Never Stop Wandering Into Wonder. – Suzy Kassem

So we are just a few hours from 2017 and I am preparing for the festivities of tonight but I wanted to hammer out a blog to wrap up my thoughts bout 2016.

So the internet has decided 2016 is the worst year we’ve had since the plague. They could be right but I’d say it all depends on who you ask.

I’ve seen many good things happen to family and friends populate in my news feed over the last twelve months. Don’t get me wrong, I know a few people who would disagree because they have had some terrible things happen to them this year. May they know they are in my thoughts and I’m here for them.

This year has been an interesting year:

I attended three weddings two of which I was in the wedding party and one where I was a guest. I wish each couple nothing but happiness and many years with their new partners. One of those weddings was my brothers so my family added a new family member! I really do have an awesome sister-in-law and then my family celebrated fifty years of marriage for my grandparents. My mom, aunt, and I planned a surprise party where guest came to celebrate with us. Some of the guests were lifelong friends of my grandparents. It was a great occasion.

For me personally, 2016 has been a good year. This last year is arguably my best year maybe ever. I was promoted to a supervisor position at work, I was accepted into graduate school and successfully completed my first semester with a 4.0, and I paid my car off, and started a journey of self love and acceptance. I struggle daily but look forward to reaching my destination.

I began a new thought process about the people in my life and am very thankful for them. I feel as though those relationships have been enriched and are much fuller and deeper. I look forward to carrying that into the New Year.

I don’t expect 2017 to be much different than 2016. Years tend to blend but I will continue to work towards my professional and personal goals. I want to keep working to complete grad school and furthering my passion of reducing mental health stigma.

I am really not the type to make a big deal about New Years. It’s just another day. The only thing significant about it is that I flip the calendar. I believe that people can start everyday as a “new year” so I don’t get caught up in the hysteria. If you want to change something don’t wait until it feels like a magical time. Create the magic and it will happen.

To you reading this,

I hope you make that change you are desperately agonizing over, go after your dream job, find the love of your life, develop your passion, apply for your dream school, travel and love more, respect yourself and others, get out of that bad relationship, leave the job you hate, and reduce the negativity in your life. The magic of New Years isn’t the fact the date changes it’s the possibilities and wonderment that comes with it. If you want 2017 to be different you have to become different. Remember that!

Happy New Year and good vibes!

“Edit your life frequently and ruthlessly. It’s your masterpiece after all.” ― Nathan W. Morris

I like to purge. I consider myself a purger but not of the body. I like to purge stuff and find that very cathartic. I have always lived by the motto if it isn’t serving a purpose, I don’t need it. Its worked out well, so far.

I have decided to take that motto and take it a step forward. I have a friend who is a minimalist. Its quite fascinating that she cannot survive with less stuff in a society that tells us we need more stuff. I have imagined its very freeing.

Being a minimalist is something I have always seen myself doing. I truly like the idea to not being bogged down from having things I simply do not need. So I have taken the first step to becoming a minimalist. I have gone through my closet and gathered all the clothing I intend to donate. I mean were talking five pairs of shoes, numerous t-shirts, polos, sweaters, and jeans. Every bit of clothing is something I haven’t worn in years. I find myself saying I will wear it eventually or when I lose a few pounds. This type of thinking isn’t productive.

So with anything, I research minimalism and found that this concept isn’t limited to “stuff”. It can be a lifestyle. I found that you can start with stuff but you can minimize your job/school, stress, debt, friends/family, and health/diet. I became obsessed with this notion. I’ll be it, I won’t be minimalizing much of friends and family. I already have a small and close knit support system but everything else sounds appealing.

One article I read even discussed mental health as an aspect of minimal living. Learning to minimalize the stress and conflict in your life. You see minimalism is about a person’s whole being and is intended for optimal living. You create more freedom for yourself when you are not tied to stuff and negative baggage.

Minimal living in regard to health and diet requires more planning. Everyday I spend ten dollars to eat lunch because I make no preparation for what I intend to eat. So by planning my meals and minimally spending money, I am giving myself freedom in more healthy living and saving money on food that is not spur of the moment.

My end game is that I hope this provides me with more time to do what I want. I think this will be a good way to get it. Living minimally is living more purposefully.

I started with my closet and intend to move to other parts of my life. Lets see how it goes:

 

 

“If this planet is to be transformed for the better, then we as individuals must first transform ourselves.” ― Auliq Ice

Lately, I’ve been in my head a lot. Those that know me understand this is typical for but it’s been a good “inside your head”. Recently, I’ve noticed I have felt very grateful for life and my people, places, and things, especially my career. I have never been more fulfilled in what I do. I got to thinking why this is.

I have this firm belief in people, goodness, and easing other folk’s burden. As a kid, I had a youth leader at church that impressed upon my cohorts and me the belief that we should “leave things better than we found them”. I have realized that this sentiment impacted me more than I knew. This thought has driven many of my decisions in life. I want to know I am leaving my people, places, and things better off that when they came to me.

Social Work is how I have fulfilled this. What we do matters. Who we work with matters and I love to do it. I work with all different types of people. I work to solve many different types of problems. We should be meeting people where they are at and not where we expect them to be.

When working with folks, it is important to remember not everyone is like you and that is okay. We should not expect everyone to fall in line with our beliefs, customs, and way of doing things. If you do, you’re in for a sad life.

Social Work seeks to improve the lives of others and the communities in which they live. Everyone truly is interconnected on a level that none of us can see. We share problems and should be empathetic to folks.

Social Work seeks to “leave things better than we found them”. Social Workers advocate for those who do not have the ability to advocate for themselves. This looks like different things. Sometimes we intervene with a landlord, teacher, doctor, or family member. Other times we intervene with folks who you wouldn’t expect. An example would be another person who is in the field that should be working for the same goal, bettering the client’s life. If you want to piss me of the fastest, its being a stumbling block for someone else when your job is to be a support for that person.

Unfortunately, I see it all too often. “Do No Harm” is something doctors live by but my coworkers and I have adopted that motto as well in response to seeing people not living up to what they should be.

That vow is a serious one. If you aren’t working to better your client’s life you aren’t doing your job.

It is very important to leave the world a better place. This is done in very complex ways and also very simple ways. You do not have to be the President to make the world a better place.

We can make the world a better place by simply being there for folks. Sometimes a strong silence will do more for a person than a bunch of hot air. We can volunteer and work for different social agencies.

It even can happen on a smaller scale, hold a door open for someone, make a phone call, smile at someone. Small gestures make a big impact.

Remember that you can make an impact on people and leave things better that when you found them. Look for a need and fulfill it, no matter how small.

“This Too Shall Pass” -Unknown

Rarely do I ever need to remind myself of this quote. I have had this mentality as long as I can remember. I tend to be optimistic about things. I am not naïve about the world. I see reality but I have lived long enough to know that most things are temporary.

That includes the good things, not just the bad. Life seems to be a balancing act of good and bad events and everyone of them has not lasted. It passed.

I have this unyielding belief that things get better. I believe I was born with that disposition but chose a long time ago to nurture it.

You can chose to see the world two ways:

1) Life is good with some bad events.

or

2) Life is bad with some good events.

Every human falls into one of those categories. Obviously one is more  harmful than the other. And it is all temporary.

It bring comfort to me to know that the negative events that happen to me are not forever. The sun will really come out tomorrow. Metaphorically at least. I know that a few bad days strung together might make a terrible week but my month can still be good. Its all about perspective.

Asking yourself questions like “Why Me?” only perpetuates a negative attitude. It also demonstrates the thought process that you are above hardship. No one is above hardship. Everyone will suffer. Instead ask “Why not me?”. I do not mean that in an excited way but instead mean it as a way to put things into perspective. There are over seven billion people on the planet. Negative things are happening to someone somewhere. Its bound to catch up with you sooner or later. But on the same side of that coin, good things happen as well. Life’s pleasures happen to you as well. Humans tend to only focus on the negative events, which reinforces our beliefs that negative things are always happening to us.

It is my opinion that we focus more on negative events largely because it feeds the innate insecurity that humanity has. Obviously there are more things in play than insecurity but I believe that is the most driving force in all of humanity. Even love.  However, that is for another topic at a later time.

The proverb “This Too Shall Pass” should be a reminder that negative events do not last. They are finite. They appear for a small time and then vanish. Sure the effects may be felt long after they are gone but healing may occur. Life goes on; as Robert Frost pointed out. Also, “This Too Shall Pass” should help us understand even good things do not last. We should be appreciating them as we have them. The people in our lives. The time we spend with those people. Even our material blessings.

I read a meme once that affirmed if you count her blessings and material things are among them then you do not know what blessings are. While I agree material things are not the most important of blessings, I believe they are still blessings. Any good thing in one’s life is a blessing and maybe some of the bad too.

It is my hope that we remember that bad things happen but not forever. Good things come into our lives and also leave. We should just be thankful we have the experiences that shape who we have become. For even those awful experiences add to ourselves. You can learn and grow as a person. You can work towards being better for it. You can choose optimism.

This In Itself Is Humbling.

“When we know ourselves to be connected to all others, acting compassionately is simply the natural thing to do. ” ― Rachel Naomi Remen

Yesterday afternoon I had to make a run to the store for spaghetti noodles. We were out. However, out of pure laziness I thought to stop by my grandparent’s to see if I could save a trip to town.

I was in luck. My grandparents were home. I was able to get the spaghetti noodles and inspiration for a blog.

As I was visiting with my wonderful grandparents my grandfather was excitedly recounting his day to me. What struck me was the conversation.

I have only had one person close to me pass away. I’ve been blessed to not experience much death in my life. All of my people. The people I can’t live without are alive and well. The same cannot be said for my grandparents. They have experienced a lot of life. With that comes a lot of loss.

My grandfather was telling me about his outing to a cemetery. He was able to speak to some folks who happen to be there. They knew his kin folks. I imagine that was an awesome experience. He then explained that my second great grandfather’s signature for a sale at an old time general store still exists and has been preserved in a local museum.

The way it’s been explained to me it wasn’t a special sale. And other names are listed. It’s just a signature listed on some old receipt dockets.  It’s not to make light of it. Just further explaining at the time when my second great grandfather was living, this was a common occurrence. However, it’s neat it’s been preserved.

What impressed me was the excitement this brought to my grandfather. I realized to my grandfather this was more than a receipt in a museum. It was a connection to a loved one. A way to remember someone he lost. It was a remnant from one he has lost.

While he was telling me about this old general store and the receipts that were on display, I was thinking about this. I was thinking that he has a receipt to help keep that connection alive. Currently, I still have my grandparents. I don’t have to do any remembering. They are with me.

In that moment I was soaking in that time I had with them.

As I write, I wonder what will be my connection. What remnant will I use to recall  my losses? I start to think about the only close person I have lost. There are a few things that remind me of that person.

I also have come to the conclusion that life becomes a balancing act of creating connections with loved ones while remembering the ones that have gone on before you.

I’m very much an analyzer. I observe the world around me. I experience the experience of what I’m experiencing. I’ll let that one sink in.

This was a little more personal than I intended but I knew I wanted to write about this topic. I can’t understand the idea of attempting to connect with lost loved ones. I haven’t had to but thankfully I have my grandparents for examples.

For them these remnants are not simple trinkets, signatures, or other objects. They are subtle reminders their lost loved ones existed. They provide a gentle comfort of the relationship that existed, the past that was lived.

Remnants reinforce our memories. We should all be creating and searching for connections to our past.

This in itself is humbling.

“It’s paradoxical that the idea of living a long life appeals to everyone, but the idea of getting old doesn’t appeal to anyone.” -Andy Rooney

TV Land is introducing a new dramadey called “Younger”. It is about a forty-ish recently divorced mother who is wanting to rebuild her life.

Not an original concept right? There is a twist. Their is always a twist.

In order to rebuild her life she obtains a new job and friends. In this new life everyone believes she is a twentysomething. I get it. Its a TV show. The producers needed a hook and a reason for the audience to watch.

What will be telling is how receptive TV watchers will be.

Society has a preoccupation with youth. Its no secret. I’ve just never gotten that mentality though. I suppose its easy for a twentysomething to make comments like that.

I don’t long for youth due to the fact I’m in my prime. I’m the definition of youth and twentysomething-tude. However, I have never understood being nostalgic for the past.  I have always said I never want to wake up in twenty years and desire the old days. I had a great high school experience, college experience, and now young adult experience. But I do not wish to go back to those days.

I understand the appeal. Why would anyone not want to go back to a time when he/she had limited responsibility.

I have always affirmed I wanted to live in a way that every faction of my life is good. I want to be happy everyday of my life. I want to be so happy with where I am in life that I do not long for “glory days”. Up to this point I have been able to do that.

I believe its normal for everyone to have a few days every once in awhile to pine for a simpler time. However, there are folks who think of those simpler times and stop living for the present and focus completely on how good they used to have it.

Here are a few characteristics that can help a person to stop living for the past and enjoy the present.

1) Stop acting like a victim. Understand that things happen. You weren’t singled out. Life isn’t fair.

2) Life and no one else owes you anything. Stop thinking you deserve something for nothing. Work for what you want.

3) Appreciate the people in your life. Accept that everything in your life can change at anytime. Loved one’s aren’t with us forever.

4) Thinking on positive things will help you have a positive outlook. Your outlook dictates your ability to handle your situation.

5) The present is the only time we have. We shouldn’t waste it on the past. Good or bad.

Often what we think about a situation will determine how we react to that situation. The present time can be as good as the “glory days” one so desperately clings to if one attempts to change his attitude about it.

At times its normal for one to think about past good times. However, it becomes unhealthy for one to dwell on the past so much he/she cannot live for the present.

We must love our life in all aspects. We must want to be so in love with life that we do not dwell on better days. If you find you could use better days, you should work towards them. You have the power to change your life and make improvements as needed. Isn’t that a lovely thought?

That in itself is humbling.

“Self-absorption in all its forms kills empathy, let alone compassion.” -Daniel Goleman

Self preservation is a powerful thing. It is not singular to humans. Animals do it and even plants do everything in their ability to preserve self.

It is a basic survival instinct. It is innate. Everyone implores the skill of self preservation. Adam was the first human to apply one of the tenants of self preservation. Adam blamed his sin on another human, Eve.

Self preservation comes in many forms. At times it looks like lying. It can mask itself as stealing, self defense, and even coping.

Everything we do is a form of self preservation. However, most forms of self preservation are rooted in selfish behavior.

One of the most common forms of self preservation is living above the law. People who choose to believe that the rules do not apply to them or their situation.

Oddly enough, this behavior is associated more with wealthy people who have connections. After all, it is easier for them to bend rules as they need them to. However, this attitude does not discriminate. Rich folks, poor folks, everyday common folks, white folks, black folks, and any other type of person can have this attitude.

I cannot say what makes a person feel entitled to break the rules. I would wager familiarity in a particular situation would aid in the sense of entitlement. People will take more liberties when they feel comfortable. People attempt to get away with more when they are in a familiar setting.

I suppose that is normal. Quickly, we find our little ways of justifying our actions. We introduce those little thoughts. “I do X so I deserve Y”. We may even think “Well Mrs. Y does J so I can do T”. Our justifications are what help us make our decisions.

However, some people have a sense of entitlement without familiarity. These people do not ask. They just do. Most likely they subscribe to the belief of “Its better to ask forgiveness than permission”.

This belief sadly reflects many people within our society. It bolsters the premise of “let’s do as much as we can and see what we can get away with”.

Many people have a disregard for the rules. People attempt to get away with everything they can. Lying, stealing, and cheating become the norm for these folks.

And their justification is always the same. I am owed this. I am a good person. I’m not hurting others.

Whatever excuse can be thought of is used as their justification for their behavior. I believe this is where self preservation comes into play. People lie as to not face consequences. People steal for many reasons but gain for self is usually the leading reason.

We should evaluate our behaviors and motives of why we participate in different activities. Self preservation is a powerful instinct. It is innate. But it doesn’t mean we cannot rise above our selfish desires.

We all have the ability to do good. We all have the ability to change the world for the better. We should always strive for “us” preservation instead of self preservation.

This in itself is humbling.