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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Time to Re-Shift and Re-Focus – Changes ahead

Have you ever felt like you’re on someone else’s path? Like you’ve bought tickets to a movie and gone into the dark theatre only to find out you’re in the wrong movie.

Wonderful. Now what do you do?

You have a choice:

  1. Stay where you are and watch a movie you didn’t intend to watch.
  2. Gather your things, and go look for where you belong.

For a while now, I’ve felt that way about this blog.

It’s taken me a while to realize I’m watching someone else’s movie.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

How it started

I started blogging to share a message: getting older doesn’t mean you have to stand by and watch your body fall apart, that staying active and eating nutritious food can help keep you strong and feeling good. I wanted to  encourage women to take care of themselves in body, mind, and spirit.

Mindset Monday started when I realized that a lot of what keeps us from staying healthy and taking care of ourselves is our attitude. We get bogged down in our own fear and negativity. So, to help people get started on the right track for the week and toward a more positive mindset, Mindset Monday was born.

And then I veered off track by making the message too broad as if I was writing for everyone instead of women who want to age well.

I thought I needed to get back to my original focus — To speak to women who struggle with aging and all that goes with that, encouraging women to age well, to embrace life’s changes, to find the joy in new roles, to help build each other up.

And I’ve tried doing that for the past few months.

But that doesn’t feel quite right either and I couldn’t quite figure out why and what to do about it.

After much deliberation, I think I finally understand the root cause of my difficulty:

I’ve tried to deliver a message that I think people want to hear rather than simply saying what’s on my heart and letting the message speak for itself.

It’s like not allowing yourself to answer a question because you’re trying to say what you think the other person wants to hear. It doesn’t work and it’s exhausting.

So, it’s time for a re-shift and re-focus.

For starters, due mostly to some admin issues, starting in May I’ll no longer be using strong-woman.com.

Instead, I’ll be transitioning from strong-woman.com back to my original domain rubymontalvo.com.

Next, after much thought and deliberation, I’ve decided I’ll blog about my own story (I wanted to help women get healthy so I started a business, quit my school librarian job, but then realized what I really want to do is write so that’s what I’m doing.) and what I’m learning along the way. If you don’t know my story, you can read a more complete version here.

I hope you’ll find the stories interesting. And maybe some of what I learn can help you too.

If my story resonates with you and you still glean value from the message, I hope you continue reading.

My path isn’t crystal clear, but I’ll stick with it until I figure it out. For now, I’m planning on self-publishing my first novel, A Song for Jessica, in June 2018. You can read what it’s about here.

I have a few more steps before I get to that point so I’ll keep you posted. If any of it can encourage you on your journey then I’ll count it as a success.

So the Mindset Monday message for today is:

  • When you realize you’re on a different path than you intended, you have to make a choice to stay where you are or look for where you belong.
  • You may have to try different things before finding what’s just right, like Goldilocks.
  • Nothing worth doing is easy. There will still be struggles, but you can figure it out. Don’t give up. 
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Believe in yourself when doubt creeps in

Everyone battles doubt. Even the most confident person who seems to always believe in herself has those dark moments when they wonder if they’re on the right track.

Any parent who cares about being a good parent has faced doubt even though they may generally think they’re doing the best they can. We’ve all been there. (Especially through the teenage years. Ugh.)

Even the most successful people doubt themselves sometimes, so if you have self-doubt, consider yourself normal.

Hang in there.
Photo by Ruby Montalvo published on strong-woman.com

When you feel like giving up, believe in why you started.

Re-commit to your task.

Take a break. Get away from the problem for a while and come back stronger.

When you want to give up, believe in yourself. Believe your work will matter in the end and then keep on working.

Take one day at a time. You’ll get there if you keep moving forward.

Nothing worth doing is easy.

You will have moments of doubt. There’s no way around them. Everyone does. You’re not alone. 

Do what you need to do. Take it step by step. One day at a time. And you’ll get there.

Need a little more? Check out Believe in yourself and your dreams on the blog.

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Are you getting what you expect?

The mind is powerful. Do your mental expectations determine how far you’ll go? If you “get it in your head” that you’re going to do something, does it mean you will?Downloaded from Pixabay published on strong-woman.com

I had an experience recently that got me thinking about this idea.

I’m training for a half-marathon and had a long run the other day. Seven miles. That’s further than I’ve run in a while.

I planned to go out 3.5 miles, then turn around and run back to where I started.

At the 3.25 mile marker, I thought, “I feel really good. I could go further.”

But when I got to the 3.5 mile marker, where I had expected to turn around, I was ready to turn around. In that last quarter mile, I went from feeling enthusiastic and energetic one minute to feeling ready to be done the next minute.

Photo Courtesy of pixabay.com commons published on strong-woman.com

How could my disposition and mindset have shifted so quickly? Almost from one minute to the next?

I had set myself up mentally. It was a 7 mile run. I go to the 3.5 mile marker. That’s it. It’s like my brain told my body, “It’s time to turn around. You’ve gone far enough. You need to head back.”

It got me thinking about the power of expectation, about how when you get something in your head, that’s where you’ll go.

How often do we limit ourselves by thinking small when we could go big? By setting the bar too low? 

In what areas of your life could you shoot higher?

In what areas are you doing (and getting) less because you expect less? Are you holding yourself back by limiting your expectations?

If there’s something to the idea that you get what you expect, why not expect bigger and better than you have before?

Set the bar high. Expect good things for yourself. Prep your mind to accomplish more than you think you can. Get it in your head that you’re going to go further. You’re going to do more.

Because you get what you expect. 

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Why it’s so hard to finish what you start and what you can do about it

Do you have trouble finishing what you start?

Anything from cleaning out your garage to planting a garden or losing weight. What happens to us that we just struggle to get to the finish line? Is it human nature to start projects and never completely finish them?

Projects that started strong are left unfinished. Plans that once looked so promising and you started with enthusiasm, were never finished. You said you’d get back to it, but you never did.

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If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone.

I started writing a novel last December.

I finished my 1st draft in March. It’s currently in its 4th draft.

I thought these final revisions would be easy. They’re nearly done. But I find myself struggling to get through these last edits.

The work is tedious, but necessary. I feel like a mechanic who’s taken an engine apart and now the parts surround me in a mess. Or like I’m in the middle of a remodel project that feels like it will never end and I’m ready for it to be done.

Sometimes the self-doubt sets in and I wonder if I’ll ever finish. I’m ready to get back to writing for the fun of it.

That’s my struggle.

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Starting vs. Finishing

When you start something new, you’re fresh and exhilarated.

But when you’ve been at it for a while, the novelty wears off. The further you go, the more tempting it may be to stop before you get to the finish line.

There are good reasons for that:

Fatigue. You get tired of working on the same thing for so long, you want to quit. It wears you down.

Boredom. You want that fresh, new beginning. You’re ready to do something else. 

Reality. When you first start you’re excited and determined, but it’s hard to maintain that level of enthusiasm to the end. You’ll have ups and downs. The inevitable “downs” will test your commitment to finish.

What’s next? When you’ve worked on a project for so long it gets in your psyche and becomes who you are. (Being a student, for example.) What will you do when you finish? You enjoy the afterglow of your accomplishment, but then it’s time to do something else.

So if those are some of the reasons it’s hard to finish, what can you do about it?

Strategies to help you push through.

Accept that it takes time. Work as much as you can when you can and take it one day at a time. There’s no rushing through it.

Photo courtesy of pixabay commons published on strong-woman.com

Complete a task toward your goal every day. Even if it’s something small. Plan your work then work your plan. 

Set realistic deadlines. Putting unrealistic stringent deadlines on yourself can lead to frustration and discouragement. Look at your plan, calculate the end date, then mark your calendar and adjust as needed.

Take the good with the bad. It helps if you like the work. But there are some tasks that are tedious and more challenging than others. Decide if it’s best to pace yourself, recruit help, or just push through.

Minimize distractions. Especially when tedium and boredom set in, recognize distractions that will keep you from finishing. Set a timer for thirty minutes or an hour to help you commit to focused working time. 

Photo courtesy of pixabay commons published on strong-woman.com

Focus on your goal. Keep reminding yourself why you started. Put up pictures of your end goal. Visualize success.

Yes, it’s hard to finish, but totally do-able.

Work through the frustration and that longing to do something else. Stay focused on your goals so you can accomplish what you set out to do.

I’m right there with you.

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Success starts with desire

What determines whether you’ll reach your goals? Whether you’ll succeed or fail?

In his book, Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill says,

Desire is the starting point of all achievement, not a hope, not a wish, but a keen pulsating desire which transcends everything.

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In order to be successful, you need more than a hope or a wish. You need “a keen pulsating desire that transcends everything.”

Large and small goals

My friend and I were discussing how frustrating it can be to lose weight.

Here’s the short version of our conversation:

“I really want to lose 10 pounds, but it’s so hard,” I say as I take another handful of tortilla chips.

Do I really want to lose weight? Not as much as I hope or wish I would. My actions prove that I want the chips more than I want to lose 10 pounds.

How can you tell how much you want it?

It’s not what you say as much as what you do.

Let’s say, for example, I decide I want to run a half-marathon (13.1 miles), but I’ve never run further than a mile.Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com published on strong-woman.com

What are some things I might do if I were truly committed to my goal?

  • hire a coach
  • find a training program
  • stick to it
  • meet other runners
  • learn about long distance running

My day-to-day actions should reflect my “keen pulsating desire” to run a half-marathon.

I know. It sounds weird to say:

“I have a keen pulsating desire to run a half-marathon.”

Or “I have a keen pulsating desire to lose 10 pounds.”

Photo courtesy of pixabay commons published on strong-woman.com

But that’s what it takes. That “keen pulsating desire” causes you to align your actions with your goals, to:

  • stay focused on your goal
  • erase excuses
  • stay positive
  • overcome obstacles
  • keep at it

 

When it comes to staying motivated and keeping at it when you feel like giving up:

May your will to accomplish your goals be greater than all obstacles. May your desire to achieve transcend all other things.

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Where you look is where you’ll go

A few years back I took a bad spill from my mountain bike. The crash left me with bruised and bloody knees. It hurt, but while it wasn’t a pleasant experience, it helped me realize something important: Where you look is where you’ll go. 

Cycling baggage

I’ve never been very good at things on wheels. Skateboards, bicycles, skates. I tend to fall for some reason. I’ve had my share of memorable falls. I once fell off my bike when it wasn’t even moving.

So getting on a mountain bike presented a mental challenge for me because I had to let go of memories of skinned knees and painful falls. I had to expect to stay on the bike.

It was a beautiful day for a ride.

I started out fine. My husband and I were cycling on a smooth, easy trail (my favorite) in a scenic state park. 

Photo courtesy of pixabay commons published on strong-woman.com

The easy trail turned into a gravel trail and then a little further along we wound up in an even more difficult trail in a rocky creek bed. 

I was trying to stay positive and confident, but in the back of my mind I was thinking, “I don’t want to fall. It’ll hurt if I fall.” 

Up ahead there was a large rock, probably about the size of a football and I kept thinking to myself, “Don’t hit the rock. Don’t hit the rock.”

Well, sure enough, my front tire hit the big rock and I went flying off my bike. I skidded on the rocks before coming to a stop.

Blood ran down my legs. My knees and hands burned. I screamed a few choice words and cried like a small child. I was right. It did hurt.

What happened? I was doing so well!

Where you look is where you’ll go. 

I was so focused on the rock, I didn’t see anything but the rock. I was saying, “Don’t hit the rock.” Of course I hit the rock.

The mind is powerful. Where I focus my thoughts and attention is the direction I’ll go, even if it’s not where I want to go. 

It’s a reminder to be aware of how your thoughts direct you. What you focus on is an indicator of where you’re going.

How many times does it happen that the one thing you decide you don’t want to do is what you end up doing? The one thing you don’t want to happen is what happens?

Photo courtesy of pixabay commons published on strong-woman.com
Where you look is where you’ll go.

Avoid focusing on what you don’t want. Focus on where you want to go and on what you want to do, because where you look is where you’ll go.

Fun extra: Here’s another illustration of the principle that where you look is where you’ll go. It’s from Bob’s Burgers when Tina learns to drive a car.

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What you do matters

"I cannot do everything, but I can do something." ~ Edward Everett Hale

There’s so much going on in the world right now. Watching five minutes of the news is enough to make you feel uncertain and discouraged.

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The issues are huge. Bigger than huge. In fact, world-famous theoretical physicist, Stephen Hawking, recently predicted the human race is doomed to become extinct if we don’t colonize other planets within the next 100 years. (Read Newsweek’s article here.) 

So, extinction of the human race. It doesn’t get any bigger than that, I suppose. But don’t forget about global political conflicts, war, poverty, food insecurity, etc.

Huge Global Issues

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How can you and I influence these huge issues? It’s easy to get complacent and say, “I’m just one person. What I do doesn’t matter.”

Edward Everett Hale’s entire quote is: “I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.”

Yes. There’s a lot of crazy stuff going on in the world.Photo courtesy of pixabay commons published on strong-woman.com

It’s tempting to think, “How can my small actions make a difference? Where would I start?” 

The quote is a reminder for each of us to resist complacency, for each of us to do what we can do, even when our actions seem small and insignificant and cause us to want to say, “Why bother? I’m just one person. What difference will it make?”

What you do matters to some one, and maybe to a lot of  people.

The parable about the boy on the beach doing his best to save beached starfish, The Starfish Story, illustrates this point well. I know it’s fiction and too sentimental for some, but the moral of the story is valid.

Remember the quote:

I cannot do everything, but I can do something. 

What you do matters, even if you do a little at a time.

What if each of us did our “something”? Helped in the one way we could?

Photo courtesy of Pixabay commons published on strong-woman.com

You have to start somewhere

When you start something new, your first attempt might be rough and awkward. It may not look like much. Don’t give up. Nothing’s perfect the first time around. You have to start somewhere.

Think of it as a first draft.

Ernest Hemingway once said:

The first draft of anything is sh**.
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An Early Draft of Declaration of Independence

Think of a song, a book, a design, or any other work you admire. The end result looks nothing like the first draft.

Some examples:

Stephen King’s 1st draft of Carrie went in the trash because he thought it was terrible. It turned out to be his breakthrough work.

Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars nearly abandoned the production of “Uptown Funk”. It took months to finish and took on many different versions until they were finally happy with the finished product. (Read the story at NPR.org)

Try, try again

While we may know in our heads that it takes working and re-working at something to get better at it, knowing it and embracing the idea in our hearts is so much harder to do.

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It takes courage to be a beginner. It takes persistence to want to get better, to keep learning and practicing.

Keep working at it.

Have a beginner’s mindset.

Learn all you can.

Practice.

It’s a process.photo courtesy of Pixabay commons published on strong-woman.com

Progress takes time and effort. Don’t give up.

No matter what you’re goals are, remember the first draft of anything is sh**.  Do it anyway. Keep at it. That’s the only way you can make it better.

Let negativity roll off your back

Let negativity roll off your back

Negative and insensitive comments that can be hurtful and leave you doubting yourself and feeling stupid.

Little jabs like:

“Are you wearing that?”Photo courtesy of pixabay.com published on strong-woman.com

“You don’t know what you’re talking about!”

“You can’t/won’t be able to do ________ .”

“Can you try to pay attention, for once?”

Off-handed remarks can float around in our heads for a long time. We analyze them to death and think, “What’s that supposed to mean?” If you’re already self-conscious or lacking confidence, negative comments can have an even bigger impact. 

Positive vs. Negative

Negativity stings. Psychologists say it takes at least 10 positive comments to cancel out 1 negative comment.

Downloaded from Pixabay published on strong-woman.com

How can we get past it and not let it shake our self-confidence?

Is the negative comment worth my time and consideration?

If not, consider the matter closed. Visualize yourself walking away from it. Don’t let it get to you. If it starts to re-surface, remind yourself that you’ve put it behind you.

Understand that often people are negative because it’s easier to knock things down than build them up.

Don’t worry about it. Let negativity roll off your back like water off a duck.

Blow it off like bubbles in the wind.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay published on strong-woman.com
Words have power.

Do you trust the person who said it?

People speak without thinking. Feelings get hurt.

Consider giving people the benefit of the doubt instead of thinking they intend to shake your confidence.

I’d want that consideration. As much as I try to be encouraging, sometimes I speak before I think and wind up sounding negative or insensitive.

Words have power. We must choose wisely. And this applies to how we speak to ourselves too. Encourage yourself with positivity instead of speaking negativity towards yourself.

Stay focused on your goals. Be patient. Ignore negative comments. Don’t let them shake your confidence. Let them roll off your back like so you can’t remember them even if you tried.