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Motivation Check?

Oftentimes, we get too focused on our own hurts and forget about the rest of the world who’s hurting too.

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What keeps you going every single day? You know, that thing that fires you up, tickles your toes, and pokes your heels to leap, or even run with a penguin-like pair of happy feet?  That one good thing that gives you a merry heart?

Dreams. They give me wings.  They make my heart flutter, and wildly take my imagination to a place, full of vivid colors and exciting possibilities.  It scares me sometimes, the great unknown. But it pays to set your sights on to what could possibly be good, rather than what could go wrong.

If you wake up to mornings dragging yourself to the shower with arc-shaped lips and folded eyebrows like you’re about to drop onto the floor and cry – – friend, you’re in danger zone and you’ve got to pull yourself out of it!

“Why me?”, you asked.  Well, of course. Because you are your own best friend. Let me break it to you. The people around you, they can only do so much. You have to accept that.  If you don’t see yourself worthy of a meaningful existence, a higher calling, or up for a bigger purpose, then right there, you’ve already lost the battle. Why? Because the last person who could ever have that faith in you has just given up. And that’s you. You have lost your faith, in you.

People will find it hard to fight for someone who won’t even fight for themselves. Even if they do, they can only get very far. If you’re that someone, please don’t neglect your own self. You’re too precious for that. The sooner you’ll realize this truth the sooner you’ll get out of the hollow you’re in.

We often forget that the life we have is not some sort of entitlement.  Rather, it’s a gift, an opportunity. No wonder we take it for granted many times. We complain a lot, we get frustrated and sad for too long that it shortens our breath and aches our bodies.  Oftentimes, we get too focused on our own hurts and forget about the rest of the world who’s hurting too.  We don’t look far and wide enough.  Our “own world” is too small just like a hole that we dig into. So what happens? We let our brilliance slip from memory.  We lose the spark.  We become immobile, useless according to our own terms.

Friend, can you come back to the land of the living?  We need you here. The years you’ve lived with all the battles you’ve fought hard and may have lost- is not everything. That is not all there is to it. You became more because of those struggles. And there is more to life, more good things yet to come. And you’ve got to focus on these.  You and I already know that we have a limited time. So let’s fill what we have with memories we can be proud of, and leave a legacy that we have lived our lives to the full and lived it well- well enough to touch others.

When you add life to life, it just gets better. When you add life to where there’s a lack of it, then you’re standing on higher ground.  With your scars and all, you can still help people.  If you’re that someone who needs help, receive it.  There may be times when you’d feel the need to ask for it, go ahead because that’s okay.  But remember, while you ask others for help, help yourself too.  Start with you.

Stranded

Life will not wait for you.  It will run its course the way it is destined to, and so should you!

That day when you just suddenly begin to question your circumstances.

Why am I here?

Is this what I’m supposed to do?

For how long?

Is this all?

And then what?

Have you ever been there?

I woke up feeling uninspired one Tuesday- my focus narrowing on the normality of life:

same job

same route from home to work, and back

the usual concerns

the usual complaints

monotonous tasks

predictable outcomes

It’s like ordering food from your favorite fast food chain.  You get to buy a different combo meal every time or try out different combinations, but it’s all coming from the same menu. You already know what’s there and what you can get.  No surprises. Nothing excitingly fresh.  It’s plain. It’s dull.

Conclusion:  Sameness leads to boredom.  Boredom consumes passion.

Should you be alarmed? Yes!  I remember a quote from the book Tuesdays with Morrie saying,

“When you’re in bed, you’re dead”.   Years ago,  this quote freed me from the trappings I’ve put myself in, and then again, it’s freeing me now.

Grass not watered on will wither and die. Like every tree that needs to bear good fruit so it’s not cut down and thrown into the fire (read: Matthew 7:19), we ought to do the same. We have to bear fruit, not only once, but through all seasons as long as there is life. To blossom is a divine call and it is a personal responsibility.

There is no end to what you can possibly do or accomplish, no limits for you to get better, no closed doors for growth and progress.  This is exactly the key.  When boredom strikes and stagnation knocks at your doorstep, open the door but don’t let it in.  Fight back and defend your territory. How? Create a brand new opportunity or get better at an existing one.

Whatever you choose, you need to have something to accomplish, something to push you out of your limits,

out of your comfort zone,

out of the ordinary!

That way you’re constantly experiencing, contributing, growing and truly living.

Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is insanity. Take it from Albert Einstein.  So if you want a better ending, a fruitful and exciting existence, do something different, or do something differently.  Either way, you will win.

I know it’s not gonna be easy, and frankly, it never will be.  Everything around you is going to change, the world will keep on revolving even if you choose to stop, or pause or sit quietly in one corner.  Life will not wait for you.  It will run its course the way it is destined to, and so should you!

If you’re not arriving at anything significant yet, that’s good news. That means there’s room for creating or achieving one. Don’t limit yourself for the simple reason that: You’re not meant to live in a box. That was not the plan.

As to how my Tuesday ended, I said yes to an invitation to do something I haven’t done before and totally out of my comfort zone.

We get better over time and we should!  We learn as we go. Remember that talents and gifts not multiplied will be taken away (refer to Matthew 25:14-30, The Parable of the Talents). If you really treasure what you have been given, you will use it for good and use it to bless the people around you. That way your hands, your heart, and your mind don’t become idle. And as you go along you’ll get to discover and create a purpose that’s far bigger than you!

It All Burned Down To The Ground

Uproot yourself and fly- far away so you cover more grounds, the world is a much bigger place than you imagine.

“Now that you’re starting from scratch, you can think of  a lot of possibilities- what you can do, what you can be- something better, bolder, something more attuned to who you really are.”

That’s how the long conversation began with my brother.  Thomas Edison had a life-changing experience once and he was so grateful for it.

When he saw his factory burning down, Edison was all the more excited that he called his son and wife to witness the fire destroying all of his hard work. They felt pity for him but he felt relief.

Puzzled, the son asked him why he feels that way and his response knocked them down. “Don’t you see it?! Now I can start again! All the mistakes are gone. I can start with a clean slate!”

The attitude! Right? As Lenny Kravitz said, “ It ain’t over till it’s over”.  When life hits you hard, you hit back too, but, harder!  That’s the beauty of starting from scratch.  Think of it as life handing you a clean plate and on it, you can put all the delicious stuff your mouth can crave for- sumptuous, exquisite and delightful meal, literally everything your hands can grab, everything you ask for, everything you can imagine!  Fantastic isn’t it?!

Years ago, I was lucky to go to college in a city far away from my home.  Soon as I entered the gates, my heart actually exclaimed “This is great! I can start anew. I can start fresh. I can reinvent myself and create a new me!” That’s a lot to take in for a young mind, but girl, that was freedom!!

Stick to what’s familiar, and you’ll get so used to it that you forget to grow.  What happens then? You’ll miss the chance of discovering and rediscovering yourself.  You’ll miss your possibilities, your highest potential, and the best version of you.

So why do people stay stuck? Fear. For one, we don’t want to be judged by peers for being different than everybody else, for changing and shaking things up not a bit, but big time.  We also don’t want to labor hard or harder in any case. We want a pain-free, struggle-free existence.  Well I say, you’re welcome to do anything you want to do. It’s entirely up to you.

When life kicks your butt it’s actually good. As when lightning strikes, your body jolts up and you’re finally more alert, more alive. We’re all sleeping beauties you know, we need someone or something to wake us up, to give us clearer vision and wonder-woman-courage- to feel invincible again!

Uproot yourself and fly- far away so you cover more grounds, the world is a much bigger place than you imagine.

It all boils down to perspective- how you see things and how you see through them,  and your attitude. You don’t ask  “Why?”, “Why Me” anymore. Instead, you ask, “What now?”

A.H. Wilson said it right about Edison’s experience that fateful day, “Well, the next thing to do, is to dive right in and rebuild”!

Perspective

We chose this since we believe we’re made for something more, and we know that victory can only be as rewarding as the sacrifices made behind it.

Eight o’clock in the evening, last day of the workweek, and I’m still stuck at my desk typing away numbers, while the office cleaner does his evening vacuum routine, dusting off tables and chairs of people he doesn’t even know. Not that I know them more, not quite, but I sure was halfway imagining them celebrating the weekend with families & loved ones at home or wherever social places they can find.  The green monster started to creep in. I was envious. I struggled to fight back the tears not just because I wanted to be brave and keep fighting, but partly because my sobbing wouldn’t really blend well with the sound of the vacuum cleaner that still rings behind.

You see even with crying, I seem to find the perfect place and time to do it. The very first minute when I learned my dad passed away, I didn’t break down right there and then. I held it up for four hours. In between, I had a shower, had my meal, had my morning devotion, went to work, waited till my boss was free that morning, went to his office and asked for an emergency leave, and finally burst into tears – right in my boss’ office.  Maybe because finally saying out loud, “I need to go home to bury my father”, finally felt too real and painful to muster.  Back to the current scenario, I broke down right after I closed the door upon reaching home.  That’s when I finally accepted that it’s alright to cry ‘coz even strong people do.

When people look up to you or seek your help whenever their strength fails, you start to think either of two things:

I’m stronger than them

I have to be strong for them.

Such thought or decision will not last very long. We pass through a season, one after the other. You will start to doubt yourself at one point, and this is where I am right now.

I remember having a conversation inside the lift with one of the building janitor. I found out he worked for 12 hours every day for six days. I realized then that that’s the amount of time I put in every single day too. The only difference is that I crunch numbers and he scrubs floors.  We both do an honest job, we try to be the best at it. If we trade places, would I be as good as him too? I don’t know. Perhaps. All I know and believe is, we get to be equipped to do the things we get to do, and we get better through the years.

One of my virtual coaches shared this exercise one day. He said, start to use the words “get to”, instead of “have to”.

“I get to work every day”  vs  “I have to work every day”

“I get to prepare my meals”  vs  “I have to prepare my meals”

“I get know and meet people”  vs  “I have to know and meet people”

‘I get to serve a ministry”  vs  “I have to serve a ministry”

See the contrast? A different mindset. A different way of looking at things.

Today is the weekend and tomorrow is another day on the battlefield. Surely it wouldn’t be easy because we didn’t choose the easy path. We chose this since we believe we’re made for something more, and we know that victory can only be as rewarding as the sacrifices made behind it.

Yes, there will be days when we’d feel like we’re at the end of the rope, but the consolation is, like everything else, it’s temporary.  As when we take laps in a pool, we breathe in, we breathe out, we swim, but we should take the time to bask in the sun too, and enjoy our favorite poolside drink. Be it a lemonade, a smoothie or a float, it’s worthy to remind ourselves to be grateful enough.  We’re still blessed as “We get to taste it”!

Struggling with Self-Worth?

When you have someone loving you like that, your response is no longer hiding and running away. It’s showing up and running towards.

I know the feeling, and it’s absolute torture.

I grew up in a very religious environment: going to church every Sunday, going to a Catholic school, singing in a church choir, memorizing all prayers.  While all those were good and gave me a very solid training on discipline, the part of obedience though was motivated by fear.

When I was a kid my image of God was kind of like a punisher or even a dementor (if you’re a  harry potter fan you’d fear this creature).  So whenever I sinned, I felt so much guilt that I try o make up for it by accomplishing more, doing more, that I became almost like the perfect kid out there who’s got it all.  But,  who was I kidding right?

Inside I was broken. I hated myself and I envied everybody else who to me were close enough to be saints.  I feared God and his wrath so much that the scared me would either run away or crawl down a very deep pit of self-condemnation. Believe me, the place that I end up with was dark and lonely, even if that place only existed in my mind.

 

It wasn’t until my late twenties that the dark clouds in my horizon actually cleared. It’s like suffering from a cataract fro the longest time and finally able to see the world with its vibrant colors and distinct shapes.  and yes, it was beautiful, as it is today.

Now, the God I know is tender- hearted, forgiving, gracious and merciful. I want to say He fixed me but that would be an understatement.  He loved me and He loves me still. That’s all He did and still does.  When you have Someone like that, your response is no longer hiding and running away. It’s showing up and running towards. After all, who doesn’t want love or desperately need one?

It’s not anymore about what I think I deserve but what I’ve been freely given.  When I shifted my focus to this indispensable truth, I began to realize how my desire for worth was misplaced all these years.  I hungered for the world’s recognition and applause when God was filling me with so much more and all this time I took it for granted. Tell me about shortsightedness.

Of course, I still have my cracks and all, but it’s in these cracks where His love seeps through.  God can never fill your cup when it’s already full. So choose to stay in need of Him.

Last week I saw a video of a woman climbing a very large and tall tree. Reaching the top she muttered, “The world is very huge and we’re just but a tiny speck”. When you’re up there the tiny ones underneath becomes barely noticeable.  And when you come down everything and everyone one again becomes large.

Perspective.  When it changes, your attitude change and your take on the overall picture change. But to the One who made it all, you’re the same child He first breathed life into as the person that He’s looking at now. And it doesn’t really matter what you get to accomplish or achieve in this life, it’s how much love you put into it, and how much of that love was for Him.

How To Turn Your Life Around

Take the problem out and put it on a table. Only then will you see it for what it is. Isolate it and you’ll know it’s completely unattached to you.

Have you ever started a day with disappointments?  You’ve perfectly planned out everything, moving every possible obstacle out of the way just so you can guarantee a smooth-sailing journey towards accomplishing your goal, then it happened. You arrived one hour late, you got the wrong schedule, and just when you’re trying to save yourself from having a bad day, you drive 16 miles to a rescue venue and then, boom! You can’t find a parking spot. So you turn your car around and drive home for another 20 miles.

You feel like a total failure, a pathetic loser. You sink deep into frustration, then to anger, and then finally to hopelessness. At this point, all the negative thoughts parade in your brain like a bunch of cheering squad, clapping, jumping and shouting “hurray” knowing they have conquered your day.

I know, it’s exhausting. But hey, enough already.  We can’t wallow in these feelings for the rest of the day, worse for the rest of the year.  So granted things started off wrong, let’s just make good of whatever is left.

Blow off some steam.  Get some fresh air. Instead of heading back to your place with a grumpy face,  why not stop over somewhere just to take your mind off from what just happened.  See something different, hear something different, that way you direct your focus to something nice, beautiful, relaxing or even peaceful.  I know nature is the best remedy, and so is simply saying hello (and mean it) to people you pass by.

Someone wise told me if you can’t drive negative thoughts away from camping in your brain and make bonfires, replace them. How? Simply plant new thoughts. And that’s exactly what you can do when you look around. You will see something good. When you quite all the noise, you will hear something good.

Sometimes, our brains can be devious. They can trick us in many different ways, but if it’s already attacking the better part of you, fight back. That’s what will power is for. You resolve to find what’s good, what’s working and slowly you beckon gratefulness back.

Get some perspective. As what Tuesdays with Morrie once taught me, “Don’t let go too soon, but don’t hang on too long”.  Even successful investors know when to cut losses, so we should too. Well, each case is unique, so you’ll get that wisdom from a lifelong experience. But I believe, that if you seek for answers deep down, you will know when it’s the right time to let go.

For a petty experience like the one I had today, I just thought of writing about it.  It didn’t seem petty at first because I felt a thousand needles poking into my brain and my heart. Oh how I love my heart, so I’m guarding it with a thousand more soldiers so the enemy can’t invade.

Talking about it now gives me clarity.  Maybe you can try it too. It’s true what they say that when you take a problem or an issue out and put it on a table, you can see it for what it is. Isolate it and you’ll know it’s completely unattached to you.  Break the connection. You were never the problem. You just made up your mind that you were.

Selecta had it right when it flashed that message on the tv screen not so long ago.  Love yourself. Do that, and you’ll be happier.

 

What Scares You

Fear is refusing to take responsibility for your own happiness.

Fear is most people’s nemesis.  We’re afraid to lose, to fail, to get hurt or to start again.  We’re afraid to frustrate loved ones, to be laughed at by friends, to not gain everyone’s approval.

Fear is in not knowing.  Take for example a newbie investor.  He’s unsure how the market is going to perform, where to invest his money, or to invest at all.  He fears he’s gonna make the wrong choices, lose his money and fail.

What could this person do? Study. Research. Know everything there is to know. When you learn, you equip yourself, and then you can make informed decisions.  What if the decision was wrong? The important thing is you did what you know was right at that particular time with all the information you have. If you fail, then take the lesson with you. Successful people pursue learning. It feeds their appetite.

Fear is a control issue. This is when a person knows he doesn’t have a hand or power over things. Paranoia exhibits this fear- a condition where one is obsessed with the belief that bad things are going to happen and that everybody is out there to get him. He becomes helpless, paralyzed, panicky, worrisome.This is not a pleasant and healthy state to be in and there’s no easy cure but two ways can help:   To trust and to let go.

First, It all boils down to your belief system.  when you learn to trust people and trust a Higher Being, your perspective change.  To worry and to focus on things you can’t control just doesn’t make sense. It’s  a waste of your time and energy, two resources that you have a limited supply of. To shift your focus on things you can control is more sensible and a more productive way to live your life. Delegate.  Do what you do best, and leave the rest to experts.  You ask for help, you collaborate or team up with the someone. You can even team up with God.

To let go on the other hand demands acceptance- the courage to embrace the truth.  There are things that are bound to happen. You can’t do anything about it.  Even if you can the efforts would be futile. Death, taxes, and change are on top of the list. You can’t avoid death. You can avoid taxes but with disastrous consequences. You can resist change but that will disrupt your growth.  See, it’s pointless to argue with these truths much more prevent it from taking place.

Lastly, fear is refusing to take responsibility for your own happiness. When you dread rejection or demand affection you are bound to fail. The former will immobilize you, the latter will frustrate you.  Don’t avoid the chances of getting turned down. Successful people have had a fair share of it. There’s  Colonel Sanders, Oprah Winfrey, and Sylvester Stallone to name a few. On the other hand, if you look forward to pleasing everybody- you will end up living up to their expectations and not yours. Remind me, who’s life is this again? Yours right?

Fear has many facets and all of it are not good for you. Of course, there’s a healthy kind of fear and it’s a topic worthy of discussion on a separate occasion.  For now, think about where your fear stems from, then deal with the root cause.  Work on what you can.  Everything else is not meant to be dealt with by you. Wave the white flag if you must.  Help will certainly come.