I ask a lot of questions. I ask questions for a living to be more exact. I ask questions of people all day. And, more importantly, I ask myself lots of questions. Why? I guess it is the way I have determined will help me be more open-minded, but also will help me to be more self-aware.
And so that we are all on the same page, here is my working definition of self-awareness:
Self-Awareness is defined as the accurate appraisal and understanding of your abilities and preferences and their implications for your behavior and their impact on others. – Psychology Today
Yesterday I asked a question about how others would rank their own self-awareness and some rather high numbers came back via comments. My return question was how the individuals knew they are highly self-aware. How do you begin to gauge self-awareness? How does one know they accurately appraise and understand their own abilities? Especially as it relates to other people?
One of the most important questions I ask myself to gauge my self-awareness is “could I be wrong?”. This question keeps me grounded, keeps my mind open and challenges me to dig deeper for more understanding. It might not be the best question, but it has served me well.
I view self-awareness in similar light as I view enlightenment. In college I had a professor who took a sabbatical and spent time in Asia seeking truth. He wrote to the faculty saying “I think I might have reached enlightenment, but I’m not exactly sure.” We laughed at his letter, but the truth is he might have been on to something.
So what’s my view on self-awareness? I think I might be more self-aware than some, but I could be wrong.
As I sat on the beach this morning and listened to the waves crash I couldn’t help but think of how far I’ve come since I started this blog. There was a time when I was experiencing tremendous internal turmoil. Basically, my insides were a raging dumpster fire. I was so lost. Sitting there I remembered this song that was once my anthem:
“Spirit Of A Storm” – Kenny Chesney
There’s a spirit of a storm in my soul
A restlessness that I can’t seem to tame
Thunder and lightning follow everywhere I go
There’s a spirit of a storm in my soul.
There’s a hurricane that’s raging through my blood
I can’t find a way to calm the sea
Maybe I’ll find someday the waters aren’t so rushed
Right now they’ve got the best of me
And oh, it’s been a long, long time
Since I had real peace of mind
So I’m just going to sit right here
In this old chair till this storm rolls by.
Oh, maybe it’s just the way I am
Maybe I won’t ever change
So I’m just going to sit right here
In this old chair and just soak up the rain.
There’s a spirit of a storm in my soul
Every time I think it’s gone away
Dark clouds gather, that old wind begins to blow
The sun’s going to shine someday I hope
There’s a spirit of a storm in my soul, in my soul.
A few years back I made some drastic changes. In 2013 I decided enough-was-enough and I went through a revolution of my mind and habits. Here are a few of the things that I stopped doing which made me a happier person:
It has been a minute since I updated everyone on the MS front so here goes. I have been off all my medications for about a year. I will take the occasional pain pill, but I try to limit those because they are dangerous. I stopped taking my injections of Copaxone in May of 2016 simply because I was worn out from giving myself an injection 3 times per week for nearly 3 years.
Without the medications I simply have to tough it out. It isn’t easy, but I prefer the pain to all of the side effects of the pills. I’m not sure which is worse, MS or the medicines used to treatment MS.
My two primary symptoms that I deal with are fatigue and lightning flash pains. The fatigue I manage as best I can and have learned to rest a lot on the weekends. There are still times when I am asleep at night before 9. I joke with Evelina that I’m just getting older and eventually you’ll find me at the cafeteria at 4:45 pm eating dinner.
For my fellow MSers you understand the flash pains. They are the ultimate in shooting pains in my hips, legs, elbows and hands. They hurt pretty bad, but it’s nothing I can’t handle. Like I said, for now I’ll deal with them versus taking carbamazepine.
All-in-all I cannot complain too much. I am sure there is someone in this world who would gladly switch places with me. Isn’t life funny like that? We think we have struggles until we read the story of someone who is fighting an incredible battle.
I hope everyone takes time be thankful for the simple pleasures of being able to walk. It it so easy to take it for granted.
If you have followed my blog for any length of time you will know that it wasn’t too long ago that I didn’t have much focus. I was floundering, lost, disorganized. I longed to tap into my greater potential, but couldn’t escape the feeling of being an underachiever.
Then in 2014 something clicked and there were two things that made me a better person: paying attention to details and becoming more organized. The simple fact was that of all the successful people I knew, not one of them was disorganized. And every single one of them paid attention to small details.
Till this day I pay attention to small details like doing exactly what I say I’m going to do. Returning phone calls in a timely manner (within 1 hour), answering emails immediately upon receipt, showing up to appointments 10 minutes early and taking detailed notes are a few of my “best practices” that have allowed me more success.
I truly believe that success in anything is found in paying attention to the small details.
This weekend Evelina and I decided to unplug and disconnect a bit. She was on-call yesterday for work, but other than that slight inconvenience we decided to have some planned time away. For me this was perfectly timed as I needed time to recharge following our vacation. I know that might sound a bit ridiculous considering we returned from vacation on Tuesday, but the truth is the driving time zapped my energy.
I believe it is important to plan time away from technology. It is important to plan time to decompress and do absolutely nothing. Remember, life isn’t about working the hardest all the time; it’s about working the smartest all the time. And sometimes the smart thing to do is…nothing!
I think more people don’t reach their goals because they give up when things get tough. Life is easy when things are going your way, but it is how you respond to obstacles that reveals your true character. Are you willing to go to any measure in order to reach a goal? Or do you buckle in the face of adversity? Do you quit when the going gets tough? Are you willing to do whatever it takes? Are you willing to make the sacrifices needed to reach your personal goals?
I recently talked with a lady who was complaining about her weight and how it made her feel awful to look in the mirror and see how big she was now compared to a few years ago. Amazingly, she also mentioned her reluctance to stop eating ice cream. I listened to her speak and then wondered if she put two-and-two together. She said she’s not willing to go so far as to give up ice cream in order to lose weight. I was dumbfounded. On the one hand she complained about how her weight made her feel, but immediately said she wasn’t willing to sacrifice to change her own life.
But we do this every day with our actions don’t we? In small ways we show ourselves that there is a limit to what we are willing to do to reach goals or to have more success. By slacking off at work we acknowledge that we are not willing to put in the dedication required to overachieve. By eating fast food we acknowledge that we are not willing to truly sacrifice in order to be healthy. And when we use credit to purchase unnecessary material possessions we tell ourselves things are more important than living debt-free.
I’m sure there are other valid examples of this, but I think my point is clear.
I’m curious…How far are YOU willing to go in order to reach your goals?
Music is funny to me. You would think after all the songs produced that humans would have run out of tunes and lyrics. Or that we would be reproducing the same music scores. But musicians continue to pump out new ideas; original ideas. It reminds me of life.
Just as music seems to have infinite possibilities, so does your life. Don’t let people tell you how you need to live life to reach your goals and dreams. It is up to you to write the score for your life; to find the rhythm which works for you. And only you can determine the notes.
Too many of us are trying to sing our own song, but doing it to the beat of someone else’s tune. I don’t see this ever working. You have to come up with the tunes and the words. Write your own song.
This is my last blog post in the ‘This is My MS’ series (see here for my post about my physical symptoms and here for my post about my mental health). I know that I am very nosy eager to hear about how others try to manage their MS and the symptoms they have, so I thought that I would let you know about the steps I take to try and and live as healthily as I can, despite my diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis. A bit about me first:
I am in my late 30s
I was diagnosed with MS when I was 15 years old (first symptom aged 13)
I am married with two kids, aged 9 and 7
I work 3 days a week (though my symptoms are making this level of work progressively more difficult)
I have always been interested in health and well-being and before my…
Two years ago I agreed to risk rejection and enter the dating scene. Had it not been a homework assignment from my therapist, I would still be focused only on creating a future that includes a decent retirement rather than designing a life that includes laughter and love today. I was as excited about this as I was of starving myself for two days in preparation for a colonoscopy. The results could potentially be the same, disastrous. I’d have to expose my innermost private parts and hope for the best. Sometimes, shit happens.
I knew odds were that I would unpack my luggage several times before I met “the one” if I ever did at all. When I mentioned I came with luggage, a date asked if it were Samsonite. If you laughed at that, you are as seasoned as I am with as many gray hairs, lol. I initially complained that…
Remember those old 70s collages made of random materials? Back then, art classes in junior high and high school were rife with making collages, (remember decoupage?), painting rocks and wood, macrame, yarn art, spirographs, hooking rugs, and other artsy stuff!
I just loved creating those craft projects!
Fast-forward to 2017 and painting on 3-D materials like rocks is still popular as schools, community centers and local organizations all over the US and beyond have joined the movement that is sweeping the nation and beyond, called The Kindness Rocks Project
“The Kindness Rocks Project was created to spread inspiration and a moment of kindness for unsuspecting recipients through random inspirational rocks dropped along the way.”
At the California Park and Recreation Society’s annual conference, I saw first hand the beauty and inspiration these hand-painted rocks can bring people just on this extensive table display.
Good morning, friends! Happy Monday! For all those who are preparing to go to work, may your day be filled with wonderful surprises. For those who have the day off, are retired, or are enjoying a nice summer break, do whatever brings you joy today. Whether you’re going to work or not, we all have a job to do. I hope you take some time to discover what it is — your purpose for being here.
We all have a purpose — even those we sometimes ignore at intersections or outside stores, hoping to meet your eyes to ask for a hand out or a hand up. We’ve all had those encounters where we try to block out their seemingly urgent pleas for help. If they’re young and strong, we wonder why they’re not working. If they appear fragile and defeated, we wonder how they got that way. I know…
One of the early lessons we all learn is we will not always come out on top. Your team is not always going to win. Your best efforts are not always good enough to earn the first place trophy. Your hard work is not always going to result in a promotion. But that shouldn't deter each of us from giving our absolute best effort.
I am extremely competitive when it comes to succeeding and use other people's success to drive me to do better. I have determined to be satisfied with failing as long as I know I gave my best effort. I'm not sure I can ask more of myself than that. The question I ask myself is 'did you give your all?' and if the answer is 'yes' then I am satisfied. If my answer is 'no' then I return to the drawing board and figure out how I could have performed better.
Ultimately the only person who will know if you gave your all is you. Identify your weaknesses, improve upon your effort and move forward. That's what I try to do; that's all I can do.
On the other end of the line came a flurry of Italian. I knew instantly that it was Mike’s uncle calling from Italy. I didn’t understand any of his words, other than, “Ciao, Patrizia!”
I quickly answered, “Ciao, Zio,” and then in English said, “hold on. I’ll get Michael.”
I wasn’t sure if he understood me, but he answered, “Si, si.”
My husband, Mike, was in the bathroom, which was usually a long ordeal because the bathroom was also his reading room. I rapped on the door and shouted, “Mike! Your uncle from Italy is on the phone!”
He opened the door and I passed him the phone. They talked for several minutes, and then it became quiet. When Mike came out, he closed the door and I heard the ceiling fan running. I was thankful we had two bathrooms…