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How to Be in the Moment

Photo by Máté Holdosi
Today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday. ~Dale Carnegie

I had been picturing the day for weeks, adjusting to the changing date, trying to avoid the palpable feeling of desperation that sat heavy on my chest when I thought about the long months ahead of us.

It was deployment number two. This one was decidedly more dangerous and carried with it more uncertainty, longer periods without communication and far more anxiety than deployment number one.

Military deployments, and the period leading up to them, are a constant wrestle with time — you dig your heels in, praying for time to creep forward at a snail’s pace, then you wish for the clock to speed through the next seven to 12 months of your life.

It leaves all those involved in a constant state of being out of the moment, thinking of the past and then looking forward to the future.

But while the tendency during this time is to discount the present in favor of the future or the past, it also opens the door to awakening to the now like few circumstances do.

How to Handle Difficult Relationships

Photo by Jimmy Álvarez
Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness. How do you know this is the experience you need? Because this is the experience you are having at this moment. ~Eckhart Tolle

A few years ago, after months of turmoil and a constant tug of war spurred by different morals and beliefs, I walked away from a 10-year friendship. Looking back now I am completely at peace with the decision, but at the time, I was hurt, confused and angry at the turn of events that had brought us to that place.

When things had begun their steady downhill tumble, I pulled her aside and voiced my concerns, convinced she would change and I would once again be comfortable participating in the relationship.

In my eyes everything depended on her changing. Instead, the behavior continued and I began slowly backing away, telling everyone around me, “I just don’t understand why she’s doing this to me.”

The more I played into the truth of that one statement, the more I felt betrayed and completely out of control. By that time, the only choice I had was to remove myself from the situation and attempt to return to a place of balance and peace.

While I’ve had few situations since that time that have completely knocked me off balance, I read something the other day that, even now, was able to shed light on what might have been going on in my life at that time to bring such intense conflict into my experience.

4 Ways to Keep the Faith

Photo by Elisabetta Lugari
Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it. Always work with it, not against it. ~Eckhart Tolle

The past few weeks, spurred by anxiety that sits heavy on my chest, I’ve been exerting all of my energy going against the flow of life. I’ve been operating from a mindset that says if I try a little harder, if I take control a little more, than things can be how they are meant to be.

Long distance relationships — i.e. overseas in a combat zone — are nothing new to me. I endured two deployments in the four years I spent as a military girlfriend and another two deployments when my boyfriend went back overseas as a private contractor.

As a veteran returning to a tough job market with skills geared towards operating in a combat zone, the move to overseas contracting was logical, although not much easier.

Two deployments in, he returned home with the goal of finding work that would allow him to stay in the United States. Four months later, any hope we had in that plan dried up. Jobs just weren’t all that easy to come by.

As he broke the news that another deployment might be his only option, my heart buckled. All the faith I had that things would pan out, that we wouldn’t have to go through this again, flew out the window.

6 Tips for Finding Happiness

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Happiness is really a deep harmonious inner satisfaction and approval. ~Francis Wilshire

As humans, interconnected in more ways than we realize, we place a great deal of pressure on each other to act in a certain way. The belief is that if other people act in a way that better suits us and our needs, it’ll be easier to find peace and happiness.

When I was in high school and entirely consumed by my relationships with my peers, any type of conflict — especially the kind that made me believe someone else was in control — shook me to my core.

So when a ten-year friendship hit rocky ground over a difference in opinion about my boyfriend (something I can’t help but laugh about now), I was devastated. I always wanted others to agree with my actions and decisions, and when they didn’t, I searched for ways to convince them that I was right.

I remember brooding over this particular fight for hours, recounting the details to anyone willing to listen, and impatiently waiting for the apology phone call. I thought, If she just calls and admits she was wrong, I can stop thinking about this and move on. But if she doesn’t, our friendship won’t recover.

4 Ways to Feel More Loved

Photo by Sergio Otero
The most important thing in this world is to learn to give out love and let it come in. ~Morrie Schwartz

Every school day, mere seconds after the lunch bell would ring, my peers and I would pile into long tables in the cafeteria and eagerly examine the contents of our lunch boxes. Aside from the much anticipated fifteen minutes of recess that would follow, most saw it as the most exciting part of the day.

Not for me.

I already knew what was in my bag, seeing as how I was the one who packed it. And, starting from the young age of six, my main goal in packing my lunch had more to do with speed then creating a culinary masterpiece.

My mom wouldn’t spend an extra five minutes cutting off the crusts of my PB&J or writing me a note on a napkin reminding me to have a great day. That just wasn’t her thing.

5 Tips to Communicate Better

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When deeds and words are in accord, the whole world is transformed. ~Chuang Tzu

After muscling through a variety of work-related changes, I began to grow frustrated with the upheaval and lack of respect that I perceived I was getting from my coworkers.

I felt as if I possessed the skills required to do the job I was hired to do, but my ideas weren’t receiving the attention they deserved and often times, my presence went completely unnoticed.

The experience pushed me to grow a thick skin, a kind of “I don’t care what you think” attitude. And I was ready to battle anyone that attempted to question my competence or step on my toes.

So when a new team member asked to meet with me after a few incidences where we passive aggressively tried to redo each other’s work, I spent the night going over my responses to the attacks I was sure he was about to wage.

I was confident that I knew what was coming. And I was ready to fight.

How to See Today In New Light

Photo by Christopher Allison Photography
Change is the only constant. ~Heraclitus

I was constantly requesting change but viewing everything with the same lens and mindset that had created what I didn’t want in the first place.

I was blind to the changes that had occurred and were constantly occurring, caught in a battle between the reality I perceived and the reality that actually existed.

Often times this is how we handle our relationships — we spend an exorbitant amount of time pushing for positive change, but our attention has been stuck for so long on what’s wrong that we don’t adjust when things begin shifting and moving in a different direction.

We may be living and breathing in the current moment, but we are constantly reacting to past circumstances, past hurts and past disappointments. And despite how fluid and constantly changing things are — and we’ve all been witness to this — we don’t operate from a place that recognizes this fact of life.

How to Get What You Want

Photo by Tom Merton
As for the future, your task is not to foresee it but to enable it. ~Antoine de Saint-Exupery

One of the first things I did after being dealt the ego-bruising, heart-wrenching blow of a breakup was to reinforce my support system.

I leaned heavily on my family and confided in a few close friends that I felt comfortable sharing the insanity of my outbursts with.

My 4-year-old niece reconfirmed my need to do this when, in the middle of my sobbing, she gave me a hug and simply said, “It’s ok. We’re your family and we’ll always take care of you.”

Nothing else seemed more true in that moment.

How to Succeed Through Acceptance

Photo by Antoine Robiez
Of course there is no formula for success except, perhaps, an unconditional acceptance of life and what it brings. ~Arthur Rubinstein

I’ve spent a great deal of my life trying to figure out what I should do next, determining where I stand in relation to those around me, creating a harsh comparison between where I am and where I should be.

In these moments of contemplation, I’ve always found a way to diminish the beauty of where I stand today. What is out there always seems a little brighter, a little more impressive than what already surrounds me.

And this way of thinking and interacting with the world plants the belief that action is king — action is the only way to change and change is the only way from point A to point B.

But what if you’re supposed to stay at point A for a little while?

4 Ways to See the World Through New Eyes

Photo by Julia Caesar
If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is: Infinite. ~William Blake

Working from home, while convenient, is often times punctuated by bouts of loneliness. To counteract that, I often spend hours working from a local coffee shop frequented by a group of regulars.

Today, sitting in my normal spot, I struck up a conversation with a man working next to me. We spoke in brief detail about our work and the weather and eventually about where we were from.

As a Colorado transplant from New York, he said, in short, that it seemed as if people here tended to be outwardly mean or judgmental without being provoked.

I was slightly surprised by the observation, simply because I had found that there was no way to make such a general statement about a group based solely on their geographical location.

To me, geography determined what hobbies you partake in or even the clothing style you learn toward, but personality traits were determined by something else entirely.

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