photo by ruby montalvo published on rubymontalvo.com

It’s important to be good to others, but don’t forget to be good to yourself too

Be good to yourself. It’s a simple concept. It means treat yourself with love, consideration, and kindness. Be understanding and forgiving towards yourself.

The concept is simple, but not always easy.

What does it mean?

“Good people” are kind, supportive, considerate, and generous. They help us feel positive about ourselves and about life.

They’re like a warm blanket on a cold night or a bowl of chicken soup to ease a scratchy throat. 

But sometimes it feels more natural to be good to a stranger than to ourselves.

We tend to beat ourselves up, focus on our weaknesses, and criticize ourselves when we’re less than perfect. 

How can we lift ourselves up instead of putting ourselves down?

Be kind. Especially through difficult times, small acts of kindness go a long way. Take a few minutes out of a busy day to meditate, listen to uplifting music, or go for a walk.

Smile. Let your smile be your signature look. It can change your disposition and open your heart to self-love.

Be grateful. There’s an old saying that goes, “I cried that I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet.” It doesn’t change your situation, but it may help you see it in a more positive light.

Forgive. Forgiveness is a powerful gift. It can take time to “get over” mistakes and imperfections, but it starts with a choice to forgive yourself.

Every day is a chance to be better than you were yesterday, to do better than you did yesterday. Make it a point to treat yourself with love, kindness, and compassion. Be good to yourself the same way you strive to be good to those you love.

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You’re never too old to set another goal

You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.

~ C S Lewis


It’s such a positive message.

So often we hear the opposite:

You’re too old for that. You’re not a kid.

We can listen to people who say, “You’re too old to (fill in the blank).” We may even hear our own voice whispering similar discouragement, those messages that stem from our own fears or excuses that say, “Don’t be ridiculous. What are you thinking?”

photo by ruby montalvo published on rubymontalvo.com

 

Or we can listen to C. S. Lewis and believe that as long as we have the dream in our heart and we’re still breathing, it’s not too late. As long as we have the desire, even though it may not be easy or without obstacles, we can still take steps toward new dreams and goals.

Thinking we’re too old is how we let ourselves off the hook.

Excuses?

We tend to look back with regret. We say, “If only I would’ve done (something different) 5 years ago. Or even 10 years ago, then everything would be different now.”

And the more time we spend looking back, regretting something in our past, the more time we spend not moving forward.

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We convince ourselves that it’s too late instead of getting out of our own way and getting to work.

Sure, people might think we’re wasting our time. They may think it’s pointless, that we’re setting ourselves up for disappointment. And we may have moments where we agree with that thinking. 

We could let all that negative thinking stop us. Or we can believe what C. S. Lewis says, that we’re never too old.

While we’re able, before it really is too late, let’s dream a new dream, set a new goal.

Let’s get started, then keep going.

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Why bother trying so hard when no one notices?

What’s the point in trying so hard when no one seems to notice?

It can be discouraging when it feels like your work and effort don’t seem to matter to anyone. When you make sacrifices and work hard, but no one seems to notice or care.

I tend to look for distractions. Facebook, Yahoo and CNN headlines, dog videos.Graphic courtesy of commons.wikimedia.org published on strong-woman.com

Why? Not for inspiration.

Distraction.

That is all. A quick fix of something other than focusing on what I’ve committed to do. No other reason.

Can’t I just skip it?

Who’ll notice if I don’t do it?

Will anyone care?

I don’t know the answer to those questions. What gets me back on track is to remember what I know.

What I know is:

There’s value in the process.Photo courtesy of pixabay commons published on strong-woman.com

Getting dressed for a workout means I’m physically preparing to work out even when I don’t feel like it. Sitting down at my computer to write means I’m more likely to write. The value is in the practice, learning, experience.

Deadlines motivate. 

A deadline is a commitment. For me, meeting a deadline (even an arbitrary one) is a commitment I make to myself. If I blow off a deadline once, I’m more likely to blow it off next time and the time after that. It’s true with other things too, like exercise. 

It’s the law of physics: a body in motion tends to stay in motion while a body at rest tends to stay at rest.Photo courtesy of pixabay commons published on strong-woman.com

Getting it done is its own reward. 

Getting my work done gives me the satisfaction of completing the task. I can check it off my list. When it’s done, it counts. The reward is a sense of accomplishment rather than regret or dread for not getting it done.

(Sometimes you need to rest and there’s no reason for guilt or remorse at having opted to “be lazy”.)

But if you always want to get out of it, you may need an attitude check. Remind yourself why you started. Stay motivated. Or it might be time for a change in direction. You may need to do something different.Photo courtesy of pixabay commons published on strong-woman.com

External gratification can’t be the goal.

Decide that you don’t need anyone else to tell you what a good job you’re doing or how wonderful you are. Sure, it’s nice to hear positive comments from people, especially when you go out of your way to do something special for someone you love and they don’t acknowledge your effort. Do it because you want to, without expecting anything in return.

Once you’ve figured out what you want, (See “What do you want and how bad do you want it” if you’re having trouble figuring out what you want.) stay motivated to keep working toward your goals even when it feels like no one cares whether you do or not.

I have to remind myself of these things all the time.

 

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Be the gatekeeper of your joy

When I get upset about someone else’s inconsiderate behavior, like cutting me off on the highway or going to the “15 items or Less” aisle with a cartload full of groceries, I’m giving someone else power over me. I’m giving up my joy.

I know I need to be the gatekeeper of my joy and not give it up over silly stuff that’s out of my control.  Photo courtesy of pixabay commons posted on strong-woman.com

It’s easier said than done

The other day I was at the grocery store. I was in a good mood. I’d just had a great visit with my sister, the music playing in the store was upbeat and happy, and my daughter had gotten engaged the day before.

I was in the parking lot putting my groceries in my car and I noticed a guy walking to the driver’s side of his truck. He looked at a piece of paper in his hand, probably a receipt, wadded it up, and tossed it on the ground. It didn’t even look like he thought about stuffing it in his pocket. He just tossed it on the ground.Photo courtesy of pixabay commons posted on strong-woman.com

I couldn’t believe it. In my mind, I was like, “You jerk! What the heck’s wrong with you?! Pick it up, loser!”

He didn’t look my way, but he must have felt me giving him the stink eye, because when he drove away, I was looking at him like, “You suck!” He kind of glanced my way while driving off.

I got in my car thinking, How can people do that? I mean, I understand when bits of paper get away from you or you drop something and litter without even knowing you’re littering, but to intentionally throw something to the ground?

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He’s probably the kind of person who’d spit his chewed up gum out on the street so someone else can step right on it.

Seeing him throw his paper on the ground, intentionally littering, really got me mad. I went from happy and singing to just pissed off.

Stay on guard

But why was I so upset?

Was it just the audacity of the guy and his apparent attitude of “It’s not my problem. What do I care?”

I realized I was letting that guy spoil my good mood. I was letting him get the better of me.

And so I get back to the original idea about what I know. Don’t give away my joy. I was giving away my joy. To a stranger who litters. That’s just stupid.

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What were my choices?

Confront him. Tell him to pick up his paper. (Parking lot rage)

Pick up the paper and throw it away myself.

Walk away.

Say a prayer for him.

Give him the evil eye.

Blow it off.

What did I do? Nothing helpful. I got in my car and drove away, still angry about what he did even though he was long gone.

I didn’t handle myself very well.

It reminded me that:

We make choices in all our interactions every day. What we say or do. How we react.

Each of us is the gatekeeper of our joy

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Next time you let someone annoy and irritate you, remember that you’re handing over your joy. On a platter.

Then decide if it’s worth really that important to you. 

Remember that you can’t make people do, think, or feel the way you do about things. The only person each of us can ever hope to control is ourselves.

Photo by Ruby Montalvo published on strong-woman.com

Choose the Opportunity of Now

My husband introduced me to a website wolframalpha.com “an engine for computing answers and providing knowledge”. The website provides facts – quantifiable facts. It doesn’t provide opinions or recommendations.

Interesting information

Type in Chicago, Illinois and you’ll get Chicago’s population statistics, current weather and time, income statistics, demographics, and more.Photo courtesy of pixabay.com published on strong-woman.com

Put in today’s date and you’ll get information about observances and holidays, moon phase, sunrise and sunset times, and more.

Type in a specific date and year, like your birthday, and you’ll get the day of the week it was and how many days have passed since that date.

It provides facts. Facts alone aren’t disputable. It’s what you do with the information that can make a difference. For me, the information it provided spurred more questions and judgement.

Facts made personal

For example, I put in my birthday. I was born more than 20 thousands days ago. That’s more than 2800 weeks. That’s really a long time. I had to ask: Have I done enough? It makes me wonder about how many more days will I have and how will I do everything I want to do?Photo courtesy of pixabay.com published on strong-woman.com

It’s easy to get discouraged about the time that’s passed, to feel sad about getting older.

Most of us struggle with that at one point or another.

But I realize it’s better to get excited about right now and living each day being as happy and productive as I can. Not so much to live each day as if it were my last, but to not waste it regretting the past. It’s much better to be motivated about the opportunity of now.

Almost exactly a year ago, that’s 365 days, I quit my job as a school librarian and decided I wanted to do something different, that what I really want to do is write. I finished my 1st draft of my 1st novel on March 15 of this year. As of this blogpost, that’s just over 80 days ago.

I’m on the 3rd draft of revisions.

Here are some of the questions I ask myself:

Isn’t it a little late to start a new career? Maybe.

What could I have done if I’d started when I was in my 20’s. A lot more than starting in my 50’s.

Would I be a better writer now? Almost certainly.photo courtesy of pixabay.com published on strong-woman.com

And yet, I know it’s pointless to re-visit past career choices and wonder if I’ve made good use of my 20 thousand days.

The more important question is “What now?” Better to move forward grateful for every day and the opportunity to do something I’ve always wanted to do.

It’s not just about living in the present. It’s also about looking forward to the future.

We all know our time is limited. That reality can be either depressing or motivating. Each of us has to decide for ourselves which it will be.

Choose to be motivated by the opportunity of now.

Photo credit Ruby Montalvo published on strong-woman.com

5 Ways to Get Past Regret

What would you do differently if you had a do-over?

Photo by Ruby Montalvo published on strong-woman.comSomething you said, something you did?

Everyone messes up sometimes. It’s normal to look back with regret.

And that awful, terrible feeling of regret can stick around for a while.

But regret keeps you in the past and youPhoto courtesy of pixabay.com published on strong-woman.com:

wish you’d have done/said/acted differently.

think/talk about it.

keep thinking/talking about it.

feel remorseful/sad/angry about it.

know you can’t change it, but you can’t get it out of your head, even though you know what’s done is done.

How can you get past it?

Try these 5 tips to get past regret:

1. Remember, you can’t change the past.

It would be great to be like Superman and be able to turn back time. But our reality is that what’s done can’t be un-photo courtesy of pixabay.com published on strong-woman.comdone.

Wishing it were different is a waste of time and energy. Even so, we have to do it sometimes. There’s an old saying, “Don’t cry over spilled milk.” It’s okay to cry a little. It might help you feel a little better about the situation. But crying won’t clean it up. So cry a little if you want, but then decide your next course of action, and move on.

2. Be accountable for your actions.

Whether you ask others for forgiveness, offer restitution, or whatever you decide to do to try to right a wrong, accept responsibility for your actions. It may turn out that it’s not as big an issue as you made it out to be and you worried and feared the worst unnecessarily.

3. Forgive yourself and others.

Forgiveness is liberating. It acknowledges imperfection and helps give us the ability to move on. Ask some one you’ve hurt for forgiveness, without expectation. Forgive yourself and others.

Photo by Ruby Montalvo published on strong-woman.com4. Learn from past mistakes.

Ask yourself: What would you do differently and how would that make it better or worse? You may discover that you made the best choice with the information available at the time. And everyone makes mistakes. Use them as a learning experience so you don’t keep repeating the same mistakes over and over.

5. Live in the present.

When you dwell on the past, it’s impossible to live fully in the present. You can’t trip over what’s behind you. Remember, no do-overs.

We can’t change our past but we can change our future.

Regret keeps us stuck in the past. It pulls us back and keeps us there.

Every minute of every day is an opportunity to be better. If you’re stuck regretting the past, you won’t be ready for the opportunities that lie ahead. Instead, be ready by getting past regret.

Note: Sometimes, regret can be the source of deep and long-lasting pain, such as forgiving an assailant who harmed you or a loved one, or forgiving yourself for unknowingly harming some one, such as in an accident. Seek professional help if you find yourself unable to get past the feeling of regret.

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Put Yourself on Your Priority List

As women, we tend to put everyone else’s needs before our own. We have commitments – things to do and people to see, and we put all those things ahead of taking care of ourselves.

Sure, we have a lot going on these days. Schedules are packed. We get busy taking care of everything and everyone and we just keep pushing through no matter how we feel.

photo courtesy of pixabay.com published on strong-woman.comIn between taking care of everything you have to take care of, remember to put yourself on your priority list and take care of yourself.

But there’s no time

I understand. People need you. That’s a good thing.

Just remember, people need you.

In order to be able to do all you need to do, you have to take care good care of yourself. You’ll be better off and so will every one who loves you.

How you feel affects the way you move throughout the day and the way you interact with others.

Eat, exercise, sleep

You don’t have to be perfect and eat super healthy food all the time, or exercise an hour a day.Salad phot courtesy of pixabay.com published on strong-woman.com

Do what you can to make good food choices and make sleep a priority. Exercise a little most days. Even a 10-minute walk is better than nothing.

Going non-stop all the time will take its toll. If you don’t slow down, your body will slow you down. It’ll send you a message that enough is enough. You’re more likely to get sick or just feel run-down.

People love you. They need you. Your health and well-being matter to them.

Put yourself on your priority list and take care of yourself.

For easy nutrition and exercise tips, see Take Care of Yourself.

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See the Beauty of Failure

Failure Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com published on strong-woman.comcan feel awful.

So awful that it’s easy to be paralyzed by fear of failure, so that any new venture, undertaking, or adventure is off limits unless it’s almost 100% safe.

What would life be like if we could the see beauty in failure instead of the terror of it? How can we do that?

How can failure be a beautiful thing?

We learn in Biology 101 that one of the signs of life is growth, and one of the signs of growth is change. If you’re not changing, you’re now growing.Photo from Flickr.com the commons project published on strong-woman.com

Failure means you’ve tried learning or doing something new and different, even if success is not guaranteed.

But it’s scary! I don’t want to fail!

Thomas Edison once said, “I haven’t failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

In the movie Edison, The Man, there’s a pivotal scene in the story. Edison is close to giving up on his pursuit of creating the electric light bulb. He’s discouraged and worn out from years of finding “ways that won’t work”. He’s tired of fighting all the forces against him. Then something happens to set him back on course.

He has a dream that reminds him of why he started and wakes up renewed and determined to continue, no matter what.

Failure’s a great teacher.Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com published on strong-woman.com

It takes time and effort to figure things out. If we take Thomas Edison’s approach, discovering a way that won’t work is still a discovery. There’s no failure. What you’ve tried hasn’t worked? Try something else. Tweak a little here and there. Make adjustments. 

What could we do if we were more like Edison and not give up when what we’ve tried doesn’t work?

It’s a pretty big question.

What would the world be like if we were taught to look at failure as a beautiful thing instead of a source of shame?

The founder of Spanx, Sara Blakely, says dinner conversations with her father centered around failure. He wanted to know what she had tried and failed.

In an interview with CNBC last year, she talked about how those conversations helped her:  The gift he was giving me is that failure is (when you are) not trying versus the outcome. It’s really allowed me to be much freer in trying things and spreading my wings in life.”

She had her share of ways that didn’t work and people telling her no. She kept at it. Spanx made her the first woman self-made billionaire ever.

The beauty of failurePhoto from Flickr.com the commons project published on strong-woman.com

Failure means you’re trying – you have a dream, a desire. It means you’re working toward a goal.

When you look at it that way, failure’s a beautiful thing.

What will you fail at today?

Photo by Mark Montalvo published on strong-woman.com

Mindset Monday – Have a Dreamer’s Mindset

You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream. 

~ C. S. Lewis

Age really is just a number. Some people feel old when they’re thirty and some seventy-year olds think of themselves as “getting up there”, but they’re not there yet.

What’s the difference? How can you get the most out of life and be thankful for each day instead of longing for the “good ol’ days”?

You’re never too old to dream

No matter your age, keep setting new goals. Keep dreaming new dreams.

Start where you are now and move forward. Make the most of your life experience and play to your strengths. Or try something new just for the fun of it.

Photo courtesy of pixabay published on strong-woman.com
You’re never too old to learn or dream.

Every day’s a chance to learn something new. You don’t have to make massive changes or take great risk.

It’s okay to start small.

Be willing to change up your routine and start as a beginner.

Don’t talk yourself out of it. Go for it.

Do it for you.

Where will it lead?

Who knows?

Do it for the love and sheer joy of it. You never know what wonders await you.

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Mindset Monday – Have a Mindset of Self-Control

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent. 

~ Eleanor Roosevelt

Back in the day, we used to call it a “put down”. Something said or done to make you feel bad, to make you feel inferior.

Some one may “put you down” in order to feel superior to you in some way. Maybe it’s an attempt to manipulate what you say or do.

Words have power

We can be mean to each other. It’s normal to feel bad when some one says something

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Eleanor Roosevelt

hurtful, especially if it’s some one you love and trust.

But when a person tries to put you down and keep you down for the purpose of making you feel like you:

Aren’t good, smart, or deserving enough,

Know that you control that.

You can’t change people, but it takes two to play that game. And you don’t have to play.

You can’t control what people say or do, but you can control your reaction to it.

What can you do to help yourself?
  • Let your actions speak louder than your words
  • Listen
  • Be respectful

Then, you can walk away with confidence, peace, forgiveness, and grace.

We can’t control others. The best we can ever hope for is to control ourselves. For most of us, it’s a constant work in progress.