Several years ago I found myself unable to get out of bed a week leading up to Christmas. I remember the day so clearly. The sun was streaming in from my apartment windows, bouncing light up from my glittery coffee table. As I laid there awake, I just stared at the sunlight streaming in. I knew I needed to get up and get moving. But tears rolled down my face and a few minutes later I was sobbing. Those ugly, full blown sobs. But the thing was that I couldn’t point out what was wrong exactly. I just felt sad. Soon after my head started to throb. That dull, aching, annoying, never ending throb. It just kept going and going and going. Finally, four hours later, I was hungry enough to get out of bed.
Looking back on this now, I see what was going on. I had no plans for Christmas that was coming up. I was about to spend my first Christmas alone. And I was dreading it.
Then the big day came. I remember waking up feeling surprisingly calm. To distract myself, I volunteered at a homeless shelter. That helped for a few hours. But when nighttime hit, the calmness was over. I turned into a mess. I cried and felt so sorry for myself. I realized that I should have just spent the money to buy a flight so I could be around family. I wasn’t prepared for the loneliness and the ache I felt from missing my Mom. Missing my Dad. Missing my friends. Missing my fiancé. I can still feel the pang of the emptiness in my chest and stomach.
From that experience, I vowed to never let the holidays destroy me again. From this, I learned that commanding joy during the holidays was going to take some serious planning, focus, and dedication. Not only making sure I have actual plans for the big day but making sure I have a solution for all of the moments when I am going to feel overwhelmed. From spending money to the traffic to the airport chaos during this time of year.
So how do we deal? When the feelings of stress start to rise up, and you know they will, prepare yourself and commit to staying merry and bright with these 3 tips.
As I was doing my list of the top 10 of the past 10, I realized that all of the things on my list were once very very very scary to me. I'm talking full on panic attack scary: hands shaking, sobbing uncontrollably, not sure if I will make it scary.
But now I see the lesson in the scary. I am stronger because of these things.
And after you do your list, you will see that you are too.
1) moving to my dream city
2) visiting my bucket list country
3) leaving a relationship
4) losing my mother
5) running a half marathon
6) financial stress (one major event in particular!)
7) starting command joy
8) hiking angels landing
9) going to the top of the Eiffel tower
10) losing a job
There’s a reason MOTION is in EMOTION. You have to get in motion to feel the emotion.
When we don’t feel like it, that’s the right time to get into action. I’ve been an athletic person my entire life. Whether it was gymnastics or dance or running, I’ve tried to keep active.
But here’s the thing. I’ve never once wanted to do any of those things. I’ve never wanted to work out a day in my life. Not once. (Okay…maybe once after I broke my ankle and hadn’t been able to work out for a year.)
The thought of having to get up off my couch, put gym clothes on, tie up my running shoes, and start moving…it’s exhausting. There are a million other things I would rather do. Like sleep or eat.
But after it’s over, I feel proud of myself. When I did the thing I didn’t want to do, I feel nothing but pride and joy. Pure joy toward myself. Joyful me.
That’s the thing that no one tells us about creating a new habit. If we wait for the motivation or the feeling to happen before we do something, nothing will get done. Ever.
We have to put motion into the thing we don’t want to do. We can’t wait for the emotion to hit us. We can’t wait for the right time to come up. It’s never going to be a good time. We are never ever going to feel like it.
So it’s time we put the motion in to feel the emotion. Here are 5 easy ways to put the MOTION in EMOTION.
Thank you, thank you, thank you.
The alarm goes off. It’s 6 AM in morning when she wakes up, and she looks up at the ceiling. She notices the cracks in the ceiling and thinks that she may have a leak coming through the roof. Sigh. Ugh. Something else to take care of.
As she turns over onto her side, she fixes her pillow. Now that it fits perfectly under her head, she notices that she doesn’t want to get up. NO! the voice in her head says It’s warm underneath the blankets and it’s cold out there! It is cozy in this cocoon she made for herself. She pulls the blankets up closer under her chin. She is tired. It feels so wrong to have to get up. She wonders how long it will take to get the coffee going when she finally makes it out of bed. And she’s not sure if she has enough energy to even try. She wants to stay in there. Forever.
I mean, what is the point, anyway, of getting up? Another morning means another day she has to go to work. And who wants to do that? Life sure didn’t go the way she planned. She is nowhere close to where she wanted to be in life.
As she lays there longer, she thinks about what could motivate her to get up and out of the safe, warm, cozy space. She has to think it through. What is there to get excited about?
Well for a start, there is the fact that she is alive. That she, out of all the people and the opportunities in the world for her to not be alive, she made it! Here she is! She has been able to support herself all these years and is still alive, despite all the odds.
Now she was on to something. She had her health to be grateful for. Thank you for my health, she says to herself.
She also has been able to support herself all these years. Even when she didn’t know where the next paycheck was coming from, she found a way. She worked hard in school and when she graduated, she was able to convince a lot of companies that she was a good enough worker to get hired.
So there’s that. She was financially independent and was good about saving her money. Thank you for my courage to get a job, she says to herself.
She also has a lot of really great, supportive friends. Even though they may not live near her, she knows they are always there for her when she needs them. And she does the same for them. Thank you for being a good friend, she says to herself.
She also was an avid exerciser. No matter what else was going on in her life, she made it a priority to find time to work out. She knew that it relaxed her and kept her calm during the day. So she was proud of herself for sticking with it. She never liked to work out, but always felt good after her. Thank you for making health a priority, she says to herself.
Thank you. What a way to start the day. She transformed her mood and started to see the beauty. She saw the glitter and the gold that she created in her life. No, things were not perfect. No, she didn’t have everything she wanted. But she did all of these great things for herself.
As she thought about it more, she started to feel her confidence increase. She started to feel and see that she was capable of anything. And that felt good. This confidence made her think that she could get out there into the world and create and contribute.
So when she finally decides that it’s time to get up and out of bed, she realizes its okay.
This time when she gets up, as her feet hit the floor she says to herself “thank you.”
5 Ways to be Thankful Today
· Focus on thankfulness
Kick off the day with a focus on thankfulness and look for things to be thankful for
· Be thankful to be alive
Take a moment to be thankful for your health, the air you breathe, the food you eat…the magic of just being alive
· Thank your friends
Reach out to those who have supported you throughout your life and thank them
· Thank yourself
Think about and thank yourself for that one really hard thing you’ve overcome in your lifetime
· Pay it forward
Pay your thanks forward by finding an opportunity to say “thank you” out loud
Three weeks of Thank Yous! To celebrate the season of Thanksgiving, the next three weeks of Command Joys will be dedicated to things we can be thankful for.
He was an hour late. Then two hours late. Then four hours late. Then I finally decided he was going to be a no show, which seems so obvious now looking back on it. At the time, I wasn’t so sure. This was my BIRTHDAY! I was new in town and hadn’t made a lot of close friends. But I did start dating this one guy and he said he was going to take me out. So I got ready. I spent time picking out the perfect outfit. You know the one. Not too tight but not too loose either -just fit enough to show the curves but not reveal all the goods.
I was excited! This was my first birthday without my Mom. And I wanted all the distractions I could get. So I was so happy and relieved that I had plans!
But then there I was ready. And I was not okay. With every passing minute, I looked down at my phone and could feel the anger rising and rising. Each minute that went by meant one more minute of my blood pressure increasing. I thought about texting him. I thought about calling him. And then I thought, “No” – he was supposed to be here. He knows he was. I am not going to chase after him.
I was so so so angry. Mad that I wasted my time. Mad that I wasted my makeup. Mad that I wasted an outfit. All for nothing.
As I continued to pout about being left in my apartment, alone, I realized I didn’t have to sit here. I could still go out! So I did. I took myself out. I went to the restaurant I had planned on going to. I sat right up at the bar. I was super self-conscious at first but after about 30 minutes I started to feel more comfortable. I started chatting with people all around me. And it was so much fun!
It was from this experience that I decided to shift my mindset. Instead of worrying and stressing when other people are late or don’t show, I thank them.
When people are late, you get a chance to work on yourself. To reflect. To brainstorm. To text your friends back. It gives you time. You can sit there and breathe deeply and just be. Meditate. So many options!
Thank you for being late.
Thank you for not showing up.
When they are late or don’t show up, it gives us time to do things on our own. When someone is late to meet me for lunch or brunch, I thank them. If they are 10, 20, 30 minutes late, that means I had more time to be mindful of my breathing. I can think about what I want to focus my next blog post on.
So go ahead and be late, it’s great!
When I was a little girl, if my parents told me no, I flipped out. I would scream, fight, cry, go wild because they told me no. That one little word had so much strength in it! It was so powerful that I allowed it to take over my emotions. I mentally and physically couldn’t handle the word no.
The thing was that I didn’t want to hear the word no. No meant restriction away from what I wanted. No meant I couldn’t get what I knew I needed to get.
The word NO ignited such a strong force in me. It was a trigger word. It unleashed this other side of my personality that I typically kept quiet. It had such power. Such force.
As I got a little older, I still hated the word no. No felt so restrictive. So constraining. If a boy told me no, I just wanted him more. If a teacher told me no, I would study harder and set out to prove them wrong. If a coach told me no, I would practice harder to show them I could do it. If my parents told me no, well watch out world…a tantrum was about to be unleashed. The word no had so much power over me.
Over time, finally, I started to see the beauty in the word No. In life, we have so many freaking options. So many choices. So many paths we can take. So much to see. So much to do. So much to learn. So. Much. It can be overwhelming!
The word no has allowed me to be more focused. The word no has closed doors to opportunities I wasn’t meant to have. The word no from a man I loved meant he wasn’t the one for me. The word no from a company I wanted to work for meant I could take my talents elsewhere.
Now when I hear the word no, instead of flipping out, in my mind I think, “Next!”
Don’t get me wrong. There are some no’s I am not okay accepting. Like when I take my book to a publisher and they tell me no. That doesn’t mean I am going to stop trying. No way. It just means I change course and ask someone or somewhere else.
Let’s start to see the beauty in the No. Command Joy today with embracing the next no you hear.
Have you heard of the book or movie The Secret? Back in 2011, I discovered that book. And for years I studied that book. Hard. I read and re-read and re-read it all. Cover to cover. Pages highlighted, bookmarked, creased. Notes scribbled in the corners.
Then I found out about the movie! I was thrilled. I watched it over and over. 20 times.
I applied the things I learned from studying the text. Every night when I went to sleep I visualized the things I wanted in my life. In the book they talked about this woman who was able to get back to her 20/20 vision because she visualized having it. So I did too. In the book they talked about a guy getting his dream car because he saw his hands wrap around the steering wheel. So I did too.
I did all of it. For seven years I visualized. I studied. I did everything I could to manifest my perfect life.
But Nothing happened! Nothing changed. Nothing transformed.
Maybe this was my fault? Did I do it wrong? Was I not trying hard enough? I spent months beating myself up because I still didn’t have what I wanted. Because I was still in the same place I had been when I started the Secret.
It had to be me. I couldn’t believe that I could even mess THIS up. How could I be doing this tiny thing so wrong? I cried. I screamed. I was so so mad. Mad at me.
So here I am. Now 9 years later and I still don’t have what I want. But I decided something. Even though I don’t have everything I want. There IS one thing I can do.
I can smile. I can manifest abundance through my smile. This one little thing I can do right.
So here I am. Committed to an abundant smile. There are some days I definitely don’t feel like it. There are some days I don’t think I can handle it.
But even when I don’t feel like it, I throw one out into the world. When I catch someone’s eye and they smile at me right back, I feel it. I feel the abundance right here. Right now.
Recently, I was reminded once again of the loss of my Mother. The grief overpowered me. I spent an entire day reflecting on the circumstances. What was the point? Why did she have to go so soon? What could I have done differently? How do I turn this huge loss into something worth living for?
Through all the analyzing, the replaying, the guilt, I sat there alone with myself. Crying. Shaking. Scared. Alone.
I had to face the inevitable question “What now? What do I do with this sadness? How can I turn the grief into something productive?”
I had to turn the loss into life.
As I thought more about my Mother, I realized how much I don’t know about her. Our relationship was by no means perfect- full of misunderstandings, confusion, and overreactions. I realized that I never stopped to ask, “Hey Mom, what do you want in life?” She wouldn’t have told me anyway, she was forever a people pleaser. My mother never wanted to interfere, to be a burden, or to cause conflict to anyone. She was a quiet sufferer, in emotional and physical pain, but never spoke up for herself.
Because I never knew what she really wanted out of this life, I don’t know how to live out her legacy. Our relationship was like a group of necklaces tangled together – a mess with no clear way of how to get it back straight again. A lot of knots, complicated twists, and snarls. She knew I loved her but I didn’t always say it. At times I remember me as the selfish, ignorant, rebellious woman who couldn’t stand being near her. Other times I remember laughing and having fun with my Mom who was so strong, so wise, and so independent. The version of my memory and our relationship just depends on the day.
Emerging from the tragedy, I am looking for ways to turn her loss into a life. I am striving to become an ambassador for my mother. Turning her loss into life, I have done three things so far:
With each year I will keep looking for ways to turn the loss into life.
I first met my friend Diana a few years ago after listening to her give a keynote speech at a women’s leadership conference. As she was talking, I told myself I needed to do whatever it took to meet her. I was so excited about her vision and mission.
Since I was eager to connect with her, I lingered around after her speech. I waited for 45 minutes to try to meet her, but she was surrounded by 500 other people who also wanted to do the same thing.
After waiting another 45 minutes, I realized I wasn’t going to be able to even introduce myself.
I went back to my hotel room sad and frustrated. Then I thought to myself, okay, how else can I connect? About an hour went by as I took a shower and changed into jeans and a t-shirt, getting ready to boot up my laptop and get to work. Then it dawned on me, “she might still be in the conference room”
I took the elevator down to the first floor. As I watched the floors numbers go downwards, I remained hopeful that she could still be there. I told myself she must be tearing down her stage, and was probably still dealing with adoring fans.
As I rounded the corner and entered the conference room, she was gone. Damn it. I was too late.
Once again defeated, I went back up to my hotel room. I started working on my laptop. About 10 minutes later, I had another idea. I should check her Instagram. Maybe she is somewhere close by. I found her handle and saw that she posted a thank you to the audience from the conference. She mentioned she was in a restaurant a few blocks away with a group of people from the conference. One of them I recognized.
I walked in, someone saw me and asked me to join them. There were no seats next to Diana so I just sat down and started chatting with a different friend. I was so close to connecting with her but so far away! Finally, after a few people started trickling out, I had my chance! I found Diana and immediately said “Congratulations on all of your success! How did you prepare for your speech?” And just like that, boom, we talked for a while about her career path, her mindset, and life in general.
You can command joy in your life by connecting. Finding mutual connections or someone that has a connection to the person you want to meet is the easiest thing to do. While it is sometimes intimidating to put yourself out there, it is always worth it. Look for ways to introduce yourselves today!!