Resilience

The Power of Right Now

I've been embracing a mental shift lately and I have to tell you, it's really changing the way I do things. I've been thinking about power. The power to change. The power to improve. The power to achieve. The power to continue. There is an inherent strength in the word power, but how do you access it?

Many women I know seem to operate under this assumption that power is something that they have to get or build up like a muscle. Like it's something that is housed "somewhere else" and that it requires a lot of effort to go and get it. 

But here's what I've learned. Everyone has power. It's inside them. It always has been. It's not about finding it or building it, it's about accessing it. 

And the only time you can access it is right now. This very moment. Whatever moment it is for you, you can only access power now. I mean, think about it. Can you access power tomorrow? Possibly. But you won't know until tomorrow becomes right now. I know, it's kind of messing with my head, too. 

So, like I said, this has been on my mind lately and it's changing things for me little by little. I don't need to wait until I feel strong, or confident, or ready. I can do it now. Whatever the "it" is, I can. That's a lot of freedom. And a whole lot of permission that you can receive if you want it. 

You want to run a marathon? You can start right now. You want to write a novel? You can start right now. You want to launch your own business? You can start right now. You want to fall in love again and have your heart healed? You can start right now.

That's crazy right? Whatever starting looks like for you is perfectly fine. Maybe it's brainstorming a lead character in a screenplay you've always wanted to write. Maybe it's searching online for houses in that perfect neighborhood you want to live in. Maybe it's dusting off your running shoes and putting them by the door instead of hiding them under your bed. Whatever it is, do it. Because all you have is right now. You can't do it yesterday and tomorrow is always a day away. But you have right now. 

That's a whole lot of power. 

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The Life I Didn't Plan For

One of my favorite lines ever written by John Lennon is "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans." Ain't that the truth? Today, I had one of those days. I had a plan. And you can bet your ass it was a good plan. I had everything figured out and coordinated and timed. And then, one thing shifted and the whole plan went to crap. But it was not a day where I could just go back to bed and say screw it. I had to move forward and I had to adjust.

Oh, did you have a day like that too? There's a good chance that many of you did. Because, it's... what's that thing called? Oh yeah... that's life.

Life is not something that follows the script. It is messy and it is hectic and in all the chaos, it is also incredibly, amazingly beautiful. It can also be a total pain in the ass. But what good is a roller coaster ride if it's a flat journey?

I remember a while back (honestly, it feels like a lifetime ago) I was telling a friend that the highs and lows were just too much and I just wanted life to level out. He smiled and grabbed a pen and paper. First, he drew this:

Screen Shot 2017-01-19 at 10.38.47 AM
Screen Shot 2017-01-19 at 10.38.47 AM

"This is your life right now, right?" When I nodded, he continued with another illustration:

Screen Shot 2017-01-19 at 10.40.09 AM
Screen Shot 2017-01-19 at 10.40.09 AM

"And this is what you want, right?"

"Yes! Life would be so much easier that way." I was relieved. He got it. But instead he just smiled at me and shook his head.

"You know what that is, Angela? That's a flatline. That means you're dead. Doesn't sound like much of a life to me. I think what you really want looks more like this":

Screen Shot 2017-01-19 at 10.42.18 AM
Screen Shot 2017-01-19 at 10.42.18 AM

Then it clicked. I was never going to have a flat, uneventful life. That would be boring anyway. What I needed was a new way to address the highs and lows. A way where I could enjoy and appreciate the highs and be graceful with the lows. A way that showed I was responding to life, not just reacting to it.

This life, and where I am right now was never part of the plan. There was no five year plan that included the things that I enjoy or struggle with today. Well, some of them maybe. But certainly not all of them.

Life is good. And it's messy. And it can't be planned for on a regular basis. I'm never going to stop having bad days. But I can work on how I handle the bad days. And that requires persistence and grace and a determination to keep on this journey no matter what is thrown at me.

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Is It Just Me? Or Is Everyone a Bit Tense These Days?

Unless you've been living under a rock lately, you may have picked up on this crazy tension that is going around. A lot of it, no doubt, is tied to the election and the oh-my-God-now-what's-going-to-happen-I-have-no-idea-oh-my-God feeling that came immediately on its heels. But I'm wondering if there's more to it. Maybe it's just me, but I feel like January is generally a pretty tense time in general. Yes, there are the goals and the planning sessions and the big dreams and that's all great. But don't we put an awful lot of pressure on ourselves to make those things happen? I mean, less than two weeks in and I have a feeling that many of you are already thinking, "I suck. I can't even keep my focus for two weeks. 2017 is gonna suck." And if that's you... well, stop it. You don't suck. Cut yourself some slack and just go with it. It's January 11th for crying out loud.

Stop.

Breathe.

Smile.

It's gonna be ok, guys.

But January in general seems to come at a heavy price to those of us who use the turn of the calendar as a reset button. With the crazy highs of "Look at everything I'm going to do this year" and "Watch out 2017... you belong to ME" there are some serious lows. I have no doubt that Seasonal Affective Disorder is a real thing and I'm sure it's contributing a bit, but it just seems to me that most people I've talked to are already overwhelmed and we're not even a full two weeks in.

What gives? Why are we making ourselves crazy? Is it worth it?

Here's a thought: let's not focus on what might be. Let's focus on what is. I'm writing to myself as much as I am writing to you but goodness knows I've been struggling with that feeling of "Wow this experience is NEVER going to end." But right now, in this moment, I'm good. My daughter is happily playing, my puppy is sleeping at my feet, my older children are expanding their horizons in good ways and Brian will be on his way home soon so that we can cuddle on the couch. Right now, I'm writing to you and the heat works and the electricity is running and my stomach is starting to rumble but you know what? I have food in the kitchen. Score!

I've never been a big fan of talking about gratitude. I was taught by others that gratitude is something you show, not something you discuss. But maybe we all just need a little more gratitude in our lives. Just a little. Just a quick thank you to whatever you choose to thank for the goodness in your life. For the fact that you're breathing. For the fact that you can read. For the shoes on your feet.

Maybe I'm being simplistic, but the worldly crush of cynicism is getting to me and I don't like that feeling. Not at all. I'm going to watch funny movies with my kids and read light hearted books and jot down a few things that I'm grateful for whenever I think of it. Because you know what? Life is good. It really is. Things aren't perfect. I've got some real shit happening these days, but don't we all? And through it all, life is good.

So, on that note, know that I'm grateful for you. I can't tell you how much it means to me that you would even take the time out of your crazy busy day to read these words. But know that I'm grateful and I'm pulling for you, as always.

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The Morning After Feeling

I woke up this morning at 4 am and after a few sleepy moments remembered that the election was yesterday. I grabbed my phone to check the results because I was excited. Excited that we might have our first female president. I kept telling my kids yesterday that it was a big deal that it was even an option to check the box next to a woman's name for President. That I had never had the opportunity before.

I watched a lot of the coverage yesterday, but I was honestly getting myself totally stressed out watching the real-time results, so I turned it off and went to bed.

So this morning at 4 am, I was awake and ready to find out the results. I checked my phone and I was stunned. Donald Trump is going to be our next president. I couldn't believe it.

My immediate reaction was tears. And anger. And disbelief.

How did this happen? How did we let this happen as a country?

So then I checked Facebook to see the reaction. Most of my friends were also upset. But the anger and hate that came through their Facebook feeds stunned me. Wasn't this what we were all campaigning against for so long? Against the hate and the downright nastiness? And yet, now we are spewing it out left and right like sore losers.

I saw a couple posts with messages around, "How do I explain this to my children?" I thought about that for a moment. I have children and they were actively watching the election coverage with me before they went to bed last night. They'll be up in a few hours and I have to tell them something.

Do I tell them that America was built on democratic principles and that when you live here you take a chances that not everyone will agree with you? Do I tell them that the country made amazing strides by putting a woman on the ballot in the first place? Do I tell them that the best thing we as a people who disagree can do is show up in love and service and be ready to take thoughtful, deliberate action to help those in need? Yes and more. So much more.

I realize that fear is running rampant right now because we don't know what will happen. It's so easy at times like this to point the finger and say "You are to blame." To be angry at the people who disagreed with you because the fear is taking hold of your life and your heart and will barely let you breathe.

But here we are. And we all have a new choice: to move forward in love or hate. I choose love.

Admittedly, I am considering all the ways I can get more active in my civic duties. I am a feminist (a word I loathe because of the connotations) and I believe that men and women should have equal rights. I am a mama bear who will do anything to protect her children. I am a business woman who is concerned with taxes, health care and quality of life. I am an education advocate for children everywhere and I believe that our system has a long way to go before it can be considered as good as we would like it to be. I am a strong believer in human rights regardless of gender, sexual orientation, religious beliefs or disability.

So I'm watching myself to make sure I don't sink to the level of hate today. That I carefully explain to my children that you don't always win and what matters most is what you do next. That America is a system that was built carefully to not allow one person too much power.

Today, I'm choosing love. To those of you who voted for Mr. Trump... I love you and I respect your right to make that decision. To my friends who are hurting and scared... come over anytime and I'll give you a big hug. We will all face the next four years together.

I choose love. That is what will keep our country afloat. The deliberate action of making kindhearted, thoughtful, loving decisions on a daily basis about what is good for everyone and not just ourselves. I will not lower myself down into the arena of name calling and mud slinging. And I will be watching and waiting for the opportunity to step up and make a difference. I will be an example of resilience.

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The First Step to Having a Vision For Your Life

importance of vision

I dropped my son off at school today just like I do most days. I get there around the same time each day and see a lot of the same faces as other parents are getting their youngsters out the door for another fun-filled day of learning. As I dropped him off today, I saw a little girl that I see on a regular basis. She is adorable with curly brown hair and a big smile for anyone in her vicinity. But this little girl is special. She carries a white cane because she is blind. But she is still there, everyday, playing with the other children, doing her work and enjoying life.

It got me thinking about vision in general today. I don’t know this little girl’s story. I don’t know if she can see at all or if she was born that way. All I know is that she’s always smiling and looks pretty happy with life. I wondered if she had a vision for herself and her world. Even though this little girl can’t see what is physically in front of her, perhaps she has a vision in her mind of what life is and should be.

I’m a very visual person. I don’t fully understand things until I see them in action. That’s probably why I spend so much time on YouTube hunting for knitting videos… I need to SEE it to get it.

Have you figured out where I’m going with this yet?

The vision you have for your life is so important. Because that can be the thing that sustains you in the hard times. And there will be hard times, no doubt.

I’m in the middle of building a vision board for myself. I know, I know… they sound cheesy. But I think they can be incredibly potent when defining your life plans, goals and keeping you on the path you want. If you set up a vision board, you can have something that you instantly call to mind when you’re frustrated or not where you want to be. I’ve been pulling and collecting images that will help guide my decisions because they all symbolize the path that I am on and what I want in life.

What do I have on my vision board? I have a couple of things so far.

A house with a wraparound porch. That dream house I’ve been thinking of.

A really cute puppy. I miss having a dog.

A stylish home office because I’m so comfortable working in one and want to keep that lifestyle.

Images of runners. Because I want to get back to running. Hey, it can happen. No, scratch that. It will happen.

All of the images I selected I did so because they evoke some kind of strong emotion in me whenever I look at them. I put them all on a poster board (hooray for craft time!) and keep the board in a place where I will see them regularly. I will also take a picture of the board and keep that image on my phone. Voila! Now I have a portable vision board.

But this is just a tool to discovering what your vision actually is.

No matter what tool(s) you use, you always start with the same question:

What do I want from life?

So what do you want? Dream big my friend. The world is a mighty big place.

When The Student Is Ready

student is readyWhen was the last time you bounced back from something that could have (and maybe should have) brought you down? Last year? Last week? Are you attempting to do it today? Raise your hand if you feel like recovering from a tough time is not just hard, it's excruciating. Exhausting.

Keep your hand if while you're in the middle of it, you think, "Is this even worth the effort anymore?"

It's so hard to stick with the work of getting better, feeling better, living better. Often, it feels unattainable, doesn't it? The mere prospect of working through all the junk that keeps piling on is overwhelming and sometimes feels a lot like suffocating.

If you're at this juncture, I want you to think about other people in your life that have been through a tough time, possibly even to hell and back and yet they're... ok. They're happy. Maybe they're even THRIVING. How do they do it?

What secret do they know that you don't?

Why are they one of the lucky ones and you're still sitting here, struggling, frustrated, and lost?

What gives universe???

Was it luck? Was it skill? Was it perseverance? Is it even genuine? Or are they just smiling to save face?

To be honest, it depends. It depends on the person, their situation, their background, their goals... all that jazz.

But here's the thing... you can get there. You can get to a point where your current situation, whatever it is, doesn't have to determine your life's path and hold you down. You can overcome it.

Seriously. No matter what you're going through, you can overcome it.

Cancer.

Death.

Divorce.

Bankruptcy.

Addiction.

Disordered eating.

Scandal.

Depression.

Loss.

Pain.

Heartbreak.

"But Angela, you don't understand." Actually I do. I understand better than you might think. I've had bad moments. Bad days. Bad years.

But I'm still here.

That seems to be my battle cry, but I'm sticking with it.

I'm still here.

And so are you.

Resiliency is a skill. And the thing about skills is that they can be learned. That's right. You can learn how to bounce back. You can learn how to design your own comeback. You can learn how to develop your own rebuilding program. You can learn how to be healthy, whole and happy. Even if you've never been there before, you can do it.

It won't happen overnight. And it won't be easy. Let's face it: if either of those options were true, wouldn't the transformation have happened to you by now?

You may have figured out at this point that if you can learn resiliency, then you need to be taught. Which means you need a teacher. There is a saying that when the student is ready, the teacher will appear.

The opportunity is there. It's ready. Are you?

When Things Don't Go As Planned

So, today was originally going to be a day where I posted all about the things I learned at BlogHer 13 in Chicago. I bought my ticket back in November of last year, booked my hotel room immediately after that and arranged child care with my sainted mother. But last week, I cancelled my trip.

BlogHer was just not meant to be this year. Honestly, I'd known it for a while, but didn't pull the plug until a week before the conference. I tried several different ways to talk myself into going anyway and making it happen. But then, as I looked at the whole thing, it became very clear that it just wasn't going to happen because it couldn't. The stars were not aligned. Not at all.

So I cancelled the hotel reservation. And we stayed home.

To say I was disappointed would be an understatement. But I was. In fact, for a few hours, I was downright heartbroken. BlogHer was supposed to be the event that would reinvigorate me as a writer. I mean, let's face facts: This is my first blog post on here since December.

7 months of no posting. It's damn near laughable that I refer to myself as a blogger.

Anyway, BlogHer was supposed to change that. It was supposed to kick me in the ass and get me writing again. But I didn't go. Yet, here I am, blogging.

So, I didn't go to Chicago. What did I do instead?

I slept. And read. And exercised. And cooked. And played with the kids. And started a new crochet project.

And it was great. Yes, I'm sad I didn't make it to BlogHer. But such is life. And I'm learning. I'm learning to embrace the change when things don't go according to the plan. And I'm a big planner. But sometimes, things turn out better than you planned.

Back from the Dark

Grief is a beast. And it is something that, if you're not careful, can takeover everything without you even realizing it. I know because that is how I have been living for the past few months. Grief can turn its ugly head at any time and take your breath away. It can also hide, lurking beneath the surface so that you think you're ok, that you're all better. And then, suddenly, everything has been turned upside down again.

The past few months have been torturous. And I couldn't put my finger on what was happening until everything spiraled out of control. I've had health issues and emotional issues. But I finally feel as though I'm back from the dark.

I'm reading again. This is huge. Reading an entire book seemed to be such an arduous task in the not so distant past. But recently, I've read three books. God, did that feel good.

I'm laughing again. And smiling. In fact, I can't seem to stop smiling these days.

I'm enjoying life again. The big things, the little things... it's all wonderful.

I'm writing again. I've actually been able to put pen to paper and journal. And each time I do it, the pain subsides a little more.

I'm dancing again. The other day in the car, a song came on and I couldn't help it. I danced.

I'm living again. And it feels miraculous. It feels wonderful. I don't want to let it go.

There will still be hard times. Times that allow me to continue my journey through healing. But the time for grieving in passing.

It's time to move forward.

It's time to be me again.

It's time to come back from the dark.

When You Lose the Bounce-Back Factor

Loss is not easy. I realize I'm most likely talking to a group of people who have encountered their own share of loss in life (who hasn't?) but I just had to say it.

It's been a tough couple of months for me and I've experienced more loss than I really thought I could ever deal with in a short of period of time. Without getting into a lot of details, I've definitely had more than I'd like in terms of life's downs. I could definitely use some ups. Now would be good.

In my lifetime, I've dealt with loss frequently. There's no doubt about that. I've been through the stages of grieving and I've stood by others who had to do the same thing. It doesn't matter if it's a loved one that has passed away, the loss of a job, the loss of a dream, the loss of pet and it also doesn't matter how the loss happened. Loss is loss. And I thought I had a pretty good grip on how to deal with it all.

But I've realized that maybe I don't.

You see, I had a miscarriage recently. It's the third baby that my husband and I have lost and the first two were awful. Truly awful. It has always been my worst fear in life to lose a child. And I've done the whole "why" conversation with myself, but the fact is this: it is what it is. That fact of course doesn't make it easier.

This time it's been harder than ever to bounce back. The past couple of weeks have been almost zombie-like for me. I've welcomed distractions like work, getting the kids ready for their upcoming school year, crafting, a little travel and a plethora of other things that I'm trying to use to get back into the swing of things. And it's helping somewhat. But I feel like I'm constantly pushing through a dark cloud to try and "be happy." I'm aware of the stages of grief and I know I've been through all of them in varying degrees. But the fact of the matter is, I'm sad. I'm just plain sad.

But I've decided to keep moving forward.

Every day has been pretty difficult and it's been a challenge to try and be positive in the everyday world. It's part of the reason I haven't blogged here much lately because I'd feel like a fraud. But it's time. It's time to move forward and do something. And I'm making progress. I'm writing again and I'm working on various projects that really get my creative brain flowing. I'm hanging out with friends, I'm spending more time with family. I'm reading really wonderful books that are beautifully written. I'm trying new things and testing my creativity.

But it still feels like something is missing. Like there's a piece of this puzzle that if I just figure it out, I'll be able to have a really amazing picture. So I keep trying things to figure out what that piece is.

The reason I'm posting this (and believe me I debated for a long time whether or not I was going to post on this) is I'm looking for some guidance and suggestions from you. What do you do when you seem to have lost the bounce back factor? What works for you and what doesn't? I'd love to hear about it. And I thank you for listening.

Photo Credit: LifeWatch-EAP.com

Consistency is the Key


When it comes to living a positive life, being consistent in your efforts is critical. Slacking even for just a short period of time could you set back a tremendous amount of progress that you've already made.

Consistency is tough. Don't believe me? Just take a look at how long it's been since I last blogged. Life gets in the way of our best laid plans more often than we probably care to admit. Kids, work, volunteer commitments... it all takes up our time. And stress and feeling hurried tend to bring out the worst in us (especially if we don't handle it well in general).

Being more positive remains a priority in my life. Even when other things (like blogging) fall by the wayside. It's also something I continue to struggle with on a daily basis. Dealing with telemarketers, slow grocery clerks, unorganized members of a committee you belong to... It can all wear a normal person out. If you're naturally a negative person, then instances like this can exasperate your patience.

Want to keep a consistently positive life? Here's a quick tip for you: make it a habit to count to three when you can feel yourself slipping into impatience. Give yourself three seconds to breathe deeply and consider your next action or choice of words. If it prevents even half of the blow ups you could have in a normal week's time, then it works.