Small Changes

At the very end of last year, I made a small change.  This wasn’t even a New Year’s resolution – I didn’t even start it intentionally.  I just like coffee with some milk or half and half in it, and simply ran out.  So I stopped drinking coffee and switched back to tea.

Truth be told, I never drank coffee (regularly anyway) until a year and a half ago.  Now I had really acquired a taste for it and was convinced that my morning energy depended on it – just one normal size mug of coffee.  It seemed entirely reasonable.  But going back to tea really wasn’t that big of a switch, except for the caffeine level.

So when there was milk again, I continued to opt for tea instead of coffee – I even allowed myself to have two cups of tea per day (if needed) since that’s still less caffeine than a cup of coffee.  And it’s been great.  I’m sleeping much better and not waking up in the middle of the night, suddenly finding myself completely awake at 3am for an hour or two.  For me, it’s been just enough caffeine to help me channel my energy and focus.

So this small change has made a big impact, and brought me full circle back to myself.  Starting my day with one cup of tea in the morning.  All to myself.

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May you find or rediscover the small things that are so helpful for you.

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Spotlight on Michael Mico

For my ninth spotlight piece, trying to highlight others that inspire, I would like to share Michael Mico.

Michael Mico

I met Michael while working at a retirement community.  He is hilarious, kind, caring and truly himself. Even years later, while we no longer work together or even live in the same state, his words and how he presents himself really strike me to pay attention.  Honesty. Kindness. Forgiveness.  These are beautiful things that we need so much more of in the world.

I am particularly struck from his post on Facebook right before the New Year:

“I’m walking into 2018 with a clear heart and mind. If you owe me, don’t worry about it. You’re welcome. If you wronged me, it’s all good. A great lesson was learned. If you’re angry with me, you’ve won. If you aren’t speaking to me, it’s cool, I wish you well. Please know I want you to be GREAT. If our friendship didn’t work out, it wasn’t meant to be. I hope if you feel that I wronged you, please accept my apology and may peace be unto you. Life is too short to have any pent up anger or hold grudges. Instead, it’s my intention to always forgive, to go high, and never go low. Here’s to 2018 and you!”

How wonderful would it be if others in your life shared the same sentiment?  How wonderful would it be if you could also share it?  May he inspire you to live and give fully, too.

 L: How have you developed such a positive attitude?  What has helped you along the way?

M: Developing a positive attitude is not that hard. You just have to WANT to develop a positive attitude. Don’t get me wrong, there are times when it can be challenging, but it’s all about choices, wanting to make a better life for yourself.

I look at my own personal struggles as a way to help me. Years ago, I blamed others for why I wasn’t happy. I wasn’t happy because I didn’t have a career I wanted, I wasn’t happy because I wasn’t making money, I wasn’t happy because I was single, I wasn’t happy because of the situation I was in. It wasn’t until a few years later (in my early 30’s) that I finally realized that I WAS THE ONE WHO WAS IN CHARGE OF MY OWN HAPPINESS, and if I wanted to be happy, I had to do something about it. When I finally came to that realization, my outlook started to change. I stopped blaming others, and took responsibility, and the only one who was to blame was me, and me alone. I had to change my way of thinking— I had to start thinking positive. It’s okay to have negative thoughts and feel sad, but the most important thing is to NOT get stuck there, dust yourself up and keep going. There were times when I was feeling low and I had to remind myself that I had a lot going on for me, that I was in school and I was about to start nursing school. If it is something you really want in life, you NEVER give up, and you work hard for it and sacrifice what needs to be done to get what you want.

Being positive is a choice. Think about this— would you want to be around someone who is negative most of the time?

L: What are your passions – and how did you discover them?

M: Food. I love food. Back in 2007, I was kicked off the respiratory therapy program because I didn’t pass a final by 1.5 points, and when I tried to save myself, the program director said no. I was attending a community college at that time and I just wanted to graduate and I had been in community college for quite some time, so I looked into culinary arts at the community college. I enjoyed cooking and trying new dishes, and I felt that it was an easy way to get a degree. While in the culinary program, I enjoyed every minute of it, learning different cooking techniques and I especially learned how to make cakes, pies, and breads. Unfortunately now, I don’t have that much time to make cheesecake (and I have been told that I make a REALLY good New York-style cheesecake), let alone meal prep, but I will soon!

I also enjoy the arts. Growing up, I was involved in music, choir mostly, and I was also involved with band and orchestra from junior high up until my sophomore year in high school. For those that know me, I enjoy singing. I am always singing or listening to music, its a cheap way to make yourself happy.

Another passion I have is meeting new people. I love meeting people from all walks of life! We are all different and that is what makes us unique!

L: What are the things (people, quotes, etc.) you live by?

M: I remember when I was young, I watched the 2nd Home Alone movie, and the homeless lady told Kevin McAllister (played by McCauly Culkin) to “never make promises you can’t keep.” I do my best to live by that.

The song “Unwritten” by Natasha Bedingfield is a song that I absolutely love and I have been inspired by. That song is about just going out there and living your life, because no one else can do it for you. There’s a part that she sings, “Reaching for something in the distance, so close you can almost taste it.” My cover photo on facebook was inspired by that part of the song. In less than six months, I will be moving to Dallas, and I have been wanting to move there for the last four years. My goal is to move there, and you can see me reaching my hand out because my goal of moving there soon is within my reach.

A quote by Matthew Hussey— “Believe in your self-worth, and everything good in life will follow.” That has helped me as well.

L: What’s something we (i.e. public) should all know about you?

M: I’m outgoing and friendly by nature, but believe it or not, I can actually get shy with people I don’t know, especially if I’m in a place where I don’t know anyone. If I feel nervous about starting a conversation with someone, then that means I’m rusty and I need to work on that. Believe it or not, Michael Mico three, four years ago would NOT recognize the Michael Mico now. Two years ago in early 2016, I came across a video either on YouTube or Facebook by Matthew Hussey called “Have You Ever Felt “Not Good Enough?”, and in the video, he talks about seeing a cute guy across the room, but you stopped yourself because you felt that you either don’t look good enough or not dressed enough, or whatever. Matthew Hussey also wrote a book called “How To Get The Guy,” and though his advice was written for women, I have read the book and made it work for me. That video changed my life, and it changed my life FOR THE BETTER! After watching that video, I started to look back on my life and I realized how much I missed out on, not just with dating, but with jobs or making new friends, simply because I was insecure that the other guy wouldn’t like me. I didn’t bother applying for a position at work because I thought that there were others who can do a better job than me. Though it may be true, I have dismissed myself even before the other person or potential employer could even give me a chance. After I watched that video, I thought about what he said for about a week or two, and I said to myself, “enough is enough, just go for it!” And ever since then,I have become more outgoing and more fun. Of course, I was nervous, I would just strike up any conversation at a bar or at a party, and if the other person is not interested, the worst thing the other person can do is say “no,” and when that happens, then you move on! My close friends noticed this change and they were impressed at how I was able to talk to anyone. Mind you, I was still nervous when it comes to talking to new people, but it was becoming easier for me to do it. In November 2016 when I was visiting family and friends in Dallas, I was at a bar with a friend of mine and I saw this one guy who was all by himself. We would make eye contact and smile with each other and say hi in passing, but I was scared to go up and say hello. My friend who was with me encouraged me to just go up to him. I remembered the video I watched earlier that year, and I told myself to just do it, and I did! I went up to him, started a conversation, and we hit it off! The outcome of that night is we became friends and we still remain friends, even to this day. That night was another turning point for me, that I really shouldn’t be afraid of talking to anybody. In 2017, some of my friends were saying, “who is this guy?” (referring to me because I have become a social butterfly and have become more outgoing than usual.) At this point, I was just doing my own thing, keeping busy with work and when I would go to Dallas every month to visit friends and family, I would just hang out with my friends and have fun, and people who I thought wouldn’t have ever taken the chance to ever notice me, turns out they DID notice me! They would say that I’m fun to be around with and I am a wonderful guy, all because of the positive vibe I was giving off. I would say that the “Michael back then” would be very proud of how the “Michael now” turned out.

L: January is International Creativity Month.  How will you be celebrating?

M: Unfortunately I only have one day off this January and the rest of the days, I will be working, but last month, I have made the decision to move to Dallas by July 2018. When I do move, I will need something to occupy my time so I don’t end up sitting around the house bored. I have started to do some photography, as my form of artwork and creativity. I love black and white pictures. I also love taking candid shots of people, thats when I get the best results. As I was saying, I don’t have any time this month to take pictures, but I will when I get a chance. Those pictures will also become my artwork, and I will frame them and hang them on the wall.

L: What’s something most people don’t know about you?

M: That I’m a hopeless romantic. Yes, I believe in a love that last forever, I believe that there is someone out there for everybody. Unfortunately in today’s times, love is becoming harder to find, but I believe that if you make your values and standards known, someone will come along. But until then, I will be happily single, and there’s really nothing wrong with that!

L: What inspires you?

M: One word, and that is “hope.” I hope for a better future, not just for me, but for everyone. I hope that tomorrow will be a better day than it was yesterday. Also, I inspire me. “I” inspire me to be positive, to do good, to do something that I have been wanting to do, to be happy.

L: What has been your most recent act of kindness that either you gave or received?

M: Kindness can come in several forms. My act of kindness is telling the truth. I wouldn’t be a good person if I just told the person what they wanted to hear, I tell them what they need to hear. I’m only referring to my closest friends, I wouldn’t be completely honest with someone I barely knew.

L: What have you learned recently?

M: A few weeks ago, I was told by several people that I was a “genuine person.” I never really thought about that until recently when I was driving home from Dallas. I thought about it and I guess I really am genuine. I try to see people for what’s inside their heart and mind. I try to be kind to others, and being kind will get me far in life.

The last thing I want to share with others is to “know your worth,” because no one else can do that for you, except you.

If you’d like to continue to see what Michael is up to, you can follow him on social media:

Fire

People don’t seem to like anger.  Not that I’m a big fan of having it/being with my own or having it thrown at me from others.  But it happens.  And for reasons – all grounded in truth, even if it’s misdirected or comes out in a less than constructive way.  Sometimes the truth is not obvious or visible, and sometimes it is.  Sometimes it takes a little time to sit with it to figure it out.

No matter how anger initially is dealt with (because sometimes trying our best fails in the moment and comes out all kinds of wrong), reflection can bring something positive about the experience – even if it’s just growth and learning.  Imagine anger as fire.  Fire isn’t always huge and hot.  It isn’t always out of control.  Fire can sometimes be the embers – quiet, forgotten about, and the strongest heat that will either go out with time, explode if put too close to something flammable, or be cared for by water.  Fire can keep us warm; fire can get us to leave spaces we’re no longer meant to be.

Sometimes it burns.  Sometimes it’s a guiding light.

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Whatever fire is going on in your life, let it be illuminating.  Learn from it.  Let it help you somehow towards a better direction.

Daily Goals

As we draw near to the start of a new year, I’m thinking about goals.  I’ll take all the time I can get before the clock strikes midnight to put my list together for next year, but I will celebrate myself for a daily goal I have kept for (about to be) five years.

journal

I never kept a journal before my sister gave me this gift (at which she gleefully reminded me that I will be in a new decade by the time I finish this gift).  And truth be told, it’s less of a journal and more of a question a day – but over a five year period.  The questions are cyclical every year, so after you respond you have a chance to reflect on how you have grown.  I try to actually answer the questions daily, so that means I am often doing that and playing a little catch up for the week as I likely will forget a night or two here and there.

The funny thing about reviewing your life via a journal or a series of questions is noticing the similarity and growth over the years.  For instance:

January 3: What are you reading right now?  Over the past five years, I’ve read sweet stories about cats, nonfiction on elephants, spoken word poetry caught on pages, and books about food and nutrition.  This really captures my variety of interests and love of reading all different things.

March 18: In three words, describe your spirituality.  Over the past five years, I’ve mostly written “We’re all connected” or something about love or how people matter.  It’s a nice reflection to see I’m guided by good despite all the bumps, trenches, and bear traps along the way.

May 20: What’s the craziest thing you’ve done for love?  (my answers below)

  • Move to Texas?
  • Plan a wedding while in grad school
  • Above (both)
  • Plan a wedding while in grad school and working
  • Move halfway across the country twice

Ah, to be in love.  It’s wild and beautiful thing.  Do all the things.  Make all the memories – good or bad, they become great stories.  People are worth it.

August 12: What is your resolution for tomorrow?  Over the past five years, it’s varied from seeing friends, relaxing, exercising, to simply trying to have a good day at work.  Daily resolutions can be helpful – just one.  To help you refocus as well as see a tangible goal and being able to cross it off your list.

November 28: What was the last risk you took?  Over the past five years, four of the answers have been regarding work.  Applying to jobs, starting new jobs, moving without a new job, and switching careers.  I don’t typically think of myself as a risk-taker since I analyze everything and plan as much as I can, but when I do, I really leap.

So take some time and reflect on the year, what you need, what you want, and what you realistically can do.  2018 is going to be a great year for both of us.

 

Smile

When you’re taking it one day at a time, one breath at a time,or one step at a time, remember to pause and look at what you’re doing.

The world is smiling at your progress.

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I am delighted by how often I find positivity in unexpected places.  I am so happy to collect these moments in my mind, and sometimes in my phone for a reminder in the future.

Kindness is all around us.  You will find it if you are looking – even as you walk hurriedly down sidewalks- for the potential of something wonderful.

Snow

Over the weekend, it snowed.  It wasn’t the fun flurries or fluffy wonderland that you hope for, but it wasn’t too slushy either.  Mostly, it was the first snow of winter.

Snow has a lot of happy memories for me.  Mostly of sledding down hills for hours with friends.  Snow has a lot of adult responsibilities for me.  Mostly of shoveling and having candles on hand for power outages.

This weekend, I decided to let my two selves meet with snow.  I set out on adult responsibilities – errands to the post office and library- but did them on foot so I could enjoy seeing the beauty of snow.

Snow typically helps us slow down.  Mostly because we’re using caution, but sometimes, simply to stop and let it soak in.  And not just the wet kind of snow.

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Sometimes snow freezes time.  If I didn’t stroll around on foot to invite my inner child out, I never would have seen this.  How does a bird become frozen and wind up in the middle of a sidewalk with no tree branches nearby?  I still don’t know but it has created room for curiosity to wonder about things that I’ve never thought about before.

It has since thawed with no remaining snow to be seen.  I still intend on taking my inner child out for a walk this coming weekend to see what I will discover on my next strolling adventure.

Energize

There are some days that I have an unreasonable amount of energy.  I wonder if this is in part due to no longer commuting by foot.  So I’m finding myself pouring energy into the endless to-do’s, the holiday prep, but also in the daily duties that I enjoy.

By which I mean cooking.  I really love to cook (and to eat).  I try to cook healthy, or at least on the healthier spectrum in general.  I try to cook real food and from scratch, even though that sometimes means most of my time after work is spent cooking and eating, with the following day cleaning up all the dishes.

Earlier this week, I just couldn’t stop cooking.  So I made all the food that I meant to on the weekend, but after a full workday.

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A whole chicken, sweet potatoes, carrots, onions, garlic, broccoli, and mashed turnips.

Now when I have an unreasonable amount of energy, I can further craft my cooking into carrot-chicken soup with a bone broth.  Or rest my feet while I read.  Or plot what I still need to prepare for the holidays so I can be done next week.

How do you energize?

Gratitude Check: Positions

I’m grateful for some many things this month.  My life has truly had many positive shifts within, around, above, and beyond my boundaries.  One big gratitude this week is literally standing.

I work in an office like many people but was recently given an adjustable stand/sit desk.  I’ve wanted one for many years but previous workplaces saw no value or had no funding for ergonomics, small or large.  I’m so happy to be standing for more of my day than before.  I am already thinking about how to add in some exercise or stretches while standing instead of my usual slouchy stare across the screen.

Mostly, I am so grateful to be in a new position.  In all the literal ways.

 

Birthday

One of my favorite birthday wishes comes from a friend at college.

I’m so glad you were born!

And I am.  I’m so grateful to be part of this thing called life and to be moving forward into a new decade.  I’m actually excited about getting older and all the wisdom and changes that come with it.

One of the things that I rediscovered this past year was my passion for reading – and that I’m a fast reader.  I gave myself the goal of reading one book a month last year, so from December 2016 to today, I have not only met my personal birthday challenge, but really surpassed my own expectations.  I started small – literally just trying to finish one book a month- and it grew.  I discovered it’s easy to stop reading magazines when your goal is to finish books, that taking public transportation allows you to read more across a month (or several), and that once you start, it’s kind of addictive to read.  Oh, and libraries and little free libraries are your friend.

So here you go – everything I finished:

December

  • The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
  • US(a) by Saul Williams (half-this was started in November)
  • The Buddha and the Borderline by Kiera Van Gelder (half-this was started in November)

January

  • Breaking the Vicious Cycle: Intestinal Health Through Diet by Elaine Gottschall
  • Shoebox: Some of the Best (from America’s Funniest Card Company)

February

  • Wouldn’t Take Nothing For My Journey Now by Maya Angelou
  • Viktorium (unpublished draft) by Peter von Harten

March

  • The Mood Cure  by Julia Ross (read over a few months)
  • Yes Please by Amy Poehler
  • My Life in Black and White by Natasha Friend

April

  • Grunt by Mary Roach
  • Boundaries by Anne Katherine

May

  • Making Contact by Virginia Satir
  • Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist

June

  • One Throne by Rae Hoffman Jager
  • Common Sense Pregnancy by Jeanne Faulkner (read over several months)

July

  • An Adultish Toolkit by Kathryn Evans
  • Why Pandas Do Handstands and Other Curious Truths About Animals by Augustus Brown (read over several months)

August

  • Daylight: A Daybook of Spiritual Guidance by Rumi
  • The Diet Cure by Julia Ross
  • The Whole30: The 30 Day Guide for Total Health and Food Freedom by Melissa Hartwig and Dallas Hartwig
  • The Detox Strategy: Vibrant Health in 5 Easy Steps by Brenda Watson

September

  • My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrick Backman
  • Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler

October

  • Drown by Junot Diaz (read over several months)
  • For One More Day by Mitch Albom
  • Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert
  • The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield
  • Choosing Hope: Moving Forward from Life’s Darkest Hours by Kaitlin Roig-DeBellis with Robin Gaby Fisher
  • Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin
  • It Didn’t Start With You by Mark Wolynn (read over several months)

November

  • What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami
  • Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling
  • Looking for Alaska by John Green
  • We Sinners by Hanna Pylväinen

While I won’t record all that I read in the next year to come, I already have several stacks of books to keep myself motivated and curious.

May you share your words.

Fall

When I think about fall, I think about slowing down.  No matter how much I associate that slowness in my head, it does not create a slowness in my life.  What I’m coming to realize from last year and this year, fall is the change of season that stirs up new creative and exciting things.  Given I’m born in November, maybe I should’ve been aware of this already.  Maybe fall is my season and not spring, which I have previously claimed to love more.  Maybe now that my allergies aren’t so bad, I will enjoy fall more.

Last year, I posted about falling into the right things, and it is true again.

I finally fell into the right thing.

The right job.

The right location.

The right people.

The right commute.

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Sometimes we need to keep falling to realize when things are right and when things aren’t.

And by falling, I do most certainly mean working very hard to actualize your goals – it’s just that sometimes when it all happens at one time, it kind of feels like fall magic and not the months of work you put in finally paying off.

What has fall changed for you?