Music! It Can Make Your Soul Happy.

I only have 15 minutes to write a short post before I go to work, so I want to share with you a playlist I put together of upbeat songs that get me going on days I need a pick-me-up. You need a Spotify account to listen, which is free, and you’ll learn my secret identity when you open it, but I don’t care about that, especially because it won’t mean anything to you anyway. I may as well tell you my name is Jane Smith. It’s not like it’s going to be, Surprise! I’m actually Christina Aguilera writing these words. Mostly I don’t want future employers googling me, finding this blog, and deciding not to hire me because I put my personal life out there for the world to read. And that won’t happen because I’ll delete the blog by then. Or else I’ll work for myself. Or I’ll find a job full of people who thinks this is actually cool? Hahahahaha! Yeah, right. I don’t know. Maybe?

My point is this: listening to joyful music with a positive message uplifts me, and I hope it will uplift you too. If not, consider finding some songs that speak to you, with a positive message. I’m not saying I never listen to sad or angry music, or that there’s not a time and place for that (and Holly Golightly is my new/old favorite that I listen to on repeat, okay people, let’s be real here), but I try to live a more spiritual way of life these days, and to be cognizant of the messages I’m surrounding myself with. There are so many more songs I probably forgot but I put the list together in a hurry.

Okay! I’m off to work now for another day of kicking ass and taking names.

Just kidding—no one needs to kick anyone’s ass or take anyone else’s names. Peace, my friends.

Love,
TCH

It’s A New Day

One false belief I used to hold tight was that my life had to be difficult. Life to me was a battle to get through, and I had to spend my days commuting to a job I hated, to make money to live, and to pay off my student loan debt. Those other people who didn’t take 9 to 5 office jobs were just different from me—they had more self-discipline, they didn’t need someone else imposing structure on them, they had more self-confidence to start their own businesses, for example, or so I thought. But if you’re lucky, hopefully one day you wake up and realize you don’t have to do shit. You’re not required to do any of this.

For me, one wake-up call happened after I had about a year sober, and I’d spent every day working at my marketing job, twice a week teaching English composition and literature at a local community college, and five nights a week at a support group meeting. And I was (doing a half-ass job of) planning my wedding. I was exhausted, and complained to one of my friends about how I had to do this and I had to do that, and going to meetings all the time was wearing me out. She stopped me and said, “You don’t have to do anything. This is a choice. If you don’t want to do this, don’t do it.”

Eventually I realized I didn’t want to do either of those jobs, and that no one was forcing me to go to meetings every single night. And I realized I didn’t want that marriage either, but that’s a whole nother story.

Now I’m not saying everyone should quit their job, leave their spouse, and stop going to meetings every night (if you do that). What I am saying is that you choose how you want to spend your time. And you choose what kind of attitude you want to have about it.

Today I don’t particularly feel like going to work. I’d rather have the day off and write all day. But I do like my job, and I like my co-workers, and I have plans to meet with friends afterwards, which I’m looking forward to. So one thing that helps me is to remember that, and also to say positive affirmations.

Positive affirmations seemed like total bullshit to me for a long time. You’re just lying to yourself all day, is what I thought.

But then finally one day I realized it doesn’t matter.

Whatever you believe is true, is true.

Today I believe I’m an incredibly lucky person who gets to spend time with interesting people who care about the world. I get to listen to the birds singing outside. I get to type these words on this page.

That doesn’t mean I won’t have sad or upsetting circumstances in my life. We will all have that because that’s just life. But I can choose how I want to react to those events that are out of my control. When something I don’t want to happen happens, or when something I want to happen doesn’t, I get to ask what I can learn and how I can grow from that situation.

This is the opposite of how I spent most of my life feeling. For years I felt unlucky, ungrateful, disappointed in adulthood and all the responsibilities it brought. Why did I have so much debt, why couldn’t I get a job I liked, why couldn’t I find a good man, when would I ever be happy and have a good life?

It feels funny to me now, reading that previous paragraph. Because here’s the thing: I am happy now, and I have a good life now, even after the saddest events of my life that happened over the last nine months. And it’s all because I have a new perspective. It’s also because I made changes in my life that weren’t suited for me. Some people might love working two jobs but hey, that’s just not for me. The point is, I figured out a way to live my life without needing two jobs. Hopefully that won’t change, but you never know. If it does, I will find a way to adjust. One thing I know about me is that I’m incredibly resilient.

What about you? What are your strengths? Once you get through something difficult, you can look back and see that you got through it, and you did the best you could at the time, which is all you can do. My mom used to tell me, Just do the best you can. That’s all you can do. Don’t compare yourself against others, but against an earlier version of yourself. If you’re beating yourself up for not doing something perfectly, stop. Ask yourself what you’d tell a good friend, a loved one, if they were going through a hard time. You’d probably speak to them gently, Hey, you did the best you could do. This too shall pass. Life gets better. It does not have to be hard. It’s only difficult if you insist on swimming upstream.

There are good things in store for me. And for you too. You’re worth it. Your life is worth it. You deserve all the good things that are coming. Remember the law of attraction. I told my best friend that I still wanted something that doesn’t appear to be very good for me, and she said, Don’t put that out there. It resonated with me. The best is yet to come. I deserve the good life that’s waiting for me, that’s right in front of my face. And so do you.

When you catch yourself stuck in negative thinking, stop. Ask yourself if this is really how you want to spend your time. Is this serving you? Those momentary feelings of satisfaction are nothing compared to the peace you feel when you learn to let it go.

I dedicate this song to my best friend, who recently graduated from acupuncture school and is starting a new phase of her journey. We’ve been through heaven and hell together over the last 23 years, and I’m so grateful to have her in my life, that we’ve grown together in a positive way. Love you, K!

Peace and love,

TCH

Transformation

transformationThis transformation that I’ve been experiencing over the past little while is something I’ve had the joy to witness in someone else I met about six months ago. This young man started going to CODA meetings just before me, and every week he’d share about how downtrodden he felt, how depressed he was, how he could not get out of his funk. It was hard to watch, and at times I thought, Pull yourself together, man! Because that’s what I do when other people don’t learn their life lessons at the same time as I did, or immediately after I did. I forget how I spent most of my life depressed and focused on why me, and why did life turn out this way, and what was wrong with me, and why couldn’t I be like everyone else who seemed to have their shit together or at least okay with the fact that they didn’t, and how life dealt me a bad hand, and that I didn’t have what it took to survive or thrive in this life. That was the attitude I’d had for most of my life, up until a few years ago.

This young man who I’ll call Ben not only has a new outlook on life, but he even looks different. He looks awake. It’s such a blessing, a treasure, to watch this person change. In support group meetings people say they can see the change in you before you can see it in yourself, which is true. When I was new, after some time people said I had grown, and now some people even think I’m confident, though I might have them pretty well fooled. But maybe I do have more confidence now than I did before.

Everyone who lives in my area seems so nice now. I’d dreaded moving back to this town north of DC because I’d decided I preferred my old hood down in PG County (Prince George’s County, near the University of Maryland) with all the lower income people who are friendlier and artsier and more academic. But up here in my new old town located north of DC they were always snooty to me when I lived here before. But something happened and everyone got friendly. When did y’all get so friendly? Surely all Marylanders are totally closed off, devoid of eye contact, too busy with their lives to give a damn about yours. Somehow they were all friends with each other at the gym but no one had time for me, and ditto for those in 12-step meetings. But now suddenly people have time for me. What happened?

I’ll tell you what happened. What happened is that I changed. My perspective changed. It’s not that everyone suddenly became friendly; it’s that I became more open. And it all started with my recovery program, and then got put on the fast track with Mom’s death. My life feels so different, in a positive way today. I want to explain to you how this happened so you can do this for yourself. I want you to know everything I did, everything that happened, so that you can try it for yourself. I want you to know that it is possible. Change is possible, and life can get better than you ever dreamed possible. Just believe in it. Have faith. Know that it will happen, and sooner than you think.

Listen. If I can do it, anyone can. I spent my entire life, starting in childhood, feeling sorry for myself. And I’ll write all about this in my upcoming post(s), and I wrote a bit about it in my previous post. Here’s a hint: you don’t have to be in a 12-step program, you don’t have to be religious, you don’t have to do everything I did for this transformation to happen for you. I believe that. I know it, because I know others who’ve grown and changed without these things. So stay tuned.

Here’s a song that helped me get through hard times after I left my marketing career to find myself, when life felt mucky, like quicksand, to trudge through each day, when I felt so lost I didn’t know what to do.

Here’s a clue: There is hope.

How to Break Free from Negative Mental States

Great advice to help you break the pattern of negative thinking.

MakeItUltra™

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This Is Your Life

Some of my friends and acquaintances suffer in ways that I used to do, and I want so badly for them to know that life doesn’t have to be that way. Each of us is on our own path, and I cannot control the rate, speed, direction of yours, but I hope to be able to help along the way somehow, if possible.

But first I want to give you an update of where I am today. Yesterday’s post was written last week, when one day I was feeling sad because Mr. Right Now wasn’t doing what I thought he ought to be doing, ie, what I want, and I longed for the connection shared with my ex. That feeling passed, and every day gets a bit easier. (And Mr. Right Now redeemed himself.) (And he doesn’t have to do what I want all the time.) Though I don’t want to spend the entire relationship making comparisons, I can’t help but notice how much easier the new guy is. How even-keeled. The coolest thing is that he asked me to be the leader in the relationship because he says he doesn’t know what to do, which I find hard to believe from a grown man who has no trouble attracting women. No matter. I like being the leader today. It’s the absolute opposite role I played in my last relationship, that’s for sure.

Enough about that.

Back to you.

You’re unhappy with your life and you have no idea where to start, what to do, how to make it better. You’re tired of doing the same thing, day in, day out. You hate your job, you can’t stand the people there, and you have to spend most of your waking life with these assholes! Everywhere you go a cloud of impending doom follows. Sure, something good might happen, but it’s only a matter of time before something tragic or merely frustrating happens. Even if your life got better, you know you’d still be the same you, and you worry that maybe you’re just defective, that happiness is impossible for you. What do you do?

I’ll tell you what I did.

First, I left my husband (who, by the way was a perfectly good husband). Then, I left my job (which was a perfectly good job). I had some money saved in the meantime, and I got a job I liked, making far less money, and I downsized my life dramatically, and I moved into the bedroom of a friend’s house for five times less than what I paid in rent for my townhouse.

I’m not saying you have to take such drastic measures. It’s not up to me to decide what you do. Only you can decide that.

More importantly the actions I took during that time were this: I read self-help and spiritual books on topics that spoke to me, I talked to a therapist who worked with me on a sliding scale based on my low income, I did not drink or drown my sorrows in unhealthy ways like with alcohol or drugs. I prayed a lot. I meditated as much as I could bear. I researched articles online for topics important for me: how to be in a healthy relationship, how to find your dream job, how to be more assertive, how to meditate–any question that popped into my head, I asked Dr. Google. I got books on these topics from the library. I read positive affirmations and I read them again, repeating them in my head throughout the day. I talked to people, trusted friends and my sponsor who guided me. I exercised more. I went outside more, I took long walks on trails in the woods. When I felt sad, I cried. If I felt angry, I raged, often in the form of typing words on this screen. I tried to practice exercises I learned from my self-help books on mindfulness and pay attention just to this moment, right here, now, and not what I have to do after this, or next week, next year, or 10 and 20 years down the road.

This is your life, now. Today. Don’t you want to enjoy it?

One problem I’m having right now is deciding what I want. Why not write down a list of what I want, and go from there? With my ex, I wanted to live together, possibly get married, and do whatever I thought he wanted me to do: become a stepmother, move to wherever he found a better job near his kids, and basically rearrange my life around whatever he planned for himself. Today I have the freedom to do what I want. Mr. Right Now doesn’t want to live with anyone again, ie, he’s not planning to get married again. My first thought was, Maybe I don’t want that either. Maybe it’s nice to be alone, waking at 4am to write my blog posts, sit outside if want to, sprawl across the bed if I want to, leave my shoes in the middle of the floor. Or maybe I’m changing my mind based on what someone else wants, and that’s no good.

What do you want? Ask yourself, what do I want from this life?

Now go out there and get it.

Here’s a song that my dad used to play all the time when my sisters and I were little, and looking back on it, I wonder if this was his personal anthem, a big middle finger to my mom, who left him, and left him heartbroken from what my sisters tell me. I was too little to remember. There’s a lyric in this song that I took the name of my blog from, which is this: “Either way it’s okay / you wake up with yourself.”

This is your life.

Something Better’s In Store

Last night I dreamt that there was a chance Mom was going to survive her stroke, wake up and be herself again, alive and recovered. We were in North Carolina, where she lived, and she’d had the stroke and was on life support, just like what happened in real life, except we kept her on life support for several days instead of the 24 hours she had a machine breathing for her just so my sisters and I could get there to say our goodbyes. I’d made a Facebook post about what had happened, and then a few days later the doctors said it looked like she might make a remarkable, miraculous recovery. I debated posting a Facebook request for prayers, because I believe in the power of prayer and felt that if I could get enough people to pray maybe she would make it. I myself prayed really hard, and thought of all the things I’d say to her once she made it through, how much I loved her and saw her as a wonderful role model. At some point I got confused, because I remembered the reality that we’d taken her off life support, that she had not made it. Or maybe I’d woken up by that time, I don’t remember. The belief that she might live and I could tell her how I felt was so real.

My ex’s birthday is around this time of year.

I can’t begin to tell you how much it pisses me off that he abandoned me just a few months after my mother died.

Who does that?

Maybe a lot of people.

Father’s Day is also coming up, and I have a lot of unresolved anger towards my dad for being Stonewall, ie, emotionally unavailable. He loves Stonewall Jackson so it seems an appropriate nickname. Still, it’s like being angry with someone for them being who they are. They cannot help it. It’s a futile resentment.

And then Steven is a dad, and I felt like I took a backseat to his kids at times, which is part of why we broke up. Most of the time it didn’t bother me, or rather, I told myself it didn’t, and I didn’t complain about his choice to spend holidays with them, because I don’t really care about holidays anyway. It would’ve been nice to have him around but I would survive. A little piece of my heart felt sad that he couldn’t be around my family when I went to visit them, holidays or not, because if he wasn’t in the right mood I didn’t want to ask, and I wouldn’t have wanted him around during those times anyway. I never introduced him to my mom because I wanted him to be in the right mood when he met her, because I knew she wouldn’t like him if she saw him in a depressive or hypomanic state, unless she’d already met him when he was even-keeled, or mildly manic. But even then, it’s hard to say. She was good at reading people, and she had no problem changing her mind about someone, especially if they hurt me.

Something I heard from a friend last night about how to approach life struck me. When we ask for something of the universe (or multiverse, really, or God or a higher power, whatever word you choose), only three options exist: 1) yes, you can have whatever it is you want right now, 2) not yet, or 3) there’s something better in store for you.

Number 3 really struck me. Though it doesn’t allow a person to live in the moment, it gives hope for a better future. I would add to it that if times are hard right now, just think of what can be learned from this situation right now. For example, why am I attracting a particular kind of person in my life today? And if the relationship is not what I think I want, what is it I’m sending out into the universe that’s bringing this back to me, and what can I learn from this? Maybe I’m thinking I will settle for whatever or whoever comes my way. I might be thinking, Oh, it’s okay if that person doesn’t text me good night or respond to my texts, when I know in my heart I like someone who communicates their interest in me. So that’s a red flag. I get to choose how I live my life and who I spend my time with. I do not have to spend my time with someone who takes me for granted.

On the other hand, I don’t have a lot of time for a boyfriend, so this helps me be more independent. Nothing wrong with Mr. Right Now. In that case, I can ask myself what is to be learned from this. Maybe it’s just that I have the choice. I have power and freedom to choose how to forge ahead in this life. While I have no control over what others say or do, I do have control over what I say and do. And this is what I’m doing right now.

Mostly it just makes me think of how I miss my ex.

But then I have to remember how strongly his moods affected me, how much he hurt me, how hard I tried to keep the relationship together to no avail. There’s something better in store for me.

What can I learn from this right now?

Well, everything I just wrote, for example. And that I get to spend time on studying, on changing my career, on learning who and what I want to be and how I want to live this life. Once I get through school I may have a different attitude towards who and what I want. It’s nice to have a companion in the meantime. Maybe he’s not pledging his undying love for me, but I’m not exactly pledging mine to him either. No other person can be my higher power.

The main thing is not to have someone machine-gun-text me all day or ask when they can see me again and certainly not to feel ignored or taken for granted, and definitely not for me to rearrange my schedule around theirs. What’s really important is, Do I feel safe and secure in this relationship? Does this person communicate through words and actions that he’s committed to the relationship, and do I trust that? That’s the ideal situation. Then I can feel comfortable doing what I need to do in order to grow, and they can do the same, without us being up each other’s asses all the time. I need my own life, and they need theirs.

Next week I’m driving the big-rig back to North Carolina, sadly. I hate to see her go but I’ve got to get my little Honda Civic back—a faithful and trusty car who deserves her own blog post—and I need to get back to Maryland to focus on my school work. I’m learning about vitamins and minerals this semester. I had to drop my herbalism class, and I dropped my fermented foods cooking class because I just cannot take it all on while working a full-time job and taking time for self-care (which is a necessity, btw). Maybe it will take me longer than a year and that will be okay. I’d hoped to finish asap so that I can make more money and get my own place, but the world seems to have something different in store for me.

Happiness can’t be found in making more money or getting one’s own home. True happiness is finding meaning in life today. That’s another thing I learned from someone who was quoting from a Max Strom book. In spite of the hardships I’ve faced in the last nine months, and in spite of what a downer this post might seem to be, I can honestly say I’m pretty darn happy with my life today.

I am grateful for the blessings I’ve received. When I think of the heartache I’ve been through in recent months, I must remember that God has a bigger, better plan in store for me. Something much better is on the way, maybe even just around the corner. Maybe even right in front of my face.

Whatever the case, there’s something better in store for me.

Here’s a really good codependent song for those of us who feel like we need someone, because we don’t yet realize we don’t really need anyone but a higher power and our own self-love:

 

Cinderella

I should be spending every spare minute on schoolwork, but instead I’m writing, because my life depends on it. And I keep listening to this TI cover song on repeat:

The original version came on the radio while I was driving back from North Carolina, another reminder of Steven, who’d played Joan as Policewoman’s version for me many times. I love this song, in spite of the effed up message it portrays, the modern Cinderella, “Pretty Woman” lie that is total bullshit, portraying the woman as victim and the man as hero, rescuer to come and save her from her life of poverty. It’s an incredibly sad song to me, but I love it.

And I can relate. I’ve certainly felt that way before, on both sides. I would love a sugar daddy, and I would have also loved to buy whatever my ex wanted to put a smile on his face. He spent a lot of money on me, and I actually spent a lot of money on him (though not nearly as much as he spent on me, because I’m poor and he’s rich). When I saw something at work I thought he might like, I got it for him, including this $12 coconut vanilla lotion that he inhaled like it was cocaine. Groceries, health and beauty supplies, supplements, all of that stuff is not cheap in an organic grocery store, even with my 20% off discount. Anyway.

Here’s the original video from TI:

My favorite part of this video is at the end, when we realize it was all a dream she made up, and the guy at the counter brings her back to reality. She asks, “What? You need me to do your hair again?”

And he says, “You gone charge me this time?”

My interpretation of that question is this: you did my hair for free last time, and I’d love to get it for free again, because maybe we all want a sugar daddy or sugar mama, but the reality is I’m broke and you’re broke, so get your ass back to flipping them burgers because we have bills to pay, and I’m hungry. I might be reading too much into it there with that last part, but that’s the message I like. You do what you have to do, and no one else can rescue you from your life. And I would add this for my young readers: Go to college (aka university). Or any readers. You don’t have to be young to go to college, or a trade school, or something that allows you to get a job doing something that will allow you to pay your rent/mortgage and bills. And yes, of course follow your dream. You do not have to flip burgers or rely on someone else to make your dreams come true for you. I know that I personally would not want to be in Melania Trump’s shoes. That’s all I got to say about that.