The Waiting is the Hardest Part…

The Waiting is the Hardest PartWhile I’ve been making huge improvements in almost every area of my life, I feel that lately I’m doing a large amount of waiting:

Waiting for the mortgage commitment for the buyers of my condo. The big day should be Thursday–so close!

Waiting to move into my new place. August first, where are you?

Waiting to go on my annual girls’ trip with my best friends. Two days away–Colorado, here we come!

And, finally….waiting to go on the trip of my dreams…  This one is a whopper and will be written about as soon as that mortgage commitment is in place. Around the world, here I come! :)

The Art of Patience

With all of these things up in the air, the amount of anxiety I’m battling has been pretty intense. Fortunately, I seem to be navigating all of these changes and challenges with dignity and grace because inherently, I’m a positive, patient person. The key to maintaining my composure has been to remind myself that I can’t control any of these external factors–I can only control how I respond to them and what I do as a result of those various responses.

And so I wait. Patiently. Even if it is inconvenient, painful, and cause for a serious lack of sleep–and writer’s block….ugh. I can’t shake the feeling that a huge turning point for my life is right around the corner, so I continue to move forward with what I can and sit back and try to enjoy the ride for the things that will take more time to sort out.

The Art of Positive Thinking

As I wait and plan and process, I’m also realizing that I can use this time to further hone my ability to recognize the learning opportunities each new challenge presents. Rather than focus on what has been lost or what is not there, I’m choosing to focus on what is being gained and all of the amazing things that are yet to come as a result of my growth and ability to make it to the other side of a difficult time.

If you’re going through a hard time of your own, I highly recommend seeking out the positive. In an effort to not only kick-start this focus but to maintain it, I’ve been writing daily in a gratitude journal, as well as continuing with my 40 day mission of Random Acts of Kindness, which I write about on my new blog, Change Your Life in 40 Days.

I can say without a shadow of a doubt that I’ve already built upon my strong, resilient core in ways I never thought possible–all because of my willingness to fight to maintain a sunny disposition no matter what comes my way. Far more than making lemonade with these lemons, I’m teaching others to make their own lemonade.

Giving Myself some Breathing Room

I’ll need to write about this some more, but my finances are a bit of a mess–on purpose. I’m not going into debt or touching a penny of savings, but I have been allowing myself to spend a bit more for conveniences and work a bit less as I concentrate on my well-being instead of my typical break-neck work pace.

I know that I can’t do it all, and I need to stay as balanced as possible to ensure I’m moving forward in a healthy, positive way. Yes, it’s quite unnerving to track my uptick in spending and I do want to freak out a bit about work I’ve been passing up. But I know that I can jump into high gear as soon as the timing makes sense–I can get back to where I was before and beyond.

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, life dictates a need to slow down, regroup, and take care of yourself.

If I were to resist this necessary phase of recovery, I would be doing myself a huge disservice because I’d be plowing forward instead of fully processing what’s happening. I made that mistake once and it cost me dearly, so I’m doing everything I can to ensure I’ll never make it again. At the end of the day, it’s more like Viva la Balance and to hell with all the noise–at least temporarily. :)

What’s going on in your life?

What Price Would You Pay to Have it All?

Having Balance in LifeThe car, the house, the wardrobe. The exotic vacations, the gorgeous jewelry, the memberships to exclusive clubs.

These are just some of the riches society says you can have if you work hard enough; the rewards for years of blood, sweat, and tears spent to fulfill your career and success aspirations. If you believe it, you can achieve it. If you work your tail off, the world’s awash with luxuries and possibilities.

The thing is, I’m not “buying” it anymore

If you re-read those lists above, you might notice that they’re filled with material objects. And sure, those things are nice and would certainly allow for some pretty epic life experiences. But what about your interpersonal relationships? What about having love and compassion in your life? What about your sense of self and your dreams that entail much more than what you own?

As I work through my latest phase of personal development, I’m beginning to see ever more clearly that life is wrought with trade-offs. Some of them, such as working hard to keep up with materialistic desires in lieu of cultivating a more balanced life, I’ve certainly fallen victim to in the past. Now as I move forward, I’m taking a much different approach because I’m learning that having all of these things comes at a price I’m just not willing to pay for the rest of my life.

Having it All (as Society Defines it) is Detrimentally Stressful

We’ve all heard stories of the person who “had it all,” yet was profoundly sad or lonely or miserable (maybe all of the above!). We’ve also watched as recent opinions have flown regarding the debate about working mothers and the sacrifices they make to balance a family, be successful at work, and somehow keep their sanity. As society begins to dictate more and more that we are defined by our external success, it can be difficult to remember that the price of these achievements can often be the source of unbearable stress, confusion, and conflict.

If you’re constantly working to the point that you’re not spending quality time with your family/friends, that you’re missing the little joys in day-to-day living, and you’re literally watching your life pass you by, are you really living?

Having it All Comes with a High Price Tag

The more I hone my ability to decide what I truly want out of life and then take action to make it a reality, the more I realize that what I crave most is a full, balanced life. Yes, I do need money to pay my bills and travel because it’s a passion of mine, but I don’t need to be obsessed with climbing the corporate ladder or bringing in obscene amounts of money.

What I need is to focus on building myself from the inside out…and money can’t buy that. Money can’t buy me love, it can’t buy me friends, and it can’t buy my dreams. If I set my sights too much on money and achievement, the prices I pay might include the deterioration of my health and physical body, a lack of genuine interaction with other people, and the opportunity to miss out on the things in life that truly matter (such as good times spent with people, lazy days aimed at recharging the batteries, and relishing in the joy that is a day where there’s absolutely nothing planned).

Therefore, moving forward, I’ll be more focused on a balanced approach to wellness. My time will be spent on a variety of tasks and responsibilities that will nurture my mind, body, and soul–not just the vague, empty notion that I want “it all” in the terms society dictates.

The funny thing is, I have a feeling that I indeed will end up having it all–it’s just going to be in a way that works for what I want and the person I want to be. After all, why try to keep up with the Jones when they’re unhappy, miserable people under all that glitz and glamor?

What does “Having it All” mean to you?

Why Boundaries are Crucial for Your Emotional and Financial Stability

The Importance of Setting BoundariesOne of the large pieces of personal growth I’m currently working through is learning how to set appropriate, healthy boundaries in my life. As I’ve been processing all of the crazy the past 5-6 weeks brought along with them, I’m making a lot of great changes that are having a tremendous, positive impact on my well-being.

While these things are aimed at managing my stress in the best way possible (yoga, meditation, etc), there is still a need to address any underlying issues that might have contributed to my epic meltdown over Memorial Day weekend.

This is where boundaries come into play.

A Boundary Inventory

Over the course of some very intensive talk therapy sessions, I’ve become aware of my tendency to internalize the stress, fear, anger, and other negative emotions of others–at the cost of my own stress levels. Rather than holding firm with my boundaries and voicing my concern if someone is “dumping” on me, blaming me for something that I had no contribution to, or being a bit too nosy about what’s going on in my life, I tended to clam up and just sort of sit there or share too much, talk too much, and make myself much too vulnerable.

Eventually, the lack of response on my part meant that all of that negativity was being internalized. As a truly happy, positive person, this created a lot of internal confusion and stress for me. I became someone who would seek to work out the issues and problems of others at the expense of what I needed to be working on myself. It’s a pattern that has most likely grown out of my (quite rocky) upbringing, and it’s incredibly refreshing and liberating to finally be stopping it cold in its tracks.

The good thing is that I have made progress in setting boundaries in certain parts of my life, such as at work and with my finances. I have learned the power of ‘No,’ as I mentioned in my post about how I learned to say no, slow down, and stop buying. I’ve also learned to celebrate my worth as a freelancing professional who’s currently chasing down my dream to be my own boss in a successful way. None of these would have been possible if I didn’t have the confidence and strong sense of self that has helped me navigate all of the various challenges in my life with grace and dignity.

Setting Personal Boundaries

As I take stock of what I’ve already accomplished and where I’d like to end up on this journey, I now understand that the last step in having a full repertoire of boundaries at my disposal is to establish (and maintain) personal boundaries. While this isn’t necessarily “easy” work to do, the feeling of freedom I’m already experiencing is quite motivating.

There are a few steps I’m taking to ensure these new boundaries will be realistically identified, maintained, upheld, and augmented as necessary (these are like a budget; not a “set it and forget it” entity–they require maintenance and attention!):

Completing Personal Inventories

This is the hardest part of the process–to finally deal with all of the things that I’ve been through in my life in a complete manner. Fully processing every aspect of the various experiences; including the who, what, where, when, and why (or perhaps coming to terms with the idea that I may never understand why).

Processing Emotions

With the inventories come the emotions. It’s a painful ride of emotion that I’m facing head-on without the crutch of any maladaptive coping mechanisms. The great thing here is with each memory or experience I’ve already processed, I’m becoming stronger and more ready to face the next set. From accepting my unhealthy childhood (perhaps fodder for another post in the future–not sure I want to share this here) to processing what’s gone on in the past year, I’m making great strides nearly every day.

Creating Lists

The lists seem to be never-ending but they are invaluable. While at first I felt a bit silly and definitely self-conscious about these assignments, I’ve begun to look forward to writing more as time goes on.

The first lists for the boundaries work included lists of what types of things I’m not comfortable with when people around me are doing them (criticizing, judging others, etc.), types of things I’d like people to stop doing to me (being rude, ignoring me, etc), and types of things that I will no longer allow people to say to me without standing up for myself (ie. an ex BF from my past who harassed me for weeks when he found out I had begun dating someone else months later).

Other lists have included what my expectations of others are, an assessment of how available I make myself for the needs of others (and what it costs me), and a list of how I feel while around certain people in my life. With each new list, I’m identifying the patterns I will change, the people I need to cut ties with, and what I need to become the whole, healthy version of myself.

Taking Action

As with any new change I’m putting into place, the importance of taking action is paramount. I already know that there might be objections to this new, stronger Jen that some people won’t be prepared for, but I’m ready to cross that bridge because I’m resolved to being consistent, staying patient, remaining calm, being responsible for my own emotional reactions instead of those of other people, and identifying when compromise is an effective choice without “giving in” or “going against” my own beliefs or what I need to stay balanced.

Boundaries and Finances

I mentioned above that I’m solid when it comes to setting boundaries in my financial life. Gone are the days of lending money to people, spending more than I earn, and trying to maintain a facade of success with material objects due to societal influences.

If you find yourself struggling to maintain boundaries in your own financial life, you might want to consider completing your own inventory or lists. As you work through the various stressors that are keeping you from reaching your financial dreams, be sure to accompany each with a tangible, realistic course of action that will help you change your situation.

Once you have your lists and know what your plan is, don’t waste even a second putting it into place. Today is the day that you can take the first step to achieving your goals. While you might find great support from others, remember that you and you alone are the only one that can do the work to ensure these changes are permanent and having last effect on how you manage your money. Believe in yourself and your ability to succeed.

Should you find that your finances are in check, consider other areas of your life where your boundaries might need a refresher. From work to friendship to fitness, there are always ways to improve the person you are today in order to become the best version of yourself tomorrow.

Moving Forward

After reviewing all of the progress I’ve made over the years with my ability to manage money well, I’m excited to realize that the potential for my latest phase of change is literally bursting at this point. I’m not worried about making all of these healthy changes because I’ve done it before, and I know just how sweet the future will be as these things work themselves out.

The best part? Positive, happy rewards are already coming my way–the change is already happening!  :)

How do you maintain your own boundaries in life?

 

 

The Importance of Taking Action and Remaining Positive

Smile Even Though it is HardThroughout all of the challenges I’ve faced recently, two things that have remained in-tact are my positive, sunny disposition and my can-do attitude.

These qualities are part of what define me at my core and are just some of the reasons why it’s been so “easy” for me to bounce back during these struggles.

Of course it hasn’t been easy to face all of this, but I’m committed to making changes. I’m also more than willing to put in the hard work necessary to ensure the changes I make are permanent.

Taking Action

A quick trip through my archives on this site makes it easy to see that I’m a woman of action. When I’m faced with struggles or need to make changes, I don’t skip a beat when springing into action. I’m not sure how I’ve honed this ability over the years, but I’ve become someone who can roll with the proverbial punches and come out stronger on the other side. It’s sort of like the idea that I’ve done it before, and I’ll certainly do it again when it comes to making positive, healthy changes in my life.

Right now, a lot of the need has been to focus on taking care of myself. I’m a selfless giver, and I’ve finally recognized that I sometimes tend to give more to others at the expense of myself.

While this is a great quality in terms of being compassionate, helpful, and caring, it doesn’t do me any good if I’m not ensuring my own health and happiness before I concentrate my efforts on other people.

This has been a great realization during this turbulent time of self-awakening and I’m so thankful to have the incredible insight and awareness I have now. Some of the new ways I’m taking action include the following:

Yoga and Meditation

The largest reason for the recent arguments was stress. Just like alcohol, stress is a poison for our bodies. I’ve learned the hard way that if you don’t pay attention to your stress levels and do everything in your power to alleviate any tension, you’re potentially setting yourself up for your own perfect storm.

For me, the solution to this problem is to find a combination of being active and gaining insight and awareness. This is best done through yoga and meditation.

So far, I’ve purchased an Amazon pack of Bikram classes (I was cleared by my cardiologist last week to attend and I went on Friday), I’ve negotiated a permanent volunteer position with another studio that will give me at least three free classes each month in exchange for 4 hours spent helping the business (which begins tomorrow), and I’m attending community meditation classes weekly at yet another studio.

While it’s only been a month, I can honestly say that I’ve never felt more whole and alive before. I’m excited about the growth I’m achieving daily, and I know that it’s already having an amazing impact on my life. It also helps that as soon as I’m cleared to run, these things will certainly help round me out as an athlete and will help prevent future injuries.

Building a Support Network

Another side of personal growth is pushing myself out of my comfort zone when it comes to meeting new people and cultivating a strong support network. It’s a bit ironic because when people meet me, they usually remark about what a down-to-Earth, likable person I am. If they don’t comment on that in some way, they definitely comment on the insane amount of energy I have.  :)

On the surface, this makes me sound like a gregarious, Type A person. The reality is that while I’m super Type A in terms of hard work and setting/achieving my goals, I’m pretty shy and reserved when in big groups. Once I get to know people and feel comfortable with them, it’s game on but that warm up period can take some time for me.

I can instantly bond over common interests (especially active, outdoor activities), but I do need to work on developing deeper friendships with people here in Boston because my closest friends are scattered around the country. Phone calls and emails and texts are great, but I am a huge fan of face-to-face communication, and I can see the tremendous value in having a network here given all these recent challenges I’m facing.

Loosening the Purse Strings

Finally, something related to PF in this post…ha!  :)

Actually, I share all of this to inspire but to also show that money is connected to every part of our lives. Stress not only wreaks havoc on your body and relationships, but it can destroy your budget and finances if you don’t keep things in check with your spending, tracking, and goals.

On the flip side, for someone like me who’s always so in tune with every penny and goal, I’ve needed to actually loosen up a bit. It was a hard pill to swallow to realize that it’s OK to allow myself to spend a bit more right now, but it was definitely helpful to give myself a $500 “Treat Yo Self” fund for this month.

With that money I’ve had my first ever massage, have gone out to eat with friends, and even allowed myself the ridiculous luxury of parking my car in the garage in the city. Small, frivolous luxuries that have been great for my stress level are certainly worth the extra spending at this point. Of course this isn’t padded into next month’s budget, so I’ll need to rely on other outlets such as what I’ve listed above to ensure I’m staying healthy while also responsibly managing my finances.

How do you cope with difficult challenges and struggles?

 

 

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