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.

Stay flexible – She who is not willing to bend is more likely to break

Stay flexible – She who is not willing to bend is more likely to break

In a previous blogpost, What to do when you feel stuck in the weeds I covered some tips to help get you through those times when you feel unfocused, overwhelmed, or off-track. That’s what I call being in the weeds. The tips:

  1. Stay flexible
  2. Connect with people who’ve been where you are
  3. Find a process that works for you
  4. Trust the process

I’m going to expand on each of these tips over the next four weeks starting with Tip #1 to help you stay on track:

Stay flexible

Better bend than break. ~ Scottish Proverb

That’s pure wisdom.

But it’s so hard to be flexible sometimes, isn’t it? Being willing to bend when you’d rather not. Especially when bending makes you look weak or worse — wrong. It’s hard to give it up. Maybe it’s pride. Or maybe it’s the uncertainty about what to do next, an oversight or a misunderstanding.

Here are a few thought to help you be more flexible:

Check your stubborn streak.

I come from a long line of stubborn individuals and the wide stubborn streak of a few family members in particular have become legendary. The old description “stubborn as a mule” sums it up well. You can’t push, pull, coax, or persuade a mule to move if he doesn’t want to move.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons published on rubymontalvo.com
Ancient Egyptian stubborn mule – Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Maybe we’ve all been there at one time or another. (I know I have.)

But it’s important to check your stubborn streak so you don’t lost your senses:

  • Can’t hear suggestions
  • Don’t want to talk about the situation
  • Can’t see any other way than your own

Stubbornness makes you unreasonable. 

It’s easy to get off course and stuck in the weeds when you’re in that state of mind. And you run the risk of making things more difficult for yourself.

Refusing to budge won’t get you anywhere. Better to check your stubborn streak and consider giving in.

And just a quick aside, I don’t think stubbornness is all bad. There are times when you have to stick to your ideas and principles. But that’s more about being strong and determined. There will always be naysayers and people who don’t believe in your vision. In those cases, by all means, dig your heels in and get ready for all that lies ahead. 

Be open to learning.

You may know a lot about a lot of things, but no one knows it all. The best kind of teachers are those who learn from their students. If you consider people who are gracious and humble, they are open to learning from others.

Thinking you know it all is a sign of weakness. Approach things with a beginner’s mindset. Be like a child who’s mind is like a sponge, eager to learn all you can.

Swallow your pride.

We are rarely proud when we are alone. ~ Voltaire

It took me a long time to learn this hard-fought lesson: A person who hangs on to her pride can’t be flexible. Pride destroys. Relationships. Careers. Happiness.

I read a children’s picture book about the man who invented television Philo Farnsworth. I’d never heard of him. His is a tragic story. He was brilliant and creative, but he wasn’t willing to work within the patent system in place and fought for sole credit of his inventions. He didn’t die alone, but struggled with depression and alcoholism toward the end of his life.

When I first read his story he struck me as a tragic hero who’s fatal flaw was pride. I can’t help but wonder what his life might have been had he been more flexible and willing to share the credit for his invention. (I’m telling you the short version of his story, of course.)

But the bottom line is this – Pride kills lots of things: relationships, careers, health.

Be flexible.

I know it’s not always easy. Most of us have to work at it, I suppose. (Some of us have to work at it more than others.) But a little flexibility goes a long way toward personal and professional happiness. 

So know yourself and your tendency to be stubborn, a know it all, and prideful. (Gee, they sound terrible when you say it that way.) They’re flexibility killers. And happiness killers. Give them up.

You’re life, happiness, and work are worth it.

Crossroads photo courtesy of pixabay published on strong-woman.com

Discover the Value of Your Intuition

“The only real valuable thing is intuition.”  Albert Einstein

We all have it. It’s that gut feeling when you know something’s true even if you can’t explain it.  That feeling when you’re faced with a decision and you know exactly and without a doubt what you must do; when you absolutely know the right course of action.

It’s more than a hunch.

Intuition is brilliant. A guiding force. Always present, right, and true.

Compass photo courtesy of pixabay published on strong-woman.com
Intuition is always true.

The beautiful thing is that you don’t have to do anything to get it. You already have it. All you have to do is listen.

But listening can be so, so, so hard.

Listen and you go down one road. Don’t hear, not sure, or ignore your intuition and you go down a different road.

It’s been my experience that

  • it’s better to follow, even though it’s scary
  • there’s usually a price to pay for not listening
  • intuition doesn’t hold a grudge; she will always speak to you again.

It’s your guide, your North Star.

Yes, it’s scary. I know.

Crossroads photo courtesy of pixabay published on strong-woman.com
Which will you choose?

Your head screams at you:

  • What if it doesn’t work out.
  • And what if _______ happens
  • What are people going to say
  • You’re going to look stupid
  • You don’t know how to do _______
  • Think about the people you’ll disappoint.

That’s fear of the unknown and the unknown can be scary.

Einstein says intuition is the “only real valuable thing”.

Even though it must have played a huge role in his life and in his body of work, he probably had to learn to follow just like everybody else. He probably had days when he doubted himself. Doesn’t everyone?

What would happen if you discovered the value in the simplicity of listening to your intuition.

Where would it lead? 

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.

Photo courtesy of National Archives Project on flickr.com published on strong-woman.com

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.

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

Mindset Monday – Sprinkle Your Day With Gratitude

Gratitude is a simple concept.

It’s that feeling that what you have is good. And that what you have is enough for you to be happy today.

Why be grateful?

Gratitude brings a level of contentment and satisfaction to each day. And sometimes it takes practice.

Start with a sprinkle.Stretching in Autumn photo courtesy of Pixabay published on strong-woman.com

Instead of looking at what’s going wrong, think of what’s going right.

When you’re tempted to focus on what you don’t have, shift your focus to what you do have.

Rather than getting discouraged about what you haven’t accomplished, look at how far you’ve come.

Instead of saying, “I wish I had…”, say “I’m grateful that I have…”

Gratitude opens your heart

Expressing gratitude opens your heart to the goodness life offers, and an open heart makes way for more blessings.Photo courtesy of pixabay.com published on strong-woman.com

Do you have what you need?

What are the bare necessities of life? Not much. Air, food, shelter.

And yet what do you have beyond that?

Consider the people and things you use, interact with, work for, and would miss like crazy if they weren’t there.

Don’t take anything for granted. Life is precious.

Sprinkle every day with gratitude. Or go ahead and pour it on. You can’t overdo it.

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

Have a Mindset of Courage

"I am not afraid. I was born to do this." Joan of Arc

Joan of Arc was only seventeen when she was inspired to take massive action.

Daughter of a poor French farmer, she believed God had chosen her to lead French troops in an ongoing war against England.Photo courtesy of pixabay.com published on strong-woman.com

Her first step in this unlikely journey was to request a meeting with the man in line to be King of France. Miraculously, she succeeded.

She cut her hair, dressed like a man and went to battle with men.

Even though she successfully led French troops in battle, she eventually faced charges of witchcraft and heresy.

At the age of nineteen, her own countrymen convicted her of dressing like a man and she was burned at the stake.

What must it have taken for her to begin? To answer the call?

Surely, she had her doubts. Her internal dialogue might have gone something like this:

“That’s stupid. I’m going to leave my farm and go request a meeting with the king? Yeah, right! I’m just a girl! They’ll laugh at me and call me crazy! And besides, my family needs me. I can’t just leave them. Who’s going to do my chores?”Photo courtesy of pixabay.com published on strong-woman.com

She showed tremendous courage when she answered the call.

Certainly she could’ve ignored it or talked herself out of it. She was human, after all.

Few people have that kind of courage. To ignore doubt and say, “I’m not afraid.”

That’s the stuff dreams are made of.

Someone once said:

Fear kills more dreams than failure ever will.

Fear of:

change

hardship

struggle

pain

rejection

abandonment

the unkown

failure


Everyone’s afraid of something at one time or another. Fear is normal, and powerful. It can be hard to get past it.

Instead of letting fear paralyze you, shift your focus.

Focus on what you have to gain by taking action, instead of focusing on what you have to lose.

Instead of thinking, “What terrible things might happen?”, consider, “What wonderful things might happen?”

Crossroads photo courtesy of pixabay published on strong-woman.com
Shift your focus.

What could you do if you weren’t afraid?

Joan of Arc, a young peasant-girl, in early fifteenth-century France, was inspired by her belief that God was calling her to action.

And she exhibited incredible courage when she answered the call, stepped away from her traditional role, left her family, went to war, faced trial by her own countrymen, and died by fire.

Even after 500 years, her story is incredible and inspiring.

Have a mindset of courage, instead of fear, and you may be surprised at what you can accomplish.

For more information about Joan of Arc, read Britannica.com – Saint Joan of Arc

Photo by Ruby Montalvo published on strong-woman.com

Your resolution to succeed is the most important thing

President’s Day Mindset Monday:

Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other one thing.

~ Abraham Lincoln

This quote is from a letter Abraham Lincoln wrote to a friend who was discouraged by a setback he experienced while pursuing his law degree.

Lincoln encouraged his friend to continue studying, to not be deterred. His message: If you really want it, let nothing stop you.

Medal photo courtesy of pixabay published on strong-woman.com

Abraham Lincoln knew about getting past setbacks. He faced tremendous struggles in his life – poverty, family tragedy, little formal education, and failed business and political ventures.

He could have given up his pursuit of higher education and political office. Certainly no one would have faulted him for quitting. He suffered devastating personal losses and challenges.

And then, he was elected president at one of the most tumultuous times in American History.

Slow and steady is okay

No matter what, don’t give up. Resolve to keep moving toward your goal, no matter what.Photo courtesy of pixabay.com published on strong-woman.com

Make your resolution strong. Focus on what you really want.

Whatever your definition of success, resolve to see it through.

Of course, it can be discouraging when one thing after another knocks you down. And sometimes, it may feel like it’s just too much to take.

No doubt, you’ll face setbacks, but don’t stop. Keep at it and figure it out.

Your resolve, your commitment to your goal, is bigger than any setback or circumstance. That “resolution to succeed” will keep you going when it’s tempting to quit. You’ll continue to inch forward, despite obstacles.

Keep at it and you’ll get there.

For information about all things Abraham Lincoln, visit AbrahamLincolnOnline.org.

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

Mindset Monday – Love Yourself Like You Mean It

Oscar Wilde once said, “To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.”

Love yourself like you’re in it for keeps.

Lifelong romance kind of love – that’s the good stuff. Work toward that.Photo courtesy of Pixabay published on strong-woman.com

Make it nurturing, forgiving, patient, respectful, humble, and kind.

Be nurturing. Take care of yourself – body, mind, and spirit.

Be forgiving. We all make mistakes and being able to forgive means forgetting pride and getting past the mistake, error, or wrong. Even the big ones.

Be kind. We can be our own worst and most unkind critic. Turn it around and work to be your own best and kindest supporter.

Be patient. We’re all a work in progress. And wherever you are in the process of being the best you possible, understand that you may not “get it” right away. Keep at it. Don’t give up.Weight loss photo courtesy of pixabay published on strong-woman.com

Be respectful. Actions speak louder than words, but words speak pretty loudly. You’re worthy of respect from yourself as well as from others .

Accept yourself as you are. Accept where you are and believe your’e worthy of love from others. Instead of looking at what you can’t do or what you don’t have, take stock in what you do have. Stop tripping over what’s behind you. Accept where you are and move forward.

Be humble. Build others up. Let your actions and work speak for themselves.

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Oscar Wilde is on to something.

Because no matter what, in the end, there you are.

Better to love yourself than not.