Thoughtful Thursday: Be The Change

Be the change you wish to see in the world

My life is about meeting and surpassing my own expectations. It is about embracing the change that results from the choices I make daily to do better than I did the day before. I am not competing with anyone, but myself. Each day that I awaken is not the same and brings along a multitude of opportunities for change within myself. There are many that choose to not consider change as a blessing in their lives. It is when I encounter those that are change-resistant that I end up telling myself this:

“What others say, think or feel doesn’t matter. YOU have the potential to create so go for it. By doing this, YOU will be the change that you eagerly wish to see in this world. ”

To inspire change in the lives of others, I must will to inspire change within my own.

As I reflect on this, my purpose here on earth is reaffirmed. I want to leave this world better than when I found it, leading quietly by example.

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Thoughtful Thursday: A Leap of Faith

In every facet of my life, I encounter fear. It gets the best of me.

As of late, I have been paralyzed with the fear of losing a dear friendship. This is a profoundly divine friendship with my big brother whom I visited daily and with whom I exchanged many thought-provoking conversations in the recent past. These everyday exchanges became somewhat of a normal routine for me and sometimes the only moments of solace that I would actually get to experience. Last month, I chose to leave the company for which we both worked. The thought of not being able to see my brother day after day was beyond disturbing but it was a truth that sooner or later I would need to accept. I feared that our friendship would soon dissipate if I did not do everything in my control to nurture it.

Control. This can get the best of me, too.

In my desire to control and maintain an atmosphere of our friendship similar to what it was like prior to my parting, I became irritated and perturbed when my methods of trying to connect with my brother failed.  As a result, I began to doubt my trust in him. My faith wavered when I noticed that our friendship was not continuing the way I would have hoped for it to. In the very few conversations I had with him over the last several weeks, I acted out of fear and anger as I sensed that he did not view the need for growing our friendship through my lens. And there I was, too weak and weary to even focus on my faith in God that he would make things right.

Last Sunday when my brother and I finally connected on the phone, he asked me to take what I would call a gigantic leap of faith – a leap that would mean fully accepting, believing and trusting that he cares about me and our friendship without having to demonstrate or prove it constantly. And that everything will all fall into its own place if there is faith. All I could think was this:

He was asking for too much. And NO way was I going to do that. How could I carry on patiently without knowing that he was okay? How could I be okay with not hearing from him daily when that is what I was accustomed to for so long? 

This was going to be a difficult leap and one that was way out of my comfort zone. Not knowing daily how my brother was doing or what was troubling him and not hearing his voice would require a tremendous amount of patience and courage on my part. I was just not ready for that leap; I was not ready to let go. As always, he was very considerate and did not impose any of his notions upon me. He gave me some time to think about whether or not I can take this leap. And he would still be content if I just could not.

At that point, I was in a state of utter confusion and deep introspection. Though I absolutely knew that taking this leap was the best course of action for the growth of our friendship, I questioned any faith that I had in myself. Did I value and love this friendship enough to take such a huge leap? Was there another life lesson to be learned from taking this leap? I could only pray to God diligently and ask him to lead my way.

Over the last few days as I pondered the choice to take the leap or not, I happened to attend one of the most unique and inspirational sessions presented by Cherie Cross on accepting and appreciating human differences as well as our own humanness. The key messages that I learned from this particular session were that people are not out to get you, that you should express your love to the people in your life and believe that they are doing the best with what they can and finally, that what they do or don’t do is NOT PERSONAL; it’s just their style!

Cherie ended the session with a very touching excerpt from Og Mandino’s book called The Greatest Salesman in the World:

I will greet this day with love in my heart.

For this is the greatest secret of success in all ventures. Muscle can split a shield and even destroy life but only the unseen power of love can open the hearts of men and until I master this art I will remain no more than a peddler in the market place. I will make love my greatest weapon and none on whom I call can defend against its force.

My reasoning they may counter; my speech they may distrust; my apparel they may disapprove; my face they may reject and even my bargains may cause them suspicion; yet my love will melt all hearts liken to the sun whose rays soften the coldest clay.

I will greet this day with love in my heart.

And how will I act? I will love all manners of men for each has qualities to be admired even though they be hidden. With love I will tear down the wall of suspicion and hate which they have built around their hearts and in its place will I build bridges so that my love may enter their souls.

I will greet this day with love in my heart.

And how will I confront each whom I meet? In only one way. In silence and to myself I will address him and say I Love You. Though spoken in silence these words will shine in my eyes, unwrinkle my brow, bring a smile to my lips and echo in my voice; and his heart will be opened. And who is there who will say nay to my goods when his heart feels my love?

I will greet this day with love, and I will suc­ceed.

Interestingly enough, just when Cherie stated the last line of this excerpt, I received a text message from my brother stating “I have faith that you will make it work.” I could not stop the tears from rolling down my cheeks. There are no coincidences in life, but rather signs that God has a way of revealing in the right place and at the right time, in His own time. My only thoughts at that moment were that I must let go of the fear that I have about our precious friendship dissolving and surrender to God’s love.

Love is a four-letter word but one so powerful that when offered with the goodness of your heart, it can change the world. I must act out of love for my brother and not in anger, desperation or a need to be right. It is NOT important for me to be right, but rather to get it right – to shower unconditional love in this friendship that will take it a long way, to be understanding of situations that warrant it, to refrain from taking his actions or inactions personally, to be forgiving when mistakes are made or when plans change and to completely trust him knowing that although he may not be able tend to my desires continually, that he really DOES care.

I presume that God is calling me to jump with all my heart and all my strength, and to have faith that He is already there on the other side waiting to catch me; that He will come through for me in the end.

So I eagerly wait to tell my brother this: “I, too, have faith that I will make it work.”

Welcoming 2012 With An Open Heart

I sat on my couch last night, drained from an eventful day anxiously awaiting 2011 to come to an end. As the 365th day of the year was waning, I heartily flipped through my recollections of 2011, reflecting on all of the remarkable manifestations that were revealed, the countless lessons that were learned and the big and bold dreams that were realized. My journey of compassionate self-awareness began around this time last year. I learned in many ways what I’m really made of. I conquered some fears. I tried and succeeded. And sometimes failed. I screamed and cried out loud as I let go of some of the angst and unpleasant events of my past. I made some very dear friends who did not let me forget how important it is to take care of “me”. I questioned some of my own beliefs and really searched hard for what I wanted — I still don’t have all the answers but I know they will come to me when the time is “right”. And I forgave so many in my life, including myself.

2011 was unlike any other years of my life. I felt as if I had lived my last 10 years in just that one year. If I were to encapsulate 2011 in three words, they would be: Struggle, Acceptance and Change.

Struggle. The year was full of internal and external struggles, all of which made me a better, stronger and braver person. While I felt defeated by my own emotions upon encountering several disheartening situations, I learned that struggle is a part of every person’s life. We just all experience it in different ways as we progress on our journey. With each struggle, I recognized the immense opportunities to grow and the many chances to develop my strengths so that I could in the end, celebrate the sweet successes of my life.

Acceptance. This was a tough one for me — a lesson that I probably would not have learned if it were not for a divine angel who appeared in my life not too long ago, my big brother. He often taught me through his experiences that one CAN unconditionally love and accept someone just the way they are despite their imperfections and the hurts that they may have caused. And that what I need to really focus on is the goodness within that person and the value that the person’s presence brings to my life.

I frequently found myself silently reciting my life-long mantra, The Serenity Prayer as I came across situations and people that were beyond my control. My efforts and energies were wasted many times in an attempt to understand why certain people are the way they are — trying to make sense of this was impractical and pointless. I realized that acceptance of others really begins with self-acceptance. And in turn, one can find it easier to forgive oneself and the others. We all have our own flaws and vices — some individuals can willingly accept these, forgive themselves for their own imperfections and move forward to an even greater depth of awareness. Believe me, to forgive was to free my own self of the painful memories that I had harbored in my heart. Forgiveness only led me to experience the serenity that I had been in search of. Honestly speaking, it is still somewhat difficult for me to fully let go of all the expectations I have for myself and for the others in my life…to forgive for what we are and what we can’t be, but I get better each time. I rebound a lot quicker now as I enrich my own being and truly understand the acceptance process. And I am still learning. Every. Single. Day.

Change. Whether I like it or not, this is the only thing that is constant in life. Like a butterfly, I spread my wings to explore the changing emotions within me in search of my soul, joy and creativity. I came to start loving myself as a unique being and appreciate my own personal qualities. As a result, I was transformed into a more loving and giving person. At that moment, I suddenly felt the love of others around me. That is when I savored the very fact that the power of change resides nowhere else, but within me…that when I stumble upon traumatic experiences, it is my optimistic attitude towards those events that will allow me to recognize these as opportunities for growth as opposed to detriments…that it is okay to alter my perspective, step outside of my comfort zone once in a while and discover myself…and that when I wholeheartedly embrace and initiate change, it will only help me thrive in this ever-changing world and liberate myself from the fear and frustrations in life.

So where do I want to go from here? To an even better place than I have been in 2011. I’m ready to welcome another wonderful year with an open heart…eager to enjoy fresh, new adventures and lessons. I can already sense what 2012 will bring to me as I contemplate my goals for the New Year. Perhaps for me, the New Year will be epitomized by these four words: Discover, Liberate, Nurture and Inspire. Who knows? Only time will tell.

In the meantime, I have a lot to look forward to within the next 365 days. I want to dream bigger dreams. I want to create more works of art and indulge my creativity by writing more on my blog. I want to make glorious, amazing mistakes because that is proof enough that I’m trying new things and that I’m not perfect. I want to relinquish even more fears and liberate myself from the troubles that come along my way. I want to really live my life and put myself first without feeling an overwhelming sense of guilt while I spend some time in solitude. I want to accept that I cannot be everything to everyone in my life. More importantly, I want to be the change that I wish to see in this world, one person at a time.

 And it all begins with ME.

 Happy New Year to all!

A New Beginning

Perfection is my enemy. For as long as I have been living, I’ve been on a quest for perfection, trying to be the most perfect wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend and so on. And for the last few years, I’ve been in pursuit of the perfect time for a new beginning, to start a new chapter in my Life Book. Sometimes I let the precious moments escape my life while I wait and plan for the right time, that perfect moment.

Agitated. Apprehensive. Frightened. Tearful. Excited. Overjoyed. A whole slew of mixed emotions came over me during the last couple weeks as I impatiently awaited an unplanned life-altering answer. I anxiously contemplated the extent to which my personal, family and work life would be transformed by this one answer. I just was not sure if I was completely ready for this sort of roller-coaster experience. On Friday night, I hit my absolute emotional low while I lay in my bed sobbing in deep introspection over the new chapter that I so yearned for but was not granted, at least not for now. My soul became very disheartened as I detested playing the waiting game all this time, only to receive the answer that I did not seek. Questions swirled around my mind in an attempt to understand why I even embraced the idea of a new beginning in my life. Why was I so afraid of facing this change at the outset? And finally when I became willing to accept the much-anticipated metamorphosis of my life, why did it not materialize?

Then it suddenly hit me. The Higher Power was not ready for me to start the new chapter in my Life Book just yet. He knows when it is and when it will be the right time for me. And it will be in that moment that my spirit will know I’m ready for a new beginning. Perhaps the past two weeks of deliberating my wants and unwants was God’s way of getting me prepared for the right time. Perhaps I was destined to experience the few recent mystical signs that have unveiled my true desire and the significance of this new beginning. The divine signs that have brought me inner peace are gentle reminders that God will deliver His best when it is best. I was simply not ready in my heart until today. 

So I will continue to play the waiting game yet again…peacefully and patiently this time with high hopes that I will soon journey into a beautiful new chapter of my Life Book.

Knowing The Difference

Life throws me so many curveballs when I least expect it. One day can be almost perfect and another day, BAM!! I will feel like I have been shot to hell wondering where I went wrong. And I think to myself: “Wouldn’t it be nice if my life had a pause button?”

I have learned a valuable lesson this week with my never-ending struggle of knowing the things that I actually have control over and those that I do not, which I cannot change. A few recent situations led me to harbor some unresolved emotions which invaded my mind and soul leaving me incredibly frustrated, defeated and despondent. Today, I realized once again that I need to stop. I’ve reminded myself countless times that I have absolutely no control over other’s perceptions, beliefs and behavior — I simply cannot change them; instead I can adjust my attitude and feelings towards the situations, and just let it be.

It is during this on-going battle of my internal struggle that I find myself repeatedly murmuring the Serenity Prayer and trying to remember its essence.

God, grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
And wisdom to know the difference. 
 

Time after time, the wisdom part is what I stumble over the most — knowing what I can change and what I  cannot, knowing what I should do and should not, knowing when to keep going and when to stop.  I think that knowing the difference is a life-long process as life is full of trials and tribulations that everyone experiences in their own way. Through these constant distressful moments, I strive to be braver and stronger than the times before, and to face turbulent situations with impeccable courage. I realize that there are times when it is best for me to just close my eyes and let everything go. I need to let the Higher Power have control.

When the going gets tough, it is often difficult for me to remain positive. I cannot control what will happen tomorrow or a week or a year down the road — the only thing I have control over is this very moment. What I can control are my reactions to and thoughts about certain situations. I am the one who decides whether my glass is half-full or half-empty.  In this moment, I would rather enjoy the opportunities I have to better myself and my relationships, and to cherish the little things in life instead of wasting time worrying about uncontrollable circumstances and further weakening myself. I can already feel an overwhelming sense of peace and calmness through understanding and accepting this yet again.

Nothing is always perfect, not everything will go my way. Sometimes, there is a greater plan in play. Life will continue to throw these curveballs at me but I have to be sure to hit them out of the park. I have a lot to be thankful for today, especially for knowing the difference.