Earnest Thankfulness

Thankfulness is a learned habit for some, especially those who have previously ruled that their worlds are marked by unfortunate events and happenstances. As we evolve as humans through the stages of perceived victimhood, we come to a wonderful sense of wholeness through the power of being thankful. Thankfulness need not being universally attributed to all aspects of one’s life. It can be used to mentally enforce and encourage good aspects.

I cannot overstate the importance of earnest thankfulness. The emotion behind words is often more important than the words themselves. This is not to mean that one should express extreme emotions in inappropriate situations, but that one should harness and properly expel alongside words his or her thankfulness. The following are things that I do and have done to encourage thankfulness in my life:

  • Mend and clean rather than buy. When I can afford it and when it’s practical, I try to mend broken objects and clean dirty objects as opposed to throwing the items away. In this, I express my gratitude at owning the object in the first place. I consciously consider its value to me, enabling me to denote its utility, hence providing it with more meaning than I originally bought it with. This also means I don’t own a lot of material goods, as I prefer practicality and meaning over quality.
  • State your gratitude loudly. When I found myself in a thankfulness rut, I saw a lot of negativity. I did not often recognize things to be thankful for. Since shifting my consciousness to a more open thought paradigm, I see better the beauty in people’s actions. I recognize when people go out of their way to do something for me. And I become more vocal about my appreciation, expelling my gratitude towards the do-gooder. This re-enforces the good feeling in both parties.
  • Love yourself to show your good intent to the world. It’s easiest to express thankfulness when you are in touch with yourself and when you love yourself. There is tremendous power in being good to yourself, as it makes you much more likely to be good to others. Once you love yourself, you radiate an energy that emits your intentions for doing good towards others, as you do to yourself.
  • Recognize authentic good will. Another component of expressing thankfulness is recognizing when an action is done with good intent as opposed to one that is dependent. An action is dependent when the individual who committed the proclaimed good action requires something in return. When you begin to recognize the will behind actions, and not merely speculate it, you begin to see which individuals are going to play potent roles in your life.
  • Understand your impact. Understanding my impact was very difficult; when you refuse to understand your impact, you perceive that you are not accountable for all of your actions. When you recognize your impact, you understand that you are accountable for what you do. Then you own up to it and move on. It is freeing to hold yourself accountable and to release it. Then when good things happen, you become all the more aware of it, and you can express earnest, unfiltered gratitude.

Earnest thankfulness can be a learned habit and can come under condition of self-love and of powerful connection to the universe. Once you see the love in yourself and recognize good will in others, you can very honestly give thanks.


Creative Outside Work

I’ve contemplated creativity throughout much of my adult life, and this contemplation is epitomized by a college thesis I wrote involving the topic. But here, I’ll address the misconception that I believe is present in the realm of the corporate world. My findings are that if one is not being paid for his or her craft, then he or she is not deemed creative. Further, these assumptions of creativity are very much limited to work with color and shapes, on a rudimentary level. That type of aesthetic work is indeed creative, but creativity is not limited to color-based or image-related aesthetic work.

  1. Your creativity is not limited to your paying job. Just because you don’t own a creative title at work doesn’t mean you’re not creative. Creativity is not reserved for those with the proper titles. Creativity is not something only an exclusive few have. Creativity is not restricted to specific standards; in fact, it’s the abhorrence and neglect of those very standards that begin creative revolutions.
  2. You are more than your career, your resume, your family, your friends. If you’ve endured relationships and jobs that depleted you emotionally, physically, and psychically, you are not defined by those periods of creative drought. Creativity is not taken away from you, it rests inside of you. It can lay dormant for days, weeks, months, and years, but it cannot be fully extracted from you. You always have potential for creativity.
  3. Your creativity cannot be taken from you. You may run out of steam, ideas, passion, money, but you will never run out of the endless pool of creativity that you are made of. All it takes is tapping into it. It’s not always evident that it’s there, and sometimes, you can think it’s entirely gone, but it isn’t. Trust yourself enough to open your own creativity up from the inside out.
  4. Creativity comes in a plethora of masks. You can be creative washing the dishes if you’re thinking about new ways to scrub, new ways to put soap on the sponge, new ways to set the dishes down for drying. Now this is an extreme example, but it’s meant to show that creativity is engaged even in the most seemingly mundane daily tasks. Creativity can be achieved, even in hostile or unforgiving environments, by living in the details and paying attention to those things that consume your time.

Creativity rests in all human beings; it is not something granted to a select few selected by society, by a degreed education, by monetary validation. Oftentimes, societal restrictions dictate who should be creative, but that’s just the false paradigm that we live in. Humans have innate creative potential, and power to create their own style of creative products.


What I’ve Learned From Cats

In February 2016, I went on a run with my coworker on a Sunday morning after heavy rain had fallen the night before. Less than a half mile into the run, two large dogs came running around the curved road on the opposite side of us. Without thinking twice, I called them over to us and they abided, running alongside me while my coworker and I thought of our course of action. We ended up taking them to an animal shelter, actually the animal shelter that I’ve now volunteered at for ten fulfilling months.

After months of training, I am now a cat socializer and feline adoption counselor. Here are some wonderful lessons I have learned from working at the shelter with cats and people:

  1. Giving feels really good. I think, a lot, all the time, and giving is that one time when I’m wholly doing something for someone, or some animal, besides myself. It makes my problems seem distant, because I’m confronted with the unique responsibility to insure the comfort and safety of the animals. Giving means I can stop the endless chatter in my brain to make sure I do my part at the shelter as a good advocate.
  2. Never, ever compromise giving. Sadly, I knew someone who asked me to volunteer less to make more time for him. Not thinking I would ever have to explain why I would want to spend time volunteering, I have learned never to compromise on giving. If anything, being asked to give up giving has made me want to give more, and give more consciously.
  3. Love bites are just that. I can’t get this sentence a man said at the shelter out of my head, “I don’t like biting, there are plenty of good cats.” It made me understand the weight that my counseling has on people’s lives, and on the way that they perceive animals to be and to act. I find myself defending a lot of cat behaviors, like love biting, to realize that we as humans don’t do the same for each other. We don’t internalize and analyze human behaviors in the same as we do animal behaviors.
  4. Grieving for cats. I’ve had many people come in after the loss of a pet. It’s a painful process, and also a beautiful one. The grieving allows us humans to call upon our most nurturing and open-eared selves. We pause and really listen to each other, we think more deeply about what we say and how potent our words are, and we don’t work on the “what am I saying next” model. We become more in-the-moment when dealing with these tough topics.
  5. Channeling love. I have handled many cats that have been deemed less adoptable and less wanted. Those cats specifically draw a parallel for me in my own life. I think about how many times in my childhood I needed a supportive person to comfort me and to nurture me. I think about the ungodly things I have endured, and then I channel all of the love I never received into nurturing the cats.

I have learned in my time volunteering that I am a being made of so much love that it’s overflowing out of me, and I can use that tremendous love to provide a sense of safety to a cat in a small cage, a cat that’s been abused, a cat that’s been at the shelter for too long, a cat that has a medical condition. No cat is unloveable.

There is a lot to learn about animals and people from working at the local shelter, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Animals, and especially cats, open up a powerful human connection that leaves a permanent imprint on the way that we look at life, and the way the we live our lives.


Low-Key Millennial

For those millennials born in the wrong era, being low-key proves to be quite the issue. You wonder what you’re missing out on and you retreat into the land of more intimate interpersonal communications. But staying low-key remains a viable world-interface option.

I am currently discretionarily using Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. However, I tend to stay off of larger social media platforms for a number of reasons:

  1. My number one reason is my sense of privacy. I am a very private person and I feel vulnerable when I am on social media. There are precautions that you can take to remain more private, but the idea of having a personal data-driven profile that establishes personal connections publicly is scary to me.
  2. My second most personally compelling reason is keeping away from incremental discourse. This meaning, the method in which points are argued online frustrates me. I prefer a more long-form discourse model and cannot keep up with short bursts of argumentation.
  3. I get caught up in the numbers game. I’m not proud of it, but I definitely pay attention to the number of likes I get. I’ve been able to care less about the numbers as I accumulate experience on my chosen social media accounts. However, there’s still that nagging feeling of content worthiness to my audience.
  4. I get embarrassed easily by public displays of my intimate and momentary life details. This stems from my (more-than) tendency to overthink how my actions are portrayed. For me, posting an item means bravery, because it means sharing something about myself publicly that someone may not like.
  5. I can’t stop scrolling once I get started. When I’m on larger social media networks, I compulsively open and close the app on my phone throughout the whole day. I don’t think of doing those things I typically love like reading, writing, and running. I haven’t been able to feel comfortable enough with it to stop checking in on it.

All in all, I prefer to stay relatively low-key on social media for my own sake. I admire those who use it efficiently and to promote their self-brand. There’s an art to branding to social media that I have not mastered, and don’t intend to. I’m content to remain a low-key millennial.


Six Weeks of Morning Pages

For over six weeks now, I have made it a habit of getting up thirty minutes earlier than I normally need to for work. I brew some coffee and hop to my desk to write out three pages. Here’s what I’ve learned thus far:

  1. The Positivity Challenge. It’s much quicker to write about meaningless nuisances than it is to write positively. So I’ve begun challenging myself to write only about good thing. If I get stuck, I write down a quote from a philosopher, credit him or her, and move one.
  2. Settling with Myself. Hand in hand with the challenge, writing in the morning has allowed me to really position myself in preparing for the day. It lets me settle with myself before I have to talk to anybody else. Writing positively sets a mindset for a good day.
  3. Breaking the Routine. Rather than configuring to the normal format of getting up, getting dressed, and getting ready for work, I now have a wonderful thing to get excited about in the morning. It’s a small thing I can do for myself before I put on my customer service hat for the work day.
  4. Getting into Author Mode. When I write in the morning, I find it much easier to come home and start working on my larger writing project after cooking dinner. It’s about embodying that writer lifestyle, and making it a serious time commitment rather than just a hobby.
  5. Resolving Internal Conflicts. I have an overactive mind, I often wake up several times during the night to think. Writing in the morning has very slowly helped to ease that overactivity by allowing me a creative outlet.

Morning Pages is my practice writing time to refocus, recenter, and get in tune with myself before my other responsibilities kick-in. It’s a good way to slowly rewire the brain to think more positively and a creative outlet for the overzealous mind.


Reconnect with Yourself

“We can let the circumstances of our lives harden us so that we become increasingly resentful and afraid, or we can let them soften us, and make us kinder. You always have the choice.” – Dalai Lama

A childhood plagued by reality dysmorphia, a cross-Atlantic move, language and cultural barriers, and toxic relationships do not necessitate an unhappy adulthood. Quite the contrary, learning to reconnect is essential to a whole human experience.

How I reconnect with myself after traumatic spans of time; these are not necessarily in order:

  1. Do what you love again. I love running. I love baking. I love writing. I love reading. These are things I know I love. When I’m not in a healthy situation, I stop doing the things I love, and friends and family notice.
  2. Check in with yourself. Make a list of things that you identify with and that make you smile because they’re uniquely you. I identify as French, literary minded, a writer, and deeply interested in learning. These are things that will impassion your life.
  3. Try something new and you. I’ve fallen off the bandwagon with my writing many times, and even forgotten my adoration and mesmerization of the process. I needed a gentle way back into it, so I started getting up earlier and writing three pages daily.
  4. Forgive yourself. This is hard; sometimes you may blame yourself for things out of your control. Part of reconnecting with yourself is forgiving yourself for not predicting the future of a situation, noticing warning signs soon enough, and taking chances.
  5. Don’t be afraid to be a lone wolf. I’ve personally always felt more comfortable alone, but I know others may not feel the same way. Being alone has many merits: you can reflect on your worth, you can dream about your goals, and you can feel in control.
  6. Read some inspirational quotes. Not all of them are right and some of them are just naive, but reading isolated quotes works as a quick and easy mood lifter. If I get into my own head too much, I’ll hop onto Pinterest and read quotes on positive thinking.

Reconnecting with yourself is incredibly rewarding; it brings you back to your truer self. It involves performing tangible activities that represent you, thinking about who you are, trying something new that’s related what you already love, forgiving yourself, being comfortable with being alone, and reading some wise words.

No matter how far we are taken from ourselves, we can come back and reconnect.