Birthday Wishes to the World

Today is my birthday!!

I am so excited and grateful to be alive on this beautiful planet and to be blessed with all the people, experiences and lessons that I have come to know.

My birthday wish today is to make a profound impact on people all over the world in some way and, somehow, to make their lives better.

This year I am already obsessed with improving myself and the way I live and interact with the world around me. I am creating a job that I am obsessed at being the best at and I am on a trajectory that I know is going to be amazing. And I am finally enjoying the journey of every day, the subtleties and nuances of hours minutes and moments. I feel like life is no longer a future event that I am always struggling and leaning forward to reach. Life is what I’m doing. Life is what I am.

I don’ know how things seemed to magically have clicked in my brain, but I’m ok with not knowing. I’m content to exist in a grateful state of awe and I accept this gift with an open heart and an open mind.

This is what I wish for everyone on this planet including you, dear reader: to feel a connection with life and with the people and environment around you; to be fully alive and enjoy the fleeting present moments and use your past lessons to successfully navigate through challenges towards a beautiful future of your dreams that you design and pursue every day. To live with purpose, hope, and faith in yourself, your Creator, and the good in all of us. And above all, that you give yourself permission to experience love to its fullest, in how you treat yourself, our home planet Earth, and all living things. We are all connected, from our first birthday to our last and beyond.

Open Mouth, Insert Foot

Ever had one of those times when you were just be-bopping along in conversation and, all of a sudden, something unnecessary and-quite frankly-horribly put comes shooting out of your mouth like a word-turd cannon?

File:Jama-Coaque - Figure Seated on a Bench with Hands Held to Mouth - Walters 482862.jpg

I orchestrated one of those experiences the week before Christmas.  I was having a phone conversation with someone who I both like and respect and all was going well.  Out of nowhere, a series of words sparked a chain reaction that struck the chord of memory-one memory in particular that was not what I would call savory.  Said memory ignited a trigger that instantly released afore-mentioned word-turds into the atmosphere, plunging the mood and conversation into cold, uncertain silence.

After trying to make light of the faux pax with a joke and later sending a post-call apology text, I eventually found myself wallowing in an abysmal spot somewhere between self-flagellation and self-pity (must be the Protestant in me).

“I’m *supposedly* an adult-how have I not mastered verbal communication yet?” Questions such as this nagged at my psyche like a teething puppy with tiny teeth not sharp enough to draw blood, but definitely sufficient for a nagging-good gnawing.

I must confess I spent a good little bit of time wallowing before I remembered that it’s ok to make mistakes and that I need to handle myself with care.  I gave myself permission to mess up and learn and changed my attitude to be more loving and kind instead of frustrated.  This was extremely helpful as separating myself from the emotional aspect of the situation allowed the more cognitive, rational part of my brain to engage and weigh in on what had happened.

I began to look at the situation from an outsider’s perspective, like I was helping a friend understand what they had gone through as an impartial bystander.

What I realized is that, the trigger that had set the whole process in motion-the string of words-was not the problem.  They weren’t offensive, mean or meant to illicit any type of painful reaction.  The problem was that they reminded me of a situation that had occurred many months before, in which I had experienced a negative, somewhat painful emotion based on the other person’s actions.  Digging a little deeper, I realized that the outdated scenario was still lodged in my subconscious like a tiny stone in one’s shoe: easily ignored until it comes in contact with an old not-quite-healed wound.

Why does this still bother me? I asked myself.  I had made the conscious decision to let it go, and had generally moved on from it.  The answer came: I experienced something that was hurtful or upsetting and I did not express this at the time it happened.  In essence, by not sharing the tiny rock, I was unable to throw it away and instead stuck it down in my shoe for safekeeping.

Though unintended, I had made the decision to create a weak spot within myself that was susceptible to provocation, which ultimately let to its inevitable expression, albeit at a less appropriate time.

The lesson?

Speak my truth and express my feelings at the time when something happens.

File:Hippopotamus in the Zambezi.jpg

I have no doubt that this person would have heard me out if I had just said something like, “You know, it really made me feel X when you did Y after I had told you Z.”

It all seems so simple…now!

I’m grateful for this situation because it helped me understand something about myself-that somehow I have learned an unhealthy/unhelpful communication habit of not speaking my truth immediately-and I learned a solution for overcoming the pain that such a habit can bring by simply having the courage to speak up when something is bothering me.

I know that this must seem very elementary to many people and I applaud them for being honest.  I want to be more like that in difficult situations.  I am wiling to bet that there is someone out there who still struggles with communication at times.

If you’re out there, I am happy to say that you are not alone and I believe there is hope for us!

Freedom Fuel-Free Budgeting Tool

I am a long-time fan of budgeting.  Practicing the art and science of budgeting is very useful in helping you get real with your financial habits and provide you a baseline from which to measure and modify your spending and saving/investing energy.  This is something that my mother instilled in me, along with the belief that all debt is bad and should be avoided at all costs.  I am eternally grateful to her for imparting her wisdom as it has allowed me to live debt-free to this day.

Now that I have explored the world of financial education by feeding my brain with such delightful reads as Rich Dad Poor Dad and Retire Young Retire Rich, I no longer look at debt the same way.  While I still avoid acquiring “bad debt” (debt accrued on credit cards or by taking out auto or home loans), I am an OPM convert.  OPM stands for Other People’s Money, and if becoming financially free is your goal, as it is mine, then OPM is what you want to leverage to build your real estate investments upon.

So! This is barely scratching the surface of investing that I highly recommend everyone look into.  More on investing later!

Today I want to share my new and improved budgeting tool that I created to help keep my spending in line so that I can invest more of my income in investments that pay me. 

I am reminded of a dialysis nursing preceptor who told me: “if you are working then you want your equipment to be working also.”

I am upgrading this sentiment to: “if you are working you want your money to be working also…so that eventually you can stop working and your money will work for you!”

So far I have been using this tool for the better part of December and it has really helped to keep me in line with my spending, in spite of the holiday shopping season.

I designed this spreadsheet on Google Sheets-for free!! And I am really excited to share it because I think that others may find this a helpful tool as well.

Screen Shot 2018-12-16 at 10.39.44 AM.png

I’ve created formulas that do all the calculations for you, all you need to do is input the amounts coming in/going out.  One thing I’d like to share is how to create a sum equation within a cell.  This is useful when you make more than one purchase in one category per day.

Let’s say that you buy groceries at 3 different places on one day.  You spend $25 at your local farmer’s market, $13.56 at Trader Joe’s and $20 at a local fish market.

Within the cell (B2 in the photo below) you will click your mouse and type:

  1. =
  2. SUM(
  3. Then enter the amounts followed by “+” sign
  4. End the equation with )
  5. Hit enter
Place your equation of “=SUM(x+x+x)”
Once you hit enter the total amount will be displayed in the cell.

If you want to see the full equation you can click inside the cell and the formula will be displayed in the “fx” box (see 2nd photo above).

Try it out by following the link to the Google Sheet here.******

******Note: Please do not edit the sheet itself, if you do, your information will be visible to anyone in the world who accesses the link!! Instead, make a COPY of the spreadsheet and save it to your Google docs account  by going to File and select Make a Copy. 

You can also download it onto your computer in Excel format to edit, PDF format to save for your records, etc.  I personally like to keep the spreadsheet in my Google account so that I can access it from any computer/my phone any time I want to add anything to it.

I really hope you find this useful.  To your financial freedom!!

Questions? Suggestions? Leave a comment!

Attitude of Gratitude: Yes, Thank You!

With the holiday season in full swing, I have been getting excited about sharing some tips on fueling your life with even more positivity, more blessings and more joy.  The secret? Gratitude!​

Gratitude seems to have an undeniably positive, albeit difficult to explain, effect on they who practice it.  While the study of gratitude is in its infancy, there already exists a body of research with mostly positive evidence in support of the tie between practicing gratitude and an overall sense of well-being (Sansone & Sansone, 2010).  Results of a study by leading scientific researcher on gratitude Robert Emmons and co-author Michael McCullough (2003) found that gratitude listing participants reported more satisfaction with their lives as a whole, felt more connected with others and had greater optimism for the coming week than did participants in the control group.​

Positive psychology research studies have shown that there is a strong, consistent association between gratitude and greater happiness (Harvard University, 2011).​

​​​​


Researchers at Berekely have found that gratitude:​

  • Unshackles us from toxic emotions​
  • Helps even if you don’t share it​
  • Benefits take time (study showed difference after 4 weeks’ practice writing gratitude letters)​
  • Has lasting effects on the brain (Wong & Brown, 2017)​

Practicing gratitude can lead to positive health benefits and greater satisfaction in life so why not take the opportunity today to start? ​

Writing thank you cards or thanking sending a wish of thanks to someone mentally is a great practice!

Harvard University (2011) gives some fantastic suggestions on how to make gratitude practice a simple part of your life:​

-Write a thank-you note

-Thank someone mentally​

-Keep a gratitude journal​

-Pray​

-Meditate​

-Count your blessing​s


Ohm-my, meditation is divine!

I am particularly a fan of gratitude journaling.  It is a great activity for right when you wake up and/or right before bed.  What better way to start and end your day than with sending out vibrations of gratitude that are bound to attract more of the same to you?​


References:

Emmons, R.A. & McCullough, M.E. (2003).  Counting blessings vs. burdens: An experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life.  Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84(2), 377-389​.

Harvard University (2011).  In praise of gratitude. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/in-praise-of-gratitude

Wong, J. & Brown, J. (2017).  How gratitude changes you and your brain.  Retrieved from https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/how_gratitude_changes_you_and_your_brain

 

The Importance of Self-Care: Morning Pages

This past week I have been focusing on the art of self-care.  It came to my attention through my studies to become a holistic health coach and I am very grateful for it.

I had no idea how badly I needed to make self-care a daily practice.  I was giving a lot of energy to projects, my j.o.b., travel, studying and other people and it took me a while to notice that my energy was waning.

Through my curriculum I learned about a wonderful lady named Julia Cameron, author of the book The Artist’s Way.  This book was recommended to me by a friend within the last couple of years, and I purchased the book but still have yet to read it!

Luckily, I watched a lecture given by Cameron in which she describes the practice of writing what she calls Morning Pages.  This is the gift of writing freehand first thing in the morning and filling 3 pages with thoughts, feelings, dreams and anything else that is on one’s mind.

File:Lokal-K-FFW-Workshop-7075.jpg

I have only been doing this for about a week, and I am amazed at the difference it has made in my life.  I am calmer and more grounded and able to live outside of my own head and be more present with my loved ones.  I feel less needy of other people’s attention because I have given myself the loving attention of honestly sharing my thoughts and feelings on a daily basis.

There really is something magical about validating yourself through writing.  Not only is it an actively healing and cathartic experience, it allows the exercising of creativity, something that I now remember is incredibly important.

I’m so grateful to Julia Cameron and the Morning Pages activity that has helped me to nourish myself emotionally and mentally and to inspire me to get back in touch with my creative side.

You can learning more about Morning Pages and Julia Cameron’s beautiful gifts here.