I’m flawed yet BEAUTIFUL!

Self Love

I was sitting here earlier and came across a post from a fellow blogger that made me stop and think about my life. More specifically to all the triumphs I’ve had despite my failures. Yes I’m talking about you thehappywappyblog. You can click the following link to find the post that got me on this thought process here: Confidence Booster!

A few months ago I started a project for a friend of mine. I wanted to do something to cheer her up. The project was a bit bigger than I expected, and I haven’t completed it yet. Not for a lack of not caring about her anymore or anything like that, I’ve just not been able to finish because it’s a lot of work; I really hope she isn’t reading this.

While I generally try to be a positive person, there are moments when I have to be really intentional about loving myself. To make an effort not to tear myself down, and to feel like I’m enough. While I’ve not had any kind of mental, physical, or deep financial turmoil in my life. I’ve been fortunate to not have any health or mental issues, despite that I’ve not been entirely content with my life. In a way I suppose that’s actually more normal than abnormal. Who really is 100% content with the way their life is, after all there is a Life Coaching and Self-Help Industry. 

In the lead up to the project for my friend, I started writing some quotes, things that I try to tell myself regularly. My thinking is that to love another person, you first have to love yourself. If you don’t love yourself first, it doesn’t matter how great the other person is, you may be asking them for too much. Relationships are already hard on their own, putting more burden on the other person, to love you more than you love yourself, might not be a task for everyone. I think the most important thing to any kind of success, whether it be career, family, or relationship; is for you to love yourself first. The truth is there will be large portions of time when you’ll be by yourself, not in a lonely kinda way. You might be driving, sleeping, working etc. Other’s may not be talking to or interacting with you, but you are in your own head. What better place to start loving yourself than in your own head. 

Here are a few of the quotes I like the most, and thought I’d share, enjoy!

  • Tell yourself “I Love you” speak loving words to yourself at every opportunity you get. Be conscious of your negative self-talk. If you find that you’re being negative to yourself, then change those occurrences to positive words.
  • Yes you’re broken, it’s OK. The truth is EVERYONE is a little broken. Your mistakes don’t define your life, they do however add dept to the wonder that is YOU. Even the most beautiful things have cracks, and in most cases they add to it’s beauty and character.
  • Whenever you look in the mirror today, tell yourself “I Love You” “I’m Enough.”
  • You can find small victories despite your circumstances. Believing that you can is the first step. Don’t let one bad occurrence corrupt your entire day.
  • YOU are everything you need. You don’t need anyone else to complete you, perhaps compliment. You’re already complete; thinking of yourself in this way allows you to feel more self-love.
  • Tell yourself I am worthy, and I have value as an individual.
  • From time to time we all fail at various things. But failing at one thing doesn’t make our entire life a failure.
  • Learn to sometimes be in the moment, if you’re too focused on the past or future, you may miss the good in-front of you TODAY.
  • ALWAYS do your best, sometimes that means you can only give 50%. If that’s what your capable of that day, then give that. Tomorrow is a new day you can do more then, just don’t overcompensate for what you didn’t do today!
  • Sometimes you have to “fake it until you make it.” If you think positively, that could eventually lead you to start feeling that way.
  • Learn to “Let it Go” occupying your time with thoughts of negative self worth only leaves you feeling defeated and depressed. Learning to let go of thing you can’t control is a great step towards Self-Love.

If nothing else I’ve said so farLove language-affirmation resonates with you, remember that you’re the person best capable of loving YOU. Others may try, but they can’t love you quite like you love yourself, after all you’re the one walking in your shoes. Treat yourself with love, care and grace. Speaking affirming words also applies to yourself, don’t forget to compliment yourself; of course I don’t mean any of this in a narcissistic way.

How do I get there from here?

Getting there

The past few months I’ve been a bit more silent when it comes to my blog. I’ve been a bit more introspective in my writing. Today instead of getting caught up with the daily ebb and flow of life, I decided to put the remote down, and open my laptop. Like many of you I doubt myself a lot, have I done the right things? Have I taken the right steps to accomplish my future? While I do write about positive things, I too struggle with many of those same topics, and this past few months have’t been any different.

How is fear controlling me?

I listen to quite a few TEDtalks and similar programs, my newest obsession is Invisibilia on NPR. On a recent episode Fearless they explore various ways in which fear influences us. They talked about the way our brains and our physiology reacts to fear, and how our brains can’t distinguish between real or perceived fear. What does any of this mean? A simple way to put it is that if your fear is perceived, you don’t feel any differently about it. That leads me to ask the question, “Is fear stopping me from achieving the kind of future I’d like?” What messages am I telling myself, is my attitude a bigger contributor to my success or failure? A part of me definitely believes that  with a better attitude I’ll be happier. Many people believe that with happiness comes gratefulness, but I learnt in another TEDtalk; it’s more gratefulness that leads to a happier life. So now my mission is to be more grateful for everyday experiences, like the ability to get out and walk around in this beautiful place I live in. In the conclusion of the Invisibilia episode on Fear, one of the hosts Lulu Miller gives her formula on overcoming fear, and I’m willing to share that with you. Fear = Thinking + Time, if you take away either thinking or time you don’t have fear.

Haunted by Past Relationships!

My last relationship was over 2 years ago, so fell free to think “hey this guy doesn’t know what he’s talking about, I should discredit EVERYTHING he says.” Before you completely write me off, I ask that you at least consider some of the points I’m making about my own journey, and ask if there’s any similarities with yours? Yes I know 2 years is a long time, and at the expense of sounding like some people in my life, yes I understand that’s a LONG time to be single; lol that’s a discussion for another post. I find that I’ve been thinking a lot about my last relationship, and whether it was the right decision to end it. But that’s the fallacy isn’t it, at the time it’s not like I said ‘hey I can make a stupid decision, or I can carefully consider things, I’m going to go with the stupid decision.’ Things we’ve done in our past, for the most part we’ve carefully considered them. Knowing what we know now, we can see that things could have played out quite differently. While I do still deal with the consequences of my decisions, I can’t think of it in terms of what I know now. I think it’s interesting that sometimes when we think of the past we seem to remember mostly either the bad or the good. My latest thought is that while I’m remembering the good aspects of that relationship, for other reasons it didn’t work out. That doesn’t mean that I can’t look for those qualities from someone new. Isn’t that the point of life, to learn from our past mistakes, and to not repeat our bad behaviors. Instead of focusing on the past, I could devote my energy to the present, and being intentional about the future I want.

How has my Faith helped or hindered me?

Being Christian isn’t easy, there’s many aspect that some might consider “fun” that I don’t indulge in. Without specifics, I’ve chosen to embrace a certain life, because when it comes down to it, it’s part of my nature, my upbringing. I had a conversation with my mom a few months back about some of the aspects that are central to my life, and I realized now why I’m the way I am. I was raised christian so many of those values have been en-grained into me. When I was younger I had a lot of misconceptions about what I could and couldn’t do as a christian. Without getting into any specific debates, I’d say that there were certain thing that never appealed to me. While it was fun to indulge myself for a time, that indulgence didn’t make me any happier about myself. In many cases I turned to destructive ways both mentally and physically, that weren’t any more fulfilling in the end. Especially here in my blog, I don’t specifically talk about my Christian Faith. I’m finding it hard to spread a message of Peace, Love, and Acceptance. Especially when others who share my faith, especially the most vocal ones are especially hateful to others. They preach a message of hate, ignorance, and otherness. I find it interesting that Jesus our greatest example as a Christian, when asked what’s the greatest commandment said:

… A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ – Matthew 22:39 NLT

To us the term neighbor is simple, but to the people of that time, a neighbor wasn’t just the person in close proximity. A neighbor also meant people who don’t share your religion, ethnicity, or even a mortal enemy. For me that means that even though you may not share my faith, showing you love isn’t conditional, showing you love doesn’t mean that you have to share my beliefs. My central question still remains “how do I spread a message of love and understanding” when others are saying that if we don’t share the same faith, I should hate you?

My life today is different from my dreams!

Why is it that what most of us imagined our lives being, isn’t the way it is today! Remember when you were a kid and wanted to be a Doctor, a Nurse, Lawyer, Celebrity? Why is it that many of our lives are vastly different? I was talking to a friend a last week, and she shared the same sentiment. The truth though is that while some of us aren’t the things we aspired to be, we’re happy with who we’ve become. I would say that the past few years have been more about appreciating who I’ve become, and to stop obsessing about what I’ve not accomplished. Life has a way of throwing you those curve balls doesn’t it? My view today has changed, on most days I believe that “I’m exactly where I need to be” I believe that each of our lives plays out in a way that helps to orient us towards our most beneficial self. Of course we also have choices, each day we make a choice to go one direction over another. Living my life believing that I’m where I’m needed frees me up to see opportunities that my presence can help fulfill. Not in a selfish grandiose way, but I believe that there are things each of us are uniquely qualified to handle. A changing view of life means that I also no longer hold on to the idea of a Perfect Relationship. I imagined that there’s a person out there that you won’t have to face certain issues with. Imagine a continuum if you will, where there’s a certain threshold that you don’t go below, but the truth is the person isn’t a determining factor whether certain relationships will have to deal with certain issues. In some ways conflict is a necessary part of all relationships, no relationship is devoid of conflict. As Gary Thomas recently put it in a recent article “Singles: Your feelings don’t matter half as much as this” he said:

Your future partner’s ability to handle conflict will have far more impact on your satisfaction in marriage that your current level of feelings.

Realizing that there is not really a Perfect Relationship, and that it matters more how much work you put in, my views continue to evolve. I believe that this fits with other aspects of life too. Sometimes challenges or conflict highlights our deficiencies. When faced with those deficiencies do we run or give up, or do we stick around and try to overcome them. For me I believe the latter is what leads to a successful relationship, it’s not that you’re not going to have conflict, or tumultuous times. It’s learning to work through them, it’s being committed to working with the other person. This should be one of the most important tenants of any relationship..

I thought 2014 was my year, maybe it’s 2015!

2015It’s the time of the year when most people make their New Years Resolutions, then just a few weeks later, they’re off the wagon already. Instead of doing that, last year I looked at things I was doing well at the end of the year, and worked on doing better in the new year. Looking back, 2014 was a good year, and I’ve come so much further today than I was last year. Word Press sent me the stats of my blogs this year, and showed me what you my readers were most interested in. I’m going to be a bit selfish and highlight a few of the post that inspired me the most. This was quite a long list, so I’ll try to keep it short.

Lessons from Criticisms! 

One of the posts that effected me the most was “Lessons I learnt from Criticism” While my feelings were hurt initially, this really made me stop and ask myself “How is my view of the world and myself different from what others see?” While criticism is mostly meant to hurt, I also asked myself if there was truth hidden in there too. Sometimes people are hurting, and whether it’s intentional or not, they want others to hurt too. I’m willing to recognize that you and I may not see things the same way, it’s not beneficial for me to prove you wrong. Instead of proving you wrong, I can spend the time finding out what’s driving your emotions, instead of sympathy, I can show empathy for you.

What’s your Mix-Tape!

While it may not have seemed like it, I had fun writing “What’s your MIx-Tape” All too often we get caught up with the daily rigors of life, whether it’s work, school, family, girlfriend/boyfriend, bills etc. Life is hard and sometimes getting a moment to collect our thoughts are rare. While you’re not actively thinking, your mind is still subconsciously feeding you messages. With so many medias these days, it’s easy to get caught up, and to not realize that you’re hearing subconscious messages. Lol and I’m not saying that you’re hearing voices, or that aliens are talking to you. I mean you’re always hearing about a new product to make you better, more beautiful, smarter, more money … If you’re not conscious you end up feeling like you’re not enough, and you need that NEW and IMPROVED THING that will make your life better! In addition to all those messages, if you’re telling yourself that you’re not smart, beautiful, or worthy. If you’re also having a lot of negative self-talk, that can be a lot on your confidence. Instead of your thought being held captive by whatever new thing is playing, why not be kind, loving and gracious to yourself. Make it a point to consciously feed your mind positive messages about yourself.

As one season Ends…!

The title “As one Season ends, so another Begins” mostly explains itself. Aside from changes in my own life, 2014 was a year of changes for many of the people around me, and it’s important to remember that life is for but a season. There are times when you’re in your Harvest Season, and other your Sowing season. You might not see the benefits of what you’re going through now (either good or bad) until another season. Advance warning, I’m going to get Biblical for a bit here.

And we know that God causes everything to work together  for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. Romans 8:28 – NLT

Time and time again, whether you’re a person of faith or not, you hear someone say “WHY God, why did this happen to ME?” This is just one example, but what this passage doesn’t say is that God only lets good things happen, it doesn’t even say anything about the BAD. It actually omits that word, and it does say that God causes everything to work together for the good… I’m probably going to make some people upset by saying this, but the world is full of good and bad, and while someone dying is a tragedy. That tragedy can cause a chain of events that work for good. Sometimes even in bad circumstances there could be opportunities for good. As we go through the seasons in our life, it’s important to remember that even in the worst of situations, there could be a opportunity for you to show, love, grace or kindness or comfort to someone who’s hurting.

My masculinity is a Gift!

Through a series of posts ending with “What does it mean to be a Strong Man?” I embarked on a journey to understand what it means to be a Man. As a man I’ve been lead to believe that:

  • Good men are strong and powerful.
  • REAL men don’t cry or show emotions.
  • The Man is supposed to be the provider.
  • The Man is supposed to be a hero, to come in on his white horse to save the damsel in distress.

What makes me a man, is it because of what society tells me? Am I a man because of the ‘THINGS’ I’ve amassed. Do I just live by my carnal desires, and allow myself to be controlled by my sexual desires? We get bombarded my so many messages, and sometimes it’s hard to understand what’s real or not. In many cases we’re not thought healthy ways to deal with stress or our emotions. Through this post I was thought to stop and recognize that I have male energy, and how to behave around female energy, and some healthy strategies to handle stress and life. I’m learning to live with intention, I certainly don’t have all the answers. I’m however learning to ask questions, and to recognize my short comings, and most importantly to deal with them in healthy ways.

The Meaning of Life Quotes:

One of my all-time favorite comedians is Jim Carrey, it wasn’t until I heard a commencement speech he gave to a group of College graduates did I realize how smart he also was. For the full post check out “The Meaning of Living-According to Jim Carrey” Here are a few of my favorite quotes from that speech:

  • You can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you Love
  • Live your life asking how can I have an effect on the world while I’m here?
  • Ask how can my gift change the world, not what can the world do for me.
  • What if people see me without my mask! 
  • To find peace you first have to let the Armour go. 
  • Our need for acceptance, can also make you invisible. 
  • To find Peace we must let our Light shine through, and take the risk to let ourselves be seen.
  • Don’t let Wealth, Fame, Prestige … distract you from your true purpose in life, which is to let your Light shine through!!
  • There should be nothing more important in this world than you. 
  • Don’t let your EGO(the voice that tells you that you’re not good enough)fool you, know that you already possess everything you want, believe it and it will come to pass.
  • Stop worrying about how your dreams will come through, just believe, and don’t get caught up on what the vessel looks like. If you miss your chance, the Universe will find a way to bring it back around again.

I’m an Extroverted Introvert!

While I didn’t cover it in any specific post, I learnt quite a bit more about being Introverted. I’m learning to embrace myself in a more loving way, to be kind to my emotions and quirks. There are times when I don’t mind being social, but at some point I’ll need to be alone, that’s how I re-energize myself. I’m learning how to be unapologetic about needing quiet time for myself. I also learnt that in my quiet times, that’s when I’m actually much more creative, I need time to process my thoughts

When it’s all said and done, while these are the things that mean a lot to me. What I’m learning to do is to not put my stock in things such as money, possessions, or things that are temporary. There are things in life that despite our best efforts, we don’t have control over them, and life itself could be gone in but a moment. Instead of focusing on things that are fleeting, I’m going to spend this year focusing on things that are eternal, such as love, grace and kindness. I’m going to spend my time trying to make an impact on the world in a way that can make my story last for eternity. The reality is that one day I too will pass on, and how the world remembers me is far more important than money, or THINGS!

Lessons on Empathy. What can we learn from Ferguson!!

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With each day comes more news of events much like Ferguson Missouri unfolding. Yet another unarmed person is loosing their life in the hands of police. While death is nothing new, loosing a life to someone who’s supposed to protect you isn’t something we’d like to be a normal everyday occurrence. The events unfolding in Ferguson has become yet another issue that is polarizing, now religion, politics are not the only issues of polarization. I wanted to take some time away from writing about my usual topics such as Love, Relationships, and Self-help to talk about this. How can something like this drive us apart, how is it not bringing people together, why does it separate us? While the issue is very complicated, and picking a particular side is easy, my mind prefers to look at it from a deeper angle. In the recent weeks what I’ve been thinking about is how there seems to be a lack of connection to those involved, to really understand where they’re coming from. For me I believe that part of the reason the events from Ferguson can happen in our communities, and why it seems to polarize other communities is a lack of empathy. I’d like to spend some time talking a bit about that and other closely knit factors.

Practice empathy not sympathy!

I tend to be a more logical person, while I doimage have emotions, and express them quite often. When it comes to making decisions I tend to be a bit more logical. While emotions are necessary, they do cause us to make decisions on things that are perceived, rather than actual evidence. Before I get further, let’s talk a bit about empathy. In a little video I found while researching this topic, Brene Brown gives a great explanation of empathy: The Power of Empathy. Brene defines empathy as having 4 elements: perspective taking, staying away from judgement, recognizing emotion, and communicating that feeling with people. In order to have empathy, we have to be able to put ourselves into someone else’s shoe. In the video she describes this as climbing down into the cave with someone else. It’s very important that we not pass judgement, “well I won’t have…” or “you’re stupid, it’s your fault.” Just by recognizing someone’s emotion it can change the conversation, “it sounds like you’re angry” “I can see that you’re upset.” By acknowledging someone else’s emotion you’re saying that you’re paying attention to THEM. In contrast sympathy is slightly different, but it is perceived vastly different. Sympathy in essence is sticking your head into the cave and saying “wow that looks really bad down there.” Sympathy is acknowledging that something is wrong, but not being willing to step into the mud yourself, you want to stay out of the mess yourself. As Brene says,

Empathetic responses don’t start with “at least”

I had a miscarriage “at least you can get pregnant.”

My marriage is falling apart, “at least you have a marriage.”

So to specifically understand why the Black community in Ferguson is so outraged, we have to fully understand what THEY’RE going through. We can’t necessarily look at the events there through OUR lenses, unless of course you’re living in Ferguson.

Our Perspective forms our Reality

This brings me to a central point that I think needs to be stressed. Our perspectives shape our reality, and this is where emotions could lead us astray. Regardless of what another person says or does, our perspectives will sometimes show us things that are not there. In the work I do I’ve encountered many upset customers, and one particular experience is still fresh in my mind. I spoke to a customer who was not happy with their experience, and felt that they had been treated badly. While I had no desire to follow the policy that initially caused this bad experience. I even tried telling the customer that I wasn’t going to continue to push the issue, but didn’t even get to say that before they began berating me. Not to worry there’s more to the story, but my point is that despite my actual intentions, the customer perceived that they were being treated unfairly, even though I was not actually engaging in the same behavior. It fascinates me that even in the presence of video evidence, people will still maintain there perspectives. Take football for example, there will be a video clearly showing whether a player was out of bounds or not. Despite what that video actually shows, there will be 2 people hotly contesting that the player was either out of bounds or in. Why is it despite concrete evidence people will still say that things are the way they think, even if actual physical evidence says contrary?

Good also exists in bad situations

In a TEDtalk about Courage, one of the presenters Janine di Giovanni talks about her experience as a War Correspondent. Check out her full TEDtalk What does it take to cover a War? In the radio segment the host asks her why does she continue to go to war torn countries to report, and something she said stuck with me. Janine said that although she has seen many tragic and horrific things, she has also seen a lot of good and courageous people in those places. Although there is a lot of darkness there, she has also seen light shine through in the darkness. While I had a previous post that talks about this but from a religious perspective, that is not what she is talking about here. To understand why this is relevant, you have to remember that our world is full of duality, good and evil does co exist. I’ve heard people ask in times of pain “why did this happen to ME” “why did god let this happen to ME” While I’m not here to defend God, a particular verse kept coming up this week:

And we know that God causes everything to work together  for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. – Romans 8:28

This particular verse doesn’t get into the weeds about whether God “lets” bad things happen to people, but what it does say is that god causes things to work for good. I understand that many people reading this probably don’t share my faith, however I know that many have asked this question “why me God?” I’ve heard people try to simplify god down to this, god is good, bad things happen in the world, therefore either god isn’t good or he’s not real. I caution this kind of thinking, so let’s look at an example that will be more relevant. Many people are parents, and they consider themselves good parents, yet bad things happen to their children. When bad things happen we understand that it’s not always directly a reflection of your parenting, that you can still be a good parent. The reality is that many things happen that are outside of our control. Yet there are always opportunities for good to shine through. There is always an opportunity to offer grace to someone who treats you badly. I believe that’s what Janine has experienced in her life.

What does empathy, perspectives and good have to do with Ferguson?

I’ve lamented a bit about a few topics, but again what does it have to do with Ferguson? I believe that when we heard that story, we quickly tried to pick a side, we picked a side that associates more with our lives. We offered our sympathy, and in doing so we didn’t fully take the time to understand why the community was upset. You see while we might share similarities with Mike Brown our Daren Wilson, to understand their lives, we have to really UNDERSTAND them. To really embrace Ferguson and have an honest conversation we have to walk in the shoes of that community. As an African American male, it would be very easy for me to condemn Daren Wilson, he killed a black teen. While that might seem the case on the surface, the real story is far more dirty and murky. This could be our opportunities to really understand the lives of both Daren Wilson and Mike Brown. Especially on social media, this story has raised many divisive and visceral comments, and I’m ashamed to be a fellow human. This situation could be an opportunity for good. One of the things I was reminded from the TEDtalk was that it’s easy to make a negative comment, or to let injustice prevail. It’s much harder to stand up for good, to do the right thing. In the church sermon today about Joy, I walked away with this, sometimes we can’t really offer much help. Sometimes all we can offer is a simple gesture, but even a simple hug, is a step in the direction of empathy. Sometimes in painful situations there really is nothing we can do to make it better.

Writing is a platform for me to express my thoughts to people that are not in my immediate area. While it’s becoming easier and easier, I caution you, my readers to do so responsibly. Today the world is becoming darker, more evil, and even a small gesture will remind us that there is good. While it’s easy for me to pick a side in the Ferguson story, the act of 1 young boy has reminded me I should choose my words carefully. Some people believe they’re only words, Free Hugsbut words are very powerful. “I have a dream” are only words by themselves, but they’re also a rallying cry for the oppressed. Those words taught a nation that we can be more inclusive of our brother and sisters. I have a voice, and I refuse to use it to spew anger and hate. Mike Brown isn’t the only one who lost his life that day, in a way Daren Wilson also lost his life too. The question I ask is what can I do to not continue spreading hate and misunderstanding. A way for me to do that is to have empathy rather than sympathy. While empathy is a great place to start I must also do my part, I must be willing to step out and do good, even if I’m the only one standing. As a 12 year old showed us, even if it’s just a free hug, he’s offering all he can in that situation. Going forward a question I will as is How can I offer YOU help? Not in a Golden Rule kind of way, meaning I’ll offer you the kind of help that I would want. But to actually ask you, what do YOU need me to do for YOU?

New York Diaries Part 2

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Before embarking on my New York trip I had every intention to write each day. To find things in my surroundings and use it as a prompt to write. Here I am, going into my second week of being back from New York, and I’ve only managed to write once. It seems much hasn’t really changed, now I’m back home, I’ve fallen back into my work mode. Taking the time away was great, and I can’t say that I’m feeling like I shouldn’t have gone, now I’m ready to go again! The past few weeks have been a blur, there have been so many things to write about, but I just never sat down to put it down into a coherent string of thoughts. Since I had written a Part 1, I thought it a good idea to write part 2 now.

Movies like “When Harry Met Sally” speak to my inner Romantic, I’ve mentioned previously that I have aimage vivid imagination, and sometimes play things out in my head first. While it was exciting being up on the Empire State, it was very Cold, and time to reflect was short. It did get me thinking though, Movies tend to only give you a glimpse of things. Life itself is inherently hard, and you actually have to WORK to get what you want. The days of thinking that I’ll meet that woman, and we’ll instantly lock eyes, have a great conversation, start dating and get married are over. I’m no longer that naive into thinking it happens like in the movies. What I’m not saying is that I’m giving up on Dating or finding Love. While it does get lonely being single sometimes, and it would be nice to share things with someone, like my hike today. What I’d rather not be is in a relationship and feeling lonely, or not connected to my partner. For me that is not living. Which I think is interesting, because ALL relationships have to work hard to keep “The Spark” going. It’s nothing like the movies. The good news is that I believe I’ve gained a few more tools to help me foster better relationships.

For the New Year coming up, I’m going to work on enjoying my life more, last year it was about being intentional. In a way I’m not quite sure I’ve accomplished what I thought I would have, but it’s ok, I’m still learning. This hear I want to spend more time travelling, and I feel that I’m in a better place to afford it now. New York reminded me that I still have a bit of the traveling bug in me, and I’d like to spend more time exploring that. New York also reminded me that while I love my family, I also value my independence, and I really love living out here in California. Big cities like New York have much to offer, however I want to be close to nature too, not the concrete jungle a real jungle. It is great to look out my window and see mountains and trees, and the fog coming over the hills. It’s even great breathing in the salty ocean air from time to time. I can live in a big city, but I need to get away and be surrounded by nature at times. I think that’s what I love the most about the Bay Area.

I’m learning to Love myself more deeply, and I came across something interesting a few days ago. I heard a TEDtalk by Susan Cain: The Power of IntrovertsI’ve known for some time now that I’m not a real Introvert, I show many Extroverted qualities at times, but my dominant personality is more Introverted. I like to think of Introverted and Extroverted as where you draw your energy from, instead of whether you like to be more social, or by yourself. In her talk Susan Cain echoed this same way of looking at the two, but she added something I had never heard before. In her research she found that Introverts tend to be more creative, because the quiet time gives them the space to think of ways to improve things they’re passionate about. She also talked about learning to embrace your personality, and not feel guilty for who you are, especially introverts. It’s the quiet times that we use to not just replenish ourselves, but to solve problems. I’ve lamented before about being an Extroverted Introvert, I guess the term is Ambivert. While this new explanation strokes my ego a bit, it does help shed light on why I crave quiet time so much. I’m in a stage right now where I want to spend more time alone, than being around others. Susan Cain’s finding helps me feel a little less guilty when I don’t want to spend my free time with others. While I’m learning to love myself, it’s a good start to appreciate the quiet times I spend with myself.