Magical Dust

I’ve been doing a great deal of soul searching and something caught me off guard the last few days.

As I sat in a field, watching fawns play, I started thinking about those little moments that impact us in big and little ways. Those moments of calm that hit while on a hike, the sense of protection and peace being held as I drift off to sleep, or just a moment looking around a full table of people feeling blessed.

As I’ve contemplated these moments, I got thinking about something. In our room inside our heads that hold our memories, good and bad, I think there’s a little dust in there.

Our big memories are captured in large images for instant recognition and replay. But what about those little memories? Those peaceful moments spent watching the sun rise or set?

The peaceful, calm memories create tiny little particles into what brings us joy. I envision my own as dust. Dust particles that float on the air, stir up when you start moving around.

Those same particles that look gray and lifeless, until you open the window and they sparkle and shine in the sunlight. Those same particles that move around and cover old memories, like photographs hanging on the wall.

Sourced from Pinterest

They aren’t picky about where they land. Good memories are dulled a little but they are still vivid. Bad memories on the other hand get a protective dust coating, that will sparkle in the sunlight.

Those little moments, equivalent to pennies, still add up. They create piles and piles of dust. Our bad memories, like dollars, aren’t worth much until they get old. As they age, they cover in the proverbial dust. We never brush or clean those memories off. They end up obscured by that film of dust memories.

Our good memories are like a hundred dollar bill. Those ones you keep banked for rough days. Every so often, we pull them out, dust them off and put them back. All that kicked off dust, heading to land on other memories.

As I sit and enjoy the peaceful solitude today, I’m building more dust motes. I’m storing them up inside my vault of memories. Only the peaceful, calm and blissful moments create these little particles that sparkle in the sun.

The power is yours to build that dust. To take note and take stock of those fragments of moments that make you catch your breath or set you at ease.

Sourced from Pinterest

Throw open those windows and kick up that dust! Pull out a few great memories and let that dust settle on the bad. Eventually, they will be nothing but glittering dust. Something beautifully covered to the trained eye that will look past the fracture moment to the particles of love, peace and bliss. 

Magic is believing in yourself, if you can do that, you can make anything happen. ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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Justin Lee – Project UnBreakable

Photo Credit by Rhonda Kowalski for Behind the Mask Series

On Saturday evening, I sat thru a fantastic talk given by Justin Lee. Justin is former military that runs a foundation called Project UnBreakable and is alumni at my high school.

Justin talked about his struggles with mental illness, his dad’s suicide, being left by his mom at a young age and in turn, his own thoughts of taking his own life.

The moving talk captured the attention of everyone in the room as Justin paced the stage in obvious nervousness over speaking to the room.

As he discussed the days prior to his dad’s passing and the guilt over not being able to help, the expressions of his emotions at the time gripped even the young man next to me. The feeling of abandonment he held force by his mother leaving and his fathers suicide spoke volumes to this 19 year old young man.

That young man is my son. Due to some circumstances outside of his control, he has some of those same feelings. As Justin discussed his fears and anxieties, my son was moved beyond anything I’ve ever seen. Even as he avoided and deflected the listening, he still did and for a young man to hear the emotion within the words was truly motivating.

Justin’s story is filled with tragedy. He’s from a hometown that’s seen murder, death and more. His past impacted his reactions to situations but the end result is he stood proudly on that stage to openly discuss something very personal.

Justin Lee is an Inspiration in HIS field. As an elite military, that lost his position for his mental health, he’s UnBreakable about speaking out, sharing his story, encouraging conversations about mental health and helping others.

To assist Justin and his wife, Kim, to speak out and help others, please visit their website. They also have a private help line for military personnel and first responders.

Project UnBreakable

Crisis Line: 385-405-5217

Justin spoke as part of a series called Behind the Mask brought to us by Lion Legacy and the hard work of Rhonda Kowalski. The series will discuss many difficult topics of discussion, including sexual abuse, discrimination and much more. Follow the link to the Facebook page for updates and future live feed videos. 

Being Different

We are all born with our little quirks, some are learned. Doesn’t matter how we got them, it’s the total sum of them all that makes us all unique.

I’ve heard so many times in my life that I dance to the beat of my own drum. Until later in life, I could never understand what that really meant.

There aren’t many other woman out there like me, and none are exactly the same.

I’m a farm girl. Stubborn, determined, take no shit from anyone kind of girl. That’s the bare bones of how I am. I’ll bet you all just got a mental image of who you think I am and how I dress. You’d be very wrong.

I’m a dedicated and life long dirt track racing fan. Tough, full of grit and not afraid to get greasy. That’s the second part of who I am. Did your mental picture of who I am just change?

Sourced via Pinterest

I’ll throw a few more kinks in there. 

I’m a marketing professional. Data and analytics driven. Computer savvy and a research queen. A geek for numbers, data and demographics. A geek for design software and new artistic design of logos and websites.

I’m a photographer that loves to capture moments of peace and tiny creatures like butterflies. I love capturing those tiny moments of awe and wonder.

Now what kind of image you have?

Most days you’ll find me in stained up blue jeans and t-shirts working around the farm but I can also pull off the power suit and super high heels that will rock any straight male in their shoes.

It’s all parts I’ve played to be completely and total me. I’ve met the homeless man on the street. I’ve flyfished in hip waders and a dress. I’ve sat in meetings with powerful figures and I’m at home with it all.

What makes me unique is my adaptability. I never forgot that we are all each individual people, no matter how much money or lack there of. We all want the same thing. It’s called RESPECT.

I have other things that make me unique too. A mind that spins a million miles a minute that helps with problem solving and building marketing campaigns. A sense of humor that’s as good as most comedians and I’m sure not afraid to make fun of myself either.

We all have those quirks about what we do and how we do it. What makes us fully unique is embracing all of them as a whole and just being who we are meant to be.

If we were all the same, life would be so boring! Celebrate the difference. Even if it’s only with yourself, within yourself. Dance to the music of your own drum like no one is watching!

Sourced via Pinterest

Journeys 

All the pieces of my life do build into the complex puzzle of who I am today.

For me, my life has been a cycle of many different journeys. Basically, I can snap my life pictures into three bundles.

When I was young until around the time I turned 18, I lived my life in fear and resentment. Abused on several different levels, most of that time was spent as a shy person who didn’t seek to make new friends and just went by day to day. Wondering which day would hopefully be my last.

In 1995, a bad car accident landed me in the hospital with 18 hours worth of reconstructive surgery on my face. I had smashed my face against the steering wheel and dash. I had fallen asleep at the wheel, gone into the ditch and flipped over a driveway.

After feeling alone most of my young life, I began to realize the impact I had on those around me. As my room started filling with flowers, plants, balloons and cards, I began to see that maybe my family wasn’t the rude assholes standing in corners whispering how I was ruined and disfigured now.

Those 10 days in the hospital changed my life dramatically. The following days and weeks did too. As my family left me alone in a wheelchair, unable to get down the hall to use the bathroom or reach the top of my stove to cook myself a meal, I changed. I became determined to ask for help when I needed it. A new and foreign concept to me at the time.

Later in life, at 32 years old, my life took another turn. Now faced with the loss of a major chunk of my family (their choosing) and wondering where I went wrong, I started counseling for the first time. This is where I learned so much and I’m so grateful for the guidance I was given.

Thinking I was somehow flawed, I learned about narcissistic tendencies. I learned about mental, verbal and emotional abuse. I learned that I didn’t even know my own likes and dislikes.

My life has been filled with trying new things. I had focused most of my life trying to find the place I fit in, always with someone else rule book. I always liked my jobs but I never really had that excitement to get out of bed every morning.

I’ve worked all over the place in many different career paths. I’ve been a retail associate, a housekeeper at a hotel, a front desk clerk, a fly fishing instructor, newsprint advertising, a marketing rep, a car salesman, a used car buyer, a painter and I was still lost!

My counselor convinced me to go buy a little $30 point and shoot camera. I armed myself with a 3.1mp Kodak EasyShare camera. My mission was simple. I was to photograph anything and everything that interested me.

After the first couple of days, I found myself seeking out things that sparked my interest. I discovered my love of the countryside panaromas, barns, fields of flowers, sunrises and sunsets, and livestock. As time went on, I started feeling the pull of all this “stuff”.




As this progressed, I learned I loved calves and cows. The photos were plentiful. I would go visit people with dairy cows and horses. I would visit beef farms. Until one fateful day, I had the chance to try something very new.

I was given a calf. A calf all my own to raise. I had an area I could house and raise it. I got out of bed with excitement. I bottle fed, brushed and halter trained that little guy. I feel in LOVE!

 

My life is a culmination of trying new things. A new counselor led me to a camera and now I have a side career as an agricultural photographer. My love of motor sports has translated into photographing truck and tractor pulls, and sometimes you’ll find me at a race track photographing race cars.



My love of cattle and farms has lead me to building a farm from the ground up. From those fateful days of one lone steer to 42 head of cattle, a small poultry flock and now pigs.

That fateful counselor led me into a journey of self discovery. The discovery that I am and always will be a FARM GIRL.


All of those experiences from my past still play into what I do today. I market my farm and my photography work. I know how to retail my work. I know how to pleasantly answer phones and book farm visitors. I know what paints and stains are good for farm projects. I know how to shop for used goods from feeders to pickups.

Every new experience has given me new friends. I’ve gained so much knowledge and experience. It’s created a career in passionate about.

Don’t ever be afraid to step into the unknown, you never know what key it may hold to unlock another experience!

Warm and Fuzzy

Isn’t that something we all want to feel all the time? As an emotion, warm and fuzzy means we are happy and content.

Why do we use those expressions for those emotions? I think it leans toward our obsession with comfort. 

Our topic in the 30 days of Happiness event is “What piece of clothing makes you happy?”

I have a young lady by the name of Autumn that can give me the fastest answer in this one! For years and years, she has adored her grandmothers carigan sweater. It’s old, with wear in the pockets and bits unraveling. It’s been worn for many, many years. Today, Autumn wears it with pride. She envelopes herself inside of it and curls it around her body like a gentle hug.

I never thought too much prior to her getting the sweater about that one piece of clothing we admire or wish we had. Is it sentimentality or something deeper?

It got me thinking about my own grans blankets that she had crocheted or the quilts she painstakingly hand stitched. I get all those fascinations and the desires to feel the love as I wrap up inside one.

But clothing? 

As I sat thinking about this topic, in prepping for the event, I started thinking about memories that certain articles brought back to me. Shorts shopping with my son at a thrift store, shoe shopping and meeting with a dear friend, and that sweatshirt I stole from a long lost love that I can’t bear to get rid of.

As I stood before my closet of clothes, I began to realize a connection. Not a connection of looking good in one piece over another but the memories held within each.

That light green dress worn to a Christmas party and the antics that ensued. That turtleneck that’s now thread bare and funky shaped with arms half again longer than they should be that’s been there to keep me warm through chores, snowmobiles rides, nights power went out and sledding with my kids. That super soft cashmere sweater that I bought as a treat for myself because it made me feel feminine and the gentle caress on the sleeve by my five year old son that used to say it was like petting a soft bunny.

Maybe for others it’s a commemorative shirt, full of signatures from a special event.

And here you thought those old favorite clothes were hanging out in that closet or drawer because they were comfortable! Go look again, I know there’s one piece in there full of memories that when you really look, you realize the calm hidden happiness.

What is it? Is it just one or many pieces?

Musical Therapy

Over the years, I’ve always been fascinated with the power of music. As a little girl, I would hide my shy self behind others and whisper the words to the song “If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands”

I can still feel how uplifting that song was for me. There were others too, specifically around holidays. Songs like Peter Cottontail and Jingle Bells were always favorite, happy songs.

Today, I use music to communicate, not just with others but myself. I have playlists for moods. Bad moods are more heavy metal. I even use music to concentrate with classical music.

I have a broad spectrum of music that makes me just want to get up and dance to the beat. Music that lifts me up and makes me sing at the top of my lunges or beat the crap out of my steering wheel.

A modern day twist on if you’re happy and you know it is:

There are so many songs out there with a snappy beat that make you want to dance around your living room! I have a couple now that I like to sing out loud (which is bad because I’m a horrible singer).

This one is one of those songs! It makes me happy because it’s all about digging out of that rut and letting nothing hold you down!

Music is such a powerful motivator. If you are anything like me, you might not listen to the radio but seek those songs important to you. Some of my besties are still listening to 50’s and 60’s songs, others classic rock and 90’s hairbands. Doesn’t matter as long as you connect and it makes you feel happy!

I like to focus on meaningful songs, so I’d love to hear which ones make you happy. Through this process, how awesome would it be if we could create a playlist via Spotify of all the songs that make us happy? 

It’s started here: The Happiness Songs of 2016

Comment, post, tweet or whatever else to add to the list! We will add all those songs and share an updated list after a couple days. If you tweet it up… Use the hashtag #inspiredhappiness16

Rock On Happy People, Rock On!

Negative Addiction

While doing some research this morning, I came upon some stuff that kind of has my mind wandering a path of thought provocation.

Last week in the blog post ADDICTIONS, we discussed the power of getting addicted and perpetuating negative emotions and focusing on the destination.

I want to expand a little on that Addiction to Negativity. Let’s put a reason behind why it’s so simple and easy for us to fall into that cycle.

According to psychology research, we are genetically and historically predispositioned to focus on those pinpoints of negativity. Why? Those negative emotion moments are our armor of protection. We wouldn’t want to be in a daze of serendipitous bliss and contentment standing in the middle of a highway, ultimately getting plowed down by a semi truck.

While negative emotions have usefulness, their power is exploited daily. It’s is our news stories because if it “bleeds, it reads” and in politics. It’s what sells! Take a break for a second. Go pull up your social media outlet, click on one news page. In the last ten posts, how many are positive, upbeat and uplifting? 

Take a look at what your friends are posting. Are they negative, inflammatory and full of negativity? 

We are surrounded by addicts. How we view this is up to us. We can either survive in the moment or we can thrive and inspire.

Breaking the addiction to negativity is going to take a little work and some serious mental power. We can’t change the world all at once but we can change the world one person at a time… Starting with ourselves!

Negativity is a society accepted heroin. It’s a drug that perpetually draws us deeper into a closed world. Now, what if you realized that there was more positivity (aka sober moments) in your day that negativity?

There’s the old adage “the good outweighs the bad” and it’s still true. We have much to be looking out for. It just takes a little bit to wean ourselves from the negativity addiction. 

First we need a positive emotion to focus on. That’s part of the reason we decided to host a 30 days of happiness for the month of September on our Facebook page. 

In the meantime, let’s talk positive emotions. The top ten (one being the most frequent) are:

  1. Joy
  2. Gratitude
  3. Serenity
  4. Interest
  5. Hope
  6. Pride
  7. Amusement
  8. Inspiration 
  9. Awe
  10. Love

If I asked you to create a portfolio based off one of those emotions, what would you include? Who’s photos or letters would be in there? Where would those photos be taken? What moments would you share?

If I asked you each day to add one moment of your day into a memory jar, what would it be?

I’ll have more on these topics in detail soon in future posts based off my research notes. The key points to breaking the negativity addiction is that you need to be actively involved and seeking the positive moments.

Positive Psycology isn’t a spectator sport. You have to get in the game and experience it for yourself.

Christopher Peterson 

Lessons learned on Raceday

While most of us are spending lazy days on Sunday’s, there is a collective group that calls it a work day.

That group is involved in racing. Hundred upon hundreds of people work these events we all watch in leisure.

Hidden within the televised events are some really good life lessons. Sort of hit me today while listening in on one of the driver’s radios.

The crew chief noticed that once the driver calmed down, he ran faster laps. When the comment was made directly to the driver, the response was it was all about clean air.

A little side note is that this driver didn’t pit on the last caution, so he was running on old tires too.

Where’s the lesson? Well, let’s break it down. It’s all about components that build a whole. New sneakers would have helped with greater comfort and made a little speed. A bad attitude alters ability. And lastly, a little bit of fresh air changes performance.

In racing, it’s all about team work. The driver must work with his crew, but also the car and maintain a calm mental status. The elites still have struggles with the issues. 

The issues demonstrated under the unique aspect of seeing the inside world of racing, just demonstrates that we all face issues under pressure and how we react impacts our performance. Our team is crucial to helping us make appropriate decisions and keep our mentality in check.

If you had to pick team members in relation to your life, who would you assign to the positions needed?

In NASCAR, you have six guys over the wall. Six guys that keep your sneakers going and your car the best it can be. You have a crew chief that helps you with the set up and keeps you focused on the future. You also have a spotter that keeps you from wrecking out.

You are the driver. Each of these positions keeps propelling you forward or backwards. Just as in these races, each member is crucial to what happens. You can’t do what you need to do alone or without a single one of those members. 

Top performing teams have the best working crew that’s uniquely performing to match together. The better they work together, the greater the end result.

What’s your strategy to earn championship status? Remember, their schedules are 38 weeks and it resets every year!

Whisked Eggs

There are some days that just have so many bad moments that I feel like I’ve beat beaten. Like someone is preparing to make scrambled eggs with my life and I’m at the stage of being just the whisked eggs in a bowl.

Here’s a new perspective: I started as an egg. Someone cracked my shell. Spun me around a few times, distorting me from my original state not once now but twice. What’s the next step? 

The frying pan or oven! Well crap!

When all is said and done, once I’m flavored with a little salt and pepper, maybe a little grated cheese or other toppings… Doesn’t that make me a better product for the tastebuds than my original raw, shelled version?

I know that hard days are really difficult. As a farm girl, battler of MS, survivor of abuse and more, I know all about bad days. There’s days I fall down (literally) 100 times and although it’s a struggle, I always get back up.

Why don’t we give up? Let’s take a look at our history. Back before evolution and our species was hunter/gatherers, each individual HAD to fight beast and nature to survive. Somewhere in there, during evolution, the genetic predisposition for a warrior gene emerges.

Today, how we define and utilize that warrior gene is much different and applied to different aspects. Today we call it determination. We fall down a 1,000 times and we stand back up 1,000.

How are we different than our hunter/gatherer ancestors? We have a greater knowledge of happiness and acceptance to change. We are better equipped to handle the mental challenges. We have counsellors, advisors, therapists and a higher intellect than ever before in known history.

What do you do if you fall down? I always answer it depends on how I land as to the sequences of events but ultimately the end result is ALWAYS the same! I stand back up. Sometimes there is support and other times there isn’t. Sometimes I sit and cry first. Sometimes I have to crawl to find something to grab onto. It doesn’t matter the time frame between landing face down on the ground to standing upright, I still get back up.

When days are bad and you feel beat up, just look at each issue as a stumble.

The coffee pot broke, stumble. But you didn’t get hurt and you are still kicking. The dog chewed apart your brand new sneaker, stumble. It was a waste of money for you but your dog has her favorite new chew toy and you see that your dog has depression anxiety issues because she loves you THAT much.

The list could go on and on. You are all smart and get my point by now. Bad times can either stay bad or end good. It’s all about our personal perspective and our warrior spirits at the end.

I’m going to go throw myself in the frying pan now. I’m ready to get this party started with all these new added ingredients. I think I’ll aspire to become an omelet so I get more tasty goodies!

Where’s the person who just became orange juice? Bread? Jelly? 

We all go through changes. It’s up to you whether you rot and become compost (can still be a positive end result if you need to start a new life away from your current situation) or become something new and improved!

Little side note: Sap from maple trees can be very bitter. With the right kind of attention, love and a little heat it transforms into Maple Syrup. It all depends on how it’s handled. Be aware of how you handle yourself and how others treat you.

Just some “food for thought”… Now who’s ready for pancakes and eggs?

We are all diamonds in the rough. This blob of stone:


That when cut and polished turns into a precious stone:


It’s all about perspective and how YOU see yourself!

Addictions 

Today I want to talk about addictions. No, not to drugs or alcohol but, emotional and verbal addictions.


When you talk to your BFF or your spouse, do you talk about the happiness and joys or do you vent?

I’ve done it myself. You fall into the spiral where this is wrong or that’s upsetting. Next thing you know you are on a bitch fest that lasts a week and every topic that makes you emotional in a negative way takes over your head, mouth and attitude.

I’ve been talking lately about just how bad that’s gotten with a great deal of people I talk to. Whining about poor financial situations, complaining about unrequited love, and to top it all off political bickering.

Where has all the conversation gone about things like I’m so proud of my kid or a kid saying how awesome a night at the movies was? How about how great a persons job is or how cool a new gadget is? How about the blessing of lifelong friends? Anything! (Insert crickets chirping here)

Facebook kindly gives a “today in memories” now. I go through mine on a regular basis to see how far I’ve come professionally. You can always tell when I had a bad day or I was frustrated about something. The posts express it. Don’t we all try to just connect? Expressing the negativity is more of an outlet to me to have someone, anyone tell me that it’s going to be okay. That the sun will still rise tomorrow and that this too shall pass.

But is it bringing me joy and happiness? To know I have positive friends yes! But is it helping ME? Not really!!!! Why?

It’s not helping because I’m not really solving anything and I’m sharing my misery with others. Sure I get comments that are positive but they only pat me on the back, give me a hug and don’t offer a solution.

What if I reworded negative phrases from “Today was miserable. Nothing is going right.” to “Today was a real challenge. I’m going to recharge tonight and try again tomorrow.”? The pattern of speech goes from miserable to optimistic. 

Here’s the next addiction:

Happiness isn’t found at the end of the journey, it’s found in the journey. Happiness is the Thelma to your Louise! It’s sitting right there next to you, stop ignoring it and giving it the silent treatment because today didn’t meet your expectations.

Who cares about money and status, fame and glory? I know public figures and let’s just say I’ve witness the misery of microphones being shoved in your face and cameras constantly pointed at you. Money and fame come with its own set of massively negative, over scrutinized moments.

One thing these people have taught me is the pure joy in being IN the moment. It might be a quiet day with friends at home to pulling pranks on that same group. It’s about sharing what you do have with others in the moment. It might be laughing at yourself over some stupid picture from almost a year ago.

Make a pact with yourself, for yourself to break these addictions. Stop taking the misery train. Stop thinking about the destination. Enjoy the moment my friends!