Doing One’s Work Under Difficulties

We should make ourselves stop trying to explain our own difficulties. Our first impulse is to try to account for them, figure out why what has happened did happen. Sometimes such an effort is beneficial: more often it is distinctly harmful. It leads to introspection, self-pity, and vain regret; and almost invariably it creates within us a dangerous mood of confusion and despair. Many of life’s hard situations cannot be explained. They can only be endured, mastered, and gradually forgotten. Once we learn this truth, once we resolve to use all our energies managing life rather than trying to explain life, we take the first and most obvious step toward significant accomplishment.

— James Gordon Gilkey from book, “You Can Master Life

This quote is good to see and think about, especially as my graduate program is drawing to a close in less than a month and I’m seeking opportunity on the job market. It can be difficult to keep plugging along, especially in the face of obstacles or when doors don’t open as easily as I’d anticipate. So in managing my job search, looking in any nook or cranny to break into the hyper-competitive feature journalism business, I gotta be tough; I gotta be strong. I will manage this.

For additional excerpts from “You Can Master Life,” read Brain Picking‘s article, “How to Not Worry: A 1934 Guide to Mastering Life” by Maria Popova.

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Life Reminders

“Be brave. Even if you’re not, pretend to be. No one can tell the difference. Don’t allow the phone to interrupt important moments. It’s there for your convenience, not the callers. Don’t be afraid to go out on a limb. That’s where the fruit is. Don’t burn bridges. You’ll be surprised how many times you have to cross the same river. Don’t forget, a person’s greatest emotional need is to feel appreciated. Don’t major in minor things. Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Pasteur, Michaelangelo, Mother Teresa, Helen Keller, Leonardo Da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein. Don’t spread yourself too thin. Learn to say no politely and quickly. Don’t use time or words carelessly. Neither can be retrieved. Don’t waste time grieving over past mistakes Learn from them and move on. Every person needs to have their moment in the sun, when they raise their arms in victory, knowing that on this day, at his hour, they were at their very best. Get your priorities straight. No one ever said on his death bed, ‘Gee, if I’d only spent more time at the office’. Give people a second chance, but not a third. Judge your success by the degree that you’re enjoying peace, health and love. Learn to listen. Opportunity sometimes knocks very softly. Leave everything a little better than you found it. Live your life as an exclamation, not an explanation. Loosen up. Relax. Except for rare life and death matters, nothing is as important as it first seems. Never cut what can be untied. Never overestimate your power to change others. Never underestimate your power to change yourself. Remember that overnight success usually takes about fifteen years. Remember that winners do what losers don’t want to do. Seek opportunity, not security. A boat in harbor is safe, but in time its bottom will rot out. Spend less time worrying who’s right, more time deciding what’s right. Stop blaming others. Take responsibility for every area of your life. Success is getting what you want. Happiness is liking what you get. The importance of winning is not what we get from it, but what we become because of it. When facing a difficult task, act as though it’s impossible to fail.”

— Jackson Brown Jr.

Stop Stealing From Yourself

I read this HuffPost article today by Andy Meindl titled, “The No. 1 Thing You’re Doing Every Day That’s Ruining Your Life” and it really spoke to me. I think we can all benefit from receiving a reminder from time to time about the power of practicing openness in our daily lives:

Stop stealing from yourself. Stop being a thief, robbing yourself from your empowerment and joy by assuming the worst and selling yourself (and others) short. Stop hiding your light underneath a rock because you’ve made assumptions that people aren’t ready for your brilliance, or can’t handle it, or it’s too much. Stop making assumptions about what’s possible and what you think life is — or isn’t.”

To read more visit: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/anthony-meindl/making-assumptions_b_4269980.html?ir=GPS+for+the+Soul

Life Will Break You

“Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won’t either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could.”

Louise Erdrich

If we expose our children to life messages such as this one instead of relying on trite phrases like, “Life isn’t fair,” would they grow up to be stabler adults who know how to take failure and vulnerability in stride?

Breaking the Shell

breakingoutshellcollage

**Photos via nastassiadavis.com and gutstoglory.com (right to left, respectively)

Have you ever felt stuck like you needed to break free of a shell you’ve created for yourself through fear, anxiety, doubt, alienation or that life has dealt you like getting laid off, losing a loved one (figuratively or literally), or falling ill?

Lately, I’ve  been feeling like a caged bird or one trying to peck its way out of its shell. I’m seeking the confidence to find my wings, so I can soar. There’s a big blue sky out there, sometimes with threatening rain clouds in view, but a bird knows how to navigate if only it will trust itself, realizing it was created to fly.

I leave you with a quote, lyrics, and song that will hopefully inspire you to think about and break through a shell that may be limiting your ability to fully direct and claim the quality of life you wish to have.

“Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding… And could you keep your heart in wonder at the daily miracles of your life, your pain would not seem less wondrous than your joy.”

— Kahlil Gibran

My mom sent me the lyrics to the song “Break the Shell” featured on the album titled Songversation released this past summer by American R&B/ neo soul singer, India.Arie. I found they resonated so deeply with my life at this moment. Maybe they will speak to you as well. Enjoy!

I met a prophet dark as the night
She could see into my soul
Said she’d been watching and had some advice
She said shadows make you whole
A life without pain is a wolf in sheep’s clothes
Cause if you listen to the lessons that it holds
You’ll find the gold

Child it’s time to break the shell
Life’s gonna hurt but it’s meant to be felt
You cannot touch the sky from inside yourself
You cannot fly until you break the shell

I can remember when I was a child
How the grown folks seemed so crazy
Why are they so angry, why are they so loud?
And when I grow up that’s never ever gonna be me
That was the moment that I decide
That I would build a wall just shy of six feet tall
Too strong to fall

Child it’s time to break the shell
Life’s gonna hurt but it’s meant to be felt
You cannot touch the sky from inside yourself
You cannot fly until you break the shell

Courage is not being hard
It’s time to peel back all of the layers
You put between who you’re meant to be
And you who are
And go be who you are

So much disappointment to finally understand
That there is no such thing as perfect
Were all simply doing the best that we can
And we have a choice to live or truly be alive

This is your life

Child it’s time to break the shell
Life’s gonna hurt but its meant to be felt
You cannot touch the sky from inside yourself
You cannot fly until it breaks the shell

Child it’s time to break the shell
Life’s gonna hurt but its meant to be felt
You cannot touch the sky from inside yourself
The bird cannot fly until it breaks the shell

Do with these words what you will
Its time for us to be for real
You’ll be stuck on the ground until
You finally break the shell

**Lyrics via Song Meanings

**Video via OWN TV

India.Arie performs a stripped down acoustic version of “Break the Shell” on OWN’s “Super Soul Sunday.”

Universal Truths About Life

I really needed to read this today:

“This life is what you make it. No matter what, you’re going to mess up sometimes, it’s a universal truth. But the good part is you get to decide how you’re going to mess it up. Girls will be your friends – they’ll act like it anyway. But just remember, some come, some go. The ones that stay with you through everything – they’re your true best friends. Don’t let go of them. Also remember, sisters make the best friends in the world. As for lovers, well, they’ll come and go too. And baby, I hate to say it, most of them – actually pretty much all of them are going to break your heart, but you can’t give up because if you give up, you’ll never find your soulmate. You’ll never find that half who makes you whole and that goes for everything. Just because you fail once, doesn’t mean you’re gonna fail at everything. Keep trying, hold on, and always, always, always believe in yourself, because if you don’t, then who will, sweetie? So keep your head high, keep your chin up, and most importantly, keep smiling, because life’s a beautiful thing and there’s so much to smile about.”

― Marilyn Monroe

Life is short…

“Life is short. If there was ever a moment to follow your passion and do something that matters to you, that moment is NOW.”

Winston Churchill

As a twenty-something trying to discern who I am, figure out my true passions and devote time to them as well as pilot my journey to accomplish my ambitions and find true happiness, this quote really sings to me.