Perception is Reality

I’ve recently over the past couple of months struggled with myself and to be honest with you, I honestly could not put my finger on what it was. And to be even more honest with you, I’ve been struggling with this same issue on and off for as long as I can remember.

As of recently, over the past couple of weeks, I have come across someone who sees the world a little bit differently than I do, actually, differently than I’d say about 98% of the people on this planet. It’s actually beautiful the way he does. Since I’ve met him, he’s done something for me that no other person in my life has done for me. He’s made me think. He’s challenged me. And I don’t mean think about like life and what I want to do with it. I’ve got that under control. Since I’ve met him, he has constantly challenged me to look at life and what I do from a different perspective and this time, for once, he made me think about myself.

The other night, we had one of our deep conversations… well really, it was him talking mostly, and me just listening. I just love listening to him talk. Anyway… so he’s talking about his music and his passion for the art of music. He’s talking about it as he always does, with such divine passion and confidence. I’m not just talking lyrically as in the poetic structures of the words, I’m talking the poetry and the fluidity of the music behind them. So he’s going on and on as I sit there in awe, just listening away, throwing in my occasional, pointless comments and he throws this curve-ball: “What about you?”.

Wait… What? What about me? Can’t I just listen to you talk some more? Please?

“What is it about you that makes you, you?”

So of course, my first go-to was being a nurse. Caring for people. It’s always been what I’ve done. I take care of others. He tells me “No” and that’s not what he meant. He goes deeper into the question and asks me if there is anything about me, something I could talk about for hours, do for hours, escape to for hours at a time, that has nothing to do with the world around me… Just something that is for me and only me… That makes me who I am; something maybe in my past that influenced a certain something to spark and become a passion.

………………….

“I don’t know.”

No one has ever asked me a question like that before. I’ve taken care of people a huge majority of my life. I didn’t miss a year of school. I went straight from high school to college, got my associate’s degree and then when straight into my bachelor’s and have since been involved in my career. I lived 24 of the first 25 years of my life with my parents. I’ve only ever been in 4 serious relationships. I was a sheltered child. Only recently have I started to explore new things (i.e. modeling, npc competitions, personal training, traveling, etc.), but honestly, I’ve never really experienced anything to really say that I had a sole passion for something that ignited my soul without touching the lives of others as music has done for this friend of mine.

He made me THINK. He challenged me. For once, he made me stop and sit and think about myself for a change. Look at MYSELF from and different PERSPECTIVE. It’s been a couple days and I’m STILL thinking. Honestly, I still don’t know how to properly answer his question.

I think that’s been my missing link, however. The one thing that’s been missing in my life and the one thing that has been the true meaning behind my struggles for the past several years…. Not having a true sense of myself. Not knowing who I am. I’ve been creating this persona of who I THINK I might be, but the truth and REALITY is that I’ve never really known.

But it was his question that has brought me back here, to this blog, to writing. I’ve always been the type of person who expresses myself better through words on paper (or in this case on a computer screen) than I ever have been able to do in person; whether it be in poetry, stories, music lyrics, novels, blogs, prayer books, etc. I just find it easier for me to release everything through the written word.

Maybe that’s the answer to his question? Still. I don’t know… But I want to find out.

So now you may be asking me, so what is the point of this blog post?

Well, to do as his question did to me. Make you think. We constantly perceive ourselves from the same damn angle EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. We run on autopilot, follow the same damn routine… stop it and change it. Change your perspective and it will change your reality. Don’t like where your life is right now, change it. Only you can. This person that asked me this question has changed my perspective on myself and therefore has allowed for a change to my reality. A reality that has been my source of struggle for years.

So that’s the point. Look at yourself a little differently. What makes you who YOU are? What drives you? What is your escape?

 

Advertisements

Motivation: The Struggle is Real

image

Let’s take a moment to talk about motivation…

Being that it is the new year, there are a lot of New Year’s resolutioners that are out and about in the gym trying to make a difference for themselves. And then there’s those of us that have been going to the gym for a long time. Regardless of what category you fall into, motivation is one of those concepts that can be very hard to come by. As a beginner, motivation is extremely difficult to develop and to attain. As a veteran, motivation is extremely difficult to maintain and continue. But I have come to find that there are ways that you can keep yourself motivated, regardless of whether or not you are just beginning or has been at it.

1) SET SHORT – TERM GOALS
Yes, you want to lose weight. Yes, you want to tone up. Yes, you want to put on muscle. All of those are absolutely wonderful and attainable goals. But they are long term, generalized and vague goals. You want to set goals for yourself that are generally attainable within a one to 2 week period. So that could mean: losing 2 pounds in 2 weeks, staying consistent on your meals for a week, putting on a pound of muscle in week, etc. Regardless of your endpoint, you need to make sure that you are giving yourself reasonable short term goals that can serve as stepping stones towards your overall goal. You will find that you will have a lot more motivation when you start achieving the short-term goals.

image

Setting Short Term Goals

2) TAKE PICTURES
Taking pictures is probably one of the top ways to keep yourself motivated. You don’t have to share them with anybody else. They are for you and only you. Only share if you so wish to. The idea behind taking pictures is that when you look at yourself in the mirror on a daily basis, it is very hard to pinpoint where you have improved or where you need improvement. When you take pictures, you can compare them side by side and are able to see those areas a little bit more clear. When you see the improvements that you’ve made through those pictures, it serves as huge motivation to continue.

How to Take Progress Pictures

3) DON’T RELY ON THE SCALE!
I don’t know how many times I’ve heard someone on a weight loss journey tell me that the scale isn’t changing. They tell me that they’ve been eating right, and going to the gym and working out, but the number on the scale just isn’t budging. This should actually be rule number one when it comes to anything fitness, but do not, I repeat DO NOT ever rely on the number that is on that scale to determine your success rate. Don’t get me wrong, it is a very good way to keep track, but it does not determine your achievements. The scale, in my opinion, is really just a number. You need to rely more on measurements and the pictures because, to me, they are more accurate in showing you where you’ve improved. Why is this? Because muscle is more dense than fat, meaning, that it takes less space. So a pound of muscle is still the equivalent to a pound of fat, but it doesn’t take up as much room. Maintain this mindset, and you can find a lil bit more motivation in this too.

image

Debunking the Myth

4) STAY CONSISTENT
I will be the first to say that this is the one area in which I struggle. I know we all have busy lives: a job, kids, family, etc. But the more that you are consistent with the lifestyle, the more motivation you have to keep going. When you become inconsistent, it discourages you. It brings about self doubt as to whether or not you can do this. But let me tell you something, you can!

5) BE FLEXIBLE
Now while you’re trying to be consistent, it is definitely okay to be flexible. If you’re not competing, there is no reason to restrict yourself and separate yourself from life. Eat clean a majority of the time and indulge on occasion. Go to the gym as often as you can, but if you miss a day, consider it a rest day. And take those rest days often. Don’t limit yourself to the lifestyle. When you learn to be flexible, you develop balance. And when you develop balance, you create motivation to keep going.

6) REWARD YOURSELF
You’ve accomplished a short term goal! Congratulations! Reward yourself. Just as we reward our children for good deeds and accomplishments, the same applies to us as adults. When we accomplish something, and reward yourself for it, we are motivated to continue to accomplish more goals. So whether it’s going to buy that dress you saw, or indulging in a bowl of ice cream, give yourself the credit. You’ve worked hard.

image

Reward Yourself Without Food

Above all remember that you are still human. You will miss meals, you’ll miss workouts, you’ll have days that you don’t feel like doing anything at all, days where you just want to give up, days you don’t drink as much water as you need to, and days that you have absolutely no time to focus on yourself. We all have those days. Again, we are still human. Welcome to the club come there about 7 billion more of us just like you. Motivation is the struggle, but it is the ability to fall and then get right back up and pick up where you left off. It’s about not giving up and about remembering to love yourself and your accomplishments. Progress is progress no matter how small. Take it one day at a time, one thing at a time and you’ll be surprised at how much you can accomplish.

God bless.

The Good Die Too Soon

So two days ago, I learned of an old, old friend of mine (I say old as if I’ve been around forever) that unexpectedly died in a tragic accident while duck hunting out in Oklahoma. Some of you probably know him as a member of Back Road Anthem, a country band out of Arkansas. Craig Strickland. The day after Christmas, Craig and his friend Chase Moreland went out into that nasty winter storm Goliath in Kaw Lake in Kay County, Oklahoma. After the family hadn’t heard from either of them after 24 hours, they called in a search and rescue. On December 28th, Chase’s body was found in shallow water, but Craig’s dog, Sam, was next to him alive. Craig was no where to be found. The search continued for Craig until, sadly, on January 4th, his body was found about 1/4 mile from where Chase’s body was found. Craig had made his way out of the water and onto a hill before the hypothermia set in.

image

Country singer Craig Strickland found dead

Want to know the beautiful thing about this?

Now you ask, how could something so tragic be beautiful? I asked myself the same question.

Craig was found laying on his back in the shape of a cross. And in a way, that kind of puts my mind at ease. Now, I didn’t know Craig well at all. In fact, I only knew him VERY briefly back in 2011 when I met him and his friend Josh at a Latin bar in Northwest Arkansas where he taught me how to swing dance. Yes, I learned how to swing dance at a Latin bar.

Then you ask, now why would someone’s death, whom you knew for a mere few hours, be of any importance to you?

Here’s why:

Craig was one of those people that changed your life just by crossing paths with you. Those people are rare, but you remember those people. They are the ones that make an everlasting impression. Craig was so full of life and so in the moment. In a world full of standards and negativity, Craig had nothing but positive vibes and words to say. His faith in God was evident and for not one second hidden from the world, when we live in one that is trying to suppress it. His smile was contagious and when he sang, his voice was heavenly. He was outgoing and spontaneous. Down to earth and so full of ambition and dreams. In the few hours I knew Craig, I never once heard a negative word come out of his mouth.

Without even knowing, he made an impact on my life. Just as he has in a lot of other people’s lives. He is one of those people that you can say was one of God’s angels sent to put faith in the hearts of others.

While it’s tragic knowing he is gone, it brings renowned faith and hope that there are angels like him watching over us. His work on this earth was done, and our Father was calling him home. The lives that he was meant to touch were touched and the change he was meant to make was fulfilled.

But another lesson he has taught me and should be learnt to you is the reality that life is short. Craig had recently been married to Miss Arkansas, now Helen Strickland, for just barely a year. I can’t imagine the heartache of losing someone you wanted to spend your life with so fresh and young. But, the love these two shared is incomparable to any love I have ever seen and it teaches you that love and moments and memories are timeless.

Live in each and every single moment, for the moment is only lived once. Don’t waste the moments you’re gifted. Create a space for them in the present and relish in them. Cherish the times you have with your loved ones, for you don’t know when the Lord plans to take them, or you, home. Life is a gift. A precious one, that a lot of us forget to live. Myself included. We get so caught up in life: work, school, money, social media, etc. But life and living are in no way the same. Life is what you’re doing…. living is what you’re making of the life you’re given.

♡ God Bless ♡