Living With Gusto

Strength: You’ve Got It

“You never know how strong you are until being strong

is the only choice you have.”

Bob Marley

Most of us have been through things that have shown us—beyond our imaginings—what we are capable of. As we think back on those horrible days we are in awe of our perseverance and accomplishment, wondering how we ever survived. But we are strong, and we rise to meet need as the warriors we are.

I have a close friend who has walked through some of the most difficult things life has to offer. A particularly bad season was when she was making the drive to Detroit several times a week to take her infant son to Children’s Hospital. This went on for several months. She barely saw her husband and other infant son and was physically and emotionally worn out—the kind of worn out that trying to sleep in the hospital and fighting for your baby’s life will bring. The kind of exhaustion that causes you to nod off at the red light. When I exclaimed that I didn’t know how she’d done it, her response was, “What option did I have?”

And she was correct. Sometimes we just don’t have a choice and have to keep putting one foot in front of another.  And somehow the strength comes when needed.

One of the most grueling seasons in my life was during the time my mom lived with us while battling cancer. That was difficult enough, but my husband also had two back surgeries which put him out-of-commission on pain meds (so I was basically single-parenting), I was managing my mom’s in-home caregivers, both she and my husband were making frequent trips to the hospital, my two special needs 4 year olds were not sleeping, or if they were my daughter’s feeding pump would jam—sometimes two and three times a night, and I was rising at 4:30 each morning to get everyone ready so I could go teach my second graders—on very little sleep. Oh, and did I mention I was older—fifty-two, but who was counting? Let me tell you, I’m not sure how I ever survived those months!

mimis tea bag

 

So how do we find the strength to make it through these times? Looking back it seems impossible, but somehow I found the strength to do everything that was needed. I know that I prayed a lot! My prayer was often only, “Oh God! Oh God!”.  (Good thing He can read between the lines.) And I talked with my close friend, who gave me amazing support.

Some women turn to yoga, meditating, or exercise to calm and restore. Some attend support groups, community functions, or read. Sometimes just talking to a friend will help us see perspective and cause us to realize how strong we are and how far we have come.

Talking out loud can help us process our next steps, or just receive the support from another that gives us strength. Never discount how powerful helping to bear someone’s burden can be!

It’s important for women to gather, share, and support each other. Women are social creatures and amazing things happen when they gather and hang out together.

Don’t be afraid to tell your “warrior” stories to others. You may well inspire someone and help them gain strength in their journey. Yes, we may wish we’d done some things differently or better, but in the long run we did the best we could at the time. And most likely we were amazing! And look how strong we have become!

Hang in there Warrior Woman. And share your story.

Much love, Mimi

This post was originally an article written for Women2Women Magazine, of which I’m the editor. You may view our digital magazine online to read other great articles.

 

Words To Help

Deepak Chopra: Movement to Prevent Suicide

Thrive Global has published a good read concerning suicide. Deepak Chopra, a spiritual leader and alternative medicine expert has launched a global movement to encourage and empower those who are struggling with their mental health to reach out. And to help them realize that they are not alone in their struggle.

“Chopra wants to do his part to help those who are also struggling with stress, burnout, anxiety, and other mental health issues. “Suicide is the second most common cause of death, among those aged 10-34.

Suicide is the biggest taboo of America,” he says. ‘This is the biggest tragedy of humankind. If we don’t address it, it is a testimony to our collective insanity. Let’s change the world — we can do it!’”

Of particular interest to me was his Four A’s….ways WE can be more mindful of those around us who might be struggling. He suggests some signs we can look out for. 

“When co-workers, friends, or people in your family are struggling, you can easily become aware of that. They lack sleep, they appear anxious, depressed, and sometimes they even give hints of hurting themselves,” he says. “We can actually tackle this epidemic by remembering four A’s, which are, in my view, the pillars of relationship:

attention with deep listening, 

affection with deep caring, 

appreciation with deep acknowledgement of the uniqueness of each other, and 

acceptance where you’re not trying to change anybody.”

 

Deepak rightfully calls these the pillars of relationship! We could all learn to practice these four actions more, and help our world, especially the one around us, become more caring.

Make sure to read the complete article Deepak Chopra Speaks Out For Suicide Prevention by Lindsey Benoit O’Connell.

Living With Gusto

I AM

I AM

The words I used to put after “I am” were not very nice words at all. I didn’t like myself much. I felt like I could never measure up or please everyone, although I spent most of my waking minutes trying. When I’d do something just for myself I’d feel extremely guilty and like I had to hide it. It seems pretty silly, huh?

But my beginnings were a bit rocky, which led me–a person of peace, huge emotions, and big heart–to feel as if I really didn’t deserve love, or even much of a place in this world. 

After going through a LOT of healing, prayer, reading/study, and consciously changing my thought patterns, I began to view myself differently. Believe me, this process took a long time, but the journey has set me free. When I begin to think of myself with words that cut me down, words that undermine the fabulous person God created me to be, I pull myself back and change them. 

I remember who I really, really am, the good stuff I’ve discovered about myself, and I change my thought pattern. It does work! I even say some of those things out loud to others, and I haven’t gotten struck by lightning yet!! 

I urge you to try it. This world seems to thrive on criticism (not the constructive kind), comparison, bullying, and zillions of images that could leave us feeling like a mess. We certainly do not need to be our own enemy by fueling that fire with negative thoughts and beliefs about ourselves!!

If you have no idea what makes you fabulous, then ask a friend. (Our friends see and know what we do well, how we have helped them or others, what our personality is like and our strengths.) They can give you a few characteristics to get started. 

But first of all, above everything else, you are loved.

I do not know you well enough to say I love you (but I do care about you). The One who really, truly loves you unconditionally is our Creator, God, our heavenly Father who wants a close and personal relationship with you. And knowing we are loved can change how we feel about ourselves.

So go ahead, discover some good things about yourself, and begin replacing the ugly self-talk with uplifting, affirming words instead.  I’ve given you an alphabet card below full of suggestions. You are welcome to print it, (please be kind and use only for yourself, as it is my own work) or you can buy a 5″ x 7″ hard copy from my Etsy shop if you desire. I guarantee that if you read these words daily–using them to describe yourself–and begin to believe them (because of course you are all these things), you will become empowered and equipped with stronger self-esteem, self-love, and confidence. 

ABCs of me2

Why shouldn’t these words–and more–describe who you are? I now believe that I am these things, and I’m certainly no better than you!

So there you have it–strong, uplifting words to fill in this blank:

I am ______________________________.

 

I am very excited to hear about your journey. Let me know how you do!

And comment below if you, like me, have struggled with negative self-talk. 

 

I wish you blessings, truth, and the heart-knowledge that you are loved. 

Big sparkle hugs, 

Mimi heart for blog

Living With Gusto

It’s So Simple

Be kind2

It really is simple.

Everything we might choose for our goals boils down to being kind:

Be kind to yourself.

Be kind in your relationships.

Be kind to the earth and animals.

Be kind to others.

Be kind in your words.

Be kind in your thoughts.

Be kind in your deeds.

I think that about covers it all.

May you have a wonderful year of kindness.

So what do you think? Let me know below.

Lots of great big sparkle hugs

and blessings in the new year.

heartMimi

 

 

 

 

Inspiration, Words To Help

The Grace Experiment

grace changes everything2

I’m thinking that we all could show ourselves some grace this time of year. I originally wrote this article for the August/September issue of Women2Women Michigan Magazine (I’m the editor and write a column). I believe it is quite timely for now, during a time when we are so stressed, and demanding of ourselves. Read it, take heart, breathe deeply, and try the “grace experiment”.

The Grace Experiment

She was done. She just couldn’t do it anymore. And the worst thing? She felt like a failure. Nagging self-criticism kept bombarding her brain: she’d not done enough, she should work harder, and she was so unworthy. She had tried. Oh how hard she had tried! But she had come to the end of herself. She could barely breathe, much less keep pushing herself to “get it all done” just to make everyone happy. She collapsed on the bed, tears dripping down her cheeks, and wondered how she’d gotten to this place. Utterly exhausted, hardly able to move, her brain overloaded with the many requirements and expectations from others, she wondered if she’d ever be happy again.

Do you recognize this woman? Have you seen her in your mirror?

Everyone gets exhausted and comes to the “end of their rope” at times during their lives. Unfortunately, with women it is often the result of our “super woman” mentality which believes we can be all things to everyone, do all things to please people, be the caregivers of the world, and completely dismiss our own needs. It’s a mindset that has been driven into us by our culture, our families, and by societal expectations. Often it is the result of believing there is no other way and our own driving need to prove ourselves.

Well Darlin’, if this is you, it’s time to bestow upon yourself goodwill, favor, and mercy, (grace) just as you would a best friend who was criticizing themselves for falling short. You would give her encouragement and tell her how accomplished she is. It’s time to do the same for yourself.

grace

 

 “If beating yourself up worked, you’d already be rich, skinny, and happy. Why not try loving yourself for a month and see what happens?”

My friend Stephanie Dalfonzo wrote these words on her Facebook page this week. I asked if I could use them because they fit so well with what I was writing.

Do you realize how powerful this suggestion is? Could you do it? It takes twenty-one days to change a habit, so how about instead of self-criticism you rejoiced in your accomplishments for thirty days? Do you understand how that could change your brain and your outlook on life?

Instead of thinking, “I’m a bad mom because my meals are not really healthy enough for my kids”, think, “I buy groceries (an accomplishment that deserves a medal in my book!) and provide food for family.” (SCORE!)

I am such a bad parent, missing my kids’ games (recitals, plays). However, I am working to provide a life for them, and there are others who love and encourage them.

Instead of, “Will my children be okay without me tonight? I feel so guilty!” Think, “I really need this time to laugh with friends so that I can be more content at home. They are just fine without me, and we all need a break from each other.” And you know, they really are just fine with someone else for a while.

And during those times when you just can’t seem to keep your head above water and the doubt and lies and guilt are attacking you? Start listing all the things you HAVE accomplished that day.  Perhaps you worked all day (which brings its own set of frustrations), did four loads of laundry,  bought groceries, read with a child, cleaned the toilet (does anyone else clean just one item a day like I often do?) spent 5 minutes outside, folded the laundry (ugh, 3 days later), put the devices aside and cuddled, cooked dinner (or collected drive-through), made the bed (ha!), talked to your mom, encouraged a friend, got out of bed this morning, or got into bed at a decent hour (you do know we desperately need 7-8 hours of sleep don’t you?). There are so many things that we do each day and we need to celebrate them. Others expect and take for granted. But you, my dear, need to begin seeing what a powerhouse you truly are!

Need to start saving? Celebrate the five dollars you were able to tuck away this week or how you resisted buying that really unnecessary item (maybe at Hobby Lobby or Target? Stay away from those places!).

Want to lose weight? Celebrate that you didn’t eat the whole bag of chips even though you really, really wanted to. Perhaps you signed up with a therapist to help you understand the underlying reasons behind overeating, or that you have partnered with a friend to support each other. Or that you did not buy the three-pack of chocolate chip cookies at McDonald’s (do they stare you in the face too?).

Need to lose weight and save money? Celebrate that you have weaned yourself from that sugary Starbuck’s on the way to work or that you brought your lunch to work and walked for ten minutes.

Did you take the stairs today instead of the elevator? Did you call a friend to encourage her? Did you turn up the music and dance with your kids? Did you clean the house—or even one room? Girl! You need to celebrate!!

This list can go on and on. If you have trouble remembering your accomplishments by the end of the day, jot notes to yourself. Perhaps carry a little journal with you. Many people carry “gratitude” journals, and being conscious of all they have to be grateful for has changed their outlook on life. I believe the act of recognizing all you accomplish during your day will change your life drastically. You will begin to see that you are not lacking in any way.

And take a bit of time for you each day: read, sit outside, meditate, take a bubble bath, or do yoga, and breathe. You are completely worth it—and until you believe that of yourself, it will be hard for others to believe it either.

self care is love 2

 

I realize I am focusing more on doing rather than being, which is not my usual approach.  But I feel it’s important for women to learn to give themselves grace rather than beat themselves up for not doing all they think they should (which usually turns into feelings of not being enough—something I struggled with most of my life). I really do hope you will try the “Grace Experiment”. And please let me know how it changes your life! Email me at mimi@w2wmichigan.com. I can’t wait to hear from you!

 

Much love and really big sparkle hugs,

heartPassionista Mimi

Living With Gusto

First Love Yourself

 

3 FLY

Happy March! (This is from my “Wings & Dreams” calendar. You can still purchase one on sale in my shop.)

As Lucille Ball said, ” Love yourself first, and all the rest falls into line.”
It’s pretty difficult to accomplish what your heart desires if you don’t feel as if you are worth it. 
It’s tough to offer love to others if you feel really cruddy about yourself.
It’s almost impossible to be confident and positive if you really don’t like yourself.
What can you do today to nurture your soul? As women we nurture everyone else, but not ourselves.
Speak up for your right to take time to do something that nurtures YOU. (Convince yourself you are worthy of it. It will make you a better person, dissolve resentment, and empower you!)
Tell me below what you are going to do for yourself today. Me? I just got my heart rate up for 15 minutes. Go me! Now let’s see if I keep with it! Cheer me on.

Inspiration, Living With Gusto

Comparison is Distracting

comparison

Do you get distracted when you look at others, their posts, their accomplishments? Are you comparing? I sure do, at times. Then I remind myself that we all have different callings, abilities, lights to shine. It’s really destructive to compare because we will not “measure up”. So, keep on pursuing your own purpose. And don’t get distracted by comparison.

Big sparkle hugs! Mimi

 

 

Living With Gusto

We Are Not Alone

“Christmas is a reminder that we are not alone.” My aunt shared this quote with me and it resonated within me.
God touched humanity with Jesus—the greatest gift of all. Love came down at His birth. He provided a way to live with HOPE in the midst of despair. To have a FRIEND when everyone turns away. To have STRENGTH in the midst of fear. To have LOVE in the midst of hate. To have FAITH in the midst of turmoil.
HE alone is my Rock, the One who has sustained me through some really, really rough times. He has anchored me when I’ve been adrift and floundering.
I am forever grateful for this Savior who came humbly to walk among us and make a way for us to have lives of fullness and joy, regardless of our circumstances. My heart belong to the One who loves me.


May you be blessed this Christmas

and the year to come. 

Love and big hugs, Mimi

Living With Gusto

Wings and Dreams

Is there a goal or dream niggling at your heart?

Do you have big plans on the back burner that you have only shared with your trusted friend?

Perhaps you are just a leetle bit afraid to dream BIG for fear of disappointment.

I understand that. I’ve been there!

But you know what?

This 2018 calendar is one of my dreams,

and although it’s very scary putting it out here

for the public to scrutinize and evaluate,

I do it because it’s important to me.

I hope you find value in this calendar.

I hope you will be encouraged by the pages,

and decide to take the leap toward

your dreams too.

I, like you, walk the journey

not knowing if my dreams will succeed.

And they all may not.

But I’m taking steps to bring encouragement and empowerment into your lives.

If I accomplish that, I’ll be overflowing with JOY!!

Because, you see, bringing encouragement into your lives is one of my DREAMS!

It’s my calling.

And this calendar is one of the ways

I’m able to live MY dream.

And that makes me really, really happy!

 

If you’d like one of these calendars, you may purchase it here.

 

I haven’t told y’all lately how amazing

and wonderful you are!

I hope you know that. Thank you for being YOU!

I’d hate to have to live without you in my life.

And thank you for your support. It means so much to me!!

Lotsa love and big sparkle hugs,

Passionista Mimi

 

Living With Gusto

Are You Wearing Your True Colors?

when I am an old woman I shall wear purple

 

Today is my birthday!! I thought it quite appropriate to post this today, since I am entering a “milestone” birthday this year–that of receiving Medicare. Yes, this lady right here is turning 65 years old today!! I can’t believe it. Because I am waaaay too young at heart to be 65!! Right? That’s what living with gusto and passion will do fer ya!! Ha!

 

The above picture is an excerpt from a poem written by Jenny Joseph in 1961 when she was 29 years old. You really should read it all. This poem became Jenny’s most popular one even though she wrote all her life and won several awards and published numerous poetry books.

 

Perhaps it gained popularity because it speaks of women doing what suits them instead of what others expect of them. A freeing thought to women of the 60s and continues to be even now.

Our clothing standards for “older” women (whatever that means) have loosened some in the last decades, but conquering societal expectations on women is still a struggle. So here is my take on this idea of what to wear:

I’m older—I guess—and I enjoy wearing purple and many other colors. But how I most want to clothe myself is by wearing the honest, true version of my own essence. Not someone’s idea of who I am, not anyone’s opinion of how I should behave, and certainly not another person’s idea of what I should be. Who’s with me?

 

Age has given me perspective and wisdom. Navigating through difficult times—suffering because of wrong choices, persevering through grief, loss, and change—as well as experiencing wonderful and joyful things like parenthood and being loved, will do that for you.

 

Age has given me guts. Guts to break free and throw out all that isn’t truly my authentic self. Age has liberated me. I finally got tired enough to call it quits. I couldn’t take care of everyone else any more. I couldn’t be what “they” wanted and demanded. And good Lord, why should I be? How does allowing someone else to frame my character, personality, and behaviors honor myself or my Creator?

 

As with most of us, the reduction and dismissal of my true self started at an early age when I began believing lies about myself. Experiences in my young life caused me to feel “less than” and that was the filter I used to interpret what people said about me. I heard words and perceived behaviors that convinced me I was, indeed, less than I should be.

 

For the record, when we hear something, we must accept it and agree with it before it can become truth to us. How we feel about ourselves, often determined early in our lives, affects that.

 

As I got older and began to dismiss other’s opinions and expectations, and tasted the freedom of determining my authentic self, I’ve discovered lots of treasures in my character. I’m not really those awful things people said about me. I know that they were lies. And I’m fervently hoping that you, too, will make the same discovery of truth.

 

So what about that purple? Please wear whatever colors make you feel alive and vibrant! But, most importantly, clothe yourself in the dazzling radiance of your perfectly true self.

And, darling, won’t we SHINE!!

 

 

I wrote this for the Women2Women Michigan Magazine. You might really enjoy reading the whole magazine online, as it is FULL of great articles for and about and by women! Here is the link to read the free magazine: W2WMichigan Magazine

Love and hugs,

Passionista Mimi