Look To the Western Sky

A blog about single life as a parent & the dreams of a writer by Margo L. Dill

Category: Improving Your Life (page 1 of 2)

What Happens When You Surround Yourself In Positivity

I really like this post below, which came to me as a contributed post. What I like about it is that they aren’t really telling you HOW to be positive, but they are showing you that if you can manage to have a positive attitude, here are the benefits. And I agree with everyone of these below. It’s not easy to always be positive–that’s for sure. And no one is saying that. What KT and I have been trying to focus on lately is our blessings. Every night, we are saying three things we are thankful for, and it really makes us examine our day–often we have more than 3!

Life has a nasty habit of getting negative. No matter where you go or who you meet, there are always things to see and be down about. The weather. Your job. Debt. All of these things allow a cloud to hang over your head and sometimes that cloud can be all consuming. The thing is, no one wants to walk around all day long with a cloud over their head. No one enjoys feeling unhappy or unmotivated; not only is it not productive for your day-to-day life, it’s just downright miserable, isn’t it?

You should instead be spending your life feeling happy, secure and motivated to achieve whatever it is that you want to achieve. The key to this is people. People and positivity. If you’re surrounding yourself with positive influences, then you’re going to feel that happiness and uplifted spirit leech into your own life. You cannot have a life that is positive and happy if you’re dealing with negative emotions all the time; it just doesn’t work that way. So, what will go down if you start to surround yourself with positivity? Let’s have a look below and see whether you can live a fulfilled and healthy life.

New Attitude. Living a life of negativity can often lead to crutches like drugs and alcohol being used. Deciding to move away from these destructive behaviors isn’t easy, but choosing to surround yourself with sober companions instead of destructive ones will change your life for the better. Time with healthy people will change your attitude and allow you to feel happier and more positive every day.

New Accomplishments. People will always work better and harder when they feel happy – it’s the nature of productivity. When people are oppressed in the workplace, they don’t concentrate, and working is like moving through quicksand. When you surround yourself in positive people, you are giving yourself a chance to achieve more than you ever thought possible.

New Friends. When you’re in a low, you often feel too sad or depressed to speak to new people. When you are feeling positive, new people don’t seem so daunting, and you’re far more likely to be welcoming with new people around you. New friends can bolster your confidence and allow you to feel happier and contented in your life.

New Success. Successful people are motivated, driven and confident in what they do. None of that is prevalent with negative people. People want to spend time with other happy people, and it’s this that will draw the right people to you in a good way. Successful people take their time to get to know others, talk and carve out their own opportunities. And if you are feeling happy and positive, that’s exactly what you will be able to do for yourself.

Taking the time to surround your life with positive influences is only going to serve you well. Don’t be afraid to reach out and choose happiness: it’s all in your power.

Share

Finding My True Self: A Work in Progress

Your only obligation in any lifetime is to be true to yourself.

~Richard Bach

I’ve been doing a lot of reading about the subjects of shame, belonging and authenticity. This is not light, beach reading, obviously, and sometimes, it takes me to places that I’ve been avoiding, well, my entire life. But I also know that these books, journals, reflections, and meditations are leading me closer to my “true self.”

We all have an ideal self–someone who we wish we were. This person looks perfect, acts perfect, and is perfect. And this person will never and can never exist because we are human, and no one is perfect. But our striving to be this person, this version of whatever we think is perfect, is killing us–it leads to depression, anxiety, eating disorders, drinking too much, and a whole host of other unhealthy things.

So to find my true self, I’ve been trying to recognize when I’m comparing myself to this ideal image . When I look in the mirror and I say to myself, why didn’t you use more sunscreen when you were younger? Or maybe you should skip that dessert tonight! Or even: why can’t you make more time to work on your novel–look at how successful your friends are? Why are you so impatient with your daughter whom you love more than anything else in the world? When I do this, I am being hard on myself, and I’m comparing myself to this ideal image of the way I think I should be.

Look, we’ve been doing this since we were kids. It’s why when we aren’t married to Prince Charming by the time we are 25, we start freaking out a little. It’s why when we get let go from a job we thought we would retire from, we feel defeated. It’s why when our book doesn’t make the bestsellers list, we think we have zero talent.

I would venture that many of us don’t know our true selves. I’m working on knowing mine. And the way I’m doing it, thanks to this book to the right and journaling, is by recognizing a few things:

  1. When I’m not sleeping at night because I’m analyzing my behavior during the day and wondering if I was good enough. Did I do everything correctly? Is anyone going to be upset with me in the morning? Now, I’m reframing this and saying: Of course, I wasn’t perfect, but I did some of these things correctly and next time, I might do this instead. Then I think of my blessings and go back to sleep.
  2. When I’m not authentic. One of the examples Darlene Lancer gives many times in the book is to ask yourself: do you find yourself accepting blame or saying you are sorry when you don’t really mean it? Do you say things at work or in your family that you don’t really feel to keep the peace? Sure, we all do this, and there is a fine line between always saying what you feel and respecting other people. But as Brene Brown pointed out in her book, Braving the Wilderness, we can listen with an open mind to everyone, and we can respond with kindness. It can still be authentic, such as, “I’m sorry I just don’t agree with that point, but I see where you’re coming from.” If we can learn that sentence, we may be closer to our true selves than we ever have been before.
  3. When I feel joy: I think since I’ve been thinking about this subject more than I ever have before, I’m actually feeling more joy and more peace. I think I’m sillier with Katie. I feel more in control.  I feel like I can do this single parent thing. This is not to say that I’ve got it all together. But there are more positive moments filled with joy than before. I’m not always doing something because I think I should (like planning an activity for Katie every day–some days, we’re staying home and she’s figuring out what to do herself). I’m prioritizing what brings me joy and what I need to do to feel organized and good about myself, and then doing those things.

As I’ve written about before, this journey I’m on is filled with imperfect progress. I don’t have any of this mastered yet, but I thought I would share because you might be on a similar journey, or these words might inspire you to join with me in finding our true selves.

Share

Yes, You’re A Parent, But 10 Ways To Care For Yourself Too

(contributed post)

Being a parent can be tough, we all know that. And as much as you love your children, and as much as you wouldn’t trade this blessed job for anything else in the world, you’re still a human. As an adult, you really do have to be able to put them first, but also cover off your own needs too. Whether you are a single mom or not, this is essential. You know the saying about putting your life jacket on first before helping anyone else? Well, that comes into play a lot here. It’s great that you want to be a wonderful mother, and you want your children to be happy, but you also need to be happy too. And not only that, healthy as well.

If right now, you know that you’re not really doing enough to put your own needs first, then you may want to think about changing things. You’ve probably got yourself into a bit of a rhythm with how you care for your kids, and that’s okay. But if you know that you’re neglecting your own needs, then things need to change. Or worse, if you’re stressed out, tired, overworked, and just generally unhappy, then you really do need to take action. Of course, even if you are happy (or you think you’re happy enough) some of the ideas we’re about to walk through may apply to you too. So let’s take a look at some of the things you can do to start taking care of your own needs better.

Think About Your Future

First of all, you need to start thinking a little more about your future. And this is incredibly important. If you want to be able to be happy in life, you need to make sure that you’re on the right track. Yes, you’re a mom, but that’s not all you are. And when your kids grow up, you don’t want to feel like you missed out on doing something that you love. So plan your future and figure out what you can do today that’s going to get you to where you want to be in ten years time.

Give Yourself An Hour

When it comes to physically looking after yourself on a day to day basis, you just need to be able to give yourself an hour. There are lots of different ways to find time for yourself, no matter how busy you are. So shift your schedule and make sure that you get an hour each day to just be you, relax, and do something that you love, like take a bath or read.

Balance Your Work Life

Next up, you’re going to want to focus on finding a balance with your work. Now, this isn’t always easy, but you can’t just be an employee and a mom, and then go to sleep. You’ll be exhausted. So you have to have boundaries and be able to slot your work in with everything else. Don’t feel too pressured to keep on working when the kids are asleep, you need time for yourself too.

Create A Social Life

One of the main reasons you need to keep your work life balanced is because you need a social life too. And this is essential. Even if you’re a single mom – well, even more so! A rewarding social life is something that we all deserve and it doesn’t have to be impossible to find. When you build the right network around you, you’ll feel like you’re finally putting your needs first.

Pursue Your Passion

Next, you’re going to want to make sure that whatever you want to do in life, you make time for it. If you want to write or paint, then make sure that you accommodate more time for this in your life. Life is too short for you not to do the things you love, even as a busy mom!

Take Better Care Of Your Health

But at the same time, you also need to focus on your health. Because you are only human, and if you don’t take care of your body, it will show. So above all else, eat well and stay active. When you’re focusing on your health, you will always feel great too.

Take Action

Next, you need to make sure that you are taking control of any situation that you might be in right now. If you need to handle settlements or get compensation, speak to the right professional like Muth Law and take action. Now’s the time to do it. When you do, you’ll feel like you have so much more control over your own life.

Focus On Relationships

From here, you should also start to think about your relationships a little bit more. It’s important that you’re able to develop great parent-child relationships and not just be their mom. At the same time, you should want to think about strengthening the bond you have with others around you. It’s so important to be able to have good relationships with those around you if you want to be able to feel your best.

Do Something Just For You

At the same time, you have to ensure that you’re doing things just for yourself. Not because you feel like you should, not because someone else wants you to, but because you’re taking care of your own needs. Maybe you want to take a class or you want to start a course? Whatever it is, just make sure that you take the plunge.

Always Aim To Live Your Best Life

Finally, you should definitely make sure that you’re living well on your own terms too. Remember, this is your life. You won’t ever want to feel like you didn’t live it your own way. So look how you want to look, dress in a way that makes you feel confident, take care of your appearance and feel good about yourself. Make sure that you act in a way that makes you feel like yourself. Do the things that make you happy. Because you should never look back and regret the things that you didn’t do!

 

Share

Round-Up: Self-Care and Emotional Health Top 5 Articles

Self-care and emotional health are two very important topics to me. I recently saw this quote on a quote calendar I own:

“You must love and care for yourself because that’s when the best comes out.” ~ Tina Turner

So true, right? And as we all know, it is not always easy when you’re a parent, especially. So here is a round-up of the top 5 articles on my blog that have to do with self-care and emotional health. I chose this round-up thanks to everyone who took my poll on what topics readers would like me to focus on next. So here we go…

Life Is All About Your Reaction and Your Tribe (This post is about surrounding yourself with people who make you better and how you can’t control others, but you can control your reaction!)

Parents: Taking Time For Yourself (This post is about a trip I took with my girlfriends and why it is important for all parents to fill their well.)

The Thing About Change and Not Giving Up (This post was inspired by a book I read about ways to NOT become unglued and making imperfect progress toward goals.)

5 Things I Learned About Living In 2016 (From “balance is key” to “parenting is hard and give yourself a break”, this post shares my personal experiences while trying to improve my emotional health.)

Make This the Year You Start Taking Care of Number One  (Three tips for taking care of yourself and why you should! )

 

Share

5 Things To Consider About Successful Adulting

(contributed post)

Being an adult is no simple feat. There is no magical equation which tells us how to behave as an adult for success, and many of us are going through our entire lives without completely figuring it out. However, there are some some simple tips to help you not get through adulthood and have some success.

Think money

Finance is not everyone’s favorite part of life, but it is an important thing to think about, and you need to make sure that you take the time to make better habits and cut your living costs if necessary. Think of refinancing your student loans with a company like refinancestudent.loan to make your payments more manageable, try making your energy bills lower with cost-cutting strategies, and save on your grocery bill with coupons and sales. Being financially stable can be the difference between happiness and stress.

Have an open mind

As you enter adulthood it is important to enter life as a blank slate. Be open to every opportunity in the world and don’t close yourself off to everything and everyone. If you want to have a great life as an adult you need to think about taking yourself out of your comfort zone and trying new things. Be positive about all aspects of life and be ready to experience everything it has to offer you.

Follow your dreams

One important thing to remember as you reach adulthood is that you don’t abandon your dreams. It is incredibly crucial that you follow your goals and dreams in life and be happy living your own life. Follow every dream you have and don’t let anyone tell you that you cannot do it. Love your life and live it in a way which makes you happy to wake up every single morning.

Look after yourself

If you are going to be a successful adult, you need to look after your mental health. You cannot live a happy and successful life if you do not have a good state of mind. Mental health is just as important as physical health, and you need to take the time to pursue good mental habits. Take the time for yourself every once in a while, meditate, relax, and spend time with people you love. Allowing yourself to relax and refresh will help you to go on in life in a happier state.

Give up old grudges

When you are in high school and you have a bully or someone who you fall out with, it can take over your life and sit with you for years. You will start letting this experience get to you and define who you are, and this is not what should be happening. When you become an adult, it is important to be able to let these grudges go, move on with your life, and be happy again. Don’t let someone from your past influence your future, because they shouldn’t be able to. Move on, start fresh, and be happy with your new way of life.

 

Share

Learning To Listen To My Gut

“Always trust your gut. It knows what your head hasn’t figured out yet.” ~Anonymous

Geez, if only I could easily follow this advice…but I’m in the process of learning it–maybe I’m at the very beginning of the lesson. I’m an infant at listening to my gut. My friends can tell you this. I overthink. I rationalize. I decide to give someone/something one more chance–despite what my gut says. Because…how could my gut be right? But I think 10 times out of 10, if I go back and look at a situation, I will remember a moment when I should have known that something was off. Has this happened to you? Have you had the old HINDSIGHT is 20/20 thing in your life? Listening to your gut doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to say good-bye to someone or that you have to quit doing something, but it does mean that you have to address whatever gives you that uneasy feeling in  your gut. This is the key!

This is so true with dating! Even if you’re married now, at one point, you were dating. How many times did you go out with someone way longer than you should have when your gut was telling you that something wasn’t right? This doesn’t mean that there’s something terribly wrong with the person–he or she might be lovely or fine for someone else. But this experience does mean that this person wasn’t right for you or for your current situation, and your gut was warning you.

Recently, I had a situation where someone asked me out, but I couldn’t go that evening. At first, everything seemed fine. But then, a text message came from him that was not super nice–but you know text messages, they are infamous for sending the wrong signals because you can’t tell tone. A couple more messages were exchanged, and I still didn’t feel right about him; but by the end of the night, I had convinced myself that I was overreacting. Maybe I misread what he meant. Maybe I don’t know what that particular emoji actually meant. Maybe I was overthinking.

So, I turned to my trusty girlfriends, and as you know, the people I surround myself with are extremely important to me. I explained the situation to them, sent a screenshot of the few texts, and asked: What do you think?

Immediately, they came back with–that wasn’t very nice, and trust your gut. Move on. So I did. But why did I need that confirmation from others? Why didn’t I just trust my gut to begin with?

That is the big question, and one I am currently working on exploring. I wonder how many of us are good at this. How many of us go with our gut immediately and don’t stop and overthink? And I wonder how many of the people who are able to trust their gut right away have lives that are much less stressful and anxiety-ridden?

There are all kinds of opinions about this–some people think trusting your gut too much is irresponsible, while others swear by it. Some scientists have studied what happens to the body when people are faced with a choice and “go with their gut.”

But here’s what I am starting to realize–when I’m forcing myself to “get over” something someone has done or said, and this person has not truly apologized or shown any better behavior or concern, then I need to listen to my gut. Life is too short to spend it with people who make you feel uncomfortable and/or don’t respect you. 🙂 So if you see me, ask me…how is it going with listening to your gut?

How about you? Do you listen to your gut? When has it worked for you?

 

Share

What Is Your Body Trying To Tell You?

(contributed post)

We ignore what our bodies are telling us all of the time. We think that we’re invincible, and often convince ourselves that anything that might be wrong is just an issue that’s going to go away quicker than it started. But these are the things that we should be challenging, not ignoring. Our bodies are speaking volumes to us; all we have to do is make sure we listen. From the simple things like how our hair is growing, to the color of our skin, it all means something in terms of your health. So, here are a few things that you might have been ignoring that we really think you should not be. Here are just a few of them.

Your Eyes

Your eyes are one of the most important parts of your body; yet you may not think of them this way. For example, those with low vision tend to ignore the problem until it gets worse and worse, when a few simple treatments right away might be the better option. From glasses to a cataract surgery, there are plenty of things that can be done. Not doing anything puts a massive strain on your eyes, which will then lead to things, such as headaches, migraines, and even muscle strain. The pain you can get from all three of these is horrendous, so you’re best off being proactive if you notice a problem with your eyesight, such as blurry vision. However, it could be something much more serious than your sight deteriorating. It could be something such as a tumor growing in the brain or lifelong conditions, such as glaucoma.

Your Skin

We value our skin and the way it looks. Or at least we should do. Our skin can often become neglected–from not keeping it hydrated by drinking the right amount of water each day, to forgetting to take our makeup off before bed. But the signs our skin can show us can be a problem much more serious than a few spots breaking out. If you’re noticing that your skin is turning yellow, along with the inside of your eyes turning pale, you’re probably having an issue with your liver. Don’t jump to conclusions; it could be something so minor. But make sure you get it checked out right away. The same is true if you notice moles changing in size or shape or any spots on your skin. A dermatologist can do a body check and see if he or she thinks any more testing is necessary. 

Your Energy

We as humans are tired people. There are those that jump around and seem to have so much energy, but the majority of us just aren’t them. That’s because we’re not giving our bodies what it needs to be able to live a normal and happy life. To do so, you really need around 8-9 hours sleep minimum, 5 servings of fruits and veggies a day, and to keep yourself hydrated with around 8 cups of water each day to make sure you’re feeling as fresh as possible.

What signs do you look for in your body?

Share

18 Tips To Reduce Stress

Below you will see a really awesome infographic on reducing stress. Surely, if you are feeling stressed out, one of these tips is something you can do and is easy to fit into your life, so it doesn’t cause you more stress! I’ve posted other articles on reducing stress before, such as Stress Busting 101: How to Reduce It In Your Life and Parents: Taking Time For Yourself. If you need some stress busters, then check this out from Donna Norton at CustomWriting.org. My favorites are: 10, 12, and 16, although really, most of these resonate with me. How about you? Do you have any tried and true stress relief methods?


Infographic by Donna Norton Custom-Writing.Org

Share

Working Through The Comparison Trap

Recently, I was in a video/book study called The Comparison Trap. This little four-week course is life-changing. Well, I should say: it can be life changing if you put into practice what the book discusses. (Side note: There’s a spiritual element to this book. It quotes Bible verses, and the woman who wrote it is married to a preacher. EVEN IF this usually does not do it for you, I recommend fighting through this and reading the book anyway. Every place she talks about God, can you think of Higher Power or Universe instead? I’m stealing this idea from the book You are a Badass! But I think it is an excellent point to not get hung up the “G-word.” And who knows what can happen in your life if you keep an open mind? ) Onward…

Before week one, I never realized how often I compare myself to other people and how shitty it makes me feel. Sometimes, I compare myself and I don’t measure up. I don’t have a loving husband or boyfriend. I don’t live in “the best school district” (although I love mine and the location of my house). I don’t have as much money as friend A, B or C.  I’m not 25 anymore. I could go on and drive myself crazy. I also do the flip side: Well, at least, I work full time. Well, at least, I have a book published, and so on. All of that thinking and comparing is exhausting and not helpful to anyone, most of all me.

The class had anywhere from 6 to 8 women in it each week, ranging in age from mid-40s to retirement age. And it was powerful. It was so powerful that we actually met for 5 weeks, instead of the 4 that the author recommends. Let me tell you the two moments that sealed it for me:

  1. The last week, we were asked to think of a time in our lives when we couldn’t celebrate other people’s good news. When we heard good news, did we react with jealousy or did we celebrate with the person? At first, I thought: this is a no-brainer–I celebrate. When I read the daily devotionals about overcoming this “jealousy”, it didn’t fit me, until I started thinking about when I was trying to get pregnant. It was very difficult for me to get pregnant, and I thought it would never happen. During this time, whenever I found out someone was pregnant, I was not celebrating. I was saying: Why me? In class, I even shared that I skipped a few celebrations because it was so heartbreaking to attend baby showers. It was a dark time. I am not proud of myself; and even though you may be thinking, well, I can understand why–that doesn’t excuse it. I was comparing my life to theirs, and my life is nothing like theirs. It’s not healthy, and it takes an extreme amount of faith in the Universe or God or your Higher Power or whatever you believe in to get out of the darkness and move on. I am happy that I did it. I am happy that once I let go, I got pregnant (just like everyone says).  And I think I still do that “jealousy thing” a little bit today now that I am divorced. But I am stopping it! Right now! I realized as I was writing this post: Sometimes, when I’m thinking about my relationship status, I will count up the number of people I know who are also divorced and without a partner. But really, this is terrible. If my friends and family want to be in a relationship, then they should be, and it should be happy and healthy and enriching. And I should celebrate it with them and let go of this notion that makes me compare myself to find my worth. Because frankly, it is exhausting.
  2. The two big messages that are driven home in this book are everyone is unique and special with their own talents. AND if you have a heart of gratitude, you will find contentment. We discussed these philosophies at length and honestly. Because let’s be real, isn’t it hard to take sometimes when you look at your neighbor and she is beautiful, owns a fancy car, and has a successful career,and a loving husband? Why did she get all of this and you didn’t? It can be hard to take when you are looking OUT. So what I learned in this book and this class and even writing this post is–you have to look IN. What are your talents and blessings? What are you grateful for? We also discussed how being content does not mean you can’t have goals or improve your life. But you should create these goals and improvements because you looked IN and it’s what you really want–not because you are looking OUT and trying to be as good as Mrs. Jones.

If I remember nothing else in a month from this study, this phrase, which is now hanging on the bulletin board in my room, will be something I remember: There is NO win in comparison. 

 

Share

Ready to Be More Organic? It’s More than Just Eating Organic Food

(contributed post)

We all know that eating organic food is much better for our health and the state of the environment. But is that where organic living has to end? You’ll be pleased to hear that there is actually a lot more that can be done in your life, so that you can live a wholesome, naturall,y organic life. It’s not just about food!

Ready to be more organic? Here are some really great tips that can help you get started.

Create An Organic Garden

One of the easiest ways to ensure that all the fruit and vegetables you eat are organic is to start growing it yourself. Growing your own food can be quite difficult, especially if you are completely new to it. But don’t panic; you can start off developing your skills by beginning with the easier produce to grow, such as lettuce, cucumbers, and gherkins. You’ll be able to buy seeds from your local supermarket; but there are also some online stores that sell more exotic fruit and vegetable seeds, if you fancy challenging yourself!

Reduce Your Energy Consumption

Leading a more eco-friendly life is part of living more organically, too. So, it’s important that you try and reduce your household’s energy consumption as much as possible. There are various ways you can do this. First of all, make sure that every electronic device and appliance is turned completely off when it isn’t in use. Next, you should consider switching to a renewable energy source. There are now quite a few energy companies that will install solar panels onto your home’s roof, so that you can use greener energy from a nature-friendly source!

Go Natural With Skincare

You can also improve your skin care so that it’s a lot more organic. First of all, it’s worth finding some natural skin care products. Lots of beauty companies now have a very good range of natural products, as there is such a high demand for them. These are all made from organic ingredients and are completely cruelty-free, meaning they haven’t been tested on animals. If you want, you might also like the idea of trying to make your own skin care products. There are lots of recipes online that use plenty of ingredients you will already have in the house.

Eat Seasonally

There are some people who complain about the price of organic food. Sure, it can sometimes be expensive, but that is usually the case for ingredients and produce that are on sale when they are out of season. So, as you can probably tell, it’s much better to try and eat seasonally whenever you can. There are a few guides that can help you work out your diet, so that it is more in keeping with the season. But one of the best ways to figure out what is in season is to buy from farmers markets, as they will only be able to sell what they are able to grow at the time.

Enjoy your new organic life!

Do you have anything to add?

Share
Older posts