got the call that they had made it!  I was so relieved.  So glad I had relaxed, and ready to go conquer the first thing on my to-do list.  The day continued to test me.  My ex called about the hotel he wanted to stay in, the same hotel my dad had made reservations at.  It was closed due to water damage.  My dad was still on the road and when he tried to call, they did not answer.  I went and got my hair done anyway, then swung over there to see them personally.  I put them on the phone with him and they arranged something at another hotel.  I did not lose my temper with them.  Maybe he did; I actually hope so.  Then, I was informed my son needed a black tie 10 minutes before time to leave and get him to the Veteran’s Arena.  I was not going to the mall.  “A Goodwill tie will have to be good enough,”  I said.  (Thanks for telling me at the last minute!) Well, Goodwill saved the day for $3.20!  We made it, a little late, but he wasn’t the latest.  All of my son’s and my loved ones made it there eventually; at least I was on time.  Giddy with excitement, I made my dad and my boyfriend laugh at me.    Mom was giddy too, so we tried sign language instead of our loud, nervous, geeky excitement.  My son got his diploma, wearing the ROTC stole and a cord indicating “College Ready.”   This moment, all two hours of the program, was nothing but good, and it was worth all the hassle of the day.  All of which I could handle only because I started the day by letting the worry go.    I later told my dad what a stressful day it was.  In typical form, he says, “What was so stressful?”  I wanted to feel frustrated at that, you know, the lack of empathy, but I wasn’t going to let that upset my day.  So I changed my stance.  It had been a wonderful day;  my son had graduated and we were surrounded by family.  I smiled, and said,  “Dad, today I solved every problem that came across my plate.”  You see, it truly was a wonderful day.