Be The Change, If You Wish To Change The World

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” — Mahatma Gandhi

We all know that quote, well, I believe most of us do. But what are we doing about it? Making sweet memes with it and posting it on social media pages? Or going out in the world and doing something about it? Most likely, the former.

If you truly want to change the world, it takes action, not reaction. And it starts with individuals, you and me. This article, in and of itself, isn’t going to change the world, but it may give you ideas on how you can do things to change your little corner of it.

  1. Be Authentic
    This is something that I feel should be inherent, but isn’t for some reason. More and more, I am seeing a trend of plastic all over social media. I understand that people don’t want to share their lows on a daily basis. No need to air dirty laundry and such. But being authentic doesn’t mean that you have to bemoan your existence and whine about every little thing. Being authentic means being true to yourself, being honest, and quite truthfully, letting your imperfections shine through every once in awhile. If you’ve had shit day, talk about it. Show what you learned from it, the life lesson if you will, and move forward. That’s authenticity. Authenticity also means not falling into the status quo. Don’t censor yourself just because you think that’s what everyone else is doing. If you say fuck a lot, then write it! I’m not telling you to curse like a sailor, just be yourself. You’re the only version of you that exists, OWN IT.
  2. No one is perfect
    And anyone who claims to be, is lying their ass off. I don’t give a fuck if they’ve been practicing meditation, zen, reiki healing, getting massages daily for year, and all their chakras are perfectly aligned. Guess what? They just feel really good, they still aren’t perfect. Stop trying to achieve perfection and just do whatever it is that you do best. All the so called perfect selfies and copywritten bios in the world will never be as authentic as a person who writes, works, or creates from the heart.
  3. Be Vulnerable
    Following being authentic and not being perfect…being vulnerable is one of the best things anyone can do, especially as a writer. People want to know that they are not alone in this world. They want to know that the things they feel on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis are not weird, fucked up, only happening to them. Last week, I woke up and literally from the moment my feet hit the floor, something went wrong. I got hung up in my sheet and tripped out of bed. Great, it was going to be THAT kind of day. And boy was it. I burnt breakfast. I fucked up my husband’s lunch (I somehow put the bread together wrong and he got double mustard and double mayo, oops), I forgot to put the coffee grounds in, so I got hot water instead of coffee. All before 0700. I went back to bed. I needed a restart. I slept until 1200. Fuck. I lost the entire morning because I had a crap morning. So I had to run around like a chicken with my head cut off for the rest of the afternoon in an attempt to make up for 5 hours I buried my head in the sand. I had four hours to do 9 hours of work. I didn’t accomplish anything worth talking about.
  4. Use Things, Not People
    People are important, things are not. Things rot, take up space, energy, and money. Sure, money is important, to an extent. We do need it to live, but it is not the be all end all. People, however, are here to support us, to listen to us when we need feedback, to help us realize our dreams. Be a giver, not a taker. Surround yourself with other givers, and watch how amazing things happen. I used to be surrounded by takers, and I felt like I was living in a vacuum. I gave constantly, and could literally feel the life being sucked out of me. I almost allowed myself to become jaded, but luckily, pulled myself out of that shit cycle before it happened. Now, I refuse to allow such negativity into my life, and surround myself with people who give of themselves just as freely as I do. I am constantly offering whatever I have to give to people. My skillset, my time, my ear. It’s not about giving financially all the time. I am not in a position to do that yet. But we all have time to give, even just a little.

If we want to change things, we have to start with ourselves. We will benefit exponentially, and so will the world. Be well and be good to one another

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What Happens When Someone Leaves Our Lives?

Social Media can be an amazing thing. It can also suck the life right out of you, especially when someone has been removed from your life for one reason or another.

Facebook has this feature called “On This Day”. I have a love/hate relationship with this. There have been times that memories have popped up that made me smile and laugh. But more often than not, they’ve made me tear up or just get down right angry.

Why? Because sometimes, the people featured in those memories are no longer in my life.

Now, 99% of the time, the adults in those situations NEED to be gone. In fact, I am usually the one who walked away. In the past few years, I have been working on myself, which includes removing as much negativity from my life as possible. This means people as well. I have left an abusive husband, made new friends (and realized they weren’t really good people), lost said friends, met the true love of my life, and removed a person I thought was one of the best friends I ever had.

“On This Day” has no chill. It doesn’t care that there may be sore spots coming up. It doesn’t care that there were innocent children involved, that I miss dearly. And it certainly doesn’t care that even though those people turned out to be more negative than positive, there were still things that were good, and that I am human and become nostalgic at times.

So, what happens when someone is no longer in your life? I wonder this often. I am not a vengeful person and I do the best that I can not to think negatively about people, even if they hurt me. I don’t wish ill will towards people. So, I don’t sit around thinking, gee I hope so and so is getting what’s coming to them since they screwed me over, asshole.

But I do sometimes wonder, when those same memories that they are also tagged in, come up in their “On This Day”, do they get nostalgic, or are they wishing harmful/nasty things about me? I know I shouldn’t care, but at times, I do. Because I am human.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want these people back in my life. I removed them for a reason. I am just a thoughtful person. When things pop up, I tend to analyze (probably overly so) and wonder about it.

Thanks to the power of social media, and mutual friends, I know my last ex husband is now a father, something he always wanted, and never could have with me. I wish him well, and hope he finally got the mental health aid that he so desperately needed and is able to be a good father to his child and a good partner to his girlfriend. I don’t wish ill-will towards him at all. What he did to me is in the past. It taught me a valuable lesson. It proved to me that I was stronger than I gave myself credit for, that I was able to stand up for myself, even when I thought I couldn’t, and that I would not allow myself to be abused again.

But is that power something we need? There are days I think not. When I was a kid, if you wanted to know something about someone, you went to that person. If you were no longer connected, in real life, then you just weren’t connected. If you moved away or they did, then unless you kept in touch via snail mail or phone calls, the connection was over. You didn’t get real-time updates via the touch of a button.

In some circumstances, this can be amazing. My best friend lives in Staten Island, 900 miles away. She is the mother of 6 of my nieces and nephews. I am thankful each day that I get to see them via videos and photos on social media, Snapchat, and video chat. They used to live with me, so having this connection is crucial to me. I miss them being right next to me. I helped raise them all for 6 years. They are like my own children.

But on the other hand, it can also be devastating. My youngest son has not heard from his father in well over a year. He just turned 18. His father has all the same access to the internet, social media, etc as most Americans, yet, he chooses not to reach out, not even a simple one sentence text message. This breaks my heart. I don’t understand not communicating with your child, or anyone you love. I am the person who texts my son “good morning” from across the house. I am the person who texts my husband “good morning, handsome. I hope you have a wonderful day.” 5 minutes after he leaves the house.

In this day and age, I think we just have to be careful with our use of all the technology afforded to us. Social media especially. It can be a wonderful tool to stay in touch, as long as we don’t allow it to suck the life, out of our lives.

Why We Allow Ourselves To Be Treated As Second Class

“You have to be taught to be second class. You’re not born that way.” — Lena Horne

Originally posted on Medium.com.

Sexual abuse is nothing new, it is just more recently discussed due to the #metoo campaign. As with most things, when celebrities are involved with something, it seems to become less taboo to discuss. I am not saying this is a bad thing, I am all for the conversation happening, however it must. As a survivor of domestic violence, sexual abuse, and rape, I understand why it is so difficult to bring out into the light.

For me, what this campaign has brought to light, beyond the obvious, is the fact that those of us who have lived with these types of things are the same, in many respects. It doesn’t matter where you come from or where you are in life today, bad things happen to people from all walks of life. It’s one thing to think this, but to have it shown to you, is a completely different thing. It’s “proof” so to speak, that you aren’t alone, you weren’t singularly targeted, there are other voices out there telling a similar story.

When you grow up enduring abuse, or experience it at an older age, it makes you feel “less than”. Whether it’s because of words spoken to you by your abuser, or because of thoughts in your own mind due to the abuse, you begin to feel like a second class citizen. You start to question your own worth, you question what you could have done differently in order for these horrific things not to have happened to you, and in some cases, convince yourself that it’s your fault.

It’s not, by the way.

Survivors of abuse feeling that they can use their voice and speak out against their abusers is important for a number of reasons. It brings out into the open the things in the dark that no one wants to talk about, but should. But it also allows others, who may not be in a position to speak their truth yet, to know that there is hope. To feel that they are not alone. And hopefully, help give them the strength to one day walk away from the situation they may still be enduring, or at least find help to rise up against the internal voice that makes them feel less.

For me, it gave me the nudge I needed to tell my story to the world. I have always written, whether in journal form, poetry, or otherwise, but I had never had the courage to put much of it out into the world. Any time that I had, I was laughed at, ridiculed, once again made feel less than. No longer.

You can find my memoir here, it is on sale for a limited time.

So I put my story out into the world, not just for myself, but for others, in the hope that it would reach someone who needed that hope I had often needed in the past, when I could not see a way out. To let anyone who read it know that no matter how much you struggle, there is always light to be found.

And no matter what, you are never, ever, second class.

If you would like to receive notifications of new posts, please subscribe via the pop-up! I promise, no spam 🙂 Thank you so much for reading. And if you decide to read my book, please, leave an honest review on Amazon and Goodreads. Reviews are everything ❤

Reclaiming the Light

I would like to say thank you, to everyone that has followed my blog so far, and welcome to anyone new!

This post is about my memoir, Reclaiming the Light. For the next 5 days, it is available as a Kindle Countdown deal on Amazon at a reduced price. Today is the last day for the first round of reduced pricing, tomorrow it will go up a bit, 2 days after, a bit more, with the price returning to the norm on the last day.

So now is the best time to purchase at a phenomenal price. If you decide you would like a paperback copy (this is not part of the countdown deal) and a Kindle version, I have enabled the matchbook deal where the Kindle copy is always $2.99 after paperback purchase.

This book is the story of my journey from victim to survivor, via poetry and essays. However, it isn’t just my story, it could  be anyone’s story. My hope, in writing this, was to reach others who may still be in situations such as this, so they would know they are not alone, that there is hope, always.

If you know someone who could benefit from my words, please feel free to share. And again, thank you for coming by and reading what I have to say. Your readership and friendship are always appreciated.

Live Each Day As If It’s Your Last

Originally published here.

In Meditations Marcus Aurelius wrote “You could leave life right now.” Seneca also wrote, “Let us prepare our minds as if we’d come to the very end of life. Let us postpone nothing. Let us balance life’s books each day. The one who puts the finishing touches on their life each day is never short of time.”

Momento Mori, remember, you will die. Sounds morbid, doesn’t it? A bit, yes, but not really when you truly think about it. And as someone who practices Stoicism, this is something I think about on a daily basis.

In doing so, I’m not being a fatalist, I’m being realistic. We all die at some point. It’s a given. What’s important is how we choose to live. What good is this life if we are constantly running, grinding, never seeing what is right in front of us? When the time comes for our end, will we be ready to go? Or will we be filled with regret for the things we didn’t do? The things we wish we had accomplished while we still had the time, energy, and youth on our side? Or will we be well filled with joy at a life well lived?

It has been said that when looking at a headstone, it’s the “dash” that represents the life lived. What will your dash represent?

Today, at the end of your day, as you sit down and relax and reflect on what you’ve accomplished, are you happy with how your day has gone, or are you worried and anxious that you didn’t do enough? If it’s the latter, then why? Are you trying to do too much? Do you need to reevaluate your WHY?

“While we are postponing, life speeds up.” — Seneca

Did you come across someone or something today that made you angry? Did you allow it to ruin your entire day? We all have bad days, it happens. However, we are only given a limited amount of time here on this planet. Don’t spend it being angry, anxious, and stressed.

“How much more harmful are the consequences of anger…than the circumstances that aroused them in us? — Marcus Aurelius

If we take the time each day to work on ourselves, to remove negative influences from our lives, we find that we have more time for things that bring us joy. We are less anxious, less depressed, and more inclined to be productive in our daily lives. Part of this is also accepting our fate. Accepting our fate, Momento Mori, allows us a sense of freedom. It allows us to live our lives with the knowledge that each day, we are living life to the fullest, and if this is our time to go, we have done all that we can in order to take care of ourselves and our families.

If you would like to learn more about the teachings of the great Stoic philosophers, Daily Stoic is a great resource. Ryan Holiday offers quite a few downloads and lists for recommended reading and a daily email you can sign up for that brings the Stoics straight to your email each day with advice and knowledge. You can also visit the store on that page and purchase the beautiful coin in the featured image, to carry as a daily reminder of Momento Mori.

3 Ways You Can Change Your Life Each Morning

“How long are you going to wait before you demand the best for yourself?” — Epictetus

How we start our day denotes how the rest of the day will go. It doesn’t matter what time you get up, truly, despite all the advice floating around about getting up at 4am, 5am, etc. You need a reasonable amount of sleep people. So if you are a night owl, and are not getting to sleep until 2 am, don’t get up at 5am unless you absolutely must!

  1. Eat Breakfast!
    This is truly the most important meal of the day. It gives us the energy we need in order to sustain our brains for whatever we have in store for the day. And I don’t mean grab a donut or a danish. Please nourish your body with something healthy.
  2. Practice mindfulness/meditation/journaling
    Spend some time with yourself, in some form, each morning. Whether it’s all 3, or even just one of these items, you will find that you perform your day’s work better if you get into a habit of doing them. We all need time with ourselves, to be still, quiet, and thoughtful.
  3. Spend 30–60 minutes reading
    And honestly, it would be best if it’s not fluff! Learn something new, take in philosophy, something heavy. The old adage, if you don’t use it you lose it is quite true. Just because you may no longer be in school, does not mean you should not always be learning. The more we learn, the more we grow as humans. And, the better we are able to do in our lives, relationship wise, and in our daily lives, otherwise.

These things may seem simplistic, and to an extent, they are. But not everyone takes the time to do them. At most, you would spend two hours on yourself each morning accomplishing them. Isn’t your health and well-being worth that? A marked decrease in anxiety, worry, and negative thoughts; an increase in your knowledge and productivity?

I would call that all life changing.

Living a Good Life

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Photo by Mike Petrucci on Unsplash

“Do everything as in the eye of another.”–Seneca

A couple of years ago, I was still headed down the road of self destructive behavior. I was not a healthy person. I was depressed, anxious all the time, extremely overweight, agoraphobic, and I allowed negative thoughts pressed on my by years of systematic abuse at the hands of others to shape my self image. I was on the verge of a complete breakdown; mentally and physically.

My brothers had planned a camping trip for our entire family over the Veteran’s Day holiday. I almost had to be dragged out in order to attend. Little did I know at the time, my husband was involved in this conspiracy to get me out of the house. At the time, I was a very unhappy person about all of this, but today, I am grateful.

My oldest brother sat with me by the campfire and talked with me for hours. He was justifiably worried about my health and well-being. He handed me a book, A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy available here. I remember saying something along the lines of what in the hell is this. I know, classy, right? I knew what Stoicism was, sort of. I took Philosophy 101 in college, along with Humanities, Psychology, Sociology, etc. I remembered Plato and the like. Trust me, you are not taught much, if anything, about what Stoicism truly is, unless you dig around for yourself.

I am loathe to be one of those people who run around saying “Such and such changed my life!!”

Well, Stoicism changed my life.

After devouring A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy, and reading it multiple times since, I started looking into the Stoics themselves. Seneca, Marcus Aurelius, Musonius Rufus, and Epictetus. I read what remains of their teachings. I learned that people like Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, and The New England Patriots use Stoic Philosophy.

And then, I found out about Ryan Holiday and his book, The Daily Stoic, available here and its companion, The Daily Stoic Journal, available here

This book and journal are on my please buy it for me wish list. I have taken advantage of his generous 7-day Stoic starter pack (which I highly recommend that you do as well. It’s easy to sign up, Daily Stoic website and that is absolutely free. This website is highly informative and has links to Mr. Holiday’s other titles, and store for your favorite Stoic as well!

If you’re interested in what other philosophy books Ryan recommends (I’ve read most of them as well, and have the ones I haven’t saved for later), here is a link to his Practical Philosophy Reading List . What I love about the books on this list is, they are not your typical *yawn* fests like what you’re assigned to read in college. You’ll be interested, you’ll want to read them, and most of all, if you put the ideas in them into practice in your daily life, they will change your life.

Living a good life is not something you can just think about, and not do something about. As Seneca said, “It is the quality, rather than the quantity, that matters.” Our quality of life, the joy that we get from it, is totally up to us. As we strive to remove negativity, serve our fellow man, find joy, we will live a good life.

xoxo- Chloe