Life Is Not Complicated You Are, take a look in the mirror…

The big risk you take with deep reflection is you may not like the answers that rise to the surface. Still it’s better to walk in clarity than it is to stumble aimlessly in darkness. ~Deliverance

self-reflectionI was preparing for another busy day. As always I laid my clothes out, shaved, showered, returned some emails and text messages, and responded to readers on the Life Is Not Complicated Group on Facebook. Right before leaving the house I gave myself a final once-over in the mirror. My Mom would always say no matter where I am going, “Act like you been somewhere before”. Meaning make sure you are well put together and prepared for any circumstance, any chance meeting. As I made some minor adjustments, I noticed a slight stain on my shirt. No idea, whatsoever how it got there… but man it frustrated me. It threw everything off. It was a flaw that only I may have noticed, but still it was there. And I thought to myself, how many of us need to take that look in the proverbial mirror before we head out into the world? How often do we give our lives, our hearts our actions that “once over” to make sure there are no flaws that need to be addressed… no stains on the fabric of our character that may go unnoticed or unaddressed by others, but are still there?

Then I remembered the quote above from “Deliverance” about introspection and deep reflection. Sometimes, the most unsettling realization is finding that flaw, that “thing” about us we need to fix so it does not throw off the big picture. And we can try to hide from it, cover it up, ignore it, but it is still there. Rather than turn a blind eye to our imperfections, take it all in! Eyes wide open! See it, accept it, understand it, deal with it. Not a single one of us is perfect. Thank goodness…how boring would life be if there were no challenges present to build us up and make us stronger, hungrier? However, we all have something about us that throws off the look, however slight. And it will frustrate you and blur your focus until you tackle it head on.

Take one final look in the “mirror” today and study your reflection. Your thoughts, your behavior, your attitude, your character, your mood, your goals. Are you happy with the entire look or are there some things that need to be cleaned up, improved upon, addressed? Try to get clear with yourself before you step out into the world or risk stumbling in the darkness.

Have a great day all. “Deliverance” is chapter 7 in Life Is Not Complicated, You Are. I would love to hear your thoughts. Please leave a comment and we can discuss.


Life Is Not Complicated, always maintain your integrity…

Just a brief affirmation that struck me as I read from Life Is Not Complicated during a book signing:

Each day, speak as if someone may be listening in and act as if someone could be watching. Do not say it if you do not mean it or know it to be true. Do not do anything privately that would shame you publicly. Good judgment should not cease simply because you think no one will ever know. Everything performed in the darkness is always revealed in the light. The Universe has an uncanny way of laying your life bare. Make sure you can deal with what may eventually be revealed. It is as simple as that. ~ Forward

Life Is Not Complicated, set your own bar….

balanceValidation (Chapter VIII) was a very important chapter for me. Those pages really sum up who I am. And as I re-read the words (Which I do often depending on what I am dealing with) I realize this is a chapter that bears re-visiting not just to understand what motivates others, but also to take stock of how my own behavior may affect other people. I cannot stress this enough. I am constantly learning more about the world around me and about myself. With regard to my own personality, I am quite satisfied with who I am. I have my Mom to thank for that. While criticism does not disarm me, I try to keep an open mind, depending on the spirit in which the criticism is offered. It’s a delicate balance.

“Life Is Not Complicated” is not a “How to” it is a “why?” It is a “How can I improve?” It is a “How can I act, not react to the actions of others”. I want it to be a resource, not a one-time read. But mostly, as I talk about throughout the book, it should inspire introspection. For all of us. While we should never allow the actions or opinions of others to determine who we are, ignoring breaches of basic principles can put us in a position to be hurt, even if it is just for a short period of time. On page 96, I write “Bottom line is, nasty is nasty, rude is rude, disrespect is disrespect, any way you look at it. If you choose to engage those who conduct themselves in this manner, you have pretty much handed them the keys to your inner peace and declared ‘Please wreak havoc on my mental and emotional stability’”. You- and you alone- have the power to say I will not allow you to change me, cause me pain, frustrate me, make me second-guess myself. I do not need your validation, because I validate myself. I set my own bar.

Keep in mind, as with all the messages I share in “Life Is Not Complicated”, what you learn you should apply when dealing with others. For instance, if you demand respect and understanding, well it is only right you pay others the same deference. Never get so involved in your own self-interest you lost sight of the interest of others. There is a huge difference between being selfless and selfish. The transfer of strength I refer to when I discuss the book in interviews and during book-signings can best be summed up like running a relay race: You pass the baton to your teammate after you have run your leg of the race; after you have given your best. You did your part and now, as you transfer the power (transfer the strength) they must take what you have contributed, build on it, and in turn pass on the blessing.

Life Is Not Complicated, appreciate every single day…

Best-Spiritual-Practices-For-Awakening-VideoMy Dad used to tell me not to wish my life away by praying it was Friday, or wishing for a day that was a ways off. Great advice. So many of us don’t take the time to appreciate the moment, the day, the experience (good or bad). In “Life Is Not Complicated” I talk a great deal about not letting the challenges of life make you lose sight of the meaning of life. And I don’t just mean the major tragedies. Understandably, loss in any capacity, will shake you to the core. And neither I, nor anyone else has the right to tell you how to feel or how to cope. However, I’m also referring to the little annoyances that make us wish a day would just “end”. Bad work day, minor disagreements, kids misbehaving, unexpected expenses… I get it. Any and all of the above could have us wishing for the moment on Monday when we can say TGIF! Don’t lose sight of the blessing of the moment. No matter what, look to your friends, pastor, priest, even family to encourage and support you and let you know while it may seem insurmountable at the time…your life, your today, your moment still matters. One of my favorite quotes is, “What if you woke up today with only the things you gave thanks for yesterday?” It’s all about perspective.

I woke up this morning and I gave thanks for my life, despite the emptiness I feel at the absence of my parents and grandparents. Despite the fact that in the last month I have lost dear loved ones, and in the past three weeks I have had some issues with my publishing company which have resulted in the delay of hundreds of books reaching eager buyers. I have my obstacles and my moments too. That is one of- if not the most- important message I will ever convey about this book. I am not perfect. My upbringing was not perfect, my life was (and is) certainly not perfect. I would never try to portray myself as some foremost authority on life or facing challenges. However, through my personal experiences, growth, relationships and desire not to let my life become meaningless or a drag, I developed a coping method that works for me. I can attest to the fact that overcoming is indeed possible; standing strong, possible; persevering possible; becoming better no matter what your circumstance or the opinions of others, possible.

Nothing in life is promised. Each day is a valuable opportunity to play an important role in this world. Treat each moment like it’s the performance of a lifetime; approach every show like it’s your first, respect it as if you’ve invested years, appreciate it like it’s your last. ~Life Is Not Complicated, You Are

Life Is Not Complicated, never lose sight of who you are…

Spiritual GrowthDon’t ever let anyone use your vulnerabilities to make you feel badly about yourself. Ever. If someone attempts to use your proverbial Achilles heel to cripple your spirit, counter their hate and use those misguided attacks as motivation. Focus on your light. Focus on goodness. Focus on hope. Remain faithful to who you are. God did not create a mess. That is a man-made term. His creation trumps any man’s representation. Never make excuses for who you are or why you may suffer. Everyone has issues. Some people are just strong enough to accept and deal with their challenges, while others mask pain by inflicting pain. Each day, when you pray that God helps you heal and overcome all the things that hurt you, say a special prayer for the spiritually and emotionally wounded among us who don’t even realize how damaged they are. When you rise above negativity and wish those who are suffering Godspeed, your life will overflow with amazing grace and victory. There are no words and actions greater than the God who makes all good things possible!

Life Is Not Complicated, but when darkness falls turn your light on

One morning, I was reading some of the feedback left on my “Life Is Not Complicated, You Are” page on Facebook. I have never been one to rest on laurels, and while I am gratified with the positive feedback so far, I want to stay connected with my readers, and address the positive reactios, as well as any issues or concerns they may have. While scrolling down the page, one post caught my attention. Stopped me, dead in my tracks. It read simply, “Depression, is real…”. I was so moved by this statement, I had to log off for a few hours, just to get my bearings and refocus.

DepressionDeliverance, the chapter in LINC that addresses depression and the stigma and fears attached to this debilitating illness, was one of the most difficult chapters to write. As I explain in the book, I too had my misconceptions (and admittedly, some misgivings) about depression. Honestly, up until the moment I realized one of my best friends was battling that monster, I had not met a single person (that I know of) who struggled under the weight of this mental oppression. Once I had been introduced to depression, I realized if I wanted to help my friend and preserve our friendship, I needed to understand what the illness was all about. So I read, I researched, I asked questions…I asked a lot of questions. I learned that there were people around me who I never would have imagined were depressed. People who contemplated hurting themselves, people who retreated from “life” for days; anything to stop the suffering. I made it a priority to educate myself so that I could support my friend, and others who simply need to BELIEVE there is hope. I am not an authority on depression, nor do I purport to have all the answers. But I do know, that people very close to me sometimes live in darkness. Sometimes I feel helpless, but I remind them… they are not alone. That darkness is not permanent. However, they have to want to “turn the light on”. They have to want to pick themselves up, and find a reason to live for. Seek out the things that matter, and realize that if they disappear, others will hurt. Kids, spouses, parents, friends. One of the greatest, most valuable lessons my mom taught me, and that I discuss throughout Life Is Not Complicated is, I matter. No matter my circumstance, no matter the opinion of others, no matter my struggle and quite frankly, no matter how successful I become, nothing should define more than my own opinion of me. We need to know our worth, our value. We need to realize we deserve happiness, love, understanding. These things mean so much more when it comes from us first!

Yes, depression is painful, and oppressive, and frightening and draining. But YOU are strong, and worthy, and valuable and necessary. This affirmation should be your light in the darkness. So I ask anyone who is drifting off, and tempted to retreat into mental despair…turn your light in. Find your way back. People who love you, are waiting. People who understand are waiting. Don’t discount what your support system can do. Turn your light on.