inspire, perspective

Excitement

Who doesn’t like a little excitement in their life? Who doesn’t get excited on a regular basis?

A big vacation starts tomorrow. The feeling of excitement hits you and sleep is no longer an option. The first day of school is upon you. Many emotions pass through your mind but one is definitely excitement to see what the day will hold. A birth of a new family member. Nerves are a-blazing but excitement is in the air. The examples are limitless in my mind.

Excitement is around us. It’s a word but also a feeling. Some show it visibly differently than others and that is okay. For me excitement is easily visible and can even be contagious.

My eyes light up. My curiosity is sparked. My brain fires on all cylinders. I engage others around me. Excitement is a stimulant to me in a way that many may not understand.

I feel excitement in my core and it radiates around me. I can wake up excited for the day where others are slow off the block or need coffee for arousal. This is what I mean when I say I feel excitement in my core. No dusting off needed to arouse my excitement, it sits at the core of my existence.

Some days it’s shaken and stirred. Other days the excitement becomes an inferno. It’s somewhere in between the reckless inferno and shaken when my mind works the best.

I am excited today and thus I decided to write. I often write in the morning when my senses are awakened with excitement. Content flows. Ideas go into the journal. Plans are made. Action is taken. Most of which happens before one gets up and has their morning coffee.

I am fond of the word excitement. It’s part of my aura. It’s part of my story. For now I will take my excitement off this page and into the world as it awaits. And there are some folks out there in the world that don’t appreciate my excitement. I have to assume it’s because their life is boring but I waste no time on that negativity. I just do me. Exciting me whenever possible.

I hope the word excitement has sparked some thought for you today. The post was meant to send you in that direction of excitement.

perspective

Special Deliveries

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I am a huge Amazon fan.  Like, huge. Maybe too big.

Me and Amazon go back a long way. I peeked in my decades-old email inbox and saw my oldest email from Amazon.com is from 2003 when I had a baby registry there.  I know I was a customer years before that though. I loved Amazon when they just sold books and  spending 25 bucks to get super saver shipping was the coolest. Prime wasn’t even a thing.

I loved Amazon when it was losing money and people didn’t think it would survive. (Yes, there was a time when Amazon did not make money!)  I was a college student then, busy falling in love with knowledge and reading and all that nonsense, when Amazon was the place for all my little philosophy and poetry tomes, long before Amazon baby registries.

I do know that Amazon isn’t everything. Over the years I have learned to seek out and shop small businesses when I can.  Local bookstores, hardware stores, boutiques…I try to shop them often.  But still, there are some times when Amazon’s selection and even price and return policy can’t be matched. (Not to mention you can shop them in your pajamas when you just think of something you need and voila!  It’s there in 2 days.)

Of course, the pandemic has caused retail pandemonium. Even more people are shopping online. Delivery services are taxed to the max. Amazon didn’t escape this fate.  My little reliable Prime symbol doesn’t even mean 2-day shipping anymore. Only “essential items” from these categories would be delivered quickly: baby products, health and household, beauty and personal care, grocery, industrial and scientific, and pet supplies.  Everything else was in slow motion.

I guess this didn’t really sink in for me for a while. Here I am, spending most of my time at home, many businesses closed.  Times have truly, deeply changed, both in a global sense and in a personal sense. I’ve been using my hour once spent commuting to the gym and work to read every morning. Of the many changes I’ve taken on, that has been a bright spot.  But, my book supply was small, and reading for nearly an hour each day has me flying through books quickly.  A visit to the local Barnes & Noble isn’t an option. Libraries are closed (?!?!?)  So, of course, I ordered a couple of titles from Amazon.

FOUR WEEKS.

It was going to take four weeks!  And one is a best seller!  Geez.  Another sign of the times.

I see Amazon trucks scurrying everywhere through traffic and their delivery people running up to doors.  I know people are working hard.  I’ll survive.

Imagine my surprise, then, when I was granted a hundred dollars from our school PTA to spend on classroom supplies earlier this week. I had to spend it quickly, so I just piled a bunch of colored copy paper in my Amazon cart and hit order now.  I knew we didn’t have any at work and I knew we wouldn’t need it anytime soon, since we won’t have students in the building until the fall.  It was just a simple thing to stock up on and Amazon usually has decent prices.  I clicked it and forgot about it.

Then, VOILA.  What shows up on my doorstep in less than 24 hours?  The 8 reams of paper I didn’t really need for months, in a large box marked “HEAVY.”

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I was shocked.  Really?

Meanwhile, I’m still waiting for the books I ordered weeks ago, the items I truly needed now – or even last month.

I guess this probably sounds quibblesome to many.  A definite first-world problem.  Maybe it’s selfish of me to wish I could have somehow deemed my books essential items.  After all, they are what I am using to work on my mindset and my future wealth.  I get that books aren’t at the top of many people’s priority lists. Screens are more an essential for most these days, and others have said that focusing long enough to read in these troubled times is impossible.  But for me, books have been a saving grace.  And for those who are isolating alone, I can imagine books can be essential for some.

Still, I can wait.  What was sillier to me was my heavy, cumbersome box of Atomic Orange copy paper, which I didn’t need anytime soon, zipped to my home address like it was on the Pony Express.  Can I find a way to trade my priorities?  Or somehow push the paper down the delivery list so the urgently essential items (whatever those are) can get to their destinations more quickly?

But in the end, who decides what is essential?  And why? It’s different around the world, and not without controversy.  Amazon, who started out in the book industry, now has books as non-essential items.  Amazon, you’ve forgotten where you came from!  (The conspiracy theorist in me says, of course they don’t want us to read!  Reading means we can think for ourselves!  They’re trying to limit our access to information.  And did I mention that the LIBRARIES ARE CLOSED??!?)

Calm down, Beth. Really though, it’s probably not much more than another shuffling sign of the times in the age of corona.  And it brings a new appreciation for the conveniences I took for granted. And a whole lot of neon-colored paper collecting dust in the cupboard.

 

 

 

 

 

perspective

Flip Flopping Frustrations

This morning my frustrations were mounting.  The workouts I decided on weren’t what I expected.  My home gym equipment kept failing or falling over.  I wasn’t sweating enough.  The scale was up.  My morning reading time didn’t settle my mind as it usually does.  Another day of staring at a computer screen (aka working from home) was about to begin. Anger, irritation, all of it piling up, no end in sight.

Woe is me.

I had a come to Jesus with myself and told myself to quit griping.  Yes, a lot of the pandemic pandemonium sucks but we are making it work.  I told myself to make a list of my frustrations then flip them into reasons to be grateful.  Some remind me to be grateful for what I have now, others remind me to be grateful for what I used to have and will hopefully return to.  Here it is:

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It’s in the notebook I’ve set aside to chronicle this crazy time. I’ve read in several places that journaling, while always important, is especially valuable now, for mental health as well as historical reasons.  We are living history. I know I will add more pages of frustration as this time wears on.  I’ll keep reading it and reminding myself to flip my frustrations into appreciation.

Spring break begins today.  What would have been sweet relief and possibly getting out of town is not a shelter-in-place order that will last two weeks.  Our one week off of school will be followed by at least three more of learning from home.  I will spend time preparing my mind for these challenges this week.  I’ll also devote some time to gratitude to friends, family, and those who are serving on the front lines of this crisis.  And hopefully get out into the sunshine and nature often with those who are closest to me.

When you start to get stuck or go down the path of anxiety, see if you can flip your thinking.  Focus on gratitude and what you can control. What switch can you flip today?

balance, challenges

Abundance

It was my fourth trip to the grocery store in the past ten days.

Even in that long time, the scene was mostly the same.  Fruits and veggies were pretty well stocked.

But, canned goods were basically empty. Same with the pasta aisle. Fresh meat cases completely bare. Bread was hit or miss. Toilet paper shelves had tumbleweeds on them once again…ten days later.  Ten days!?!

It’s enough to make me anxious.  People walking around the store, shopping with masks and gloves, looks of mistrust.

Where did everything go?  Why is there nothing left?

Early on in this coronavirus crisis, I listened to a podcast by Lewis Howes.  I was still going in to my job at that point, so it was only a week ago (but wow it seems like so much has happened in that week).  I was listening to “8 Ways to be Calm and Prepared During a Crisis.”  It was number 8 that stood out to me the most: Keep giving.  Howes talks about how important it is to stay in an abundant mindset, even when (maybe especially when) things are scarce.

But it’s not just an abundance of things he is talking about.  He talks about time, energy, effort, love for people we know and even people we don’t.  He told a story about an exchange with a stranger in an elevator.  Instead of ignoring the person at this awkward time, he made the effort to talk to them and share just a word or two of general encouragement.  We are all in this mess together (even if we have to stay physically separated from most).

I took his advice this week.  Every morning as I was out riding my bike or running, I made it a point to say a clear “good morning” to everyone I passed.  I looked them in the eye. Many were surprised, but most responded.  During the day, I reached out to colleagues just to check in and say hello.  I tried to text my gym friends, since many of us have stopped going and I want to encourage them to stay active and connected.  I had longer talks with both of my brothers than I have had in months.  I wrote letters and started creating artwork to send to people I can’t see or who might need a lift.

Abundance happens to be a common theme in the book I am reading right now, too: “You Are a Badass” by Jen Sincero.  More on that later, but continuing to work on my inner dialogue about what my purpose is and what is available to me is a big challenge. I do think I happen to be reading this book right now for a reason.  I have never had an abundance mindset, which is reflected in my home, my income, how much I eat, how much I spend, and all kinds of other ways. I have always been worried I will run out of things.  But, as I have been working on for years, I am rewriting my story toward a more magnificent ending. This is one doozy of a chapter for me, and for many of us.

How about you? How can you come from a place of abundance when we are faced with possibly having less, earning less, even trusting less and connecting less?  What do you have to give abundantly? We all have something, even many things.  Who can you lift today?  Share your story in the comments.

 

 

health, inspire

Emotional Hygiene

 

Part of my goals this year are about using my time more thoughtfully. (I’m looking at you, hour long commute! You too, meal prep marathon!) Instead of riding along listening to 70s music (again) or the usually depressing news, I wanted to start listening to podcasts. I loaded some up and have enjoyed quite a few (while easily deleting others after a couple of episodes.)  I’ve learned that some are pleasant to listen to, even inspiring, and will linger with me.  Then, there are others where I am actively nodding, mind completely engaged, stopping to jot notes down to think about or follow up on later. I’ll share interesting tidbits once in a while.

The first one I wanted to share here is an episode from Lewis Howes’s School of Greatness podcast. Specifically, an episode with Chris Voss, a former FBI hostage negotiator who now trains people to negotiate across many fields, especially business.  This is definitely an episode I would have skipped based on the topic / title except for one thing…I was going to a car dealership later that day to buy a car.  People who know me can guess I’d be nervous about negotiating anything, so when I saw this episode title I thought to myself…well…maybe I can learn something that will help me feel more confident in negotiation for this car.

As I listened, most of what stood out to me was about mindset.  He talked about the way much of our brains (around 75%!) are neurologically wired to be negative – to defend ourselves for example, but we are actually significantly smarter when we are happier.  Like, 31% smarter.  That’s huge! This comes from Harvard professor Shawn Achor’s Ted Talk, The Happiness Advantage.  Who knew that just by being happier we boost our smarts?  Left me with a lot to think about.

Another tidbit that struck me was Voss mentioning the importance of gratitude in starting your day.  He recommends that we write down 1-3 things to be grateful for at the beginning of the day as “emotional / spiritual hygiene.”  I’ve known the importance of gratitude for a while.  I’ve even written about thanks on this blog. But I think the idea of how gratitude is as necessary as taking a shower or brushing your teeth was a mind shift for me.  It’s not just nice to do, it’s necessary in order to get your brain framed up the right way for the day.  Gratitude is a way of taking care of ourselves. It is a daily practice that keeps us on track.

So far, podcasts are an interesting new way to learn for me…I’m late to the party, I know, but I’m figuring it out.  Do you have any podcasts you enjoy or recommend?

As for negotiations, I have started to notice all the subtle little negotiations we make during our days, from the coffee line to casual conversations at work.  Will I improve at them using what I’ve learned?  I’ll let you know.  In the mean time, I still haven’t bought a car, but that’s a story for another post.