Celebrate Small Wins

I just read a short but valuable article on the TED blog, titled “How to make your small wins work for you”. What Mehrnaz Bassiri says in these couple of paragraphs is so true:

“The problem, says Bassiri, doesn’t lie in the puniness of our accomplishments but in the outsized nature of our expectations. Whether in the news media or in our friends’ and family members’ social media posts, we’ve gotten habituated to seeing major successes — the video from an unknown musician that goes viral and scores them a spot on Beyonce’s tour, the unhealthy person who loses half their body weight and completes the Ironman, the company started by college students in a garage that gets sold for an eye-watering amount.

These stories “have programmed our thoughts and desires to want and expect the same kind of results in our own lives,” says Bassiri. “We’ve started to measure our progress on an oversized scale.” So instead of recognizing our small triumphs for what they are, we view them as failures.”

If we set goals for ourselves, instead of only recognizing our progress when crossing a specific point, or after a major “win” (which sometimes feels like it will never come), we should rather celebrate the small milestones we make along the way. Because it’s those small milestones or steps toward our goals or dreams that take us closer to them.

I’m most certainly one of those with super high expectations of myself, and get discouraged quickly and easily if I don’t see any major progress in a goal, project or  change I want to make. I become blind to the small bits of progress I do make, because it’s just “not good enough”, or “it doesn’t count”. But it is good enough. It does count. And I’m going to take note of all my smalls wins, as the article suggests.

I highly recommend giving this a read:
https://ideas.ted.com/how-to-make-your-small-wins-work-for-you/

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Death Raises So Many Questions

My grandmother (mom’s mother) passed away on Saturday at the age of 94. She’s been sick for many years and confined to a wheelchair, but no one ever heard her complain. Her husband, my grandfather, passed away about two years ago. He was a bastard. The things he used to do to his children and wife are horrific. Yet, she stayed with him until he died. They were catholic, so she didn’t believe in divorce. This is something that has frustrated and angered me for a long time. She lived in Portugal, so I didn’t get to see her very often. But she had a special place in my heart.

She was always smiling and laughing, even when she was in pain. She’d ask me tons of questions, and was always interested in my life and what I was saying. Her English wasn’t great, so communicating with her wasn’t easy. I didn’t always understand what she was asking or saying, but she was so patient and never got annoyed. My mom told me that when I was a kid, I was convinced my grandmother was an angel. I was shy around her and didn’t speak to her, but would stare at her in fascination.

Two of my uncles lived with her. She took care of them because they were unable to take care of themselves. One of my uncles was diagnosed with Schizophrenia, and has a brain injury apparently caused by my mom’s father. The other is Autistic. They aren’t young anymore either. So I don’t know what’s going to happen to them now that she’s gone. I have another uncle in Portugal who can help them (he’s independent), but I’m not sure whether he’ll be able to take care of them the way they need. He’s also autistic, on the “high functioning” end apparently, but has a lot of his own struggles to deal with.

Since I got the news about my grandmother on Saturday, I’ve had a lot of questions running through my mind. About life. About death. One that I’m really curious about is how does someone who has been through so much and has hardly ever had a “break” from shit, make it to that age? What makes these people so strong and resilient? Was it that she became stronger through the years and bounced back over and over again, is it genetic, or is it (and this is what I suspect) that she had all those people to take care of, and that’s what kept her hanging on? I don’t think there’s a simple answer, or that I’ll ever really know.

I can’t see myself living for that long. Most days I feel like my days are already numbered and coming to an end soon. My mom feels the same way I do. Throughout the years she has mentioned how she feels she won’t be around much longer. Whenever she makes it to another birthday she’s genuinely surprised. This has caused a lot of distress in me when she’d talk this way, but on the other hand I also understand.

We’re still alive though, we made it through so far. We don’t get to know when our time will end. But we can continue putting one foot in front of the other and do what we can to make the most of the life we’ve got.

Of course, I’m sad that we lost my grandmother, one of the strongest woman I’ve ever known. But I’m mostly grateful that she’s no longer in pain. That she’s at peace. The angel can finally rest.

heartscape

Life & Road Trips

A comment by one of my blogger friends reminded me of this post. It was one of the first I published on this blog so most of you wouldn’t have read it. I’m also reblogging it because I needed that message today.

Journey Toward Healing

Being in a contemplative mood tonight, I want to write a post regarding a few things from my recent experience, as I wrote about in my first post Goodbye’s.

I was going to be driving approximately 1321 km (820 mi) over the course of 3 days. No one thought my car would be able to make it over 2 days. I’m certainly glad I didn’t attempt to. I had a few problems and had to stop at each and every gas station, but nothing major. The car wasn’t the problem.

Instead of taking the usual highway, I was advised to take a back road instead. I have Google Maps, so we were sure it wouldn’t be a problem.

Oh, but it was.

That first day driving, I spent the majority of the trip crying like a starving baby, and wondering what the hell I was doing. So it certainly didn’t help matters much…

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It’s Not All About Success Or Being The Best

I just read an article on the Scientific American blog that spoke deeply to me and gave me a better perspective on something I struggle with.

It’s something I’ve spoken about on here before.

Here’s the thing. I’m constantly working on my businesses, trying to make them successful. Sometimes I get so frustrated because it seems no matter what I do, it’s just not working out. I’m limited by finances, so can’t spend much, if any money on paid advertising. As most people know, organic content, marketing and advertising often doesn’t work well enough. It can be a dead zone. The saying “you have to spend money to make money” is pretty accurate. But still, I continue to try new things. Learning new ways to market and reach people.

Life rarely gives us what we want, and sometimes what we want isn’t actually what will make the most impact or difference to our lives. I’m proud of myself for continuing to work hard. I’m always learning. And even if I never reach the particular goals I have right now, I feel I’m not wasting my time by working on these things. Someday, somewhere down the line, it might just come in handy.

On another note, like most of you, and as the title of my blog says, I’m on a journey of healing from trauma and mental illness. This is extremely hard work, and most of the time it seems as though I’m not moving forward fast enough, or even at all. When we’re really struggling it’s difficult to see the progress and the little ways we have moved forward. During these times it seems as though everyone else has it all together and we’re left behind. But the fact that I’m still breathing and writing this right now is an achievement. It’s a result of not only fighting to survive, but to thrive as well. Life is hard, it’s messy, and sometimes even downright shit. But if we put in the personal work, if we strive to be our best selves (not who others want or expect us to be), we can better deal with whatever comes our way, and experience all the blessings that life has to offer as well.

Success isn’t everything. Striving to be the best can be exhausting, and most of the time, not even possible. There will always be someone out there who’s better. At the end of the day, I believe it’s the journey that counts. The end point is just an illusion.

You can read the article I mentioned here:
Working Hard Even If You Might Lose

The Place Of Emptiness, Apathy And No Purpose

I just finished an amazing book by Donna Tartt titled The Goldfinch, and want to share a paragraph from it that sums up my feelings (and opinion) about life.

“Because I don’t care what anyone says or how often or winningly they say it: no one will ever, ever be able to persuade me that life is some awesome, rewarding treat. Because, here’s the truth: life is catastrophe. The basic fact of existence-of walking around trying to feed ourselves and find friends and whatever else we do-is catastrophe. Forget all this ridiculous ‘Our Town’ nonsense everyone talks: the miracle of a newborn babe, the joy of one simple blossom, Life You Are Too Wonderful To Grasp, &c. For me-and I’ll keep repeating it doggedly till I die, till I fall over on my ungrateful nihilistic face and am too weak to say it: better never born, than born into this cesspool. Sinkhole of hospital beds, coffins, and broken hearts. No release, no appeal, no “do-overs” to employ a favored phrase of Xandra’s, no way forward but age and loss, and no way out but death.

I know. Morbid and dark.

Emptiness is a part of me. Even in my happiest moments, it’s there, lurking in the background. Waiting. It’s almost as though that’s my foundation, with all the other emotions laying upon it, and then when those emotions pass I return to that foundation of emptiness.

I’ve had a couple of those nights lately where I’m crying in a dream, and wake up crying. The sadness overwhelms me. But once I’m up the numbness sets in, and I go through the day not feeling much of anything. Not seeing a purpose for this life. For existing.

I’m just at the point where I don’t expect good things to happen anymore. For my hard work to pay off. Hope feels like something not meant for me. Accepting where I am. What my life looks like. Going through the motions, doing what needs to be done, but not really caring.

What’s the point of hard work when the only thing that comes from your effort is more shit. Never feeling like you’re able to move forward, because things just continue breaking apart around you.

But whatever.

The Good News And The Bad News

“Which do you want to hear first, the good news or the bad news?” I’ve always hated it when someone has asked me that question. The way I see it is that essentially the same thing is going to happen. You’re still going to hear both the good and the bad, so I don’t think there’s a “best” order in which to receive news. The question just seems pointless.

Life itself doesn’t ask us to choose. And that’s what happened just recently. Since completing the website of a restaurant, I’ve been waiting to hear back from the owner about possibly doing his other website. Also a restaurant, but a more popular and well-known one. A couple of weeks ago I sent him an email following up on his experience of the new website with a subtle “reminder” that when he’s ready to proceed with the next website, to let me know. When we first started working together, he had told me that if it goes well, he might ask me to design his other restaurants website. So it wasn’t a definite thing. He’s happy with the website I did for him, and told me that he’ll speak to the other owner about the other website. The other owner contacted me about a week later and we arranged a meeting. On Thursday evening, he let me know that he accepted my business proposal and will be making the deposit, so I can go ahead with the website. Good news!

Then last night I heard that my uncle, the one who lived with us for a while, has lung cancer. For the past week he’s been extremely sick, and would pop in at the office every now and then before going to the hospital for tests. He’s been struggling with his health for a while now, and every time I’d see him, he’d look worse and worse. Bad news!

I’m going to go visit him at home this afternoon, and I’m nervous. What do I say to him? How am I supposed to “act” around him now? I kind of don’t feel anything at the moment other than nervous, and I don’t actually want to go see him. I’m very awkward about things like this. My grandmother passed away from this very disease and I hated what it did to her. I never wanted to have to go through that again. But I know it’s not about me, it’s about him. But I’m still involved, and don’t quite know how to deal with it. I helped my grandmother when she was going through this, and it was torture. This makes me feel extremely guilty and ashamed, because I feel what right do I have to feel anything negative or to think about how it affects me, when they are the actual ones suffering?

It’s a long weekend, so no work on Monday, but I’ll be keeping busy with my own work on the website. I’m glad I got this job, and especially more so now. So I think this time, receiving the good news first actually made a bit of a difference. But again, life didn’t give me a choice.

Caught Out In The Rainstorm

I’m done wishing and hoping…

For the friend I can rely on.
For the university qualification and job I’ve always wanted.
For the love that will stick around.
For the dog I long to be a home for.
For the freedom and security I strive for.
That this idea just might be the one to change my life.

Wishing and hoping don’t always give us what we want.
They say it’s action that can. And I’ve tried so much. So hard.
But I’m out of ideas.

I’m stuck.
I’m tired.

So I’m done…
Wishing.
Hoping.
Trying.