Inspirational Shout-Outs

I promised I’d share with you another inspiring blog post from last week. I was reading some new articles from Problogger and stumbled upon this post from Jon Morrow.

The basic gist, for those of you that won’t click on that link to read it yourself, is that he quit his job that he hated, started a blog and social media consulting business and moved to a condo on the beach in Mexico, where he now works, quite successfully. Oh yeah, and he was born with a fatal disease and is paralyzed from the neck down. That’s right! You have to read his story. It’s truly an inspiration to anyone who feels that they can’t possibly live their dreams. If he can do it, the rest of us have NO excuse not to do it.

After you read that post, you must read this one about the disease that he has and his mother’s refusal to let him die.

There’s no question where Jon got his tenacity and drive from. His mother never looked at him like he had one foot in the grave even though his doctor did. She didn’t have lower expectations for him. She never gave up in fighting for his life and demanding greatness from him; therefore, he could never give up on himself either.

“How could I possibly look my mother and father and all of the others who have sacrificed so much for me in the eye and tell them, ‘I can’t’? I couldn’t bear it. The shame of dishonoring their sacrifice by giving up would poison my soul.

If my mother could ignore a doctor who would condemn me to death, then I can ignore my inner demons who tell me I’ll never make it as a writer.

Not to imply that I’m unique, because I’m not. Yes, I’ve had to overcome a lot of adversity, but so does every creative person who wants their ideas to see the light of day.”

The fact that he doesn’t see himself as different than anyone else with a dream amazes me. I have no reason to complain…ever. There is no reason for not going after what you want, no matter how big or small it is.

I am privileged to know a few people personally that are examples of this same tenacity and persistence. My good buddy ArtSea, who I have mentioned numerous times here, is living her dream with her hubby. Her personal blog is always entertaining and insightful and her charter business is taking off (side note – if you are looking for a Caribbean vacation, this is the absolute BEST way to see the Virgin Islands). She is a constant source of inspiration and encouragement for me.

I also have the privilege of knowing 2 of the greatest photographers in NH. Birch Blaze Photography is a husband and wife team who have, in a very short time, established themselves true artists in their craft (check out some of their work on their blog). They’ve been featured in bridal magazines and I’m certain they are on their way to being the top requested wedding photographers in New England (they will travel as well so that may extend past New England!). Their style is amazing, and that’s not just my opinion. Enough other folks feel the same way that they are now able to live their dream. They no longer need other jobs to support their photography. Their photography supports them just fine. I was fortunate to know them before they knew each other and not only are they 2 of the most caring, sincerely kind people I know but they are 2 more examples of people that inspire me by working hard at what they love and making their business a success.

The list could keep going but this post is long enough. Those are my inspirational shout-outs for today. I hope you enjoy and are as inspired as I am.

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Oprah’s Farewell

I admit it. I watch Oprah. I remember the early days of her show, before the 4pm time slot. It was entertaining, sure, but I never fully appreciated who she was and what she did back then.

I just watched the 3rd last Oprah show ever (yes, they’ve gone a bit overboard with counting down the last episodes). As I watched celebrity after celebrity sing her praises (literally-great song, Beyonce) and everyday people share how Oprah changed their life, it hit me how much of an effect she has had on people, male and female. A self-made Billionaire (that’s right, with a “B”), from humble beginnings, whose goal in life has been to serve others. And she has succeeded beyond anyone’s expectations. She brings awareness to issues that need it and shares with us her “A-ha” moments so that we might find our own.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NSk1DWnW25A

Don’t get me wrong, I am not a die-hard Oprah follower. I don’t preach from the Church of Oprah. Oprah is just a human, and not one to be followed in that way. But I have had my own “A-ha” moments that have been directly caused by something I saw on her show. So, I do occasionally peruse her magazine. 4pm is “Oprah time” at work, much to the dismay of the men in the room. And I admit I have watched a couple of shows on her network.

She’s covered every topic under the sun, given away tens of thousands of dollars worth of “Favorite Things” (“you get a car and YOU get a car…), and no one can dispute her interviewing skills. Like her or not, one can’t help but admire her work ethic, her persistence, her focus, her demand for excellence and her zeal for making life better for others. Those are qualities we can all learn from. She has been a beacon of positivity in an otherwise uninspired collection of TV programming. She is proof that if you set out to help others, you will succeed in life. You will be well taken care of and will be able to help even more. It’s a fantastic cycle that she is living to the 1000th degree.

So, I bid you farewell Oprah. I know you’ll still be around but 4pm won’t be the same without you. You will be missed…

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Best Day Ever!

Last week produced some fantastic blog posts in the cyber world.  The first one was sent to me by my good buddy ArtSea.  It was a post by Green Smoothie Girl

In her words:

“I have a group of friends I play a game with called “Best Day Ever.” When something good (or bad–that you decide is Perfect in its learning opportunities!) happens—we find that moment in every day that makes it the Best Day Ever—we text each other.”

Find reasons in every day that make that day the Best Day Ever.  Create a small group that sends each other their “Best Day Ever” (BDE) moments each day.  I love this idea.  It’s a great way to shift your focus from the bad in your day to the good.  If you’re looking for those perfect moments, you’re more likely to find them.

What’s my BDE moment for today?  Flowers in my yard are finally starting to bloom despite the less than stellar weather we’ve been having.  I’m writing this while jammin’ to some groovy reggae.  Later, my hubby and I are going to begin work on our new website – more on that later!  Yesterday was a true BDE.  We had sunshine for the first time in over a week here and I spent the day with some of my oldest and dearest friends at a baby shower.  There was a moment where we were all sitting outside in PERFECT weather, surrounded by freshly mowed fields, on spring-colored Adirondack chairs, talking and laughing like old times.  It was perfect.

I might have to start Tweeting my BDE moments (guess I need to learn a little more about Twitter!).  It would be a good way to keep that positive focus.  I’d love to hear your BDE moments too.  You can share at Twitter.

There is another blog post that truly inspired me this week but I think I’ll save that for later.  It deserves a post of its own.  Meanwhile, what’s your standout BDE moment of the week?

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It’s Garden Time!

In addition to all of the other things I’ve talking about wanting to be good at, there’s one that I haven’t mentioned much…gardening.  I live on 6 acres in the middle of Nowhere, NH.  This is not type of area I grew up in.  I can’t throw a rock at my drug dealing neighbors anymore.  I can’t even see my neighbors.

Anyway, the joke at my house is that I don’t play well with nature.  I think, more accurately, the statement should be that nature doesn’t play well with me.  For example, 2 winters ago we were snowshoeing out back by the swamp.  We were about an hour walk from home.  I inquired of my husband the safety of the ice that was under the snow.  He assured me that it was fine.  He was walking in front of me so I figured I’d be safe.  Nope!  Not 10 seconds after I asked the question, my left foot fell through the ice.  I felt my boot fill up with water.  He had to pull me out.  Did I mention that I stepped in my husbands footsteps?!  Nature doesn’t like me but it sure got a good laugh at my expense that day. (this must have been traumatic for me since I wrote about it before here.)

In spite of nature’s dislike of me, I’m determined to conquer it.  I have had a small container garden on my deck for the past 4-5 years.  My moderately successful vegetable garden has remained in pots due to my hesitation to work in the actual ground.  After all, that’s where the snakes live and I can’t chance running into one of them!

This year, I’m venturing out of the pots and into the box – in the form of a raised bed, that is.  This is a big step.  The last time I tried planting in the ground was horribly unsuccessful due to a month of rain and my lack of time to weed.  This year WILL be different.  I’m starting with 3 raised beds on top of newspaper (to block the grass) filled with a 50/50 mix of loam and compost.  I ordered seeds from an online catalog company that sells only heirloom seeds (http://rareseeds.com/).  My seedlings are started and are growing nicely, another feat that has only been moderately successful in the past (well, except for the zucchini.  That hasn’t sprouted and I’m not sure why).

Taking on several new facets of my garden in the same year may be considered a bit over zealous but, remember the ½ marathon fiasco.  I guess that’s just how I roll!  Seriously, I have successfully grown a variety of veggies for years, even if only by accident!  I’m just stepping it up.  Plus, I have a secret weapon.  I have ArtSea!  My green-thumbed buddy that has spent this horribly long winter in the Caribbean will be back home just in time to help me…if I need it.  I have picked her brain numerous times already.  She is the one that recommended http://rareseeds.com/ for my seed purchase.

Every year I start some plants from seeds and end up purchasing plants from Home Depot’s garden center anyway because they look so much bigger than mine.  “They have been in greenhouses for months, silly”, reasons ArtSea.  “Did your plants grow and produce?”  Yes.  “There you go.”

It’s hard to argue with such logic.

Seeds it is.  My 3 beds are small – 3 X 4 ft, but I need something manageable.  Here is my veggie list:

Tomatoes –Roma, Yellow Pear, Pantano Romanesco and a mystery one that the company threw in.

Cucumbers – Japanese Long and Marketmore 76

Green beans

Snap peas

Carrots

Green Leaf Lettuce

Salad Mix

Spinach

Zucchini

Summer Squash

I’ll be adding Marigolds and Nasturtium (also started from seeds) to the beds as well to help deter pests.  I’m also hoping to plant some sunflowers nearby to help deter deer (much to the dismay of my hunting husband).  I’d like to add some blackberries and strawberries to the yard as well, if time allows.

On Monday I went out to plant some seeds in one of the beds and a creature of some sort already got into one of the beds.  1st night out and there was dirt shoveled out of the bed and a piece of newspaper from the bottom of the box ripped out.  Is this an indication of things to come.  See, nature doesn’t like me.  It’s no wonder that I even out the dirt with much trepidation.  After all, whatever was digging in there could be hiding in the dirt waiting to attack me…I really do have issues with nature, don’t I??

Anyway, the trick is to keep up with this through the whole summer while working full time and working on everything else I take upon myself.  Given that one of the motivations of this is to save some money on groceries and eat organic at the same time, I can’t exactly bail on this one.  More updates soon.

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Race Day!

Ladies and gentleman, drum roll please….bangity, bangity, bangity, bangity (and so on)…

I am a runner.

Lift your jaws off the floor and I’ll explain.

Today was race day.  The half marathon that I have been dreading for 2 months arrived way too fast.  I’ve spent the last 2 weeks in a state of complete angst over this.  I wasn’t ready, not even close.  My longest run before today was 6.6 miles and I walked half of that and it still was awful!  Cold and windy.

But enough about that run.  Let’s go back a couple weeks…

I was getting ready to go for run.  It was a perfect day for it.  I will say that the day before it snowed…that’s right, on April 23rd, we got over an inch of snow at my house.  But this day was perfect.  I was actually in my running clothes, planning to do 7-8 miles, when I slipped on a wet spot on the deck, came down on my right knee 1st then bounced my face against the deck, biting halfway through my lip.

Are you kidding me??!!??

No run that day…or that week.  I was hobbling around for several days.  It wasn’t a bad injury.  A seasoned “runner” probably could’ve pushed through it better than I did.  It was just the principle of it.  Why is every step I take trying to be a runner so dang hard?

I did a whopping 2.5 miles the following Saturday.  I was cranky, disgruntled and trying to figure out how to justify skipping this whole stupid race and not feel like a quitter.  This is not how you become a runner.

A few days ago a marathon running friend of mine gave me an idea and it lead to a great solution.

I would run…but I would not run 13.1 miles.   I would run 7-8.  Isn’t that the same as quitting?  Isn’t that failing?

Nope.

See, my reasons for taking on this challenge were not to see if I could run 13.1 miles.  I knew I wouldn’t be able to reach that in the short time I trained.  I walked 2 half marathons in a weekend when I did the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer so I knew that I could walk that distance.  I didn’t have to prove that.

The reasons that I signed up for this in the first place were to pull myself out of a negative hole that I had been sinking in and give me something positive to focus on.  (http://www.beyondmediocre.net/?p=354)

Check.

I also wanted to support my friend that had already signed up for the race.  It turns out that she didn’t need any encouragement from me.  She was pretty determined all by herself.  She’s a rockstar in my book.

I also wanted to push myself farther than I had before and learn to enjoy running.  That was the only thing I still had left to prove come race day.  I wasn’t doing very well with this.  My mind often got the best of me while running and I was struggling with the learning to enjoy it part.  So, I decided that I would rather run 8 miles, which would still be a push, and have a positive experience and want to run again then drag myself 13 miles alone and hate every minute of it.

That’s what I did.

I joined my friend at mile 5.  She was starting to slow down a bit by that point which is the only reason I was able to keep up.  She cheered me on.  She poked and prodded and almost dragged me at times.  She was a constant source of encouragement.

“You can do it.  Baby steps.  You got this.  Breathe slower.  We’re almost there.  It’s all mental.“

At one point I was having a hard time catching my breath (which often happens to me on hills) and it was her that kept me from having a mini panic attack (which happened during one of my training runs when I was having trouble breathing going up a hill.  Tip, panic doesn’t make breathing easier.).  The truth is, without her, I wouldn’t have done as well as I did.  I still would have finished.  But I would have taken much longer and had a constant negative mental debate the entire time.  It wouldn’t have been an experience that I would ever want to repeat.

Yes, you need to be able to push yourself.  Take yourself to a place that stretches what you think you’re capable of without relying on others.  But, there is something to be said for surrounding yourself with people who have strength where you’re weak.  People that will encourage you to reach further than you thought you could go.  People that will help you reach your goals.  She was that for me today.  It’s appropriate given that she is my oldest friend.  Our support for each other goes back 20 years.  I’m glad that I took this challenge with her.  I’m inspired by the determination and strength that she has.  She’s an amazing example for her kids.

Side note – her 3 year old daughter ran in a kids 1K fun run after our race.  Watching her finish with a huge smile on her face and showing us her medal was a highlight of the day.  The next generation of runners is born.

My friend’s next step – a marathon in the fall.  Wow.  Mine – not a marathon, that’s for sure!  Maybe a couple 5Ks, a 10K in the fall and I would like to actually complete this half marathon next year.  No, I do not see myself doing a marathon.  Not this year.  Probably not next year either.  I’m going to take it slow from here on out.  I’m going to stay in a place where I can enjoy this and not want to run the opposite direction (pun intended) because of the pressure.   I’ll just run when it feels good and see where it goes from here…

Moral of the story:  Push yourself.  You’ll never know what you can accomplish until you try.  And surround yourself with people that understand what you’re doing and will support you the whole way, especially when it gets hard.

Thanks for taking this running journey with me and  listening to my whining and complaining about this.  Let’s talk about something else for a while.  It’s almost summer, on to the garden…

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Spring???

<a href=”http://www.mamakatslosinit.com/” target=”_blank”><img src=”http://i913.photobucket.com/albums/ac331/mamakatslosinit/workshop-button-1.png” alt=”Mama’s Losin’ It” />

Oh Spring…where are you???

I love Spring…when it comes. It’s taking it’s sweet time this year and I must admit, it’s getting the best of me.  I’m feeling the lack of Vitamin D already.

This was taken on last Saturday, April 23rd. We got enough snow that day for our street to get plowed. Are you kidding me?? The snowbank covering my perennials only finished melting a week ago.  Welcome to “Spring” in NH!

But, as I am determined to remain a glass half full person, here is what is giving me a glimmer of Spring hope today.

This was taken yesterday after we finally got some much needed sunshine!  I sat outside during my lunch and felt my sour mood melt with the warmth.

The rhubarb is starting to sprout.  Finally, some glimpse of real spring-time progress!

We have buds on the trees.  Yay!!!  But, the real indication for me that Spring is here is…

..the turkey poop on the neck of my Lab.  Gotta love Spring!!!

Enjoy!!

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Wannabe Runner Update

The last couple of weeks have been less than stellar in the running department. How is that different from weeks before that? Well…it’s not really. The only mental difference is that I was expecting it to no longer feel like winter at the end of April.

The last couple of runs I’ve done, I decided to test out the ipod video camera and get some running “footage” (yes, pun intended!). Ok, I actually only taped while I was walking the hills but you get the point. (Please excuse the heavy breathing – this crap is hard!)

April 9th – 6 miles. My plan was only to do 5 that day but it was nice out and I felt like pushing a little. I’m glad I did.

April 16th – 6.6 miles of the 1/2 marathon route. It was in the 30s that day and VERY windy! Not a good combo for someone that is always cold. At one point, I seriously contemplated hitching a ride back to the parking lot.

Part 2…

Obviously, it’s not going very well. So, why am I still doing this?? That’s a great question…

There you have it. I’m trying to give this a real shot but until we get some decent weather, I’m don’t see myself loving it. Given that decent weather only happens here for a couple months a year, I don’t see this becoming a year-round fitness program but we’ll see.

And before you suggest it, I’ll address the treadmill thing. Yes, I have access to a treadmill. Yes, it’s located about 20 feet from where I sit all day. I can handle the treadmill for about 2 miles. After that, I want to poke my own eyes out! I don’t know if it’s the walking and not getting anywhere thing or if it’s staying at work longer than I have to…I am just not a fan. Time appears to stand still on a treadmill. I’ve tried covering the display, listening to good running music, listening to an audiobook, reading (which is easier if your just walking) and watching TV. Nothing makes it better. The only benefit is that it’s not cold…

Do all of these reasons mean that I’m trying too hard to convince myself to like something that just isn’t me??? Or is it my way of talking myself out of something that’s difficult? I’ll let you know after I finish the race.

To end on a positive note, there was one day last week that I had some time to go for a walk during lunch. It was beautiful out. Perfect temperature. Slight breeze. I walked over 2 miles and I actually felt like I was going too slow. That one day, I wanted to run but couldn’t because I was in my work clothes. I even went home after work and did run another 2/5 miles. So running is a good 55-75 degree activity. The rest of the time, maybe I should take up indoor spinning…

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I’m inspired by…

Mama's Losin' It
We’re keeping it light today. Enough talking. Here’s some examples of what inspires me…

The free spirit of a crazy friend who’s living her dream…

A fantastic meal that rivals anything you can get in a restaurant…

A spectacular sunset viewed from a boat…

Growing something…especially things you can eat…

The view at the end of a good hike…especially in the Caribbean…

My dog’s ability to completely relax where ever she is…


My husband’s ability to build me a killer summer vehicle…

Speaking of husbands…he’s good at so many things. I’m in awe of him everyday.

And finally, not much beats cruising on a boat at your favorite lake with a good book, a snack, a cocktail and good company.

What inspires you???

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A not-so-positive topic

Sometimes you have days when your positive outlook goes into hiding. It got the crap kicked out of it by life. It feels like nothing, not even a run or the most well-meaning friend can bring back.

I’ve wanted to do a post about depression for quite some time. This is a topic that I know a little too much about – both as some one that has experienced it personally and as one who has watched others struggle with it. Depression is a leach. It sucks the very will to live out of you. It is a lonely disease. It depletes your ambition and drive. It removes all faith in yourself. It causes you to look at life through a negative filter, one that blocks out all hope and positivity. It often hangs out with its friends anxiety and panic. They aren’t exactly the life of the party either.

My personal battle with the big “D” started 14 years ago. Newly married, it should have been a time of love and happiness. It wasn’t. At least, it wasn’t all that. Being married stirred up deeply buried issues that went back 15 years prior to that time. These issues, fueled by a bad reaction to my chosen birth control, sent me into a downward spiral that took me 3 years to claw my way out of. It was a very dark, lonely time, complete with recurrent panic attacks, countless tears and attempts to self-harm. My head was a nasty place back then. I would never even think about saying to anyone else the degrading, foul things I would say to myself. I wanted & needed help but lack of health insurance made therapy seem like an impossible dream. And since I prefer to get dirty and work on the cause of the problem and not just treat the symptoms, I didn’t consider medication as an option either. (Disclaimer: I’m not at all condemning the use of medication for depression treatment, it’s just not for me at this time…not as long as I can manage it on my own. I believe there are situations that warrant it, I just don’t feel like I’m one of them.)

Anyway, late one night after one of my freak out “episodes”, I was trying to find a distraction on tv and stumbled upon an interesting infomercial (yes, it was that cliche) about anxiety and depression. As I sat, exhausted from my recent hysterics and feeling as worthless as one can feel, I was listening intently to the testimonials and all I could think was, “That’s me!” I was amazed to find out that other people dealt with this too. A weight was lifted as I felt less alone and less crazy. I didn’t order that program but I did discover that the creator of it also has a book. I studied that book like my life depended on it. That book saved me when nothing else had been able to. It was the rope I used to pull myself out of that pit I had been living in.

The problem with depression coupled with panic and low self-esteem, is that it never really goes away. It may lay dormant for a while but it just sits there looking for the opportunity to wreck havoc on your life again. If you’ve had a depressive episode once, you’re more likely to have them a second and third time. It becomes easier to slip into the hole each time. It doesn’t matter if you’re a naturally optimistic person. It will find its way back. Especially, I’ve found, when surrounded by others that fight the same fight. Sometimes misery really does love company and it will do all it can to create that company. Without even realizing it, life can become a twisted game of see-saw – one person up, the other down, never enjoying life at the same time.

Lately, I’ve been on my way down the see-saw. The decent must stop now.

This certainly isn’t the first time it’s come back. I try to handcuff it to the chair in the basement, slap some duct tape over its mouth and padlock the door and that manages to keep it away for a while. But it’s a persistent little bugger. It is testing every coping mechanism that I’ve learned over the years. It is making this blog difficult. I feel like a hypocrite telling others that anything is possible. Decide to be better. Change your mind. Don’t settle for mediocrity. Like that really works.

Excuse my sarcasm. It does work. Just not for me. (or so the voice in my head tells me – I hate that guy! He’s such a downer.)

I’m working really hard at getting back on track. This weekend, I was cleaning my bedroom and stumbled upon “Put Your Dream to the Test”, the fantastically motivating John C. Maxwell book that made my top 5 reads of last year. I realized that I haven’t been reading at all lately. I have 2 books half-read, I haven’t even started the new Success Magazine and I usually devour that when it comes in. You see, depression doesn’t want to read – especially anything positive. It wants to fester in its own misery. It doesn’t want to be hopeful. It doesn’t want to have faith. It certainly doesn’t want to tell others how to be better. I need to stop acting like it has a choice. I’m in control here – it is not!

I’m not sharing this looking for encouragement. I’m not fishing for a pat on the back, “you can do it”, so don’t feel like you need to respond in that way. I’m simply sharing and trying to take control back. The support of friends who were willing to listen to me vent back then also helped my recovery. And rest assured, I’m nowhere near the wreckage that I was then. One thing I’ve learned over the years, is the sooner you get a handle on it, the better.

It is my hope that something positive can come out of this. Maybe talking about depression will give it less power. Maybe putting this out there will lift the weight off a little-for myself and anyone else out there who can relate. Maybe my story can give someone hope. Hope that you can come out of the darkest times and end up stronger. Even if you relapse a little, it doesn’t mean that it’s over. You haven’t lost the fight for good. Faith and hope and dreams can still exist on the other side of this.

I must say, this post is a big deal for me. It has been one of my hardest to write and even harder to actually hit “publish” on. I’m nervous that this will detract from the message and tone I try to keep here. But, this is real. More people deal with it than we realize. Even the most successful people can battle it. The point is you are not your depression. I do believe all the positive mumbo-jumbo I write here. :-) Beyond Mediocre is about the journey to be better than you think you can be. Sometimes that journey is harder than we expected. We just need to keep fighting.

Here’s how I’m fighting. This morning I registered for a local 1/2 marathon due to the very persistant coaxing from a fantastic friend. It’s in 51 days. Given that my longest run has been 4 miles, I’d say that this is a bit crazy! But that’s what I need. I need a big accomplishment to silence the negative voice. This is a huge one.

I also ordered seeds for my garden this morning. I do not have a green thumb. Every year I try to start some plants from seeds and end up buying plants anyway because mine don’t look that great. Not this year. I’m doing my 1st raised bed-not in containers-garden and I’m starting from seeds. I’m not going to continue whining about feeling like I have nothing that I’m good at. That’s the big “D” talking. All I have to say to that is, *puts hands over ears* “I’m not listening! I’m not listening!”.

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Change Your Mind

Mama’s Losin’ It

I’ve chosen to write about a song of significance today. I’m going to keep this short and sweet-which is very unlike me.

Song: Change your mind by Sister Hazel.

“Do you ever think there might be another way to just feel better, to just feel better about today?….If you want to be somebody else, if your tired of fighting battles with yourself. If you want to be somebody else, change your mind.”

The power of choice. We all have a choice. Every moment of every day, we have a choice. See the good or the bad. Be positive or be negative. Take a risk or play it safe. Be mediocre or be outstanding. We can’t control most aspects of life. We certainly can’t control others. The only thing we have 100% control over is our attitude.

If your attitude stinks – change it. Simple as that.

On a side note, for reasons that I’ll discuss in an upcoming post, I really needed this reminder today. My attitude hasn’t exactly been all sunshine and roses lately. I need to change my mind sometimes too.

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