Category Archives: Musings

My Inner Circle

“One of the most fundamental human needs is the need to belong.” – Abraham Maslow

Building your Tribe

Belonging, identified as one of the five basic needs we all, as humans desire. We want to be part of a group and to feel loved and accepted by others. To be a member of a tribe, a clan, a pack, elected family, posse, crew, a network of true friends. A group of people who share common interests and values, who show a genuine appreciation and care for each other.

One of the most precious gifts I have received, in my journey, is an amazing group of friends. As cliche as it sounds, friends are truly the family you choose for yourself. I’ve been very blessed with a pretty cool tribe. It has also translated to a solid support system for my children as well.

My Inner Circle ~ “My Tribe”

Members who accept you just as you are, and want the very best for you. They are the individuals in your life who not only celebrate your successes, but applaud them with a sincere enthusiasm. They encourage you to go after your goals and pursue your dreams. More importantly your tribe – your inner circle, help you to get through difficult times, providing you with a sense of community and support. They drive one another to explore the extent of their talents, creating a synergy that allows something much greater to occur – then any one of us could have accomplished, individually.

“Call it a clan, a network, a tribe – a family. But whatever you call it, whoever you are – you need one.” – Jane Howard

Listen to your inner voice and trust your instincts.

When was the last time you had a “gut feeling” about someone?

Keep in mind that the people you hang out with, will have a huge impact on every aspect of your life. From your level of income, (several financial authors – argue, that your income is equal to the income of the five closet to you) to your level of happiness, contentment. Studies show that happiness is contagious, and we have a subconscious tendency to model our behavior of those around us.

So choose your Tribe wisely. The members of your inner circle are your allies in your life journey. Surround yourself with people who will lift you up, boost your energy reserves – inspire you.

Not everyone should have access to your inner circle.

Some relationships constantly drain your energy, in both obvious and subtle ways. There are several types of people who will exhaust you and/or deter you from your path to living a fulfilled life. You want to identify and release toxic relationships, having no intrinsic value, the question becomes, “why would you expend your energy?”

The Blamer
The friend or family member who simply likes to hear their own voice! Who consistently complains about what isn’t working in their life. And yet, gains their energy from complaining and dumping their frustrations and life’s disappointment on you.
The Drainer
The needy individual who calls to ask for your guidance, support, information, advice or whatever they need to feel better in the moment. Because of their neediness, the conversation often revolves around them, and you can almost feel the life being sucked out of you during the conversation.
The Shamer
“Hazardous to your Health” … The shamer cuts you off, but not before putting you down, or issuing a formal reprimand. You become the butt of their jokes, and of course “they’re always just kidding.” They often ignore boundaries and try to convince you that their criticism is for you own good, sharing honestly is indeed loving and supportive. The shamer is the kind of person who makes you question your own sanity, your own abilities. The shamer’s ploys are very subtle.
The Discounter
The person who discounts or challenges everything you say. Often, there is a strong need to be right and fault can usually be found in any situation. It is exhausting to have a conversation with the discounter, eventually you end up giving in and deciding to just listen.
The Gossip
Avoids intimacy by talking about others. The gossip gets energy from relaying stories, opinions, and the latest “scoop.” By gossiping about others, they create a lack of safety in their relationships, whether they realize it or not. After all, if they’re talkin’ about someone else, chances are they’re talkin’ about you …

Soulful connections require the investment of time and energy. Vulnerability and authenticity demands the courage to be transparent with our emotions and our thoughts. But we can only enter into that realm of our relationships to one another when a mutual respect and a shared responsibility, is present. It is there where trust is established and life long friendships, relationships become our reality – become what I know as “my Tribe”

Self-care is not selfish. In fact, taking care of ourselves must be a priority. Especially when you are recovering from trauma in your life. So, you’ll want to choose the people who you spend the most time with – those who make up your world, carefully – wisely.

It’s made all the difference in the world to me, in my road to recovery – sobriety. In my journey of loss – grieving!

“Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.”

– Brene Brown, Gifts of Imperfection

Jasmine

The first home we owned together, we planted ~ Jasmine.

The Sampaguita Jasmine [sam-puh-gee-tuh] is a white flower grown on a woody vine, not a tree, with single or double layers of fragrant petals. It opens at night and emits a fragrant odor and droops into the daytime. It’s white flowers are often made in a wreath and it’s extract, into perfume.

According to folklore, it’s name was derived from a lover’s promise to his fair lady; “Sumpa kita” translated as “I promise you” David ~ always finished the sentence with … “Forever”

Summer nights, and the smell of jasmine give way to many memories for me. My children grew up with the ever present, fragrance of the jasmine. Interestingly enough, we have all had moments when we’ve crossed the path of that sweet vanilla scent ~ perhaps, we’ve thought, it is a reminder to each of us, that he is always with us.
The Sampaguita Jasmine was adopted by the Filipinos as the National Flower of the Philippines in 1934. It also happend to be the National Flower of Indoesia.

Say “hello” to my lil friend …

For several weeks now, this little blue bird has come to visit me each morning, on my balcony. He’s become part of my morning devotional – routine. He gets close enough to be able to reach out and touch him.

Blue Jay’s are known to be loquacious, but this little guy sits quietly perched, for as long as I sit.

Characteristics in the Blue Jay overall, is fiercely bold against its enemies. The animal symbolism is, determination, assertiveness and intelligence. Resonating truth, faithfulness and solidarity, because they are vigilant in their tasks. I found it interesting that they keep the same mate for life, which is symbolic of endurance, patience and loyalty.

The Jay is an excellent symbol for those wishing to honor their long-lasting bond between friends, family and lovers.

In the spiritual realm, the Blue Jay speaks of clarity and vision. In Native American symbolism the azure of the Jay against the blue sky indicated a “double vision” or double clarity. This visual/spiritual “blue on blue” represents purity of the soul, truth of the heart, and clarity of thought.

Folklore of the Jay, are creatures of the air, symbolic of thought, higher ideals, spirituality and the attainment of higher truth. When we dream of Blue Jays our deeper selves may be telling us that we are not being honest with ourselves? Basically, it’s time to “come clean.” The Jay, so they say – asks for honesty and forthrightness – it is believed any other action taken (such as deceptive or dishonest action) will mean double jeopardy, in the waking hours.Preferring fir or oak trees as their homes and nesting places, the Jay represents longevity, endurance and strength.

It was funny as I read the descriptive’s of this bluebird, I had only known Blue Jays as a persnickety, pesky little bird. Taking advantage of supermarket awnings and mailboxes or any hollowed space – the opportunist!!! But perhaps they do represent being able to make the best out of their environment, making them a resourceful bird as well? They are known to be vastly curious, dabbling in new directions, gathering new insights, and slaking their curiosities – a “jack-of-all-trades.” Perhaps knowing a little bit about seemingly everything? Making them fantastic trouble-shooters!

Fearless in protecting it’s partner, it’s young and it’s territory.

They defend their positions against their adversaries who seem much more powerful then themselves – often with successful results.

Reach Out

I would find my greatest healing, from depression, loss and grief – in giving. I love Joyce Meyers very simple approach, “when you’re down, go be a blessing to someone else.”

But I also know that climbing out of that black hole – the abyss, is difficult and a lot easier said than done! It is also overwhelming, simply because on some days just getting out of bed seems like an accomplishment all in of itself. There is something so extremely powerful and healing when we can find the energy to focus on something other than ourselves.

Small steps lead to bigger leaps and eventually you’ll find that you are not only on your way, but you’re running your race. With purpose and intent.

Purpose is a powerful thing … it transforms and empowers.

My first few attempts at volunteering were disastrous, I felt worse in the aftermath then I did before I got started.

Here’s a few things that I hope will help you a little, to get started and encourage you to move beyond your circumstances.

Ten Tips ..

  1. Look for a group that works with issues about which you feel strongly. You might already be giving money to one of these organizations, and that might be a good place to begin your volunteer (experience) search.
  2. Consider your skill set, and what you can offer. You may enjoy working outside, perhaps have a knack for teaching? Look for volunteer opportunities that will incorporate the attributes of your personality – likes, interests. Many positions require a volunteer with some working knowledge, of previous familiarity. Chose an area or something that you already enjoy like a hobby, maybe athletics, communications, or similar to your on the job experience. It allows you to jump right in without having to take training or prepare for the assignment.
  3. Maybe you’d like to try something new? For example, volunteering to work on the newsletter for the local animal shelter will improve your writing and editing abilities – skills that may help you in your career. Or, volunteering can simply offer a change from your daily routine. Many nonprofits seek out people who are willing to learn. Realize beforehand, however, that such work might require a time commitment for training before the actual volunteer assignment begins.
  4. Look for volunteer opportunities that will also help you achieve your other goals for your life. For example, if you want to lose a few extra pounds, pick an active volunteer opportunity, such as cleaning a park or working with kids. Or, if you’ve been meaning to take a cooking class, try volunteering at a food bank that teaches cooking skills.
  5. DON’T over commit!!! The last thing you need is to be frustrated and exhausted. See how the work, the position suits you before making an extensive commitment. See whether the organization will start you out on a limited number of hours until you get the feel of things. Better to start out slowly than to commit yourself to a schedule you can’t or don’t want to fulfill.
  6. NON-PROFITS; while most nonprofits are eager to find volunteer help, they have to be careful when accepting the services you offer. If you contact an organization with an offer to volunteer your time, you may be asked to come in for an interview, fill out a volunteer application, or describe your qualifications and your background just as you would at an interview for a paying job. It is in the organization’s interest and more beneficial to the people it serves to make certain you have the skills needed, that you are truly committed to doing the work, and that your interests match those of the nonprofit. Furthermore, in volunteer work involving children or other at-risk populations, there are legal ramifications for the organization to consider. Don’t be put off by the procedure – it’s part of the process!
  7. Consider volunteering as a Family! Think about looking for something suitable for parents and children, husband and wife. When a family volunteers to work together, the experience can bring them closer together, and teach young children the value of giving their time and effort, introduce everyone in the family to new skills and new experiences. It helps you stay connected to your family as well.
  8. Nowadays with technology – consider virtual volunteering. Yes, there is such a thing. If you have computer access and the necessary skills, some organizations now offer the opportunity to do volunteer work over the computer. This might take the form of giving free legal advice, typing a college term paper for a person with a disability, or simply keeping in contact with a shut-in who has e-mail. This sort of volunteering might be well suited to you if you have limited time, no transportation, or a physical disability that precludes you from getting about freely.
  9. Get involved in community groups. Most of us know that hospitals, libraries, and churches use volunteers for a great deal of their work, but here are some volunteer opportunities that may not have crossed your mind:
    • Day care centers, Neighborhood Watch, Public Schools and Colleges
    • Halfway houses, Community Theaters, Drug Rehabilitation Centers, Fraternal Organizations and Civic Clubs
    • Retirement Centers and Homes for the Elderly, Meals on Wheels, Church or Community-Sponsored Soup Kitchens or Food Pantries
    • Museums, Art Galleries, and Monuments
    • Community Choirs, Bands and Orchestras
    • Prisons, Neighborhood Parks, Youth Organizations, Sports Teams, and after-school programs Shelters for Battered Women and Children
    • Historical Restorations, Battlefields and National Parks
  10. Give a voice to your heart! Do it for you, giving is a priceless gift and what you get back – in return, is immeasurable.

Go Confidently …

Self confidence is the difference between feeling unstoppable and feeling paralyzed by fear.

confidence1Your perception of yourself has an enormous impact on how others perceive you. Perception is reality – the more self confidence you have, the more likely it is you’ll succeed.

Many factors affect “self-confidence” that are beyond your control but there are a number of things we an do consciously – to build self-confidence.

  • Dress Sharp

Although clothes don’t make the (man) in this case the woman, they certainly affect the way we feel about ourselves. No one is more conscious of your physical appearance than you are. When you don’t look good, it changes the way you carry yourself and interact with other people. Use this to your advantage by taking care of your personal appearance. In most cases, significant improvements can be made, outside of the obvious of bathing and shaving frequently, wearing clean, untattered clothing, and being cognizant of the latest styles.

This doesn’t mean you need to spend a lot on clothes, or become a cookie-cutter fashionista. One great rule to follow is “spend twice as much, buy half as much” – To spend a little more for a few pieces will not only minimize some of the clutter in your closet but higher quality continues to wears better, over a longer period of time. Plus you send the message – to yourself, that you’re worth it!

  • Walk Tall

One of the easiest ways to tell how a person feels about herself is to examine her walk. Is it slow? tired? painful? Or is it energetic and purposeful? People with confidence walk quickly. They have places to go, people to see, and important work to do. Even if you aren’t in a hurry, you can increase your self confidence by putting some “pep in your step.” Walking 25% faster will make to you look and more importantly feel more confident.

  • Good Posture

Similarly, the way a person carries herself tells a story. People with slumped shoulders and lethargic movements display a lack of self confidence. They aren’t enthusiastic about what they’re doing  and they don’t consider themselves important. By practicing good posture, you’ll automatically feel more confident. Stand up straight, keep your head up, and make eye contact. You’ll make a positive impression on others and instantly feel more alert and empowered.

  • a Personal Commercial – a positive internal dialogue.

One of the best ways to build confidence is listening to a motivational speech. Unfortunately, opportunities to listen to a great speaker are few and far between. You can fill this need by creating a personal commercial. Write a 30-60 second speech that highlights your strengths and goals. Then recite it in front of the mirror aloud (or inside your head if you prefer) whenever you need a confidence boost. Create an internal (positive) dialogue.

  • Gratitude

When you focus too much on what you want, the mind creates reasons why you can’t have it. It can lead you to dwell on your weaknesses. The best way to avoid this is consciously focusing on gratitude. Set aside time each day to mentally list everything you have to be grateful for. Recall your past successes, unique skills, loving relationships, and positive momentum. You’ll be amazed how much you have going for you and motivated to take that next step towards success.

  • Compliment other people

When we think negatively about ourselves, we often project that feeling on to others in the form of insults and gossip. To break this cycle of negativity, get in the habit of praising other people. Refuse to engage in gossip and make an effort to compliment those around you. In the process, you’ll attract positive energy – build self-confidence By looking for the best in others, you indirectly bring out the best in yourself.

  • Sit in the front row

In schools, offices, and public assemblies, and around the world, people are usually content to sit in the back of the room. Most people prefer the back, it is a non-engaging choice, in some cases because they’re afraid of being noticed. This reflects a lack of self confidence. By deciding to sit in the front row, you can get over this irrational fear and build your self confidence. You’ll also be more visible to the speaker in the front of the room.

  • Speak up

During group discussions many people never speak up, afraid of judgement, and ridicule for saying something stupid. This fear isn’t really justified. Generally, people are much more accepting than we imagine. In fact most people are dealing with the exact same fears. By making an effort to speak up at least once in every group discussion, you’ll become a better public speaker, more confident in your own thoughts, and recognized as a leader by your peers. Leadership is example – not a title. And curiosity gains us knowledge.

  • Exercise 

Along the same lines as personal appearance, physical fitness has a huge effect on self confidence. If you’re out of shape, you’ll feel insecure, unattractive, and less energetic. By working out, you activate your endorphins, raising your energy level, you improve your physical appearance, energize yourself, and accomplish something positive. Having the discipline to work out not only makes you feel better, it creates positive momentum that you can build on throughout the rest of your day.

  • Focus on contribution

Too often we get caught up in our own desires. We focus too much on ourselves and not enough on the needs of other people. If you stop thinking about yourself and concentrate on the contribution you’re making to the rest of the world, you’re more apt to be less concerned with your flaws – inadequacies. Increasing your self-confidence and allow you to contribute with maximum efficiency. The more you contribute to the world, the more you’ll be rewarded with personal success and recognition.

confidence3

  • Identify your negative thoughts

Your negative thoughts might sound like this: “I can’t do that,” “I will surely fail”, “no one wants to hear what I have to say.” This inner voice is pessimistic and unhelpful and will hold you back from achieving high self-esteem and greater self-confidence. If you chose to give more “brain-space” to the positive thoughts, and counter your negative self-thinking with positive, eventually it becomes more natural.

  • Maintain a positive support network

Connect with those close to you, whether they are family or friends, to keep your perspective uplifted. Furthermore, limit your time with people, places or things that just generally make you feel bad.

  1. As you cultivate your own positive attitude and take steps to achieve your goals – naysayers may become more evident. As much as possible, limit your contact with them.
  2. Take some time to think about the people in your life – consider spending more time with those who are supportive and uplifting.
  • Eliminate reminders of your negativity

Avoid spending time around things that can make you feel bad about yourself again. These might be reminders from the past, clothing that no longer fits, or places that don’t fit with your new goals, your quest of gaining confidence. Though you may not be able to get rid of every negative source in your life, you can certainly think about how to cut your losses. This will go a long way in building your self-confidence.

  • Identify your talents

Everyone is good at something, so discover the things at which you excel, and then focus on your talents. Give yourself permission to take pride in them. Express yourself, whether it’s through art, music, writing, or dance. Find something you enjoy and cultivate a talent to go with your interest. Celebrating your own talents, eliminates comparison! And by actively participating in the things you love and are of interest to you – it provides the opportunity to develop new and healthy relationships.

  • Take pride in yourself

Not only should you feel proud of your talents or your skills, but you should also think about the things that make your personality great. It can be your sense of humor, your sense of compassion, your listening skills, or your ability to cope under stress. You may not think that there’s anything about your personality worth admiring, look again, and continue to look – you’ll realize that you have plenty of admirable qualities. Focus and concentrate on what you find! Following your passion, not only will it have a therapeutic effect, but will give you such a sense of accomplishment.

  • Accept compliments with grace

Many people with low self-esteem have difficulty taking compliments; they assume that the person complimenting them is either mistaken or lying. If you find yourself responding to a compliment by rolling your eyes, saying, “Yeah, right,” or shrugging it off, you should reframe your response to compliments.

  1. Take it to heart and respond positively, “thank you” is the most gracious way to receive a compliment. And it  lets the person who is giving the compliment know that you appreciate it. Work to reach the point where you are able to truly accept the compliment at heart.

confidence

  • Be comfortable with fear

You may think that people who are self-confident are never fearful. This simply is not true. Fear means you are at your growing edge. Perhaps your fear is speaking in front of a group, introducing yourself to someone you don’t know, or asking your boss for a raise.

  1. When you are able to confront what you fear, you will gain self-confidence and you will feel the boost immediately!
  2. Fear is nothing more then an obstacle that stands in the way of progress. In overcoming our fears, we can move forward, stronger, wiser and more confident – within ourselves.

I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”
Nelson Mandela