Monday, April 30, 2012

A to Z Challenge: Zero Excuses

Whoooooo! I finally made the last post. ^_^

Thank you to all of you who read my post. I hope you enjoyed my challenge offerings.

Today's post is a bit of a kick-start, I hope.

See, I was once in a place where I was pretty much miserable, but living with the misery. Because while I hated where I was, it was familiar. And familiar was comfortable.

I made every excuse I could to stay in my comfort zone. "It's my own fault I'm so miserable", "Give it a few years and I'll do what I want", "but there are so many perks to this", "I'll never get a chance like this again", "I have no resources to change my situation" and on and on and on.

The thing is, excuses never make me feel less miserable. They just sort of give me a reason not to move. And that's so dangerous. Why?

Because these are answers and counter-questions that I discovered when I seriously considered taking charge of my life:

"It's my own fault I'm so miserable" => "Yep. Because you're allowing myself to wallow in a situation you hate."
"Give it a few years and I'll do what I want" => "If you die today, what will you have shown for your time?"
"But there are so many perks to this" => "Yep, and you'll probably blow your brains out in one of them."
"I'll never get a chance like this again" => "Assuming the above doesn't happen, am you going to come to the end of your life, thinking: 'Was that it? Why did I waste so much time?'"
"I have no resources to change my situation" => "Crap. You're perfectly equipped to take charge of your life. You're just being lazy."

Did I ever mention that God pulls no punches when I honestly ask for answers?

Any way... He had an excellent point. And while some of the answers were really harsh, they really cut through years of nonsense that I told myself. Those answers changed my life.

So if you've read through my posts and still think that taking charge of your life isn't worth the effort, even when you feel discontented and miserable, I want to ask you to do a couple of things for me.

Firstly, please ask yourself: Why can't I just try taking charge of my life?
Then write down all of the reasons why and ask God to address those questions for you. Maybe He'll treat you with kid gloves, maybe He won't. But I promise you that it will change your life if you listen to Him.
After that... the choice is yours.

Let me know how it goes?

Sunday, April 29, 2012

A to Z Challenge: You'll Get There

Sometimes, I sort  of stop what I'm doing and think: What on earth am I thinking? This is impossible.


And it does often look like that. Taking charge of one's life is a huge task. One that will never be finished. So in a sense, I'm completely correct in thinking that I'm doing something impossible. But... that should never stop any one of us.

It's something that we have to learn to live with. We have to accept that we'll always be doing more, learning more, changing. We won't ever be masters of taking charge of our lives.

But... one day, you will come to the point where you're master of your life.

It won't happen with fireworks and fanfare. It's just something that will occur to you. Hey... I'm owning my life and handling it responsibly. I'm following God's plan, not only for me, but my role in God's bigger picture. 

It's a truly special feeling. One that I truly hope that every one of you will get to experience one day.

Friday, April 27, 2012

A to Z Challenge: X Marks the Spot AKA Know Where You're Going

Wow, I can't believe how fast April is going by. But it just goes to show you. Time can pass with relative ease when you have at least some sort of plan.

I mean, I only planned in the broadest sense, but I knew where this blog was headed for April, so I didn't have any issues with delivering the posts. Even though I didn't manage to schedule more than the first six or so days.

Life's a lot like that too. You don't have to plan every tiny detail, but having at least a vague idea of where you're headed helps a lot. It shows you what needs to be done. Also, it gives you an idea of when these things need to be done.

Also, knowing where you're headed is a lot like dangling a carrot in front of a donkey. Especially when that place is somewhere you want to be.

But if you don't know yet, don't force yourself to decide. That just opens you up to "helpful" outsiders who invariably give you bad advice that you'll follow, because you won't know it's bad until later.

And yes, I know this from experience. Much better to give yourself time to decide. And remember, once you decide on what you want, you don't have to lock yourself in. If you find yourself being miserable in something you thought you'd enjoy, change your destination and move on.

At least you would have learnt from the bad experience.

If you insist on staying just because you chose it, you're just making yourself miserable, and it's not what taking charge of your life is about.

So yes, it's okay to change where you're headed, as long as you're headed somewhere, and at least have a clue about where you want to be.

Did you ever choose to do something and end up hating it? Did you move on or did you stay? How did it work out for you?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

A to Z Challenge: Work

Most of us find ourselves doing work that's not really all that in line with what we want, with what we dream for ourselves. 
It can be a source of huge frustration.

Especially when it feels as if we're locked in, for example by responsibilities to those we love. 

I felt that way about my university course, and to a large extent I still feel that way. But I realize that I can't shirk my responsibilities to chase after dreams, no matter how important they are. 

So that means that I have to do both. And that I sacrifice other things, like watching t.v. in order to make more time for things that mean a lot to me. 

Of course, I am foreseeing a crunch-time on the horizon when my work and dream-work have to coincide, but until then, I'm investing time in both, trusting that my dedication will pay off. 

Are you also frustrated because what you're doing isn't helping you to your dream? Or are you lucky enough to be passionate about what you do? 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A to Z Challenge: Victors and Victims

Once there was a lady who came to us asking for help. Actually... she didn't want help.

She wanted a crutch. She wanted someone who sympathized with her issues and who'd carry her through her life. 

My mother, being of a certain type of a personality, insisted on seeing proof that the lady would help herself before she'd chip in, saying that she helps people who help themselves. 

Which is fair. I mean to a very large extent, my mother lets her own children fight their own battles. Yes, she'll support us and help us, but she'll push us to do something before just handing over cash or whatever else it is that she requires. 

So... when this lady came asking for a crutch, my mother offered support. She offered guidance. She offered to let this woman take charge of her life. 

But the woman laughed a little laugh and said: "But not everyone can be dynamic like you." 
At which point I jumped in with one word. Sadly, it isn't very nice, but it's the best description. "Bullshit." 

Here's why. People make this unfounded assumption that dynamism is something that you're born with. It's not. It's something you choose. But you can't say, today I'm going to be dynamic.

No. It's about going into your heart and looking at how you think and feel. If your automatic reaction is: "Oh woe is me... this happened, and then happened... and my dog died..." you're making yourself a victim of your life. I'm not saying that people don't have to face huge challenges in their lives. Really. I know that everyone does. But if you let your challenges become insurmountable in your eyes, you'll find yourself facing a challenge that will bulldoze you time and time again until you make it stop. Your life will own you. 

You won't own your life. 

So if you're on the way to the bottom, or already hit it, you might want to ask yourself some questions. What does this mean? Why are all these things so big for me? How can I deal with them in a way that builds me up? 

From own experience I can tell you that nothing strips to the core like hitting the rock bottom of your life. In that dark hole, I saw who I was. I saw what I wanted. I went through a hugely uncomfortable experience of living without a measure of success and who I was. For months. But man did I learn about dynamism. 

I came to a point where I said: I CAN'T let my life rule me like this. I HAVE to own my life. AND I'M STARTING TODAY. 

After that, my obstacles became stepping stones. Guide in my life, even. Issues about feeling meaningless had me volunteering to help with my church youth. Frustration with my life had me picking up writing again. And each new step brought all my problems into perspective. Even the big ones. 

My: "I'll never do this in my life's" became "How am I going to do this?" and later "What am I going to do first to make this possible?" 

In short, I started thinking like a winner. Like someone who wanted to own her life again. Like someone who WOULD own her life again, given time. 

And from there, moving forward became a natural thing, which made me dynamic. 

One last thing before I go, sometimes being dynamic does take help. But the right sort of help. So if you realize that you do need help, find it. But decide what you need before you do? Otherwise you'll end up frustrated. 

If you haven't gotten to the point of taking charge of your life, what is your insurmountable obstacle? Would you be able to take a period of time to take a look at it from a distance and from different angles? Would you? And once you realized the solution you need, would you choose to address the problem and become the owner of your life? 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A to Z Challenge: Unique

As I mentioned earlier in the challenge, people stuck in the status quo try almost anything to keep you from changing the way you live.


After all, things are comfortable when everyone around you is moving in the same direction as you. But if someone changes their direction... now that's discomfiting. So the general reaction from everyone staying in the stream would be to change you around. Push you into their mold.

Standardize you. Like a lot of them have been standardized.

But the comfort that comes from just settling in the mold of other people's creation comes at a price. Your true happiness. The joy of knowing that you're following God's will. Pretty much any zest that your life might have had. Is it really worth it?

So when people force you into a mold that you have to stay in for a while, just remember that you're unique and made for more than what people around you want to be.

Not because they do it on purpose, but because God thinks so much bigger than any of us do...

Do you also feel frustrated when people push you into a mold you don't like? Which molds do you like?

Monday, April 23, 2012

A to Z Challenge: Trust

The thing about going after your big dreams is that more often than not, your dreams become bigger than you are.

Take me, for instance. Once, my one dream was to write every day. Once I did that, it became to write a story. Then to finish one. Then to publish one. My novel isn't even out of edits and my dream turned into my books being widely read and loved. 

And that last part of my dream is bigger than me. Because I'll just admit that I have no idea how I'm going to manage it. 

And here's the thing. I won't. I can write every day. I can make my book as good as it possibly can be. But I can't make people like it. Which makes traditional publishing nearly impossible. Or having people like my book. I have absolutely no influence on public tastes. 

BUT God does. God wants us to do well. And He wants to bless us and our big dreams. All we have to do is follow His will and trust Him with them. 

There's no safer place for our dreams to be. After all, who gave them to you in the first place? 

Do you also struggle to trust God with your big dreams, sometimes? 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

A to Z Challenge: Stand Out


It's something that really fascinates and frustrates me at the same time. People seem to be ashamed of the gifts that God gave them.

Have you ever noticed how people can't take a sincere compliment? Do you notice it in yourself?

I know that modesty is fed to us from the moment we're born, but it's just nonsense. Where does it stand that we have to be mediocre to be good people. And where does it stand that we're supposed to pretend to be average?

We're not. No one is. Not unless we let it become a habit.

Maybe it's because there seems to be this hatred of arrogance. But isn't hypocritical modesty or worse, bad self esteem even more wrong?

There's nothing wrong with being confident in who you are and what you can do. As long as you give other people space to do what they can as well. If you're not hurting anyone, or breaking someone down in order to grow your ego, there's nothing wrong with believing yourself.

On the contrary, if you believe in yourself, other people will believe in you too. And then they'll be more willing to support you in your efforts. And they'll give you a chance at your dreams. Because if you use your talents and let people see you using them, odds are that you won't squander your opportunities either.

So be willing to stand out. And for heaven's sake, if someone says you look good today, say "thank you" and use that as a building block to your self-confidence.

Do you try to hide your talents from people? Do you hide behind modesty? Ever wonder why?

Friday, April 20, 2012

A to Z Challenge: Risk and Reward

When it comes to taking charge of your life, there's always an element of risk involved. We can say what we want, but even as I reiterate that I am going after my dreams with all my cylinders firing, I can feel the risks involved.

Because yes, where I want to go is against the stream. If I succeed, I will be celebrated. Still, there is the possibility of failing.

That's the risk.

In order to keep going, we need to look at our risks, accept them for what they are, and grow comfortable with them. Because just as there's a chance of failing, there's still a chance of succeeding too and with that comes rewards greater than we can imagine right now.

And you know what? I'd rather aim for the skies and miss, landing in the stars, than to stay on the ground wishing I was up there.

If you aren't taking charge of your life yet, why don't you investigate the risks and rewards involved?

If you are, have you also noticed that the punishment for failure is a lot smaller than the satisfaction of a life you love and the potential rewards that come with success?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A to Z Challenge: Questions


At some point on our journey of  taking charge of our lives, we need to take stock of our life. Every person who decided to take charge did this at least once already, since that's what put us on the journey in the first place.
Still, accepting that you're taking control is not enough. Because from complacency comes a lack of movement. If we just accept that we do something, we don't check if we in fact are getting anywhere. And if we're not? We won't know how to fix it.

So if you are serious about taking charge and you haven't done this in a while, or if you want to start, do yourself a favor and ask yourself questions like these:

1) What am I doing to reach the goals I set for my life?
2) What am I doing to further my journey to reach my dreams?
3) Where can I adapt/improve?
4) How can I adapt/improve?

Armed with those answers, you can get (or keep yourself moving). Of course, it sounds a lot easier than it is, but if you keep at it, you'll find that it's worth the effort.

When was the last time you took stock of where you were on life's journey?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A to Z Challenge: Pressure

Because there are people's expectations of you and there are your own expectations. And the two of them don't match up. This creates conflict, whether it's internal or external.

And with that, comes pressure.

Because at least temporarily, it makes sense to do both things at the same time. After all, your dream won't feed you while you're still striving for it. So yes. You will be doing a day-job while going after your dreams.

It's just not easy. Because at least for me, I spend at least half the time doing my day-job wishing it's something else. Why? Because as much as I sugar coat it and as much as I see the bright-side, it's still the one sort of job I hoped to avoid for the rest of my life. Still, it's not bad, as far as office jobs go. It's just not my dream.


And honestly, I don't mind it. Except when it takes up more time than I spent doing something dream-involved. That's when I get antsy. Because doing something towards achieving my dreams adds meaning to my life. If I miss a day, it's annoying. Miss three, and I'm ready to explode.

So if you're feeling pressure, discontent and just all around annoyance, you might want to check in your life to see when was the last time you did something meaningful to your life. Remedying that does wonders.

What do you do when the pressures of every day life gets to you?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A to Z Challenge: Opportunity

If you're on the opposite side of the "no" spectrum from yesterday's post, I'm going to have to make the suggestion that you do these instead. 

Not sure if I can, but I'll try. (Careful not to use this with people who don't get that your time is your time.)
Let's see what I can do. 

Why? Because if you've already gotten your priorities in a row, and you're getting everything done, but you're not doing anything new, you're actually doing something really naughty: You're missing opportunities. 

Opportunities to learn. Opportunities to make friends or contacts. Opportunities to strengthen your ties with people. Worst of all, opportunities to further your dreams. 

How can saying no influence your dreams? Well easy. If you randomly get approached to try something that you've never done. Something you're hoping to do one day, but are terrified to do now, because of your lack of experience. What do you do? 

I would say two things: 1) That I'm not experienced and therefore can't make promises. BUT 2) that I'd LOVE to try it anyway if the person is willing to give me the chance. 

Because I can actually get way ahead of the game compared to if I say no. And even if I don't do as well as I could have had I did the same thing later, at least I got to learn. AND the person I did it for now has a relationship with me, so one day, if I really am ready to take on the thing I want to do, I can contact him/her again. 

Sometimes, seemingly unrelated favors can lead to something important to you later. 

I'm not saying that one should say yes to everything that everyone tosses your way. But don't just say no. Think. You don't know if something might lead to the opportunity of a lifetime. So use your yesses and no's wisely. 


Have you ever said yes to something that led to a great opportunity later? 

Monday, April 16, 2012

A to Z Challenge: No

On J-Day, I mentioned and explained the importance of prioritization when it comes to taking charge of our lives.

Today, I'm continuing along that vein to that situation where we are confronted with those incredibly difficult things called time wasters.

So when I mentioned priorities, I listed the following order:

Then I pick the most important things with deadlines (in order of immediacy)
Followed by less important things with deadlines 
Then important things without deadlines.
Everything else.

So now you notice that the less than important things with deadlines are second in the row. Weird, given that they're not important, right? 

Well... why is it that people just jump into doing these stupid activities? Easy, because others ask them too, and they say yes. 

So, if you find that your priorities are messed up because you have too many time-wasters on your schedule: repeat after me. 


I'm sorry but....

Maybe at another time? 

With those three phrases mastered, you'll be able to keep your schedules open for important things. I'm not saying that you should say no to everything, but if you've been saying yes too often, No might just be your solution.

Do you struggle with saying no? If you don't, do you have any tips for those that do? 

Sunday, April 15, 2012

21 Days

This is not an A to Z Challenge post. :-) 

It is, however, a post about something in my life that is very important to me. Prayer. 

I believe that God wants to give us what we need. That much I know. Still, there's more to prayer than asking for things. It's about building a relationship with God. 

In other words, it's about talking AND listening. 

Still, I admit that I've come to struggle with prayer. Not out of lack of faith or lack of things to pray for. 

Instead, my problem is a lack of time. I'm literally waking up hours before the sun just so that I can both write and keep my family happy and work. At night, I write or edit some more, if there's not some activity that requires attention. 

This isn't an excuse I've been making. It's just the truth. But when I did the J-post, I started realizing that my priorities have gotten a bit out of order. GOD first. Then everything else. 

So my problem wasn't lack of time. It was with making time. 

Which is why the service I attended tonight really got me interested. It's called the 21 Day Challenge. The goal: making a date with God every day for twenty one days. So picking a time to devote to Him. And a place where I can give him my undivided attention. I know that my place will be outside, because I no longer have a room of my own or a place in my house where I can just be quiet. Then I need to pick something to pray about for 21 days. One thing. 

So I decided to start taking daily walks. Some of the best times I had with God was while I was in motion, so I'm hoping that it will be like that again. I'm thinking to devote thirty to sixty minutes after work, because my mornings and nights are crazy. And I decided to pray about God's promise for my life and future. 

I'm thinking once this challenge is done, I'll start another one and pray for something else. 

So starting tomorrow, I'll be taking walks with God. 

Will you like to join me in the challenge? Where will you go? What will you be praying for? 

Saturday, April 14, 2012

A to Z Challenge: Make the Most of What You Have


Taking charge of one's life probably means different things depending on the person, trying to do it. For me though, the true end goal is about two things: Doing God's will and living a satisfying, good life.

Since the first aspect has been addressed a few times in the past posts, I'm going to handle the second aspect today.

When it comes to having a good and satisfying life, the way to go is with making the most of what you have. This can take more than one form.

For instance, it can have to do with the outlook you have on life. Some people have more and some have less. But that doesn't matter. It's what you do with it that counts.

So instead of being jealous of others and what they have/accomplished, I try to focus on what I'm doing. I try to keep track of whether I'm actually get the most of what God has provided for me. The way I see it, there's no use to wanting more when I can't utilize what I have.

If I find that there's something I'm neglecting, I try to use it again. Like skills or talents. Or time with my family.

Life becomes much improved after that. Which makes sense. Because if you're doing and enjoying things you love, there's no reason to feel unhappy, is there?

Do you take stock, every now and then? Feeling discontented? Is there something you can pick up again that will help?

Friday, April 13, 2012

A to Z Challenge: Learn

This video might be quirky and seemingly unrelated, but it brings more to mind than monkeys and zinger wings. It reminds me about disappointment.

In our lives, we experience things that aren't nice. Like the events I mentioned in yesterday's posts. Things go wrong when they really shouldn't have.

Or something or someone disappoints us. Or worst of all, sometimes we disappoint ourselves.

If we let them, disappointments to create an incredible drag on us as we strive to take charge of our lives. They remind us of the previous times we failed. How much it hurt. How... NOTHING is worth the risk of further disappointment.

And the more we listen and think about them like this, the heavier they become. So instead of just facing the every-day obstacle, we also have to function with what can become a ten ton monkey on our backs. That just steals energy that we need to keep moving (see yesterday).

Unlike the advert, though, our burden grows even more when we indulge it. And when we try to push it aside and away. It will pop up every time you deal with a similar circumstance as the one that disappointed you. Sometimes it even mutated into even bigger problems: Resentment and Bitterness. You really want to stop your disappointment before it grows. Because resentment and bitterness can scar.

So how do you get the disappointment monkey off your back?

Simple answer is to address it. There are two ways to that this. First, by taking it to God. Praying about your disappointments truly do bring a perspective that you need for taking the next step: learning.

Most disappointments hide a lesson in them. And if you can find the lesson, a disappointment actually gets some meaning. And when they mean something, they don't take over your life, except as a way to show you how you should act the next time the same circumstances occur again.

What was your greatest disappointment that was also your biggest lesson?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

A to Z Challenge: Keep Moving

Sometimes, things just go wrong.

No matter how well we plan, we can't foresee everything. So things happen. Sometimes, you won't be able to perform as well as you wanted to. Otherwise, things happen that completely derail you.

Still... does those things kill your dreams? Only if you want them to. Or if you let them. Either way, the choice of keeping your dreams and goals alive rest with you.

When something sets me back, be it serious or relatively minor, I sit back, and take a deep breath. Then I take stock.

Does it affect me? How much? How?

Does it affect my dreams/goals? How much? How?

Will it affect how far I'm along on the road to my dreams/goals? How much? How?

Can I get back to where I was? Do I want to be where I was? What does that mean for me and my life, as well as those who depend on me?

Armed with these answers, I can decide what to do next - what I will do to start moving again. Even if it changed my dream, I redefine it and my goals and move towards that.

Because the one thing no one should want is to get mired in a place that gets them nowhere.


So has something ever set you back so far that you felt completely overwhelmed? Did you give up? If not, what did you have to do to keep going? If you did and want to start again, what do you need to do?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A to Z Challenge: Juggling

So here's the thing about taking charge of your life. It's never a simple thing. It's not about changing one thing and watching everything else fall into place.

Oh no, on the contrary. Life's a bit more complicated than that. Taking charge of it is a bit more complex.

So how do you do it?

Well, people always used to talk about balance. Every part of your life must be in balance. With you moving between them. From memory, always precariously close to falling either to one side or the other. Honestly, I know that it works for some people. Doesn't work for me. Because I find that balance has one big side-effect that I don't like. I never seem able to do everything that being balanced requires. Because balance (to me at least) implies doing everything. Right. Now.

No I very much prefer juggling. What's so good about it? I hear you ask. Simple. I can juggle one ball at a time. Or twenty. Because the moment I know I can handle more, I do more. If I can't I catch a few of the balls and put them away for later. No harm, no nothing. It just really works for me. And you know the best part? I don't need to pre-plan a moment of my life, because I get to do what I have to, for as long as I have to. 


Well, firstly, I prioritize. What is most important to me right now? Once I know that, I look at things that have deadlines. Then I pick the most important things with deadlines (in order of immediacy), followed by less important things with deadlines (I.E. things that in future I WON'T volunteer for again. See N-day.). Then important things without deadlines. And then everything else.

Simple, right? Frighteningly so. So when it comes to juggling, it's all about getting your priorities straight. Just NEVER lose focus.

Do you see yourself as a juggler or tightrope walker? How do you manage to get everything done?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A to Z Challenge: I can

When you're in the process of taking charge of your life, it's so important to believe in yourself and the talents you've been given.

To me, this is so important that if this was anything other than an alphabetic challenge, I would have done this one and G-day's post first.

But since this is the A to Z Challenge, today is the day that I get to give you some excellent news:


You CAN lose weight.
You CAN make more time to do the things you love.
You CAN go take lessons or learn something new.

I don't think positive thinking is the key to success. Not if thinking is all you do. But I promise you that negative thinking is the number one cause of failure, because telling yourself "I can't" stops you from trying.

Want to give it a shot?

When there's something I want to change, say, cutting refined sugars out of my diet, I set a goal. But instead of making it something daunting like "I will never eat chocolate again." and setting myself up to fail, I set a goal that's actually easy to manage: "Tomorrow, I am not eating any refined sugars."

Much more doable, right?

And that's where the difference comes in. It's easy, so when tomorrow comes, DO IT. And at the end of the day, say you'll do it again tomorrow. And keep going for as long as it takes.

If you do miss a day, it's not the end of the world. Even if it's day 1. The point is that you've started. Find the reason why you failed and make the changes needed to achieve the goal tomorrow.

Always remember that you can achieve your goals. One day at a time. You'll be amazed at the will-power you'll discover then.

Don't change your mind, change your thinking. ;-)

So is there a goal you've been wanting to set but haven't? Is it one you gave up on because your own thinking handicapped you from the start? Want to join me in setting one goal?

Tomorrow, I am cutting excess carbohydrates out of my food.

What will you be doing?

Monday, April 9, 2012

A to Z Challenge: Hurrying

When I decided to take charge of my life and set my goals, my natural inclination had been to go into a full sprint forward. After all, the sooner I get there, the sooner I will get what I want, right? 

Well... uhm... no. 

For more than one reason, actually. 

Photo by spettacolopuro
The first reason is that if you rush, you might miss the exact breaks and lessons you'll need later. I mean, helping someone in an unrelated temporary job might look like a distraction, but that person might have a brother that can give you exactly what you need to make your dreams come true. 

That's the way life works. Things can unexpectedly change. 

The other big reason is actually a bit ironic. When we're chasing dreams, we're wishing to have fulfilling lives. We can't have those if we're rushing about madly, only focusing on the end results. Because then you miss all the big and little things that make life worth while. 

Like time with the family. Or the pleasure of learning something new. Or just the wonder of seeing something beautiful  close-by. 

That's one rule that I try never to forget: Never live with your head so much in the future that you forget to live in the present. 

What do you do to make sure that you don't miss the things around you while you're chasing your dreams?

Saturday, April 7, 2012

A to Z Challenge: God

Hi all! Before I start with today's post, I would like to point out that, if you looked at today's heading and thought it would be dealing with faith, you're completely correct.

I would also like to state that while I love God, build my life around what He wants, and thinks it's a great idea that everyone else does as well, I have a deep respect for all people regardless of their beliefs. (Or disbelief, for that matter.)

Because of that, I ask that you please respect me and my faith in return. I don't mind answering questions about my faith as long as it is done in a respectful way. Personal attacks and insults will be deleted.

Photo by Irina Patrascu

Today's post was a little difficult for me to write, because I'm worried that a lot of people (people that I adore), will be insulted by it or think differently about me.

But the fact is, I can't pray to God on the one hand and then try to hide Him with the other. So here goes.

The reason why I am bringing up God as a topic in the A to Z's of taking charge of my life is because He is so vitally important to the process.

He is my compass.

He is my advisor.

He is my (sometimes sole) companion.

He is my source of strength.

Nothing that I do in the process of taking charge of my life works if I'm trying to do it without Him. With Him, on the other hand, things are so much easier.

See... God has a plan. Not just for me. But for everyone. I just have a role to play in it. And He really wants me to. I believe that that's why we get our dreams and our drives to achieve them. God gave them to us for a reason.

Still, there's a difference between us and God when it comes to our lives. We see what's in front of us. God sees the big picture. That's why it's so vital to go to God for the smallest things, because in the long run, everything means something in the road that is your life. He knows where we're supposed to go. And He's waiting for us to navigate us on our way. Because many blessings await us on the right way.

Many of us try to grab the steering wheel of our lives, because lets face it, feeling even a little out of control is really scary. But the risks are huge. One wrong turn and we can do incredible damage to ourselves.

It's just not worth it. Trust me. I know.

So if you are serious about taking charge of your life, take it to God first. After all. Your life belongs to Him first.

Do you take everything to God? Sometimes I struggle with it, because my problems sometimes feel so insignificant... Any stories on how He helped and/blessed you in your every day life?

Friday, April 6, 2012

A to Z Challenge: Fear

Photo by Sabrina Campagna

So... those of the lucky few who realized the need to take charge of our lives, know to keep going through all the challenges thrown at us from outside. All the naysayers and dream-eaters in the world can't stop us. 

And then a different beast altogether crosses our paths. 


It comes in many shapes and sizes, but usually it comes at us with its best buddy doubt and takes two forms: 

1) What if I don't make it? 

2) What if I make it, and it isn't what I wanted after all? 

Since taking full charge of ones life is a bit of a daunting task, the first fear is probably the most immediate and real of the two. 

Take me, for example. I have three big dreams. One is to become an author, one is to become a stage performer and the third is to own my own designer clothing line. 

Easy, right? No. One involves me writing and editing, which tends to take over my life. The other involves maintaining a look, which means I have to maintain a healthy lifestyle and being fit. Not easy when you're nailed to a computer. The third involves getting training that is surprisingly expensive. So for me, making all three happen is incredibly difficult. 

The solution to this to make plans that fit in for as much as possible. For example, losing weight and keeping it off: If I look good, I feel good. So not only will it be easier for people to cast me, but I'll be able to write more. And so on. For more details on how I do this, come back on J-Day. 

For me, the second fear is the lurking killer of my motivation. Because the fact is, no one can assure me that I'm not looking at something from an idealistic perspective that will lead to disappointment when I see the real thing. Will it be worth it in the end? Really? 

I'm not sure about how it is for everyone else, but for me, the solution lies in trusting God and putting my faith in Him that He won't lead me astray. Because the whole reason why I'm even on this journey was because He pushed me to make changes. And He guided me to take on my dreams again. 

So when either of my fears hit me, I take it to my Father and talk to Him about it. He might not make it go away, but He will give me the strength I need to move through the fear and continue the journey. 

What fears hit you when you think about chasing your dreams? How do you deal with them? 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

A to Z Challenge: Excitement

Luckily, although it is not the easiest way to live, taking charge of one's life does have its perks.

See, when you are following your goals and dreams, the things you do to achieve you bring joy and excitement. Because you know that you're heading somewhere with them. Those things mean something to you.

Cling to that excitement and passion. Try to remind yourself of it as often as possible. Because when things get hard, the knowledge and memory that you're doing something really good will pull you through until things start looking up.

Remember: You are literally on the ride of your life.

Photo by Spirit-Fire

Do the things you do bring you excitement and joy? 

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

A to Z Challenge: Dedication

Picture by Iker Ender

I found that the moment I decided going after my dreams, I got this intense desire to be there. To be done. To be living the life I want. To be successful at it.

But that's not how it is. Taking full charge of your life and living your dreams is a journey. One that will go on forever. And not only that, it's damnably hard.

Makes sense. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it.

Still, there's nothing more joy inspiring than knowing that you're actively working towards something you've dreamed of your whole life.

Be warned, though, it takes more than passion and love to stick out the challenge (although the two of them make it easier).

It takes dedication.

Yesterday I mentioned how my first step on my journey to my dreams was battled all the way. I also mentioned that there are people vested in making sure you give up.

I call them dream-eaters. They take many shapes and sizes, and can come at you from everywhere. But the sad thing is, they usually come in the form of people you'd expect support from. Family. Friends. Colleagues.  Basically anyone who know you very well and should know what your heart is beating for.

Of course, there are people we only talked to for five minutes as well, but they're easy to dismiss.

Family... not so much.

The worst is that most of them think they're destroying our dreams out of love. Have you ever heard: "I'm only saying this to protect you." or "You know, that is nearly an impossible place to get into. Maybe you should try something similar, but different." or "You know... one day, real life will catch up and you'll find yourself making the same decision I did."

If you take a close look at those statements, you'll pick up something that seriously makes it easier to keep going without them. (Because yes... until your efforts starts bearing fruits, you will need to.)

Nothing they're saying reflects on your abilities or talents. Those words are self-justification. They're thinking about what they would have liked to have done and reminding themselves of why they didn't.

It has nothing to do with you. Listen closely, though, because a lot of them will actually have some good bits of advice that you can use on your journey. Just don't let their words stop you.

There might be a point where you want to stop. But let it be on YOUR terms. Not theirs.

Have you ever had a big dream, only to be disheartened when a loved one shot it down? Have you been a dream-eater recently without realizing it?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

A to Z Challenge: Courage

After I took out my old dreams and took a closer inspection, I did some bold thinking and made some decisions regarding what I wanted from my life.

That's something that a lot of people who read self-help books do. They look at their lives. Think big. Take aim.

And stare at their goal through their telescopic lenses. Why aren't they taking the shot?


From what I've read, most self-help books make it seem laughably easy to go after what you really want in your life.

That's a lie. It's hard. Really really hard. And if you ask me, the hardest part about it is starting. Because most of us start from a status quo. Our dreams were probably set (or thrust) aside in order to attain that status. So when the status quo becomes unsatisfying and we have to change something, it becomes like a barrier.

Because face it. The status quo is the status quo because it was the path of least resistance.

Trust me when I say that my first steps to taking charge of my life were full of battles. Big ones and small ones. Parents fighting my decision (still do) because they paid for my tuition (even if basically insisting that I did something I didn't want to do), friends who thought I was insane (some still I do) for daring to decide that I'd go for a lower income and be happy than knowing that I had about fifteen years of mediocrity left before I blew my brains out in my Ferrari (not in a good way). People who settled into the status quo and who resent that I refuse to do the same.

And on... and on. But more on that tomorrow.

Point is... getting going takes courage. Lots and lots of it. Because many people have vested interests in keeping you from taking that first step. But there is hope for us.

See... one step leads to another. And another. And another.

And while that does not make the challenges go away, it makes dealing with them habitual.

All it takes is that first step. Or better yet: JUMP!
Photo by mdpai75

Is there something that you've been dreaming to do or years but haven't because starting was too hard?

Monday, April 2, 2012

A to Z Challenge: Be Bold

Photo by Bl4d3RuNr

So after realizing that I could only get myself out of the hole I'd dug myself into if I followed God's plan, I started praying for guidance. This time, I changed my way of thinking about my dreams.

See, before I'd thought they were just girlish fantasies, but after hitting rock bottom, I realized that those were the only passions that stayed with me my whole life.

I realized that I couldn't just hide my dreams and try to dismiss them. I needed them in order to live a life that I'm happy with.

And let's face it all of us wants to maximize our happiness.

It was time for me to decide on my dreams. What did I want? And what did God want for me to do?

Here's the thing though. One of my good friends had recently said something very true and very important:

If you think small, you're limiting the scope of God's grace. 

So I decided to think big and to be bold. Because God didn't ever intend for me to fade into the background. 

What about you? That dream that you have lurking in the back of your mind, if you open it without trying to put limits on it, what would it be? 

Sunday, April 1, 2012

A to Z Challenge: Alone

A few years ago, I hit rock bottom. I never used, never got drunk, never got addicted to anything, except to escaping. But when I hit the bottom, there was no escape. Things that usually gave me a few hours of comparative freedom felt like they were mere distractions. 

In truth, they felt meaningless. 
Sad thing is, this was a downward road that I had chosen. I thought, why would it be a bad idea to study for something that would make me a lot of money? After I retire at thirty-five, I'd do whatever I want. Except it was. It went against my personality, my passions, my interests. Everything. For eighteen months I paid for my test scores with little bits of my soul until I finally convinced my parents to let me switch. 

Photo by Reckless Dream Photography
But they wouldn't let me pick my passion, because it was different from what people expect from a brain like mine. I can't even begin to describe how much I resented my mind by the time I was in my third year. Because it was my mind that had locked me into my downward death spin. 

And then... I realized I couldn't go any further without my life being in danger. And it was the best thing that could happen to me, because for the first time in THREE YEARS, I had a really honest talk with God. 

When I was supposed to pick the courses I wanted to take, I prayed he'd guide me in my choice between three, pushing the fourth and correct option far back to the back of my mind. At rock bottom, there's actually a lot of light. Stark stark light. It brings out everything, every choice I made. It put things into the right perspective. 

There I sat, alone, picking up my old dreams and inspecting them. They were battered and hurt, but still salvageable. 

"These are what I want for you, kiddo," God said. 

And I clutched them to my heart ever since. Knowing that they were my goals, I finished my nightmare degree and I truly escaped that part of my life forever. 

Do you sometimes feel as if you're alone, lost and in a dark place? Do you also have some battered dreams lurking in the dark places of your mind, waiting for a chance to be revived? Ever thought of positive ways to revive them?