Tag Archives: personal growth

outside your comfort zone

Stepping outside your comfort zone is uncomfortable.  It feels uneasy and sometimes scary.  But that space just outside the little box that we have created for ourselves is where growth lies.  That wide expanse beyond the box we live in holds opportunities that we haven’t experienced. Wonderful and new experiences that will open up a whole new world to us.

Stepping outside your comfort zone will allow you to find other like minded people; new people to add to your tribe.  It will give you the opportunity to try new and different things other than the same drudgery that you do day to day.  These opportunities open your world even more and help you to see parts of yourself that you never knew existed.

Stepping outside your comfort zone will expand your horizons.  It will change you in ways you didn’t realize.  It will open you up to new and exciting opportunities that would have scared you into your shell before that first step outside your little box.

Take that first step.  Feel the excitement of something new, something slightly uncomfortable, and see what happens.  You just may discover a whole new side of yourself that you never even knew existed.

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all you need is love and a dog

Love comes in many forms.  Romantic, platonic, family, pets, and any other version you can think of.  Many things I do in my life now are the result of love.  I tend to my children with motherly love to give them the safe place they need to grow into the amazing humans they are.  I spend time with my friends and cultivate those relationships, being mindful to ensure they know that they are loved and appreciated.  And pets, well…it’s nearly impossible to not show a pet they are loved in my household, especially when they so easily give that love right back to you.

Love is a necessity for growth, no matter who or where you are.  Love is one of those undeniable components that change life from survival mode to allowing one to flourish.  Just as humans need a certain amount of hugs to survive versus to thrive, this is just another version of showing our love for one another.

Growing up and well in through the two decades that I was married, I found saying the words I love you to be very forced and painful.  It seemed as if I didn’t really know how to say those words and truly feel the meaning of them.  I know there is a lot of psychology and background history there that really isn’t something I care to delve into, but there came a time when I was going through my divorce that I discovered what love really is, and I felt as if I had never truly allowed love into my heart until that point.  The interesting part is that it wasn’t a romantic love that changed me; it was the love of my true friends who stood with me and helped me through the divorce.  They were the ones who showed me what love is and how to embrace those around me.  I listened and I learned.  I paid attention to their actions and saw how easy it was for them to give a piece of themselves to me.  Somehow my heart softened and I could feel real love for the first time.  I realized that real love didn’t have to be painful; it didn’t have to hurt.  Real love comes without consequence, constraints or ultimatums.  Real love just is.

Now that I know how love actually feels, it is easy for me to give that love freely to those near me.  I can say those words now and truly mean them, and I do.  My friends and family hear them routinely, and assuredly, they come straight from my heart.  Don’t underestimate what can happen in a year.  These changes happened over the course of the last six years, and I am a completely different person today than I was then.  I owe a good deal of that change to those who stood with me and those who cried with me, and I reciprocate the love that I received from those dear friends right back and without reservation.

looking back, planning forward

I spent yesterday evening thinking back to what the past five years has brought me, and how my life has changed.  Yes, divorce will do that to you.  But, there is more to it than that.  I have realized when I look back at the past five years, I am amazed at how much I have done and how it has helped me grow as an individual.

Not only have I become free from a life (and marriage) that were strangling me, I have opened myself up and become more of who I truly am.  I have taken courses and completed two certificates, with the third and fourth ones to be completed shortly.  None of which have anything to do with my profession, I might add.  They are simply because I enjoy them and choose to increase my knowledge in other areas that interest me.  I have dramatically improved my photography skills through practice, mentorship, and coursework, and continue to do so.  I have taken myself out of my comfort zone and explored places I would never have expected to go on my own before these five years.  I have joined groups and met new friends that mean the world to me.  I have plans and aspirations for the next five years that have spiralled off of what the previous five years have provided me.

Something that I didn’t realize when I was in the midst of it all, but when I look back, I can see how much the little bits have changed me over time.  Tony Robbins says that people overestimate what they can do in a day but underestimate what they can do in a year.  It’s true.  I have seen it in myself, and I believe what he has said.  I am grateful for my self-motivation to do more.  I am glad I have not allowed my life to become passive, but instead, take an active role in what happens in my life.  This is my journey, and I want to make the most of it!

self-improvement

The term “self-improvement” has always left me with a cliché sense to the term.  What exactly do you mean when you say you’re doing some self-improvement?  The term, to me, implies that you felt you weren’t enough as you were.  Harsh, I know.

It isn’t what it means at all.  In fact, I too, have been working on some self-improvement.  I do it all the time, even if I may not use that term specifically.

Self-improvement really refers to bettering yourself as time goes on; to compete with the person you were, not anyone else.  We all improve with age, don’t we?  Any time we pick up one of those self-help books, or an audio podcast designed to help us with one aspect of our lives or another, we are tuning into self-improvement.

Striving for more is self-improvement in itself.  Are you looking to learn a new craft, a new language, or try a new cuisine?  Anything that broadens our own experiences is a form of self-improvement.  It doesn’t have to be the inspirational, motivational speakers, or the life coaches, the woo woo, or even the subliminal tapes.  Anything we do to experience more that our world has to offer is a form of self-improvement.

So, call it what you will, but whatever it is, I encourage you to continue to be a better person tomorrow, than you were today.

whatifitis

This is my self-diagnosis.  It captivated me years ago and it keeps me hostage in my safe place.  Whatifitis is rooted in fear.  It prevents me from taking chances in so many areas of my life: my career, my hobbies, my love life, my dreams.  It keeps me frozen in my current state because it is a comfort zone, although comfort zones aren’t always as safe as what they appear to be.

Don’t get me wrong, I have conquered some of my whatifitis, such as taking solo trips and visiting new places with my sons, but it still keeps me in shackles when it comes to other aspects in my life.

It keeps me from taking the what-if leap.

What if I started that small business.

What if I allowed that man to come into my life and my family.

What if I didn’t overthink every single solitary step in my life?

Overcoming whatifitis isn’t an overnight thing.  The cure is hard work and determination.  There needs to be a realization and self reflection on what I am doing. Is there is any self-sabotaging behaviours present?  There needs to be a plan; a schematic to ensure whatifitis doesn’t return to take me back to that place.  I have had a glimpse of the freedom from whatifitis, and it is a beautiful thing.  I think I am ready to explore that further, and to find a way to cure myself of this condition.

going outside your comfort zone

It’s easy in life to get into a routine and keep within that place of ease, where you know exactly what to expect. You can anticipate situations and outcomes and be prepared for them. But what happens when the rug gets pulled out from underneath you?  When life changes suddenly?

Anyone who has followed my blog for a while knows that this has happened to me. Divorce is a rug being ripped out from underneath you and then falling through a hole in the floor under that rug.  

There is a lesson here that I have learned, and continues to be reinforced often. Life is more exciting and interesting (but sometimes frustrating) when you live outside that comfortable life. Five years ago, I would not have done what I have done today. 

Living outside my comfort zone has helped me to grow as an individual. It has helped me discover my independence and has even created an urge within me to continue to do things I would not have considered before. 

Don’t let life pass you by, wishing you had done things.

Do the things. Live. Enjoy. Life outside your bubble is going to give you greater satisfaction, and perhaps you too will discover a little something about yourself that you never knew either. 

authenticity

Be your authentic self.  Buzz words.  Everyone is saying things like this it seems these days.  But what does it truly mean?

I’m sure we all have our own take on what it means to be authentic.  But without spending time alone with yourself, how do you truly know if you are your own true authentic self, or if you are picking up on pieces of stronger personalities?  How do you know you aren’t just being what you are expected to be?

In this world, being authentic is hard.  There are expectations out there.  Go to University.  Get a high paying job.  Get married, have a family.  Don’t get divorced.  But where in all this does it fit to be truly authentic?

It doesn’t.

I have lived that life.  I was who everyone wanted me to be.  I did the education, I had great aspirations and hopes for a career.  I had the six figures.  I had the marriage and the family.  And all the illusions I had to maintain to keep up that façade.  I was miserable.

I got separated.  Parts of the false me started to fall away.  I opened up about the horrors of my relationship and people were shocked and stunned by what I had kept hidden.  But this is part of my story.  The true me.  I looked at my life and realized I wasn’t happy in that career.  I wasn’t truly interested in doing research or the other things I needed to do in order to be successful in that world.  I dropped it.  And I can tell you, it felt good.  It was a burden lifted off my shoulders that I didn’t realize I was carrying around.

I started exploring who I felt I was.  It was a redefining period of time.  I explored things that made be happy.  I sat.  I meditated.  I did yoga.  I went and spent time with just myself.  I was lost for over two decades, but somewhere in the silence, I found me.

Not everyone likes the me I am today, and I am ok with that.  I have been passed up for opportunities that I am more than qualified for simply because I no longer follow the corporate rules, and that is ok.  I forgive the people and the situation.  I thank the Universe for the experience and go forward knowing that I am exactly where I need to be, because where I am, is where I am accepted for who I truly am.  I am welcomed and encouraged to be my own authentic version of myself.  It has turned out better than anything I have ever expected or imagined.

That feels better than all those goals I had been chasing.  I wouldn’t say that I didn’t enjoy pieces of that time because there are many parts that I loved and would do again.  But knowing now what it is to be fully me, I will not sacrifice my authenticity for any of the chairpersons, department heads or managers that think they have control over my fate.  They don’t control anything.  I am free.

And I am very happily and authentically me.

chasing dreams

We all have desires that we hope to fulfill.  Perhaps it is a particular end goal, like finishing a graduate degree, or maybe it’s one that continues to evolve as time goes on.  Sometimes that dream gets modified as we grow and realize that the particular dream we had no longer suits us.

Over the last few months I have taken steps to work towards realizing my own dreams.  There are many of them actually.  Some of them are lumped together, and others stand alone.

Sometimes it takes courage and a leap of faith to take the next step.  That is something I discovered.  Sometimes it takes an external event that makes you realize you’re wasting time.  Other times it might be that internal fear of failure that stops you from realizing your dreams.  Don’t let it.  Life is too short to keep putting your dreams on the back burner.

You only regret the things you didn’t do.  You’ll live with the what-ifs and never know if you would have been a great success.  Or if you found a way that didn’t work, because if you tried, there is no such thing as failure.

So, dream, yes by all means.  Keep dreaming.  But then take that dream and one step at a time, turn that dream into your reality.  What will you see when you look back after you did?

spring

Spring is here, relatively speaking.  There is still snow melting, but the days are longer, and the sun is feeling warmer as it peeks through my windows.  It’s a time for regeneration.  Spring cleaning has already begun in my house, although I find it rather unfair to call it spring cleaning since I attempt a deep clean every season, and often get ahead of myself when I am waiting for spring to arrive.

Spring is that time of year where I feel like second chances are possible.  Perhaps it is a time to rekindle a friendship that didn’t weather through the winter very well.  Or it can be a time to reinvent my style at home, redecorate or rearrange the furniture.  Maybe a time to reinvent myself just a little bit.

Spring brings me happiness.  I love the green grasses that start peeking out.  My first tulips that seem to be in a hurry to show their faces to the world.  I love the Easter feel of renewal; the pastel colors and fresh beginnings.  I love that the bikes can come out of storage and wake up from their sleepy six months of snow inhibiting activity.  There are more people out walking their dogs, and you can see neighbors that have been hibernating for months just as we have.

In just a few short days, April will be here.  With April brings a concentrated writing camp that I am looking forward to participating in.  This is just another piece of my personal growth, and I am very much looking forward to it.  It is one more way I plan to grow this year.  I hope you will enjoy your spring as much as I intend to enjoy mine, and I hope you find ways to grow yourself.

my tribe

I have been fortunate enough to allow my heart to open and find people who seem to resonate at the same frequency as I do.  It’s interesting how when life seems to be working against you, that truly, the Universe is aligning things for you.

Less than a year ago, I was competing for a position that I was certain I wanted.  I worked endless hours, focused so intently on what I was doing to make that job happen.  Even those I knew thought I was the best candidate for the position, yet it didn’t happen.  I decided for extra insurance, I would apply for another position that came available at a different institution.  Just in case.  It was a similar job, but I still felt that this was maybe not as good as the original one I was vying for.

I succeeded in landing the second job.  I can see now, in retrospect, how this was always the better choice for me.  This is where I am happy.  I feel my work is meaningful.  I have the ability to celebrate accomplishments in a way the other institution didn’t accommodate for.  I have met some incredibly amazing people that I would never have met before.  These people have become a part of my tribe.  I feel that I have been given permission, in a way, from the universe to be myself.  To allow the true me to shine through.  I hid behind the persona that I thought I needed to have.  But in the end, it did nothing for me.  I kept searching for the thing that was supposed to make me happy, yet I could never seem to find it.  It wasn’t until I allowed myself to shed that protective layer and truly allow my own inner self to bare its soul that I found happiness, and others that share similarities with me.

So, thank you, Universe.  I have never felt happier in my life.