Count Your Blessings

By June Headley-Greenlaw

This blog may start out dark but stick with me.  I see so many people allowing negativity to consume them.  However, I’ve also been blessed to witness people going through devastating times and maintaining positivity throughout.  I wanted to use this blog to encourage readers to seriously consider their circumstances and what alternatives could be. pooh quote

Do you have a child that has never and will never be able to walk or talk or feed themselves or give you a hug?  I am blessed not to have encountered this in my life, but I have a cousin that has experienced this for 22 years with her son.  She could have chosen to put him into a long-term care facility, but she did not.  Her son is front and center in her life daily and she still finds ways to enjoy life and smile.  She inspires me!

Do you have cancer or are you watching someone in your family suffer from this devastating disease?  I am blessed to have avoided this diagnosis, but I have known many people fighting through this challenge.  Some lost their battle and others are still in the fight.  I have learned so much from the people facing this struggle as well as the people that have cared for them.  They have all inspired me!

Are you homeless or jobless or worried about where your next meal will come from?  I am blessed not to be in these situations, but I have met people that have been in all of them.  When I taught U101 at the University, I used to do a group community service day with all my students each semester.  We would visit places like the Salvation Army where homeless people could stay for a night or get a hot meal.  We did projects like painting rooms, serving food, etc.  We would always end our day with someone who was dependent on those services telling us their story.  Those people inspired me!

My point in mentioning all of these things is to ask you to think about all of these people and their situations as you go through your daily life.  Try not to allow yourself to get mired in negativity, but instead, tell yourself that there are many people going through much tougher times, and count your blessings.

quote 1I hope that most people who know me would say I’m a pretty positive person.  I tell myself I’m only limited by my willingness to work toward what I want or need in life and I play that on loop in my head always.  I take responsibility for my actions, and I understand that I am where I am each day only because of the choices I have made.  Well, that’s mostly the case.  There was never a chance of me playing professional basketball at 5 feet nothing!  I pray daily for those less fortunate and I thank God for all that He has given me.

I have found that a positive attitude can carry you through anything.  It may not make the outcome of your challenge what you hoped, but it may keep you from sinking into the doldrums of depression.  Give it a try.  Remember, your track record for getting through tough times is 100% so far.

We’re Only Human

By Shannon Boatwright

Is it ok to sometimes be sad? Is it ok to just cry? Cry because your heart hurts and you need to release the emotions? Is it ok to be mad? Are you sometimes mad at the world and want to throw your own private hissy fit? Absolutely. YES. YES. And, scream it with me, YES!

It’s completely natural to have these moments. We are human after all.

Why am I sharing the above? Well, I tend to be what I call a “Positivity Promoter”. I’m all about positive thinking and positive thoughts leading to everything from success to healing, on all levels. I am a huge user and promoter of the power of imagination and when used in a positive way, I truly do believe that you can genuinely create positive things in your life – whether by simply generating creativity, or actually creating your own success and/or healing with the power of positive thinking and visualization.Its Ok

BUT, and yes, this is an BIG “but”,… sometimes it’s flat out necessary to feel the human emotion of sadness, hurt, anger…Like I said before, we are human after all. Anyone who attempts to be a force of positivity in every single moment, is, well, going to fail. And that’s actually not a bad thing. We need to have our moments of sadness. We need to have our moments of pain. We need to have our moments of anger. Do we want a lot of those moments? Absolutely NOT. But the reality is, it’s a natural part of life to experience pain, hurt, anger and loss. A harsh reality that so very many of us wish that we could change.

The reality also though, is that it’s those moments of sadness, hurt, and anger that help us cling to the positive; to grasp hold of faith, love, kindness, generosity, and goodness – that positive nature that gives us hope. We may not achieve understanding or acceptance, but we gain hope amongst the hurt. The positivity rejuvenates us, fills our hearts with what I’d like to think of as literal smiles… actual happiness.

We are all such unique, special, outstanding individuals. Personal happiness is defined differently within each of us. As well as sadness and hurt – we all experience these emotions in different ways, we handle them in different ways. As humans we are so incredibly beautiful in our own, precious individual ways on the outside physically. And on the inside, physically, we are the same, we have the same parts no matter what our exterior color, size, etc, etc, etc. BUT, we all feel differently, in outstanding, unique ways on the inside. There is no exact equation for how everyone experiences emotion and handles the stresses of life.

So, why is a “Positivity Promoter”, who typically tries to spread rays of sunshine and smiles to all those around her at all times, even daring to speak of recognizing the negative emotions of life? Well, I’ve always delved into the world of harsh emotions – I mean, it really is an inevitable part of human nature. Only those close to you typically will ever have an inkling that you are a real person living in this all too real and harsh world, a person that indeed faces negativity and actually experiences it too, sometimes on a daily level. Some of us are really good at hiding the unhappiness. Especially in today’s world in which people promote themselves on social media as having the perfect, photo-shopped lives. Most of us only post our beauty and happy moments. Naturally. And thankfully. We can only handle so much negativity. Think about how many times you see someone post on Facebook, “I can’t handle all the terrible negativity with people’s posts. I’m taking a hiatus from Facebook. See ya.” I personally see it A LOT. And, hey, I don’t blame them. The negativity and nonsense can get terribly overwhelming and next thing you know, you’re in an awful depression and the really bad stuff isn’t even directly affecting your life. It’s a crazy thing.

Honestly, I think as I’ve entered my 40s – note I said, “entered”! – my emotions have taken a turn for what I think I’ll call, the realistic. At this point in my lifetime, in my maturity, in my struggle/battle and constant adventure to create success, happiness and share my talents, I also feel more…on a real level. Let’s face it, the older you get, the more you experience reality – all the real and pure realities of this consistently challenging life. And most unfortunately, as us women get older, our hormones seem to take us on a tormenting roller coaster ride that feels like a joy ride one second and a death defying, catastrophic plane crash the next second. On any given day, I can be facing depression straight in its ugly face, all the while trying my very best to combat it at every turn, feeling beaten down by the world, it’s hardships, feeling ugly, chubby, not worthy, you name it…all the while, granted, I will do my absolute damnedest to hide it, to overcome it. I’m aware of it, I know better, I know my worth, I believe in myself, I know I can combat the negative emotions…, but daggomit it’s just hard sometimes. And sometimes you just need to be sad, you just need to cry, you just need to be angry. Then, the flip side, I can wake up the very next day and be thankfully full of strength and thankfulness. It’s a glorious thing to feel this way – to be truly full of positivity and feel it to your core, a gratefulness for the recognition of positivity despite all the negative nonsense that we could allow to overcome us.

 

And there it is. See, I fortunately have the ability to overcome the negative moments, for now at least. Others aren’t so capable. Their genetic make-up doesn’t allow them to reach for the positivity or come out of the negativity like a so called “normal” human being. I’m incredibly blessed that I do not have to rely on medicine to help level me out and allow me to think and rationalize clearly. I personally feel blessed to have the ability to recognize when I’m experiencing any negative emotions, I know I have the ability to pull myself out of it. I know the sadness, hurt and anger will pass. Some of those emotions are always there due to life experiences, but they help me to be stronger, help me to recognize the power of the positive in my life.

The following excerpt is from a piece Time Magazine posted. This article is what really got me thinking and helped me to gain an acceptance of the fact that it’s ok to experience ALL emotions and that I do not have to be positive all the time.

“Overemphasis on positive emotions denies the key role negative emotions play in our human experience. Negative emotions serve important functions in that they motivate us to take action or help us give up on goals that are no longer tenable. There is also evidence that experiencing a range of emotions, both positive and negative, has beneficial health consequences, including longer life.

Instead of empowering people to exercise what control they may have, we end up blaming them if they aren’t able to dig themselves out of a difficult situation, and this adds to their stress rather than lessening it. Perhaps most dangerous, by placing the onus on the individual to think positive thoughts to simply feel better about their situation, we neglect the importance of working to change the social or institutional causes of the stress which may perpetuate the systems of oppression, discrimination, or inequality that caused the epidemic of stress in the first place.

But we should not throw the positive emotion baby out with the positivity bathwater. There is, after all, mounting evidence that positive emotions are associated with a host of beneficial outcomes, including better health and longer life. In my research, our goal is to help people learn ways to experience more positive emotion on a daily basis even when life is stressful — not banishing negative experiences or emotions.

My lab is not the only one doing this kind of work. Dr. Jeff Huffman and his colleagues at Harvard and Massachusetts General Hospital are finding that a program that teaches cardiac in-patients skills for increasing positive emotion shows promise for improving not only well-being, but also physical activity, a key health behavior for people recovering from acute coronary events.

Moreover, making space for positive emotions alongside the negative supports more effective coping and may provide us with the capacity to take on the bigger structural issues that cause stress.”

(from Emotions Expert: It’s Impossible to be Constantly Positive. Try This Instead by Judith K. Moskowitz, June 5, 2018, http://time.com/5300649/positivity-professor/)

So is it ok to be sad sometimes and want to be ok with being sad and allowing yourself to cry? Absolutely. It’s a real part of surviving this life. Sometimes the hurt and anger help guide us to the answers or to the positive sides of life. It’s a very powerful, yin/yang kind of thing. One cannot, does not truly live this life without the other.

Light vs dark, human nature vs human events – Yin/Yang. It’s a fascinating concept.

I will continue to promote positivity, because I know and have experienced the beautiful side effects of thinking and believing in goodness and greatness. But, on the flip side, I will allow myself to feel…to feel sadness, to feel hurt, to feel anger. I will do my best to stay in control of those emotions and to always learn from them, gain strength from them and gain relief from the release that they can provide to my all too human body that feels all and at every turn attempts to survive.

Allow yourself to feel and learn from your feelings. You can grow strength, relief and understanding from the natural emotions that your body is meant to experience. All this being said, allow yourself to be human. It’s ok. It really is.

 

Do You, Can You, Will You, Have a Sense of Freedom About You?

By Shannon Boatwright

 

“Every woman that finally figured out her worth, has picked up her suitcase of pride and boarded a flight to freedom, which landed in the valley of change.”

  • Shannon L. Alder

As we journey into a new year, I want us to start with as much confidence, hope and positivity that we can grasp hold of. Ironically, as I write this blog entry, I’m quite honestly not feeling very confident and actually have a hint of depression with a side of insecurity. I’m aware of my worth, my skills, my talents & most importantly, my blessings. At my core, I know I’ve got this. Yet, in this moment, I’m hesitant and leery of starting a new year, one that will bring an incredibly busy rest of the school year (one in which just the thought tends to overwhelm me.) This past year there were people I’d hoped to reconnect with, things I would’ve liked to accomplish personally and adventures I wanted to experience with my kids. I have a birthday coming soon and I’m not doing so well with this whole getting older thing. Any woman reading this entry I’m sure will feel me on the issue of dealing with getting older. Though I love the getting wiser part, the physical aging part of the equation certainly has its moments.

That being said, I decided to share the quote above because, well, I think it’s fabulous. I’m a fan of actress and rocker, Juliette Lewis and she recently posted this quote on her Instagram. She’s a firecracker of positivity and I think she rocks. So, in my moment of feeling a bit down, this quote was what I needed.

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Have you ever noticed that in your moments of strength and positivity – you know, those times when your confidence is actually at a healthy level – that you indeed have a sense of freedom about you? Yea, those moments are lovely. It’s in those moments that we’re willing to reach for our own positive change, better directions and ultimately create the change that makes a better YOU. And those moments are moments I think we should experience more of!

In light of a crazy past year, let’s look forward in this beautiful future we have the privilege of living, and live it with an air of total confidence, recognizing our worth, taking pride in our many talents, ready at every moment to celebrate our freedom to accept that the fact is, we totally rock.

The sooner we can see that, recognize that and accept that, the sooner we can create it. No matter what your age, range, size or level in life, take pride in your skills & your goddess beauty, inside and out. Freedom awaits. 🙂

 

How Do You Stay Inspired?

By: Shannon Boatwright

Stay Inspired

“Stay Inspired

It takes work to stay inspired in life. Negative people, experiences, and circumstances can easily get us off course, disconnected and off center. There is, however, always a path back to the positive, back to being inspired. Always have something to read that inspires you with you at all times, talk to those who love you to get you back on track, and the magical cure is to work hard in your own life and on yourself until you feel better. Negative times in life pass through. They come and they go. If they stay for too long, then there is something missing on your end. Focus forward, focus inward, set new goals, let go of the past and focus on what you can do today to make your life better. There is always something you can do to make your life better. The greatest attribute to apply to your off balance days is patience and faith. It will all pass, and things will be renewed again. Once you can accept where you are and you stop fighting it, the solutions you have been looking for will appear. As long as you are over focused on the negative and only thinking about how bad things are, the more you push your solutions away. Do all you can to stay inspired. Whatever works for you: church, exercise, writing, spending time with others, prayer, movie days, reading. Do it all and your luck will change.”

– Sherrie Campbell, PhD
http://www.sherriecampbellphd.com/

The above was shared by a Facebook friend. It has become my new mantra. I don’t personally know this beautiful lady, Dr. Campbell, but I’d like to. I can, without hesitation, say that I am very thankful to have come across this post. Like every human being, I go through ups and downs. Some days I am strong and full of faith and positivity. And other days, I struggle something fierce to keep my head above the heart-wrenching, suffocating waters of life. This short message from Sherrie truly embodies the ultimate survival guide, as far as I’m concerned. She manages to brilliantly say what I know in my heart, but all too often have a hard time accomplishing. Simply put, staying inspired can keep you on the positive and successful track of life. When I really think about it, I see how I do this already, without really knowing it. I will get overwhelmed with the stresses and negative forces in my life and there will be something that will inspire me, fill me up and help to rebuild my spirit, putting me back in a positive state of being. Whether it’s music, exercise, special moments with my angel babies, quality time with my true love, prayer, praise or affirmation of some sort from my students, co-workers, family, a quote, or lovely share like this one from Dr. Sherrie Campbell, that inspires me and fills my empty, aching spaces, reminding me of all the good there is to live for… whew… where would we be without these fulfilling moments?

Dr. Campbell is so incredibly right! We must stay inspired. Our inner wellbeing relies on it!
I love that she states to “focus forward, focus inward…let go of the past and focus on what you can do today to make your life better.” I read and reread her words above, and I believe it is now part of my anthem for a better life. Patience and faith are key. So as you grasp hold of that faith that you know is within you, as you’re having to reach through pain and/or grief, and you pull patience from your toes that you never knew you were capable of, remember to allow yourself to be inspired. Seek out those things in your life that provide priceless inspiration that begin to fill your heart and soul from the inside out and renew your inner workings that keep you full of the beautiful spirit of life and love. Stay inspired!

How do you keep a positive flow running through your life? What inspires you to open yourself to love, faith and success? Please share. We need all the inspiration we can get! 😉

Your Calling Doesn’t Have to be Grand (WHEW!)

By: Mary Pat Baldauf

higher purpose

If I’ve heard it once since recovering from my brain aneurysm, I’ve heard it 100 times and 100 different ways: “God isn’t done with you yet.” No one meant any harm, but it really put the pressure on me.

During rehab, someone innocently said, “You need to find out what God’s purpose is for you and work on fulfilling it.”

 

My reply? “Yep, you’re right. But right now I’m focusing on leaning how to walk again.”

As I continue to ponder my purpose, I was touched by Dr. Lissa Rankin‘s article recently featured by Positively Positive, which asserts the following:

  1. Every revolutionary act of love, even the smallest, most private action, raises the vibration of the planet and changes the world.
  2. Every time you let love lead, you are smack dab in the center of your purpose. It can be that simple.
  3. Sometimes one hug is all it takes to make a real difference.
  4. Anyone can find and fulfill his or her calling simply by doing whatever it is that you do with great love, from the heart, infused with meaning and kindness.
  5. It’s okay to let go of the “not enough” thoughts or the pressure to be grand.

I love that Rankin ended the article by encouraging us to use the Prayer of St Francis as we seek to be vessels of love in our own unique ways. I have since printed it out and used it as a morning prayer.