Don’t Give Up, Stand Up!

Eudaimonia Tip # 19 – You have the power to overcome anything!

The ebb and flow of life is something that we all must face even while trying to improve ourselves. I mean change is hard, am I right? How many times have you taken the first step of creating a better life for yourself in any number of ways only to find one setback after another impeding your progress?

You start to consistently work out only to pull a hamstring or sprain an ankle derailing your momentum.

You finally pay off some bills, and suddenly appliances start to break left and right.

You apply for a job and get an interview only for the position to be ‘pulled’ or canceled.

It’s frustrating to want to change when at every step you are blocked by some obstacle. It’s enough to want to throw your hands in the air and wave them like a white flag, giving up any hope that things will improve.

The thing is change, life long change, is rarely executed in a straight line.

For most of my life I was a typical eater, by that I mean I could eat whatever I wanted to, from pizza, to ice cream and every bad thing in between with no symptoms or digestion issues. Going out to eat was fun and easy. I could be the girl that would enjoy beer and pizza as much as a salad and wine.

As I got older things changed. In 2012 I started to have migraines with all other manifestations that left my doctors thinking I was primed for a stroke, and I was only 38. I went to several neurologists who listened to my symptoms, ordered an MRI of my brain and concluded with a pat on the back that I have developed “chronic migraines.”  I was confused by how I went my whole life never having a migraine, and having no family history of migraines to now being the lucky one to have chronic migraines.

It’s evident to say that 2012 was a crappy year. I wasn’t sure what the next year would bring, but I knew that I wouldn’t accept the medical diagnosis of chronic migraine. It just didn’t make sense. In 2013 I went to a Holistic doctor who asked the right questions to get to the root cause of my so-called migraines. With a lot of subtracting and adding certain foods, it was discovered that I am gluten intolerant.

That’s right, no more pizza and beer, no more pasta, no more pita chips. Anything that tasted amazing is off limits, or else my symptoms to any and every degree will come rushing back like old unwanted friends.

The transition to eating gluten-free took about six months and trust me when I say I had to grieve my old eating habits, but once I did embrace a gluten-free lifestyle, all my symptoms disappeared. No more migraines, no more things going numb, no more grogginess, no more depression. No more anything. I was genuinely amazed at how food, the right food was healing me. Of course, there are gluten-free foods that attempt to mimic the gluten-filled foods, but they are not the same and are highly processed.

I’m kind of shocked to realize that I’ve been living gluten-free (and now dairy free) for six years now. It’s hasn’t all been smooth sailing. Eating out has gotten easier as more restaurants are proving gluten-free options, but the problem comes in when I eat hidden gluten or overindulge in dairy. Those proceeding days and even weeks are not fun. And there are still plenty of ways to eat unhealthy when your a gluten and dairy free person, which is why I’m in the physical mess that I’m in.

So why the history lesson? The fact is I have to watch what I eat in more ways than one, which makes life rather complicated. One slip, either welcomed or unwelcomed, can derail me for weeks if not months. It would be easy for me to give up and go down the mental path that I will never lose this excess weight, and that I will never get back to my trifecta of running, yoga and weights. I’m currently experiencing a setback that is just kicking my ass and delaying my progress and it would be very easy for me to play the victim to my food intolerances.

But that is not me, and no matter what obstacles you face that is not you either.

The fact is you will have setbacks, and there will be obstacles because this is life. BUT, and this is the exciting part, there is something in you that is bigger and stronger than anything life can throw your way. There is a desire in you to overcome. There is a “Rocky” in you that will help you achieve your dreams, even if it means lifting cans of paint instead of weights or doing sit-ups in your living room instead of going to a gym.

Know when to ask for help and seek support, but don’t wait for someone to fix all your problems for you, because at the end of the day YOU are the only one that has full control of your thoughts, your actions and your perspective on life. I’m here to tell you that you can do it. You can live a life well lived that results in pure happiness by pushing past your struggles and emerging on the other side stronger, braver and wiser than before. Remember, you are not a victim to your circumstances, but rather the victor of your life.

Nagging Little Word

Eudaimonia Tip # 18  ~ Make consistency your cornerstone of success.

The month of February was somewhat of a wash for me. Besides being tapped Maid of Honor by my best friend (Yay!, and nothing like knowing you have to try on bridesmaid dresses in a few months to motivate the weight loss) my drive to workout has been belabored at best.

That was until a few days ago.

It’s a nagging little word but when taken at its meaning can be trans-formative. defines consistency as “steadfast adherence to the same principles, course, form, etc.”

When it comes to working out, I’ve always struggled with consistency as “life” gets in the way. There are the expected things like vacations, holidays, birthdays, but it’s the unexpected things like my food intolerance resulting in headaches, fatigue and brain fog that prevent consistency from genuinely taking shape.

On the positive side, I’ve been consistent with eating smart, and the few times that I indulged, I was surprised these isolated treats didn’t send me over the edge into the sugar and carb infinity pool. For some reason, I thought that eating clean would bring abundant energy, enough for me to hop and skip my way to the treadmill.

Then I remembered that the hardest part of changing our bodies is the beginning partnership of eating right AND working out. I firmly believe that what we put in our bodies can make or break us, but to see real results movement is required. I pretend that losing weight isn’t that hard. I mean it’s hard, really, really (insert expletive here) hard, but for simplicity sake, it boils down to simply moving more and eating smart.

Notice I didn’t say eat less. Eating smart is finding the right eating path such as Keto, Paleo, Vegan or whatever your flavor and committing through and through. I am a true believer that losing weight is a mindset. If you don’t convince your mind to commit, then don’t expect results any time soon.

So while I have committed to eating smart, I am now committed to move more. It took longer than expected, but for four consecutive days, I’ve visited my treadmill (a.k.a. Tread) and each day we spend more and more time together. It’s the beginning of a beautiful friendship built on mutual support and understanding.

There is a myriad of things we do consistently. Out of necessity we breathe, eat, brush our teeth, sleep, shower, go to work, pay our bills, do laundry, etc., etc. the list goes on. But it’s the consistency of wanting to improve that will reap the rewards. So when life gets in the way, find a way around it, right back into the steadfast arms of consistency, because that is where real magic happens.

Photo by William Choquette from Pexels

Just Keep Swimming

Eudaimonia Tip # 17 – Positivity is a muscle, the more you use it, the stronger you become

There you are, cruising through the first six weeks of 2019 with your positivity shield set at 100% to ward off any negativity, worry or anxiety when suddenly, week seven serves up a giant turd burger called “disappointment.”

Ah, disappointment… the “gateway drug” to negativity. If it’s not checked right away, things can spiral downhill fast. The crazy thing about life is that change happens in an instant when we aren’t ready and when we are ready, change is a slow crawl.

I’ve always been a realist, weighing out the pros and cons of everything life throws at me, but ultimately waiting for the other shoe to drop. However, this year I decided to turn the tables and drop the shoe altogether. I consciously chose to dawn an “it will be great” attitude, and I have to say that living with a positive mindset is way more fun than the pity-party kind.

But let’s be real, we all know, or should know, that this world does not give us everything we want when we want it. If we didn’t have some friction or setbacks, we wouldn’t be able to appreciate when things do go right. So what should we do when the weight doesn’t fall off fast enough, your job search is turning up dead ends, and your cat just ate a huge fur ball that you hope won’t turn into a blockage resulting in surgery.

In the infamous words of Dory “Just keep swimming”

I like to think of positivity as a muscle, and the more you use it, the stronger you will be. Earlier this week I found myself on the precipice of jumping head first into the black hole of negativity but quickly slapped myself back into reason with these five simple steps that you can do anywhere in the world with no equipment required.

Cancel your thoughts. When a negative thought creeps into your mind, literally think (or say out loud depending on your surroundings) cancel, cancel, cancel. Honestly, you could say banana, hippopotamus, or I love Christmas, as long as you say or think something to disrupt your train of thought.

Breath deep. Once you’ve slowed down the negativity train, it’s time to take a deep breath. Breathing is a great way to calm and center the mind. The more frustrated and angry we get the more shallow our breathing becomes causing our blood pressure to rise. By focusing on our breath, we regain control over this physical reaction that negativity can have on us.

Look around. You should be calmer now, which is a good time to take stock of your life. List three things you are thankful for, or better yet write them down. When we shift from have-nots to have-lots our minds instantly get a boost of positivity.

Find the silver lining.  I know, groan, but silver linings are there to stop us from going over the edge. Car battery died? Thank goodness you were in the parking lot! Your exercise goals are not as consistent as you like? Hooray for sticking with a clean eating plan. The post you uploaded didn’t get as many likes as you hoped? Good for you for starting a blog in the first place.

Know that tomorrow is a new day. This moment, week, hour, or whatever the duration is only temporary. There will be new days with new opportunities that will move you in the right direction.

So, when the ugly beast of negativity tries to ram your cerebral cortex (because it will) trust that with a little self-talk, deep breathing, different perspective, hidden treasure and understanding of tomorrow you can control your mind and bring your positivity shield back online. While I won’t say there is a reason for everything, I do believe there is a reason for most things; we just have to keep on swimming to find them.

Sweet Satisfaction

Eudaimonia Tip # 16   – Hard work returns sweet satisfaction

Every once in a while I like to come back to the premise of this blog. First, I love to write, and for a long, long, loooong time I wrote solely for myself, but I knew one day that I wanted to write for the masses by writing the next New York Times bestseller! What writer doesn’t dream of becoming the next Tom Clancy,  J.K. Rowling, or Stephen King? Putting the novel idea aside (for now) I decided to start smaller and researched what it would take to start a blog. The whole thing is pretty simple, find a domain name you like, pay a company to host your website and whala… you are in business.

Well, almost, there is that pesky thing called content.  But what can I write about that people want to read?

About a year ago I was taking this business ethics class where we studied ethical theories such as utilitarianism, deontology, and virtue theory. One of the first things our instructor told us was to pick a theory that we identified with, in our personal and professional lives (because you wouldn’t have a different one for each) and apply that theory throughout the class. After studying all three, I realized I was a virtue ethics girl. You know… being virtuous and knowing the difference between right and wrong and choosing to do right. Stealing is bad; giving to charity is good, that sort of thing.

As it turns out, Aristotle’s idea of being morally good, or virtuous had an end game. Aristotle theorized that people are happier and more satisfied with their lives when they work hard to achieve their dreams. Now being greek he had to give this theory a very complicated sounding greek name: eudaimonia (yüdēˈmōnēə). Crash Course Philosophy #38 explains it this way

A life of Eudaimonia is a life of striving. It’s a life of pushing yourself to your limits and finding success. A eudaemonistic life will be full of the happiness that comes from achieving something really difficult rather than just having it handed to you.”

Improving our lives requires sacrifice and setbacks along the way, but the more we push forward with new goals, the stronger we become in character. When we focus on our strengths and work to improve our weaknesses, we become a better version of ourselves.  

Eurika, I found my content. Who doesn’t want to be a better version of themselves?  Hence the Eudai (yüdē or you day) life was born. As if this concept wasn’t enough I realized that eudai was not just an abbreviated word, but instead, I could turn it into an acronym that stands for:

Excellence: We can find one area in our lives that we can strive to be excellent. Maybe you need to up your running game? Maybe you should aim to get an A on your next assignment, or give a stellar presentation at work? The area that I work on to be excellent is this blog because I have to challenge myself to post regularly and make sure the content is relevant and accurate. You have no idea how nerve-wracking it is to figure out what I’m going to write every week, but I love the challenge.

Understanding:  The world needs more of it, but that starts with each of us to stop listening to the talking heads on our smartphones and TVs thinking they have everything right. Make sure you are taking the time to understand the full story and another point of view. Research the topics that interest or confuse you, so you are understanding all sides of the story.

Determination: A key ingredient in life that helps us move forward is determination. There are so many things that can set us back, but with the right mindset to not give up on our goals, our dreams will happen. I’m determined to drop this weight because I know I can be healthier and feel better.

Authenticity: Being authentic can be scary, even with ourselves, but the more we put on a mask to appease others the harder it will be to know what we stand for in life. While it feels good when we are liked, we need to make sure we are being liked for who we really are and not pretending to be.

And Finally…

Inspiration: We all need to be inspired by something or someone. Inspiration is the fuel that keeps us going. My inspiration comes from God and all that He does for me in the most unconventional ways. His grace and mercy never cease to amaze me. I thank God for whispering in my ear and giving me the courage to start my blog and giving me the strength to move on with my life.

So, there you have it, to recap the eudai life is not new age, it’s old age, it’s not trendy, it’s steadfast, and it’s not anti-god it’s God inspired. I’m excited that I finally took the step to start my blog and even more excited that I am pushing myself to be better than I was the day before. The eudai life is for anyone that wants to join me in finding happiness and the sweet satisfaction that only comes from hard work. Hard work by pushing ourselves to aim for excellence, have understanding, be determined, display authenticity, and seek inspiration so we can all achieve a life well lived.

Photo by Tetyana Kovyrina from Pexels

What in the world…

Eudaimonia Tip # 15 – Accountability is true strength of character

It’s hard to believe that a year has gone by since my boyfriend passed away. February 5th was a day of retrospection for me to remember my loss, but also to recognize the strength I found to get through 2018. While he will always be a part of my past, there is more to my future that has yet to be written.

I thought that my time of grief was turning into a time of peace, but I’m finding there is still more to grieve in this world. They say ignorance is bliss, and with the recent news headlines, this is more than a colloquialism. Being able to go about my day, with only my circumstances and surroundings to deal with is something that I miss. I was browsing through my phone last week, and my usual YouTube subscriptions on cats, kittens, or anything to do with animals showed up as usual.

So, there I was, minding my own business, watching Cat Man Chris save a werewolf cat, when auto play somehow put in a news clip about the new law passed in New York which now allows for late-term, as in up to 40 weeks, abortions. I was bewildered and a put off by what I just watched, but then, and I’m ashamed to say this, I shrugged it off as typical liberal New York.

A few days later I see another news clip about a Virginia bill that would allow for third-trimester abortions; up to delivery, with vague medical reasons for interpretation. Due to the outrage to Tran’s bill, Virginia’s governor “explained” on a local radio show what the care of the aborted infant would look like:

“The infant would be delivered. The infant would be kept comfortable. The infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desired, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother.” – Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam

So let’s unpack these few sentences:

The infant would be delivered – I’m assuming that this means the infant was delivered deceased due to the abortion procedure.

The infant would be kept comfortable –  if the infant is deceased why does it need to be kept comfortable? The infant already felt the pain in the womb when it was being injected with chemicals to end its life.

The infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desired, – Wait… the pregnant woman wants to abort her baby in the third trimester, when it is most likely viable outside the womb, and when it’s delivered dead she now can make the decision to bring the baby back to life?

Physician, nurse or at this point the Janitor: “The abortion was a success and your baby is dead.”

The woman who aborted: “Um, can you resuscitate my baby, I’m still trying to decide what I want to do with my body.

And then a discussion would ensue between the physician and the mother – What the…?!?! What does that conversation even sound like? Medical representative:  “Well, I’m sorry to tell you that your baby didn’t die during the abortion, no wait, It did but you said we should resuscitate it, and now I need to know if you want us to kill it AGAIN?!?!?!?

NO! NO! NO! This is not happening. This is not happening in my country! But it is, and it has been happening for decades. If you can stomach it, google Jill Stanek’s story on YouTube, but I warn you to get a crate of tissues ready for what she recounts is worse than any horror movie ever made.

These two new unrestricted abortion bills are in essence legitimizing what Gosnell did in his practice in West Philadelphia, only instead of cat urine on the walls, and corroded equipment, and baby parts in jars, the unwanted babies are born in hospitals were some are left to die in utility rooms, and some accidentally thrown away. These two new bills are shedding light on a topic that most people want to avoid and turn away from because it’s so horrific. Or it’s a topic that does not apply to them.

Full disclosure, I’m not a mother, but I always dreamt I would have kids of my own. I am now 44 and happily single which means that kids are not part of my path in life.  I struggled with the reality that I would never be able to experience creating life inside of my body. I mean, think about that… women have the power and the ability to grow a person inside of them. I marvel at the wonder and the superpower of the female body.

While I am pro-life; I am also pro-choice; the choice of self-control (abstinence), birth control, adoption or motherhood. I should clarify, this post is not about all stages of abortion. I’ve known women who have gone through this procedure within the first trimester and suffered through the guilt of their decision later in life. What I am trying to understand is why a woman who carries into the third trimester would decide to abort their baby after it starts to roll, kick and feel.  I did a quick google search on the third trimester, and explains that at 29 or 30 weeks the baby’s touch receptors are formed. By 31 weeks all of their senses are fully developed and the baby can perceive light and dark, taste what the mother eats, and hear their parents voices.

I understand that those who support these bills are arguing that these late-term abortions are necessary to save the pregnant woman’s life or if the infant has severe deformities. Only the laws are written intentionally vague to allow for any mental or physical reason presented by the pregnant woman to abort her infant at any stage during her pregnancy.

The truth is we have become a society that dismisses consequences and ignores accountability. We are here now, faced with the grim reality that innocent life, life that can feel and hear and taste in many cases is reduced to an inconvenience.  True feminism is not putting a woman’s body over the life inside of them; true feminism is not treating pregnancy as a tumor that needs to be removed. True feminism is celebrating our ability to create and sustain life at any cost, not to destroy it for any reasons.

Only Temporary

Eudaimonia Tip # 14 –  The key to any change starts with the desire for something better.  

“It’s only temporary,” I tell my reflection in the mirror. The rounder face, the blurred jawline, and the expanded physical size are what you end up with when you emotionally eat your way through grief.  I’ve used every tool available to help heal from the tragedy of 2018 and now that 2019 is well underway it’s time to move on with my life.

I know it’s taboo to think that one can “get over” their grief, but they also say that grief is different for everyone. A bit of context about me, I like to plan and set time frames for things. For example, about five years ago I was suffering through a breakup and was depressed, as in hard to function depressed. I realized that if I didn’t set a time limit on this ‘breakup grief’ it would ruin me. So, I permitted myself to be sad and depressed for two weeks. I let the grief engulf me; I refused to talk to my friends; I slept a lot and cried a lot. I obsessed over our text and emails, reading them over and over. Ironically this was during my skinny days, so I didn’t overeat, actually eating was the last thing on my mind. But I digress… after the two weeks, I wrapped up my pity party and started to engage life again.

2018 was a lot like those two weeks, and I told myself that after the clock struck midnight on New Year’s eve, I would start to live again. No more avoiding people, skipping holidays or events and no more living in fear of my future now that it is mine to direct.

With my mind at peace I can focus on the other areas of my life that I’ve been neglecting. As uncomfortable as this is to admit, I am no stranger at the starting line of losing weight. My whole life is one big roller coaster of fighting the weight battle. I’ve had years when I was thin, then thin-ish, then those miserable years when I was just plain out fat.

Disclaimer: I know we all are trying to live in a body-positive world where every shape is acceptable. I’m all for this new way of thinking to break stereotypes, but what happens when you don’t like the person you see in the mirror? What happens when you cannot accept yourself because you’ve lived in a better, happier version of yourself?

The way I see it, there are two paths to take. A. You can accept defeat, or 2. you can recognize where you are and then lay the groundwork to make change happen.  The key to any change starts in your mind with a desire for something better. Sure, after my last attempt at love that ended tragically I could throw in the towel and start collecting cats, but two is enough, and I know I can be better.

There is a difference between believing in something and knowing something. Believing is having faith while knowing is having knowledge. I have faith that I will drop the grief weight, but I also know that it will happen because I’ve done it before. A few years ago I was in incredible shape and oozing confidence because I was 60 lbs lighter.

And so it begins, the long journey to becoming the new and improved me. Over the last three weeks I’ve cleaned up my diet by cutting out all the junk carbs and sugar that was mentally and physically slowing me down. It’s amazing how changing one thing at a time can help lay the stepping stones to success. It will be a long and arduous road, but one that I must take to live a “life well lived.”

http://Photo by Nadine Wuchenauer from Pexels

Organized Home, Organized Mind!

Eudaimonia Tip # 13 – An organized home helps organize our minds.

It’s the snowpocalypse of 2019 and what do you do trapped indoors for a few days as the outside becomes impassable by mountains of snow? The most obvious answer is to stay inside, bundled on the couch with your fur or human family (or both) and spend the weekend binge-watching Netflix. But that is just day one because after you binge-watched Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, day two becomes your independence from clutter and chaos that has been ruling your house and mind for far too long.

There is a lot of buzz about Marie’s new show on Netflix. I’ve seen several parodies and numerous articles either in favor of her methods, or those that find her ways somewhat unattainable. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and for me, watching the first season of Tidying Up was a breath of fresh air, and I believe I have found a soul sister in Marie Kondo.

The show’s title is a bit misleading. When I think of tidying up, I think of fluffing the pillows, folding the blankets, and putting the cat’s toys in their basket. Nowhere in my vocabulary does tidying up mean to pull every piece of clothing I own to create a mountain on my bed. Maybe a better title would have been House Purge Master, Life Detox, or The Big Unclutter. Okay, so those titles are not as petite and feminine as Marie.

Still, I have to say that I’m in awe of her methods. Perhaps it’s my inner neat-freak that can relate to Marie so easily. As it turns out I do most of the things she recommends. I clean by category, I go through my clothes, shoes, and accessories at least once a year, and I find boxes to put in drawers to help keep smaller items in place. Of course, the things I haven’t done, which are the real gems to the KonMari method, are sensing if an object sparks joy and thanking an item before I put it in the donate pile.

We all know that gratitude brings about a sense of contentment. For me, it’s not so much thanking the item itself, but instead thanking God for the abundance He has provided. There is nothing more satisfying than purging items to make room for the treasured ones you plan on keeping or new items you plan on adding, but taking a few minutes to be grateful for these items, whether coming or going, helps put things and life into perspective.

There is something to be said for the psychology behind a clean and organized home.  Our living environments are directly connected to the way we think and feel. If a constant mess surrounds us, then our brains will have a harder time concentrating on a single task. Simply put, an organized home helps heal and organize our minds. My guess is when you wake to a pile of dishes in the sink every  morning it causes frustration. The last thing you want to do is empty the sink before you’ve had your first sip of coffee. A simple rule to empty your sink every night will help with a better start to the morning.

Whatever your level of home keeping, you have to admit that Marie is just a delight to watch with her small stature, yet useful ability to help people make the change they need to feel better about themselves and their relationships. The only thing that I haven’t tried yet is her folding method, and while it makes sense in principle, I think it will be hard to stick with a cumbersome folding methodology. But you never know until you try, be right back while I go and refold all of my clothes pyramid style!

Breaking the Cycle

Eudaimonia Tip # 12 – Start with mini solutions to achieve your resolutions.

It’s an all to familiar cycle. You wake up on January 2nd and vow, no resolve to make significant changes in your life. Lose 20 lbs in 20 days; exercise twice a day every day; purge and organize your house in one day. You guessed it. It’s resolution season. We’ve all been there more times than we care to admit resolving to do or not do something in the coming year. But why is it that we focus all of the change that we want to make in January only for February to arrive carrying all of our bags of disregarded resolutions.

I get it. It’s a new year which means a clean slate, but great resolutions are the same old recycled attempt to achieve change. Now if your the kind of person that resolves to do something and executes it on a schedule this post is not for you and you are an anomaly to the human race. For the rest of us ordinary struggling people, keep reading.

Of course, wanting to change, improve, or better yourself is a good thing! If you read my previous post (Perfectly Crafted 2019), you would know that I’m all for self-improvement.  It’s important to have goals in life, but how we go about achieving those goals needs a new approach. Talk to any fitness or financial guru, and they will tell you that if you bite off more than you can chew, you are sure to fail.

I can attest to this from personal experience. Each new year I wake up with the same resolutions as years past, jump on the detox bandwagon and hope that this time it sticks. See, the problem with big resolutions that require you to radically change your way of life and evoke some magical form of willpower is that they lack sustainability.

To break the cycle, I’ve forgone grand resolutions and implemented mini solutions instead. Mini solutions are small incremental steps to achieving your big goals. January for me is akin to an old steam train starting to gain momentum. Steam trains move slowly at first until they can build up enough, well, steam to keep them going. Mini solutions are the coal required for your fire to build up your own steam. The trick is to keep adding fuel to the flame. Below are the four steps to achieve mini solution success.

Pick your first mini solution: Find something to add/remove from your life. Some examples of this would be committing to drinking eight glasses of water a day, not eating after 9 pm, or walking 15 minutes a day. For my first mini solution, I chose to cut out was this fantastic gluten-free bread from Costco (thanks Costco).

Set your time frame: 
When you figure what your first mini solution will be set a time frame from a few days to a week to measure your success and determination. It’s been a week now since the breads been gone and honestly, I don’t miss it. The shorter the time frame, the easier it will be to add up successes.

Write down your wins and losses:
There is no fancy algorithm for this step. Of course, you want to write down each day you stick with your mini solution, but don’t stop there. I write down all the things that I’m proud of each day and things that I could have done better. For example, I went to dinner this past Friday and said no to dessert. I even said out loud “this is going down as a WIN for today.”

Keep adding to your successes:
Once you’ve accomplished your first mini solution, add another. Remember, you need to add coal to keep the fire going. I cut out bread and then committed to drinking ten glasses of water a day for five days. I’m two for two and ready to keep adding to my win’s pile! I’m already seeing improved energy now that I’m starting to cut out carbs and staying hydrated.

Not only has this mini solution approach set me up for success, but it’s also given me the momentum I’ve been missing for a while now. This approach may not be for everyone, but it’s helping me move towards my bigger goals, which is what it’s all about. Remember, the key to mini solutions is to keep them simple building upon each win. In this case, seeing is believing. When you see the small improvements in your life add up you will start to believe that this is the year your goals for change will finally be realized. From there it’s anyone’s guess what you can accomplish in life one mini solution at a time.

http://Photo by Gabriela Palai from Pexels

Perfectly Crafted 2019

Eudaimonia Tip # 11 – Create a vision for your future so you can see where you’re going.

Another holiday season is in the bag. All the traveling from family to family, the 12 bajillion cookies you baked and then ate. All the presents you stayed up late wrapping and then hiding them from the human and fur-kids alike! It’s finally over, and life can resume it’s regularly scheduled programming.  But we all know what comes next — the self-loathing and regret from putting yourself in debt and gaining 20 lbs.

This December was vastly different for me as I spent most of the month laying low and keeping to myself. As planned I skipped the traditional family get-togethers on Christmas Eve and Christmas day. Having these days to myself was what I needed to recharge my batteries and think about the future. My December vacation wasn’t just Netflix and chill. In a serendipitous moment, I talked to a long lost friend who told me all about the power of vision boards and how they’ve helped her focus on her goals. This idea struck me as brilliant as it just so happened that I had about 50 or so magazines laying around that I had been collecting all year. Tackling the mountain of magazines was on my list of things do while on vacation, and now I had an additional purpose to look through these mini picture books.

However, one does not just wake up and make a vision board in a single day. There are a few steps involved to achieve true vision board success.

First, I listed the areas that I wanted to work on in the coming year. You can have any number of categories, categorized a myriad of ways, but my recommendation is to keep it simple, so it all fits on your board. The areas I chose are Health; career; faith; and R&R.

Second, I found an actual board. It may be obvious, but you will need something to put all of your beautiful ideas on to gaze upon each day. A quick trip to the local craft store, or better yet Target, will have what you need. You can go basic and start with poster board, or fancy and find a dressed up cork board.

Third, I had to find content. As I mentioned earlier, I had a lot of magazines to look through, but if you don’t have 50 or so laying around you can buy some, or collect some from friends and family. Also, a stencil works great for phrases you can’t find in magazines, and make sure to add pictures of yourself too!

Fourth, I created my board. Now the fun part! Once I had enough clippings and knew the layout I wanted I started to put my board together. Depending on your style, you can do a collage of pictures, or try a more organized approach and use columns for each category.

Finally, I placed my board in my bedroom where I can see it every morning. It is a vision board after all so make sure you are putting it where you will see it daily. Once completed step back and let the board do its magic.

There are a lot of resources out there as to why vision boards work, so if you want the scientific reasons, give it a google. This post is my simple approach to creating a focus for 2019, and I already feel more centered and excited for the new year. See part of the magic of creating a vision board is to get your mind moving and thinking. Just having the ideas in your head and pictures on your board is a powerful motivator.

Part of my vision for 2019 was to start engaging with life again. I flipped the script this year, and instead of staying home on NYE I went to a concert with some friends at the Hard Rock Rocksino. I have to say the night was the perfect ending to a difficult year. When the ball dropped, the confetti fell, and Auld Lang Syne started to play, I felt all the tension I had been carrying fade away followed by a wave of happiness. It is a New Year with new visions ahead.

Safety Net

Eudaimonia Tip # 10 – Listen to your emotions, they are telling you what you need

Sometimes life sends us a lingering feeling or a fleeting thought, but either duration leaves us with an uneasiness if you don’t take action. It’s similar to pulling yourself out of bed and going to church to hear the best sermon of your life or going for that run in the dropping temps that helps you stay on course. In my case, I knew that if I didn’t find support after I finished school, I would be in big trouble.

First, finishing my degree took up a big chunk of my time so without the distraction I knew my mind would jump right to Sam. Second, Sam and I loved fall and doing all the cliche type fall-winter activities, which memories of said events were about to rush into my brain, not to mention the facebook memories feature that I haven’t quite figured how to turn off.

With determination and some apprehension, I joined the suicide support group at Cornerstone of Hope which conveniently started the end of August and was scheduled to last ten weeks (with one-week intentionally skipped). To say that the group was a godsend is not exaggerating. Individually we all showed up not knowing what to expect, but knowing we each needed emotional help.

The first day we got acquainted with each other as well as our facilitators, who did a fantastic job at letting us be our group. The outline of the next ten weeks was discussed along with the weeks we would be sharing the loss of our loved ones. I’ll never forget the end of the first day, as we all stood in a circle and passed a ball of yarn around while holding onto a point in the string. As we each stood holding our portion, it was easy to see the visual before us. Laura, one of our facilitators, explained that this is a safe place, and the yarn we are all holding represents a safety net. Then we each went around and expressed what we hoped we would get out of the group at the end of ten weeks. Most in the group wanted to find understanding in their loss; others wanted to find peace. I was in a different place; I understood why he did it, and with that knowledge brought with it a sense of anger that if not checked would have consumed me. When it came to my turn, I merely said: “I hope that this group can help me let go of my anger towards Sam.”

And you know what, they did.

We all suffered the same loss in name only, but our stories were all so vastly different. Two dedicated mothers, a devoted husband, a loving wife, a committed daughter, and a compassionate aunt each brought their shattered hearts looking for someone or someway to help start to put the pieces back together.

Looking back to that first meeting on August 30th it seemed like ten weeks was going to take forever. Fast forward to our last group meeting on Nov 8th, and it seemed surreal at how fast the time went by. Somewhere in the middle of these cluster of weeks we each shared our stories throughout two sessions leaving us with great heaviness of what suicide does to those left in the aftermath. The pain is impossible to express, but when there is even the slightest bit of healing, it is a tremendous feat to acknowledge.

The whole point of a support group is to find those that are going through the same thing you are. The empathy given and found when sharing in another’s pain is so important to the healing process.

I can’t quite remember where I heard this from, but time does not heal grief, it only helps us deal with it better. Each of us suffered a tremendous loss, and our journey now is to find a way to deal with our grief daily. Some days may swell and overtake us, while other days will be calm. No matter the day that lays ahead, I am grateful for those that sat with me over the ten weeks to share their burden of pain and listen to my own. If it wasn’t for these eight people that God brought into my life, I do not know if I could have let go of my anger. Knowing that I can remember the good memories and not only focus on the bad is a gift that I will treasure forever.