Duck… But Don’t Run

A touching essay written by a woman whose husband announced he wanted a divorce, and how she won him back… By not trying to win him back.

A good read, if you’re into relationship issues or want to see how sometimes enduring some pain gracefully can lead to the brightest outcomes.

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anger isn’t bad

Fargazing isn’t about never getting angry.  It’s not about getting walked all over in the name of pacifism or new-agey, peace-n-loveness…  It’s about making choices for what’s best for you.  It’s not about other people or outward acts of kindness or changing the world–it’s about changing YOUR life.  Of course, if changing your life inspires you to go out and change the world, more power to you!  I, for one, would love to make some sort of lasting positive changes…  But that’s something else.  Fargazing is finding peace within yourself so you can stop focusing on today’s negativity and start focusing on tomorrow’s endless possibilities.

That being said, fargazing is not anti-anger.

Anger is often construed as a wholly negative emotion.  It’s very true that anger can be destructive, and that’s what I’d call Toxic Anger.  Toxic Anger is learned, habitual, and utterly self-damaging.  Toxic Anger is mean-spirited and painful and holds you back when you want to be moving forward.  Toxic Anger is a choice, and it’s not a helpful one.

If someone hurts you, it’s natural to be angry.  If they wrong your child, it’s natural to be LIVID.  Anger is a completely reasonable response to a lot of bad situations, and it can be very productive.  Anger can lead to action and positive change, or it can provide the impetus to remove yourself from a hazardous relationship or environment.  

Anger is like a fire:  it can cleanse, or it can devour.  You have to control the flames and be prepared to extinguish them when the time is right.

So push aside Toxic Anger.  Learn to let it go before it can poison your mind and heart.  But don’t be afraid to feel anger altogether!  Experience anger, let it serve its purpose and purge the negative feelings and pain from your “soul” (in quotations because it’s meant figuratively and not as a religious or spiritual term).  Just extinguish it before it rages beyond your control.  And never let it smolder overnight, or it might burn the house down while you’re sleeping.

…What?  I love extended metaphors.  😉

Things have happened to me that will always haunt me.  I may not ever stop looking over my shoulder or cringing at an unexpected touch, but I refuse to let those past experiences negatively color my future.  I was angry when they happened, and for a very, very, VERY long time after…  And I just can’t allow myself to be angry anymore.

Have I forgiven the men who caused me this pain?  Not at all.  Not in the slightest.  I will NEVER forgive them…  But I’m not holding onto the anger.  Forgiving would mean learning to love them again, and I can’t do that.  I just… no longer hate them.  Because hatred is toxic, you see, and it weighs me down, and I’ve got so many great things left to accomplish! I can’t keep holding on to this worthless baggage.

It was good that I was angry in the beginning, and even good that I was angry for a long time, because I needed that in order to seek out help, to overcome, and to want to help others who have experienced this.  I needed that anger to help me recognize that it’s an epidemic and that specific action needs to be taken.  We can’t continue to be silent victims if it means prolonging the risk to others…  So the anger was productive in a lot of ways.  I just think that productive phase ended a long while back, and I’m not quite finished being angry…  And what’s it getting me?  At this point, absolutely nothing.  It’s just negativity that I’ve been choosing to accept, and now, I’m choosing to let it go.

Anger isn’t a bad thing, and you don’t have to deny angry responses in order to have a healthy inner self.  In fact, denying anger altogether is probably not very healthy…  But Toxic Anger is DEFINITELY unhealthy.  

Do yourself a favor, and begin to let it go–right now.  Every moment spent in anger is a moment lost.

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On a Side Note:

I had another triumph tonight, which blew my mind.  An event occurred (details aren’t important) that, two weeks ago, would have had me angry, sobbing, feeling hopeless and miserable…  And I wasn’t happy, of course, but I didn’t even have a flash of anger.  No self-pity, just some unhappiness that it happened that was almost instantly replaced by productive thoughts on how to remedy the situation.  I am not crippled with self-pity or doubt, and, for that, I am so very grateful.  Keeping this blog is helping give me the reminders and motivation I need to keep up this process, and it’s so gratifying to see my life genuinely changing for the better as a result.

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a triumph

I’m very surprised.  I was so upset about that job, and I really didn’t think that forcing myself to change perspectives or focus on positives would make me any less upset…  But it really, truly did!  

I told myself that not getting this job meant I could keep looking for something better, that I didn’t have to worry about how my work schedule might complicate my summer class schedule, that I didn’t have to stress over finding the seemingly impossible solution to child care right away…  

What I DIDN’T allow myself to think:  I wasn’t good enough, I’ll never get a job, I’ll never find another job as perfect for me, I need the money, they didn’t like me, my degree is worthless, etc…  

All of these thoughts occurred to me, but I immediately made the decision to think about something positive instead…

“I wasn’t good enough–Of course I was good enough, I just don’t have the specific work history they’re seeking, and maybe I should start looking for opportunities to get that experience.  Wouldn’t that be fun?”  

“I need the money–but I need to finish my graduate degree first, and I just can’t work full-time and complete my summer internship at the same time, so the job can wait.  Getting a job and not finishing school would mean having to pay off student loans right away, and I wouldn’t have the degree that I invested all of this money into.  Financial aid will come soon, and that will help carry me through.”

“My degree is worthless–not at all.  My degree has gotten me into graduate school, it’s found me work in the past, and it’s not what removed me from this hiring process.  My degree was perfect, my work history just wasn’t ideal.”

“They didn’t like me–because they’ve never met me.  If they had met me, they would have loved me, and they’d have had to make a difficult decision to hire me without the work history or to pass on someone they loved over that detail.  They didn’t reject ME because they don’t know a thing about ME–they rejected an electronic report of things I’ve done.”

Some of these counter-arguments were a little difficult to think of at first, because I really was very upset, and I’ve had three decades of conditioning to tell me to beat myself up and feel miserable.  I just had to take a step back, take a breath, and start making some analytic lists of what really happened and how I can fix it for the next application.  Instead of feeling defeated, I actually began to feel really inspired!  I realized that the things that prevented me from getting this job were things that I wanted to do but just hadn’t known to look for before.  Now I know where I want to start looking for jobs, for volunteer work, and for ways to get involved that will not only make me happy, but that will round out my resume the next time a position like this one pops up.

Additionally, this experience gave me the chance to practice my fargazing philosophy and develop new techniques that work for me, and it gave me the joyous feeling of knowing that I tried to do something difficult and alien to me, and I triumphed!  I feel so great on so many levels–how many times have people felt THIS GOOD about being turned down for a job they wanted??

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bumps in the road

As I’ve said before, this blog won’t always be happy feel-good stuff.  Because, well, it’s not a motivational blog–it’s a personal blog.  I’m human.  I’m new to this whole ‘fargazing’ philosophy.  I have rough days, too.

Today is–I’m struggling not to call it bad.  I feel like calling it a bad day might taint the entire day, and it’s not even 11am yet.  It’s a challenging day.

There was a job listing that someone directed me towards because they thought it would be perfect for me.  I was wary of applying initially because my self-esteem is weak and I didn’t think I was able to do it, but several people were so enthusiastic about just how perfect a fit I was, I got to work revising a resume, preparing the perfect cover letter, etc.  I spent two entire days working on this flawless job application, which I submitted Friday, and I tried not to obsess over it all weekend while awaiting the verification of my application as meeting the qualifications and being ready for review.  Despite my best efforts to put it out of my mind, I grew increasingly more excited about this new career prospect, realizing every few hours that Oh! I’ve done something like that, too, so yes, I CAN do this job!

I knew I’d meet the minimum qualifications easily, and I had one or two minor concerns about the additional qualifications they were seeking, but I felt I was close enough on those and so solid on all the others, I’d be shocked if I didn’t get an interview.  And boy, with every passing hour, I grew more and more confident in my ability to just ACE that interview!

When my email notification chimed on my phone this morning and I saw the subject line, my heart skipped a beat.  My application status had been updated–now I could officially see that it was being considered for the position!  I quickly opened the email, smiling in anticipation.

Denied: Did Not Meet Minimum Requirements.

WHAT?!?  I’m practically perfect for this position!  I have countless years of experience doing almost everything this job entails, and a solid familiarity of the two other aspects that will make picking it up a breeze!  I NAILED those minimum requirements, and then some!  How could they say I didn’t meet them?!?

I was crushed.  CRUSHED.  I hadn’t planned on getting the job, but I sure had wanted it.  I did expect an interview, because I know I have all the skills and experience to do this job well, and I really did only have two additional skills questions where I had to say, “I have done things very similar to this” instead of flat out, “Yeah, been there, done that, and I ROCK AT IT.”  I just absolutely cannot fathom how anyone could have looked at my application and seen ANY indication that the MINIMUM requirements weren’t more than adequately met.  I’m…  I’m floored.

I felt worthless.  I cried a little.  I felt like giving up, like if I couldn’t even get past the first step of the screening for this job that is SO perfect for me, how could I ever expect to get hired anywhere, doing anything, when nothing else out there is so perfectly tailored to my unique combination of training and experience.  I was utterly hopeless, and I nearly went back to bed and called it a day.  At 9:00am.

I did my best to shrug it off, to chalk it up to one of life’s little lessons about not getting everything we want and dusting ourselves off to go meet the next challenge head-on.  I told myself it was their misfortune that they won’t get to meet me, talk to me, see my passion for this field and my absolute perfection for this job.  I told myself that I couldn’t take it personally, because the person reviewing it has never met me or interacted with me in any capacity, so she couldn’t possibly be rejecting me–just an electronic file.  I’m doing my best to move past this, to think about all of the other opportunities that are out there for me that I’ll get to explore now that I know I won’t be tied to this one particular job.

It’s hard, and I’m struggling.  I’m not feeling very positive right now.  I could post about how unfair it is and how angry and sad I am, but what good would that do?  Would it help me?  Sure, everyone loves to vent a bit…  But, really, WOULD IT HELP ME?  Would my life be any better for complaining…  Or would it possibly be worse?

I’m not willing to take the chance that I could harm my outlook, my self-esteem, or my emotional well-being by focusing on the negative.  Nobody likes to be rejected, to be told no, or to miss out on their dream job…  But I have SO many dreams, and this was just one of them, and there are countless other ways to fulfill them.  There WILL be other jobs, and maybe others that seem somehow MORE perfect for me…  Down the road.

For now, I have to just push down those negative thoughts and try to drown them completely with a more positive spin.  That’s how I’m going to get through today, how I’m going to have a fantastic afternoon even after a tearful morning, and how I’m going to find the strength and courage to put myself out there the next time.  It’s not easy…  But it’s definitely worth it.

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15 Things You Should Give Up To Be Happy

When looking for happiness, people tend to focus on GETTING:  acquiring, earning, buying, creating.  I think this can sometimes lead to more frustration, because it can be very difficult to ascertain if we’re really getting what we think we want, and sometimes the getting takes too long, and we don’t notice the opportunities for happiness that occur in the meantime.

This article takes a slightly different approach:  things to cut out of your life in order to be happier.  It’s nothing you probably don’t already know on some level, but I found it helpful to read these things in simple, clear-cut terms.  It’s a lot easier to push aside these habits and enjoy the resulting happiness than it is to go out in search of happiness by pursuing things we may never get.  Give it a read!

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a child’s laughter

Yesterday, I unexpectedly picked up my daughter from school.  She typically rides the bus, and this was the first time in a very long time that I had been inside her classroom during normal class hours.  The teachers were just grouping up the kids to go out to the buses when I came in, and, as I was supposed to have a brief meeting with my child’s teacher, I waited with her in the classroom while they walked outside.

My daughter didn’t notice when I walked in.  She has, among her other disabilities and impairments, a significant visual impairment, so I wasn’t surprised that she didn’t see me come in.  As I approached her, I called her name.  She looked up in front of her, startled, and a look of confusion crept over her face.  I repeated her name, and the confusion melted into an enormous grin.  She quickly stood up and began shuffling around the edge of the table, trying to get to me.  As she drew close, she looked up toward me for the first time, and she looked into my face, and she laughed.  She reached up to me.  She was happy to see me.

This seems… so simple.  I know.  Believe me, I know!  But when your child is school aged and has only shown joy at seeing you once or twice in their lifetime…  It’s a beautiful moment, a memory to cherish.  And it’s a sign that she’s learning, growing, and developing. It’s a ray of hope.  It’s EVERYTHING.

Today, due to an unfortunate alarm clock mishap, I found myself taking her to school myself instead of putting her on the bus.  This was the very first time I had ever brought her to school, and I walked in tentatively, but as we got close to her classroom door, her tiny hand tightened on mine, and she began pulling.  She grinned and walked faster and faster until we reached the room, where she dropped my hand suddenly and laughed.  She was delighted to be there!  She looked around the room, from child to child, and her laughter rang out like a song.  Then she noticed a little boy with crayons, and she quickly made her way to the bucket of crayons and sat down to color.  She didn’t stop laughing the entire time I stood there.

My child isn’t like most children.  She doesn’t distinguish much between people beyond “mom” and “not mom”.  She will happily go with strangers.  She will walk out in front of cars because she doesn’t perceive danger.  She will reach for a hot pan on the stove because she doesn’t understand the concepts of “hot” or “no,” and because she doesn’t feel pain.  Despite being much older than two, she is just now reaching the “terrible twos” developmental stage where she has finally learned to have her own opinions, to defy, to test boundaries, and that there are things she isn’t supposed to do–and that it’s funny to do them!  She has never said “mommy” or “daddy,” and she can’t say “I love you.”  She doesn’t know the words for milk or tired or hug or food.  Doctors don’t have a term for her unique array of medical complications, and no one can predict what she may or may not be able to do in the years to come…  Or even how many years to come there might be.  We don’t know if she is likely to have a typical lifespan or if there’s some underlying genetic condition that might cause her body to fail at ten.  We don’t know if she’ll ever speak or understand language, if she’ll ever dress herself or climb stairs without a handrail or be able to write her name…  We just don’t know anything.

But when she laughs…  That’s when I get the only information I need:  she’s happy–right now.  Let tomorrow be what it will be, and let her laugh today.

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when someone else says it better

Some people think that posting other people’s works, even when giving full credit to the original author, is “stealing” or “cheating” at blogging.  (I particularly like the notion that you can cheat at blogging, which is an undefined sort of activity in the first place… Talk about looking for reasons to be upset, right?)

When I find that someone else has found a good way to express the thoughts that are swimming in my head, I see no reason not to share their work.

Today, through a series of links, I came across an article on successify.net, (which, admittedly, I have not explored beyond this single post at the time of writing this, so I am not endorsing the entire site, but simply uplifting this one article).  I thought it neatly summed up some of the mindset I am trying to promote and practice on this blog, so I thought I would share.  I am copying & pasting the text below in case this should be removed from the original sites in the future.

Fucarino, Chiara. (Oct 31 2012). 22 Things Happy People Do Differently. Retrieved from http://successify.net/2012/10/31/22-things-happy-people-do-differently on May 25 2013.

**NOTHING BELOW THIS LINE IS MY OWN WORK**

22 Things Happy People Do Differently

Posted: October 31, 2012 in AttitudeHappiness
Tags: 

This article is from Chiara Fucarino. Enjoy!

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to address those with clinical depression or other mental illnesses.

There are two types of people in the world: those who choose to be happy, and those who choose to be unhappy. Contrary to popular belief, happiness doesn’t come from fame, fortune, other people, or material possessions. Rather, it comes from within. The richest person in the world could be miserable while a person living in the slums of a third world country could be happy and content. I have spent plenty of time amongst both groups to have seen it first hand. Happy people are happy because they make themselves happy. They maintain a positive outlook on life and remain at peace with themselves.

The question is: how do they do that?

It’s quite simple. Happy people have good habits that enhance their lives. They do things differently. Ask any happy person, and they will tell you that they …

1. Don’t hold grudges.

Happy people understand that it’s better to forgive and forget than to let their negative feelings crowd out their positive feelings. Holding a grudge has a lot of detrimental effects on your wellbeing, including increased depression, anxiety, and stress. Why let anyone who has wronged you have power over you? If you let go of all your grudges, you’ll gain a clear conscience and enough energy to enjoy the good things in life.

2. Treat everyone with kindness.

Did you know that it has been scientifically proven that being kind makes you happier? Every time you perform a selfless act, your brain produces serotonin, a hormone that eases tension and lifts your spirits. Not only that, but treating people with love, dignity, and respect also allows you to build stronger relationships.

3. See problems as challenges.

The word “problem” is never part of a happy person’s vocabulary. A problem is viewed as a drawback, a struggle, or an unstable situation while a challenge is viewed as something positive like an opportunity, a task, or a dare. Whenever you face an obstacle, try looking at it as a challenge.

4. Express gratitude for what they already have.

There’s a popular saying that goes something like this: “The happiest people don’t have the best of everything; they just make the best of everything they have.” You will have a deeper sense of contentment if you count your blessings instead of yearning for what you don’t have.

5. Dream big.

People who get into the habit of dreaming big are more likely to accomplish their goals than those who don’t. If you dare to dream big, your mind will put itself in a focused and positive state.

6. Don’t sweat the small stuff.

Happy people ask themselves, “Will this problem matter a year from now?” They understand that life’s too short to get worked up over trivial situations. Letting things roll off your back will definitely put you at ease to enjoy the more important things in life.

7. Speak well of others.

Being nice feels better than being mean. As fun as gossiping is, it usually leaves you feeling guilty and resentful. Saying nice things about other people encourages you to think positive, non-judgmental thoughts.

8. Never make excuses.

Benjamin Franklin once said, “He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.” Happy people don’t make excuses or blame others for their own failures in life. Instead, they own up to their mistakes and, by doing so, they proactively try to change for the better.

9. Get absorbed into the present.

Happy people don’t dwell on the past or worry about the future. They savor the present. They let themselves get immersed in whatever they’re doing at the moment. Stop and smell the roses.

10. Wake up at the same time every morning.

Have you noticed that a lot of successful people tend to be early risers? Waking up at the same time every morning stabilizes your circadian rhythm, increases productivity, and puts you in a calm and centered state.

11. Avoid social comparison.

Everyone works at his own pace, so why compare yourself to others? If you think you’re better than someone else, you gain an unhealthy sense of superiority. If you think someone else is better than you, you end up feeling bad about yourself. You’ll be happier if you focus on your own progress and praise others on theirs.

12. Choose friends wisely.

Misery loves company. That’s why it’s important to surround yourself with optimistic people who will encourage you to achieve your goals. The more positive energy you have around you, the better you will feel about yourself.

13. Never seek approval from others.

Happy people don’t care what others think of them. They follow their own hearts without letting naysayers discourage them. They understand that it’s impossible to please everyone. Listen to what people have to say, but never seek anyone’s approval but your own.

14. Take the time to listen.

Talk less; listen more. Listening keeps your mind open to others’ wisdoms and outlooks on the world. The more intensely you listen, the quieter your mind gets, and the more content you feel.

15. Nurture social relationships.

A lonely person is a miserable person. Happy people understand how important it is to have strong, healthy relationships. Always take the time to see and talk to your family, friends, or significant other.

16. Meditate.

Meditating silences your mind and helps you find inner peace. You don’t have to be a zen master to pull it off. Happy people know how to silence their minds anywhere and anytime they need to calm their nerves.

17. Eat well.

Junk food makes you sluggish, and it’s difficult to be happy when you’re in that kind of state. Everything you eat directly affects your body’s ability to produce hormones, which will dictate your moods, energy, and mental focus. Be sure to eat foods that will keep your mind and body in good shape.

18. Exercise.

Studies have shown that exercise raises happiness levels just as much as Zoloft does. Exercising also boosts your self-esteem and gives you a higher sense of self-accomplishment.

19. Live minimally.

Happy people rarely keep clutter around the house because they know that extra belongings weigh them down and make them feel overwhelmed and stressed out. Some studies have concluded that Europeans are a lot happier than Americans are, which is interesting because they live in smaller homes, drive simpler cars, and own fewer items.

20. Tell the truth.

Get the book that will help you add these habits to your life!

Lying stresses you out, corrodes your self-esteem, and makes you unlikeable. The truth will set you free. Being honest improves your mental health and builds others’ trust in you. Always be truthful, and never apologize for it.

21. Establish personal control.

Happy people have the ability to choose their own destinies. They don’t let others tell them how they should live their lives. Being in complete control of one’s own life brings positive feelings and a great sense of self-worth.

22. Accept what cannot be changed.

Once you accept the fact that life is not fair, you’ll be more at peace with yourself. Instead of obsessing over how unfair life is, just focus on what you can control and change it for the better.

Here’s the link to the blog where I found this information: 22 Things Happy People Do Differently.

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looking back

I’ve presented fargazing as looking ahead, but I neglected to address looking back…

It’s not a bad thing to look back.  People act like it is, like looking to the past means dwelling over past heartaches or what we’ve lost, but looking to the past is remembering where we come from.  It’s remembering where we’ve been!  Remembering those we loved once upon a time, the dreams we once chased, the lives we once led.

Yes, looking back CAN mean hurting, missing, and even regretting…  But fargazing is all about CHOOSING happiness–even when remembering times we didn’t have it.

Today, a song heard by chance triggered a series of memories that resulted in me looking up my first boyfriend.  We stayed friendly after we broke up, and we met up a few times over the next few years, but we lost touch almost a decade ago.  I sent him a friend request on facebook a long while back–so long that I had forgotten doing so–that he hasn’t accepted.  I don’t know if he doesn’t see it, if he doesn’t want to resume contact, if his new bride doesn’t want him to resume contact…  Doesn’t matter, really.  One of the benefits of the internet is that we can gain access to enough information to satisfy curiosity, even without participation from the other party.  So I looked him up…

I saw a wedding picture, and they both looked beautiful and happy.  I saw a link to a newspaper article about some of his professional successes.  I saw a video clip of him putting his talents and passions to great use and sharing them with others in the most wonderful of ways.  I saw that he was happy; that’s all I wanted to know.  I am overjoyed.

I loved him very dearly a very long time ago, and I wanted the very best for him in this world.  We went our separate ways, and there was pain and unkindness and damage on both sides, but we moved on.  Now, I only think of him once in a great while, and it is always with fondness, and I always wish him life, love, and peace.  I am so grateful to see that he has that.

In looking back, though, I didn’t just think of him…  I also thought of me.  The girl that I was, the hopes and dreams that drove me, and the devotion I had to making those dreams my reality.  Somewhere along the way, I have lost some of that drive and devotion.  I let “life” interfere with my dreams.  Some no longer apply–at least, not in the same manner they once did–but others persist, half-forgotten, but still buried in my psyche.  Those can be reawakened simply by remembering, and they can be realized by picking back up where I left off and reclaiming them.

I looked back, and I brushed aside the negativity, focusing solely on the good.  I looked back, and I found pieces of myself that I had misplaced along the way.  I looked back, and I was inspired to move forward…

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i will remember

Moore, Oklahoma:  Unfortunate site of yet another tragic tornado.  The loss of homes, lives,  multiple schools, and even the hospital have made headlines and touched hearts around the nation, but none of us who are a safe distance away can truly grasp the horrors faced by those who live and love in Moore and the surrounding areas.

Oklahomans talk with reverence of the May 3rd tornado (1999).  May 20th will undoubtedly share that notoriety.  So many lives lost, so much destruction–perhaps the worst tornado ever recorded, some are speculating.  The images of the debris, the heartwrenching stories of lives lost…

I remember living in Tornado Alley and being gripped with fear when the sky turned greenish-grey or when the sirens sounded.  I remember driving through the aftermath of one of the bigger tornadoes in recent years and feeling like my heart would stop right then, just seeing the horrors that people had miraculously survived.

Oklahoma, you are strong–you have proven this time and again.  You are wonderful, loving, and always come together in the face of adversity, whether that be natural disasters or acts of terrorism.  Already, everyone is pitching in to clean up, to house the now-homeless, to provide free medical care and food and water…  People are traveling in from all over the country to help (many, of course, displaced Oklahomans returning to their homeland).  You will rise above, as you always do, and you will flourish.

In a year, no one will see any sign of the hell that rained down on you this summer…

But I will remember.

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in a few short hours…

in a few short hours...

A simple before and after of a cul-de-sac in Moore, Oklahoma, both taken yesterday–a few minutes before the storm hit, and a short while after it was safe to emerge.

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