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5 Lessons I Learned from Going Broke

Photo by Tristan Duplichain Photography
There are people who are so poor, the only thing they have is money. ~Unknown

Three years ago I quit my job as a brand manager to become a freelance writer. I spent half of the first year travelling.

For the next two years I survived on the small income I made from my fledging freelance writing business, supplemented by savings. It’s been a struggle and things did not take off the way I would have hoped. This year money finally ran out.

It’s been a strange experience – having no money (except the little I make with writing and doing house-sitting on the side). Oddly enough, I’m not as freaked out as I thought I would be.

4 Ways to Stop Procrastinating

Photo by Susanne Nilsson
Procrastination is opportunity's assassin. ~Victor Kiam

After a nice walk on a Saturday, my friend told me she had some housework to do and was weighing her options.

“I really don’t want to do it now, but if I wait until Sunday night, it’ll put a damper on my whole weekend. It’s like I won’t really enjoy anything until it’s done.”

Boy, could I relate. I had been the world’s worst procrastinator in high school, somehow managing to pull off amazing feats of academic strength with all-nighters, but that all changed after an incident in college.

I stayed up late into the night finishing a paper and had to drive to class to hand it in. (Oh the days when professors wouldn’t accept email files!) On my way back, I was exiting off the freeway and a cyclist ran a red light in front of me. I was so exhausted I didn’t notice him right away.

How to Cope When Little Things Overwhelm You

Photo by 9042004 Duke
It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are the most important. ~Arthur Conan Doyle

I have always been wary of the little things in life. The little things can steal my serenity, rob me of peace of mind and kill my joy.

At the same time, I have been aware of the little things in my life:

  • The smell of freshly brewed coffee
  • The overheard laughter of a stranger
  • A spider web glistening with morning dew

How can I be defeated by little things or more likely, how can I LET little things defeat me? I identify with the concept of Chinese Water Torture as a method of ultimate despair — the premise being that drops of water fall onto the forehead of a restrained individual and ultimately render them insane.

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.

6 Tips for Learning Hard Lessons

Photo by Felipe Neves
God gives us each a song. ~Ute proverb

Often I am woken up by the songs of coyotes howling in the predawn. It might be a single, mournful wail, but more often the entire desert hillside comes alive with the yipping chorus.

It’s a beautiful, eerie song that evokes something ancient and primal, almost like a genetic memory stretching back to the beginning of time.

As well as hear them, I also see them frequently. Wild and furtive, a coyote darts across the path during my morning walk, where I see her hiding among the sage and bitter brush watching me with wary eyes.

I wonder what she thinks. If it’s pure survival instinct, why doesn’t she run? Has the pack come to recognize me over the past two years as I walk several times a week along Rattlesnake Trail that winds up the hill by a cattle ranch, the same territory they occupy?

3 Ways to Know What You Want

Photo by Kurt Budiarto
If you don't know where you are going, you will probably end up somewhere else. ~Lawrence J. Peter

I was riding in a taxi cab with a few coworkers years ago after a long day working a convention when I said something I thought was basic knowledge.

“You’ve got to know what you want in life,” I said matter-of-factly. “I think the reason so many people are unhappy is because they’re busy chasing things they don’t even want.”

One of my coworkers laughed and called me a guru. I took the compliment. But she also said this:

“If that’s our problem, then fixing it should be easy, right? We just need to figure out what we want.”

In saying that, she’s sent me on a bit of a quest these past years. How do I know what I want? How can I help other people figure it out too?

7 Ways to Escape Feeling Overwhelmed

Photo by Steven Ritzer
Remember how far you’ve come, not just how far you have to go. You are not where you want to be, but neither are you where you used to be. ~Rick Warren

Have you ever felt so overwhelmed that it felt like a ball and chain locked to your ankle, keeping you down? I know I have.

If you’re imprisoned by overwhelm, it can kill your productivity and steal your happiness. Feeling panicked and stressed affects not only your mental health but your physical health as well.

Here are seven ways I have found that really work to unlock your ball and chain.

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.

5 Reasons to Stop Ignoring Negative Emotions

Photo by Arif Akhtar
To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself. ~Thich Nhat Hanh

I’ll never forget the first time I allowed myself to say, “I hate him.” I discovered the feeling during my meditation time. Seeing it there in front of me made me realize I needed to stop pretending it wasn’t true.

My dearest friend heard it first.

“I hate him,” I said with a smile. Not exactly the hateful expression you’d expect, but it was the most liberating statement I’d ever made, and I was so happy about it!

Always before I’d tried to reconcile myself to his presence. To be the bigger person, and not harbor hate in my heart. But through all my striving, I hated him still, and I’d just been lying to myself about it.

5 Tips to Increase Your Emotional IQ

Photo by Phil King
You can’t calm the storm, so stop trying. What you can do is calm yourself. The storm will pass. ~Timber Hawkeye

Have you ever felt so angry you lashed out and said words you regret? Felt so hurt, you couldn’t talk past the lump in your throat?

So frustrated, you weren’t able to form a coherent sentence? Or tried to communicate something important, and it landed like a dead fish?

I’ve been there. In my teens, I was a tempestuous young woman. Hormones had me flipping from rage to despair in a heartbeat. I sprayed emotions around me like a machine gun sprays bullets.

I couldn’t even talk to my then-boyfriend about anything important without losing control. I frustrated even myself.

So I learned to keep emotions under lock and key. I rarely expressed how I felt, and aimed to just keep the peace and ensure everyone was happy.

Except me.

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