This Is What Taught Me How and Why I Needed To Become The Leader Of My Own Life

anxiety, bipolar, courage, depression, empathetic, featured, inspiration, life changing, lifestyle, mental health, Motivation, New Year Resolutions, personal development, personal growth, self belief, self care, strength, transformation, your story

DSC_0008 (1)Last year around this time, I reflected hard on my year of decisions and memories in 2017 to create a promising vision for 2018 and even hosted a mini party with my sister to create this vision board. I saw that board every morning on the way out the front door. Sometimes it kept me in alignment with the best version of myself, it inspired me. Sometimes I’d blow it off or completely fly by it when we were running out the door.  Either way, it was the first time in a long time that I shifted my habits and did something outside my comfort zone, like holding myself accountable to take action. And to think that this tiny step in holding myself accountable in a fun, creative way (like making vision boards, crafting…)  was just practice for what 2018 had in store for me.

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I’ve had some major shifts in my life, I’m sure you’ve had years like this before too.  They kind of sting and at the same time, provide you with this confidence and deep inner strength that you didn’t know existed before, right? Well, that feeling is what I grew into (or should I say grew from) over the last 350+ days.  Nearly a full year and trip around the sun.
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From the feeling of losing my mind and being petrified that I’d never come back to reality to the epiphany of seeing the larger picture in life and ultimately understanding my mind more, understanding me better. From so many “this is a first” experiences like car crashes, new friends, home invasions, loss of friendships, pregnancy… to the new endeavors, vacations, and adventures that came like planned.   Life keeps shifting as soon as it was about to get comfortable and for the most part, I actually didn’t mind it.

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It was one of the hardest years, I can’t even try to deny that. But it was also so rewarding all at once. It was constant noise, movement, and change and yet I still feel so content, calm and empowered by the end of each hardship or adventure. In summary, 2018 has led me to live my life incorporating one of the many new lessons that I learned. One important one, which is this simple truth:

Life will not always go as planned, fact number one.
Life will not always go your way, fact number two. 
The way you deal with life’s uncertainty is your choice, fact number three.

You will realize when you become the leader of your life that:

1) you’re going to be okay, one way or another during life’s uncertainty

OR

2) life is going to go even better than planned; either by chance or because you have an opportunity to make it better.

I share this because it’s taught me how to battle through the deepest depths of my mental illnesses. It’s helped me step outside my comfort zone and experience growth in such big ways. It’s helped me find like-minded people that help me grow, pushing me to become better. It’s helped me finally take action towards making some of my goals come to life and ultimately, it taught me to be the leader I needed to be in my own life. None of this would’ve been possible without realizing the power of being optimistic, empathetic and positive.  Being positive is much more than presenting a happy face to the world: you need to develop a strong sense of balance and recognize that setbacks and problems happen – it’s how you deal with those problems that make the difference.

eb1cb2a2f74b68c91811ca20c7962b29I hope this year has been easier for you in the sense of hardships or setbacks, but I also hope you had the chance to live the life you envision living and stepping into the blueprint you have for yourself, which requires uncomfortable moments and vulnerability. I believe everyone is capable of extraordinary things and each of us has unique skill sets that set us apart from each other. I hope that in some way, shape or form: you realized that you play a significant part in your life story. Life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we respond. It might not always feel like that, but when we become the leaders of our life instead of letting life lead us wherever it wants; we will learn to grow through the pain, not just go through it. On the other side, you’ll see a remarkable, courageous, strong and significant person standing in the mirror that realizes you are capable of anything you put your mind too. 

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Finding the Miracles in the Mess: Reflecting back on the lessons I’ve learned as the New Year begins.

Avoiding Small Talk., life, New Year Resolutions

Hello and I hope your 2018 is off to a great start.

If your social media sites are anything like mine, every year we see people setting New Years Resolutions and then you’ll see some people claiming how bogus it is to set a “resolution” and ‘expect your life to change overnight’. While I can see where the second half of the people are coming from; that we have 365 days a year to make changes and grow in our life… I also am always very proud and excited to see people voice their New Year Resolutions. After all, I feel it’s not right to judge someone for their motivation to choose the first of the year to make new goals, habits and changes in their life. It’s a start.

Personally, I love New Year Resolutions (even though I try my best to take extra opportunities as often as possible to grow or learn). However… I think personally that there’s something exciting about a fresh start and a new year that is extra motivating to create a vision for how you want to live the next year.

As I was listening to a message by James Silvas (more about him on the page, “INSPIRATION”),  he made such a great point I had never heard before. Sometimes we continue to move forward and make more and more goals to change instead of reflecting on what we learned and what occurred throughout the year that just ended. Not that it’s bad to make a list of new goals, but you might be more successful at achieving those new goals and NY Resolutions if you reflect back on what worked and what didn’t work.

So, I took his advice and recapped the most important lessons I learned in 2017 (and 2016… the roughest years of my life).  This year was the first year I reflected back on the past year when making NY Resolutions & I’ll admit, it was pretty insightful, but emotional. Than I created a vision board for 2018. Something that simply reminds me everyday what I’m working towards.

I titled this blog “Miracles in the Mess” because Life is Hard, as I mentioned in my last post. So this post I’ll continue to challenge myself and be honest and vulnerable. I reflected through the experiences and messes that I have learned throughout past years.

And here is what I came up with as some of the most important lessons I have learned:

You can’ change the circumstances that happen, but you can change your perspective on how you view it. 
Related imageLife has a way of throwing so much at you when it feels like you have your plate filled, am I right? For example, in 2016, my Grandmother whom I view as my always there, most inspiring, parental figure; was diagnosed with a terminal disease right after she retired. It threw me into the deepest depression of my life. I’ve never had to grieve anyone thankfully, but to know that a woman who had a bucket list of items on her Retirement list would never get to accomplish them made me so spiteful. I blamed God for a few months and stopped going to church. I sat around my house for months and didn’t want to hangout with anyone. I was so mad and sad that I had no control over the circumstances in my life so I sought out my counselor’s advice. Her advice was change my attitude about the situation; Since I can’t control it, think of the time I still have and make the most of it which is why I feel strongly that every day is a gift.

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Building the “Healing Garden” with my son after the Mass Shooting in Las Vegas.

Another example of this lesson learned was The October 1st incident when a mass shooting occurred and my best friends and many loved ones were at the concert it occurred at. It affected me (and I wasn’t even at the concert or directly involved), but it affected me because it affected my loved ones so much and my community so much. I couldn’t control anything surrounding this inhuman act of terror. I couldn’t make their loved ones come back or help in the way I wanted too so I felt heartache for months. This was a great example of how my attitude and motto, “Every day is a gift” taught me to change my perspective about the negative circumstances that get thrown our way in life. I couldn’t help give the family answers, I don’t have money to donate to all the people affected like I wanted to, I couldn’t take their pain away (it was physically impossible, unfortunately); but I decided to focus on what I could do to help. Like, taking my son and getting involved in building the “Healing Garden” dedicated to the victims and survivors. I took the initiative to create a “Vegas Strong” motivational shirt that over 100 people bought. Although it’s a small gesture, it was one way I could help at the time. It was something I felt I had to do, something I could do and it was a great example of how my attitude was very much influential in staying positive about such an awful situation. The lesson of learning to change my perspective when I can’t change the circumstances prevented  me from going into depression like I usually do over circumstances I can’t control.

Your story, told by you, is ALL THAT MATTERS!
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I learned last year that people will judge me, anyway. They won’t like me, anyway. I can change everything about me to make certain people happy only to have another group of people judge me and not like the changes I made.  It frustrated me a lot last year on a few separate occasions. People misconstrued my intentions and I felt like many people told my story for me, instead of hearing it from me. I felt like nobody was listening because so many people were quick to speak and slow to listen. Than it finally sunk in; I don’t have to prove anything to anyone else, but myself. Ultimately, God knows the truth. If someone wants to make things up, I have no control over that. If someone doesn’t like me, I have no control over that. What I can control is that my story, told by me and that’s what matters most. If you don’t write your own story than people will write it for you. The miracle in these messes is that I learned I need to understand everyone is different and if people want to criticize us, than let them. That’s their story, not ours. I know it’s easier said than done. Sometimes a phrase lands in your soul with such weight it leaves the deepest impression. I use to collect these phrases like people collect stamps. However, I realized these words were so personally necessary for me. Negative self-talk was a rejection from my past that I had allowed to settle into my core.  Rejection steals the best of who I am by reinforcing the worst of what’s been said to me. I’ve made progress in this area, but I still have work to do. What I believe now is that the beliefs I hold should hold me up even when life is feeling like it’s falling apart and people’s opinions about me doesn’t need to be a part of my beliefs.

Boundaries are not important, they’re critical to have.
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I believe this quote says it all. I know from experience that I’ve let a few people disrespect me in my life far too long and it wasn’t their fault, it was mine because I didn’t know how to set boundaries or keep them once I tried to set them. Eventually though, I learned takers will take and take from you as long as you give and I learned that because of personal and professional situations. I joined a 12-step woman studies whom I met with every Tuesday for 9 months. These women helped me go through denial (things I was in denial about or just never thought about), I worked on personal inventory for 3 months where I had to reflect on my past and every hurt, habit or hang up I had. After sharing inventory, the woman who guided me closely through the program, helped me identify some character defects I had. One happen to be, setting boundaries. A lot of the messes I went through was because I didn’t know how to set clear and personal boundaries. I learned that boundaries are the key to ensuring relationships are mutually respectful, supportive and caring. I slowly started setting boundaries in every area of my life and I was able to learn who I needed to set boundaries with. I learned that boundaries set the limits for acceptable behavior from those around you, determining whether they feel able to put you down, make fun, or take advantage of your good nature. I still have so much work to do in this area so on my 2018 Vision Board I have “Setting Boundaries” near the top of my list.

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The outline of 2018 goals on our family Vision Board!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

F.L.Y- First Love Yourself.
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This year my anxiety was pretty bad. I had frequent panic attacks and struggled daily to ignore the anxiety. One thing I always considered a strength of mine is feeling a responsibility to help others, including strangers; But at one point,I realized it was draining me emotionally, physically and spiritually. That’s when I learned my lesson in this mess.  A good friend told me this analogy that I’ve remembered as I’ve journeyed and focused on learning how to First Love… Myself. The quote was, “You can’t help others if you’re pouring into others from an empty cup and at some point, you’ll be that empty cup“. It was such a good analogy. I love being able to help people and be someone people can rely on, but I don’ know many people who can help people if they’ve depleted them self. I had to realize this year the importance of self-love. I started creating positive mantras that I have posted on my mirror. I read two great books about the importance of self-love. I started finding time again for my hobbies and things I love to do. I learned to play piano again, I started crafting again.  These small changes in my life led me back to a manageable state of anxiety. More importantly, it taught me about the importance of loving yourself, first.

Let. It. Go.
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I was either focused on living in the future or living in the past throughout 2016 and some of 2017. While therapy was helpful to get me to work on my PTSD, learning the art of letting go was one of the biggest miracles that happen out of the messes over the last few years.  I learned if I’m consumed in the future or the past, than I’m missing the most precious moments in life which exists in the present. In addition, I learned by accepting what is and letting go of what was. This at times meant letting go of unhealthy friendships or accepting how people are, even if it bothered me, and letting what they say/how they act/etc…go. After all, they can write their story however they’d like. Their story is not my story so I can let it go, easily. For me though, I think life is too short to worry about things that I can simply let go of. Instead I need to focus on positive things and stay grateful for whom I don’t have to let go of.

My main goal as a mother is to raise a child who
doesn’t 
need to recover from his childhood. Image result for parenting quotes
My childhood was far from perfect. After all, whose is? However, ever since I’ve been 18, I’ve had to retrain my brain to unlearn a lot of the things I thought were normal. When I became a parent, I was determined to break the cycle of insanity that existed on both sides of my family: anger, addictions, lack of unconditional love (just to name a few). I started reading parenting blogs and books while I was pregnant and then my son was born and I soon realized there is no how-to-parent manual for the unique children that come into the world. I learned through the messes of my childhood the importance of raising my child as best as I could, making it my top priority and consistently reminding myself the huge responsibility that I have as a mom; I can’t take breaks from parenting or call in sick. My child is so spontaneous. He will say “hello” to all the strangers in a store and I watch the Seniors smile. He is rambunctious and I swear I think he will be a comedian when he grows up; but Jeff and I firmly believe that we will parent in a way that doesn’t suppress his personality. We want him to shine bright. I don’t want to set limits on his amazing and unique personality. For example, he will dance in front of anyone (School parades, at our church with hundreds of people, in the grocery store).  Of course, we will teach him responsibility, respect, compassion, honesty, etc. However, I don’t want to be the parent that screams over the mess in the house; instead I’ll look at it like we were building memories. I don’t want to be the mom that molds my child into being the good child, when I have one right in front of me. I’ve told him I want him to try his best in school, but I don’t care if he is the smartest kid in class; its most important to be kind. I also noticed because we showed him so much affection as a young child, he has grown up to be a sensitive little boy who expresses when his feelings are hurt and reminds me when I’ve said something I shouldn’t……. So clearly I’m not a perfect parent and I’ll make more mistakes than I already have. However, learning about my mental illnesses and how most of them stemmed from my environment as a child; I make it a top priority that my child (and future children) will not have to recover from their childhood.

Making mistakes is better than faking perfection.Image result for mistake quotes
If you are anything like the old me, I hated when I made mistakes. I had this unrealistic expectation that I could be perfect at almost everything (I laugh looking back at this view now). Mistakes mean you are trying. Mistakes mean you took a chance and now you can learn something new. I’m the type of person that doesn’t need to be reprimanded at work when I make mistakes, I’ll recognize the impact the mistakes had with unspoken words and I’ll learn the lesson that I think is the take away.  Sometimes though, mistakes can be made on a larger and more serious scale. For example, I know people who have addictions and have relapsed. I know someone who died from the mistake of overdosing because he made the mistake of relapsing on drugs. I’ve made mistakes. I’ve hurt people. I’ve tried and I’ve failed at things that meant a lot to me. I’m not proud of the mistakes I’ve made, but I’m grateful for them because they’ve led me to this point in my life where I am right now; they’ve led me to be who I am today.  

So after reflecting on emotional and hard lessons I learned by reflecting on the messy situations and experiences of the last two years, I discovered what worked and what didn’t. This year, I set NY Resolutions and put them on a Vision Board.

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My sister and I had a “Vision Board” party last night with her boyfriend and my husband.  My Vision Board is hanging in the living room as a simple, but significant reminder of everything Jeff and I want to stay focused on
So if you haven’t done this before, I’d highly encourage you to reflect on your past. Maybe have fun with it, invite loved ones over and consider creating a Vision Board so you don’t just have ideas that might not ever come to fruition, but you have a better chance at holding yourself accountable and see your dreams come true.

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The family Vision Board in the Living Room

(PS. If you create a Vision Board, share it! I love seeing other people’s vision boards and NY Resolutions). 

Wishing you all a healthy, happy year; full of continued growth and full of chasing and accomplishing your dreams!
Till next time,
XO. Carrie