Love your thoughts…

I have come to realize that most of us are our own worst enemy! It has been a tremendous growth year for me personally. I have battled with the swirling negative thoughts we all seem to think about ourselves when we look in the mirror or do or say something we later regret. The nasty things that pop into our heads and make us think we aren’t enough. I have battled my “will” to stay in the game of self-improvement instead of quitting and chalking it up to “I am the way I am”. I have battled with the belief that I am overwhelmed and that everything needs to be struggle. Yup…I have struggled.

But this month, the last month of the year, as I review my journal and the strides I have made, I am reminded that the ONLY obstacle in my life between where I am now and where I dream to be – is myself. And that’s true for all of us. Our thoughts are powerful. Our thoughts create feelings, those feelings create energy and that energy goes out into the world and reflects the same energy back to us. All the time…without fail. The more you think you don’t have enough and how broke you are – the more experiences show up to prove you are right. The more you think life sucks, the more it will suck. That’s the bottom line…

So, this year, I worked tirelessly to retrain my thoughts. That’s really all it takes, retraining. Like breaking a bad habit. I had to “catch” myself all day long and as soon as I realized I was thinking thoughts that were not in alignment with who I wanted to be or where I want to go, I would change my thought. If I was telling myself things were too hard, I changed it to “I am doing the best I know how, just like everyone else”. If I had a thought that there wasn’t enough time in the day, I changed it to “I have all the time in the world”. It’s amazing what happens when you start catching yourself and taking control of your thoughts. It’s like a light bulb goes off and you start realizing that you have more control over how your day turns out than we sometimes think wone small positive thoughte do.

We can get so caught up in our feelings and running the race that we forget to stop and smell the roses. We rush, rush, rush, go to bed late, get up late and our day spins out of control and then we go to bed with a thousand thoughts swirling around in our heads and we can’t sleep. I get it. I mean I TOTALLY get it! It used to happen to me all the time. Until I took control!

So during this holiday season, when things seem to be moving too fast and we are so hard on ourselves to be perfect, to get it all done too fast, to have all the gifts ready, to have all the parties, and on and on and on…try these simple steps to slow you down…

  1. Take time to breath…5 deep breaths with your stomach (not chest)
  2. Make a to-do list the night before
  3. Bring in the 5 senses to stop swirling thoughts (what can I see, hear, smell, touch, taste)
  4. Say to yourself “I am doing the best I can, just like everyone else!”
  5. Close your eyes and see 5 things you are grateful for – gratefulness changes everything!

I hope you have a blessed, truly fabulous Holiday season with your friends and family!!

For more amazing tools and to learn more about the Creative Insight Journey, visit my bio and free workshop webpage at http://www.jennifergrace.com/cij-cities/napa/  – dates coming soon in Napa.

Hugs and blessings,

Victoria

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Lessons coming back around….April 8, 2014

The more time I spend meditating and reflecting on my life, the lessons I have learned and the ones I am still struggling with, I am reminded that the lessons we are meant to learn in this life will just keep coming back around until we finally get it. Each time the lesson has to come around again, it will be a little louder and a little louder until we decide that it’s time once and for all to learn the lesson.

So, for me, once again, I feel the lesson of learning to love myself coming back around. With some current challenges I am facing with my career, relationships and myself…I am realizing this is a tough one for me. Not because I have low self-esteem (a 90’s buzz word) or because I don’t have the desire to love myself but more because of our culture in the US. Like many women, I was “trained” by society to believe that loving yourself is self-centered & egotistical…and I don’t know of anyone that wants to be around people that only love themselves. But just like the old saying “everything in moderation” – there is a fine line and balance to loving yourself in a healthy way.

When I actually think about loving myself and the challenges I see when I look in the mirror – it’s almost too big of a goal to say “just love yourself Victoria”. Okay, but how do I go about that? Then I thought what does self-LOVE look like or more importantly – what does LOVE FEEL like? The kind of love that is unconditional – the way God loves us. Then I thought of what actions/feelings could I offer myself that would SHOW me love and I came up with…

1. Acceptance: celebrating myself for my talents and strengths RATHER THAN beating myself up for my flaws and mistakes (this is a big one for me)

2. Patience: allowing myself the time to change my thinking around how to love myself RATHER THAN reminding myself I haven’t changed fast enough

3. Comfort: – start seeking comfort, support and love from within RATHER THAN looking outside myself or to others to fulfill this for me

I think asking others to “make you happy” or to “complete you” puts undo pressure on them and then in essence you are saying that you are not happy with yourself and not complete on your own. This is such a fine line in relationships…the idea that we need someone to make us happy.

I have written in previous posts about the signs that are all around us every day guiding us and showing us our path. Since my last post several weeks ago, I have seen the signs LOUD and CLEAR! “Victoria – you need to love and accept yourself”. I have tuned into HayHouse Radio and the first words were from Doreen Virtue talking about looking in the mirror and telling yourself that you love and accept who you are today, right now. On my facebook news feed there have been postings of “to truly love another, you first have to love yourself” and “love is the key to happiness”. So the signs are showing up and I am listening…

And if we are to love ourselves with acceptance, patience and comfort – I started thinking “shouldn’t we love those dear to us the same way”? I have written a lot in my posts on this blog about the people in our lives that are “difficult” to love. Those that truly challenge us in ways that is sometimes frustrating. We wonder why, why, why does this relationship have to be so tough? And we start thinking “couldn’t they just do this…or couldn’t they just be this way…” then things would be easier. But the truth is that all of our relationships have a purpose. There are lessons hidden in the day to day challenges and any conflict we are experiencing can be seen as a reflection of what we ourselves might be struggling with internally.

To give an example, let’s say you want your spouse to be more attentive and affectionate with you. And you spend so much time thinking “if only he/she would hug me more or tell me they love me more, I would be happier” – or whatever it is…and the more you think these thoughts the more it doesn’t happen and the more frustrated you get in the relationship. You start feeling like maybe you aren’t loved at all and meanwhile your spouse is pulling further and further away. You see…there is a dance that we all fall into when it comes to relationships and many times without us even knowing it – and the dance goes: “you do for me, then I will do for you”. Then we convince ourselves that the reason we aren’t happy is because they didn’t “do for me”. We start placing conditions on how we respond to and treat the person we so desperately what to feel loved by and we don’t realize that real change has to start with ourselves, not them.

And that’s the hardest realization for us. The truth that stares back at us from the mirror – all change that is worth the struggle has to come from within first. We have to “Be the change you want to see in the world”*…and as we work to BE THE CHANGE, the ripple effect will touch those closest to us. So back to my example, if you want more attention or affection from your spouse, show them by your actions how you want to be loved. Rather than you pulling away and blaming them for not loving you the way you want them to – you start loving them the way you want to be loved. The way you should LOVE yourself: with acceptance, patience and comfort. It has to have an effect…an object in motion will remain in motion…right? Seeds being planted will grow. It might take time, but the key is to BE THE CHANGE you want to see in the world, in your relationships, in your career, in your parenting, in all aspects of your life and the ripple effect may just surprise you.

(SIDE NOTE: I am not condoning or supporting relationships that are abusive or neglectful and I believe no one should stay in a relationship that involves any form of abuse or neglect – just wanted to mention this just in case)

So I am committed to a new DAILY affirmation that I will say to myself in the mirror every morning with a smile on my face (smiling at yourself in the mirror really does make you feel better).

“I AM powerful! I AM unique! I AM created in God’s image and I LOVE the woman I AM TODAY! I love all my talents and all my flaws because I am on a journey. I accept myself for who I AM today and I am joyful for the person God is creating me TO BE!”  It might sound and feel strange at first but I bet I will notice a SHIFT in my spirit after a week or two…

I hope everyone reading this post that is hard on themselves for any mistakes or flaws can accept themselves today, give themselves a break and say “I LOVE YOU” to the beautiful face in the mirror!

Blessings,
Victoria

*Not sure who I am quoting this from but have heard it many times.

 

 

Week of April 1st

My Goal this Week in Learning 2 Love & Be Connected:

My goal this week surprised me…as I sat in “quiet time” and thought about my week ahead in visiting my Oma (Grandmother) in Washington and what my goal should be (read post from Week of Mar. 18th & 25th for background) the words that came to me were “Be Open”.

My Experience this Week:

We left Tuesday night for our long drive to Washington with the motor home packed with every possible thing I could think we might need for our 18 month old daughter and ourselves of course. The shopping, planning and packing took some time but by the end of dinner we were ready to load up and begin our first trip away from home with Kaylee.

We intentionally left at night so that hopefully she would sleep for most of the drive and for the most part she slept fairly well in between the rolling around, bumps and noises…I however did not sleep and surely my husband, Tim, didn’t sleep as he was driving. The night was long and we finally stopped at 7:30am so Tim could rest and I could make breakfast and get us back on the road.

We arrived at my Mom’s around 1:00pm, exhausted and hungry. After lunch Tim took a well-deserved nap and I was having fun watching Kaylee play with my Mom. This is the first time she has seen her since she was born. And it was so fun to watch them play the way my Mom used to play with me when I was young…oh the memories!!!

But as I unpacked some items and started settling in, I had thoughts racing in the back of my mind about what the next day would bring. Seeing my Oma again after at least 3 years and wondering if she would remember me at all. If she did, would I tell her how I felt for all these years? What would she say? Would I get an answer that gave me any sense of peace or closure?

Finally, the morning came and we were off for the short 1.5 hour drive from Shelton to Port Orchard – let me tell you – Washington is such an amazingly beautiful state! We arrived at my Oma’s house and were greeted by my Uncle John and Aunt Didi. My Oma was sitting in her wheelchair and looked so different from the last visit. She looked almost “gone” – like the Oma I knew was somewhere else and left dying in this body was a woman that I didn’t recognize. Her frail body looked tired and her face looked pale and a little sad. And she didn’t remember me. I wondered if somewhere deep inside she knew how sad it all felt that she didn’t know who we were? I asked how she was doing and just chatted about stuff. I held back the tears when my Aunt would tell her who we were and you could tell it just didn’t register.

We only stayed a few hours as I didn’t want to impose and Oma was looking tired. But just as we were leaving I knew I wanted to come back again so I asked if we could make another visit the next day. The drive back to my Mom’s that first day was hard. I just kept thinking about the Oma I remembered and felt sad that I hadn’t tried harder to have a relationship with her when she was younger and healthy. But I also knew that when I would try, I was left feeling unimportant and like a burden so eventually I gave up. Now I am left with so many unanswered questions about her story, background, life and why she made some of the choices she made. The little I do know I will carry with me always.

We went back the next day and this time when we arrived Kaylee was napping in the car so Tim stayed with her while I went inside to say hello. I was hopeful that maybe on the 2nd day something would click and she would remember me. The amazing thing was that she did remember me visiting the day before but still wasn’t sure who I was. When I said “Hello Oma, I’m your granddaughter”, she looked at me, smiled and said “Wow, you are so beautiful”. I said thank you and again tried my best to hold back the tears. Then she asked me where my beautiful daughter was…she just loved watching Kaylee run around and play. She kept saying “look at her” in her strong German accent.

Suddenly as I sat there looking at her and holding her hand, I was overwhelmed with a sense of calmness and peace. Peace in knowing that somehow, even though, she was quiet and didn’t know who I was she could feel my love through my touch. In her eyes – somewhere way in the back through the darkness and sludge of Alzheimer’s – I saw a glimmer of hope that maybe she knew me on some deeper subconscious level.

My Aunt and Uncle were very gracious and welcoming. They even allowed me to go through some old photos and take a few with me which really meant a lot. At one point, without any hesitation, these words just flowed out of me as if they were coming from someone else “You know, we always felt like we were at the bottom the totem pole” and she replied “sweetie, that was never the case”. A little part of me wanted to believe that so much. But in that moment, I knew in my heart there was nothing else left to say. No further words needed to be spoken. No rehashing of let downs and hurt feelings was necessary. I felt relief.

We all make choices in life and now that I have a daughter of my own I truly get how your life can get wrapped up so easily in those around you every day. I rarely lived close to my Oma – we were always traveling, always moving. So there is a part of me that can now understand that the distance between us in miles was simply geography and not an intentional choice to not be with us. But the distance between our hearts – that is a separate story. We each have our own journey in this life and make choices as best we know how. Maybe she felt that they needed her more than we did? Maybe she needed them more? Who knows now – Alzheimer’s has taken away any chance of answers for all of us.

But what I do know is that the goal for the week to “Be Open” was wholeheartedly accomplished. As I sat with my Oma, held her hand and just looked in her eyes – I knew there was love surrounding us. The need to share my hurt feelings or find some closure for the past just faded away and no longer seemed as important as the time just being there. Because in that moment, I was OPEN to feeling LOVE, even if it came from above.

~ Hoping you find a way to be connected ~

Love & Light,

🙂 Victoria

Week of Mar. 18th

My Goal this Week in Learning 2 Love & Be ConnectedHonestly, I did not set a goal for myself this week. But nonetheless, there are lessons to be learned, if you are open for them and I believe I am…

My Experience this Week: This is the first week since my New Year’s Resolution to begin this journey of Learning 2 Love and Be Connected that I haven’t set a goal for myself. The past few weeks have been so emotional for me, with losing an Aunt and my husband losing his Grandmother. But I was also dealing with the 5th Anniversary of my Dad’s passing (read post from Week of Mar. 11th for background) plus trying to celebrate my birthday. So, when Sunday came around to set my goal for the week, my heart just wasn’t in it.

The interesting thing about being on this journey is that the concept of “loving and connecting” is always on my mind and in my heart as I go through the routine of daily life. I have felt a shift in how I perceive and relate to people and the world around me but also realizing how much I am connected to…everything! So as I stated above, although I didn’t have a goal set, there are lessons all round us if we are open to them. Being on this journey has opened my soul in ways I had not expected.

So, midway through this week I received some not so pleasant news that my Oma (Grandmother) was in hospice care again. She has been ill for some time with Congestive Heart Failure and Alzheimer’s but still able to have a meaningful life. At first, this news, although unsettling and sad, did not spark an overwhelming sense of loss in me. It sounds heartless when I write those words but honestly, I am not really close with that side of my family – at least not as close as I am with my Dad’s side. And the details surrounding the reasons why are not important but the feelings of semi-abandonment or neglect (for want of better words) were suddenly in the forefront of my heart.

I started asking myself why I felt this way. When I called my Aunt to see how things were going and I was able to talk to my Oma, I started crying. Not just from feeling sad that her time on this earth might now be limited but also from a desperate feeling of longing – longing to feel loved and important. She immediately remembered me and during those brief moments, I told her I loved her. Then like a flash she was gone and didn’t know who I was but I felt blessed that I at least was able to get those words out.

Growing up I always felt that somehow my Mom, sister and me weren’t as important. It seemed like all my Oma’s energy, attention, love and money were spent on other family members. Almost like we were wicked step children. Those feelings have made it so difficult for me to desire a connection with them and I have not allowed myself to work through those feelings and be honest with myself or with them.

So once again, my goal became to reflect and pray. As I started thinking about the past, how things developed, how I felt and what I needed to do or say in order to feel a sense of closure so I would have no regrets – I remembered something that Marianne Williamson had said during an interview with Oprah on the series Super Soul Sunday: “Only what you are not giving can be lacking in any situation”.

That is a powerful statement. I mean think about…as an adult, anytime you have felt wronged, hurt, alone, angry, betrayed, etc…what were you not giving that contributed to the outcome? I can honestly say that I have never told my Oma how I felt. And I certainly didn’t make any extra efforts to connect with her because I was too busy asking myself why she wasn’t trying to contact me and be a part of my life. Hmmm…at what point do you give up trying? Well…my Dads motto during his whole ALS struggle “Never, never give up!!” And if I am honest with myself…I did. Not only did I give up, I was too stubborn and settled in my hurt that I neglected to be the bigger person.

So now the challenge becomes what to do next. Perhaps try to make a trip to see her and hopefully she remembers me? Should we spend some time just being together or talk about my feelings? Not sure…I guess time will tell. Prayer and meditation do wonders at providing answers if you are patient (not one of my strong suits).

For now, on this journey to Love more deeply and be more connected…I have to be strong and own my piece of how I feel and why. Embrace it and realize my feelings aren’t wrong, they just “ARE” and I can choose how I feel at any moment. So I can choose to let go and just LOVE!

~ Hoping you find a way to be connected ~

🙂 Victoria

 (Please also check out My Poetry page for an update)

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Me and My Oma