Self-Reliance is for Everyone

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Imagine being in an emergency situation. Who are the people you want to be near? Or think about being deserted on an island with one person, who do you choose? You choose the ones who are self-reliant and have the skills to survive.

The idea of self-reliance is broad. When I talk about self-reliance in my blog posts, I don’t necessarily mean that you should have to go off the grid or put yourself in extreme survival situations. There are a lot of valuable self-reliant skills and tools that we can learn from others as well as teach ourselves that are important for our day to day lives. Doing things ourselves and becoming more handy is incredibly rewarding, and it seems as if we are becoming less and less self-reliant as we become more reliant on technology and other people.

 

Here are a few ways to boost your self-reliant skills:

Learn to fix things yourself: We live in a time where everything gets thrown away, many times without even a second thought. Try and minimize your impact while also saving money for yourself.

Learn to do jobs that you would normally hire someone else to do: Sew up that split seam in your clothes, or learn to change the oil in your car. Do your own yard work and small repairs around the home. Many of the entrepreneurs I have interviewed have a broad set of skills that allow them to fill in wherever they need within the operations of their businesses and are able to save money by resolving issues on their own. You don’t have to know how to do everything, but learning by doing is one of the best ways to build your skill sets.

Take responsibility for your health. We are the only ones who are responsible for our health, and it is our job to ensure that we have the strength to be self-reliant when we need to be. It is our job to look after our kids and teach them healthy lifestyles, and the best way to do so is by modeling that. Most of us can improve in this area, myself included. If we don’t take care of ourselves, who else is supposed to?

 

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Emergency preparedness: Okay, it is easy to laugh at the people who go overboard prepping for disaster, but it is actually pretty simple to develop the skills needed to assist you in an emergency. Learning how to use tools, change a flat tire, stop the toilet from overflowing, put chains on your car in a snowstorm; these are all skills that you will be so glad you have if you find yourself in one of these situations. Take a CPR certification class because CPR can be such a valuable skill to have. If an accident should happen, you will be able to rely on your skills to help you.

 

Outdoor skills: These are fun skills to develop and can be critical if you are in a situation where our luxuries are unavailable or taken away. Try backpacking or camping, as these are some of the best ways to test your own self-reliance and teach yourself things as they come to you in a natural environment. Sometimes these are the most rewarding skills to have because they involve instincts and exploring.

Education: Like many of these skills, education is something that can never be taken away from you, and something that you can always fall back on in hard times. This doesn’t have to be formal education, but seeking out continual education for yourself throughout your life will benefit you in so many ways. I went back to school for my master’s degree because I want to have my education to assist me if something happens to me financially or in terms of opportunity. I don’t want to worry about anyone having to help me or support me in a time of need.

I really admire the people who are really handy and seem to be able to fix anything and everything. Go out today and learn a new skill that can help make you more self-reliant. In most cases, a YouTube video can teach you how to do it! What can you do to become more self-reliant?

5 Things Turning 30 Taught Me

 

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When I was in my 20’s I always heard mixed reviews about turning 30. People primarily told me all about the new found freedom you would feel and liberation and a desire to chase your dreams because you have lived through your twenties; where you are finding yourself, making mistakes, and building your values based on your experiences.

This year I turned 30. I can definitely look back on my life and feel a little wiser, a lot smarter about decisions and a whole lot more confident in myself. Here are 5 things I have come to terms with as I begin my 30’s:

  1. You Matter. You matter outside of what you do as a profession. You matter outside of who people think you are, and you matter outside of what you can do for other people. It takes a long time to find your identity and your voice and it is easy to feel like you are lost in a crowd. Stand up for yourself and for what you believe in because your voice does matter and you are important.

 

  1. Set Your Boundaries. It is amazing to have a year of “yes”, but it is also important to be careful with your time. It is ok to say no! And the best part is, you don’t even have to have an excuse. You don’t have to agree to anything you don’t want to do. You don’t have an endless stream of energy and you should put your time into the things that you really care about. Set your boundaries and make them clear to yourself and to your friends so you can focus on saying yes to the things that are in line with your goals and politely just say no to the things that aren’t.

 

  1. It Doesn’t Matter What People Think About Your Choices. The definition of success is different for everyone. A big part of this for me is parenting; how much you are working, traveling, or the fact that you stay home with kids. People are always going to have their opinions on your situation, especially if it is different from their own. You have to just keep doing what is right for you because, in the end, you are the one who has to live your life. Do it the right way that works for you. It doesn’t have to work for everyone. Make the decisions that feel good for your situation.  I have realized that most of the stress associated with what people thought about me was in my own head. I don’t find myself wondering what people will think anymore because it honestly doesn’t matter as long as I am being true to myself.

 

  1. Never Stop Changing.  We have all made mistakes that have shaped us into who we are today. We have to look at places where we are unfulfilled, unhappy and unsatisfied in order to make positive changes in our lives. Something that made you happy a few years ago might not be as fulfilling now. Although I have reached a happy place with who I am now, that doesn’t mean I am done changing. It is never too late to recreate yourself or change your path and we should never ever settle for mediocracy in our career, our relationships and in our health. You are strong and resilient and should not let yourself settle for less than you deserve but you need to keep learning and experiencing in order to be the best version of yourself.

 

  1. Find Your Tribe. At this point, you have probably narrowed down the people in your life to the ones that you have created meaningful relationships with and who bring positivity to your world. As we get caught up in life, it can be easy to lose touch with people, and it can also be easy to lose depth in our relationships. It is so important to hold on to the people we care about and to maintain a mutual effort in showing respect and love. You will have hard times, and you will have times when you need help, and having your tribe who understands you will make your life a whole lot easier and more fulfilling. Give way more than you expect to receive Lianna Ruben wrote a great article on listening and connecting with people that I found really helpful in strengthening conversations.

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There is no right way to do life and everyone finds joy in different paths. There is a lot to learn from your twenties and all of those lessons will guide you into a place where you know more of what you want, you know where your boundaries are, and how to keep pushing yourself towards greatness. These lessons are going to be different for everyone. What are some of the lessons you learned in your twenties or thirties or beyond?

Declutter Your Space, Clear Your Mind

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Some people are super organized, and I idolize those people because I am like most people who tend to build up unnecessary clutter as time goes on. Although some things go unnoticed, like boxes in the garage, other things I see all the time and I just have a hard time throwing it out. When I first bought my house I received a ton of hand-me-down items for my home. Then I got married we upgraded a bunch of our household items and, as we started to make more money, we picked out some of our own furniture.

The problem was that I felt like all of that other stuff still had value, and I had a hard time getting rid of it, so a lot of it was just stashed in our kitchen, closets or garage. Once we had kids, the amount of stuff we had was magnified and I finally started to get rid of things we didn’t need. I held on to some duplicate items for camping, but donated many bags full of stuff. As painful as some of it was to part with, it felt so good to have less items to manage in our home, and it was a lot easier to keep our house clean. I felt less anxiety about my home, and stopped trying to fill it with things to make it feel complete.

What does decluttering have to do with personal development you ask? Denise Linn, who is an international healer, writer and lecturer, mentioned at an event that the one thing you should do for yourself in a personal development journey is to go home and declutter your home. This can be overwhelming once you start, but she advised to start with even one drawer in your house. Clean it out and get rid of anything you don’t absolutely need.

Your home should be your sanctuary; a place where you can clear your mind, relax and destress. It shouldn’t create feelings of anxiety because your home is a mess and you would die if anyone decided to show up unannounced. Decluttering is different than organizing in that you aren’t finding places for everything, but getting rid of everything you don’t need and use. This can apply to your car too!

The benefits to decluttering are clear:

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Improve Your Mood and Clear Your Mind: Living without clutter can improve your mood and mental health. Studies have linked a cluttered home to higher stress levels, lower self-esteem, and depression in women. I know I feel great when I come home to a clean house, and don’t get me wrong, there are many days where I just totally fail at that because the day just disappeared and between the kids and school and everything else, I just can’t. But there is definitely a noticeable change in my mood if there is that one less thing to do and things aren’t piling up around me. I can think clearly and make better decisions. The moment where I trip on one of the kids toys or, the worst: step on a lego in the dark…that is not a happy place to be.

More free time: Without having to spend so much time stashing things away and picking up the millions of small items around the house every day, I have so much more time to actually play with my kids, do homework, and just be present without the thought in the back of my mind that I need to clean up my house. Owning less makes cleanup fast and easy, and it makes me appreciate the things I do have.

Save money: Decluttering allows you to be aware of what you actually have and need. You will likely refrain from impulsively buying things that you already have other versions of, especially when it comes to toys for kids and adding to your closet.

“When you take time to thoughtfully consider everything you bring into your space or allow to remain there, you’ll start to gravitate towards more useful items, and ones you truly like having around. This makes it much easier to resist impulse purchases.” (thespruce.com)

Start with one drawer. Clean it out, organize and declutter, then move to another drawer or closet when you are ready to tackle another area. See how you feel as you go. I am still in the process of decluttering and although I have donated a lot, I have a long ways to go and a lot of things to learn to part with. There are many places to donate your used items and clothing, and now some children’s stores will buy used kid’s toys, clothing and baby items. Without so many things, you can focus on the people you care about and the experiences you want to have, without the anxiety of managing possessions.

Facing Your Fear of Rejection

The fear of rejection is a powerful feeling that can obstruct our personal development journey by keeping us from stepping outside of our comfort zones to learn and experience something new.  Rejection in public can be an especially terrifying thought that can keep you from speaking up for yourself and your ideas. It can also keep you from pursuing relationships and work opportunities. Many of us have a conflict between wanting to conquer the world and our fear of failure and rejection.

The best way to overcome fear is to create it, and to put ourselves in situations where rejection is going to happen. This is much easier said than done, but I came across a Tedx talk that I feel breaks down this concept to feel more doable on your own level. In his video, “What I learned from 100 days of rejection”, Jia Jiang talks about creating a situation where he is experiencing rejection over and over again in order to desensitize himself from the pain associated with it. The more he experienced rejection, the better he got at understanding how to structure his requests in a way that would more likely get a “yes” answer, as well as learning the importance of following up a “no” with questions to understand why.

Rejection is a necessary part of social change. Unfortunately, rejection in some form is inevitable, but it is not about the rejection that will change and define you. It is about what you do next. You can fear rejection and avoid it at all costs, or you can embrace rejection and turn it into opportunity. Check out Jia Jiang’s blog HERE, where he video documented each day of his journey of rejection. It’s actually pretty hilarious! Jia got his idea by finding www.rejectiontherapy.com, which encourages you to seek out 30 days of rejection. Anyone willing to try it out? I encourage you to seek out one thing today that you can do which will lead to rejection. Try again tomorrow and the next day and document how it felt. Did it get easier? Share your own experiences in the comments!

Meditation for Skeptics

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As a mom of two toddlers I have been trying to catch up on my sleep for about 4 years now. I always figured that I have just become more resilient and can function a full day on less than 4 hours of sleep per night, no problem. I go to sleep far after the boys have gone down for bed, and I wake up earlier than they do to prepare for the day, but as I have gradually gained my sleep hours back, I find that I am still missing something.  I realized that I was not reserving any time for myself to reflect. When the kids are napping or sleeping for the night, I am vigorously trying to get things done. I make all of my phone calls, clean up the house, mow the lawn, do my homework, or plan out the next phase of my day.

 

I love the idea of mindfulness, but I have a hard time committing to it because I love to just get things done. Mindfulness is so much thought with less action, which I have been working on because although it is less gratifying, it really is so beneficial in the long run. Recently I went to a Women’s Summit where at one of the events we took time to meditate. I have never been great at meditating because I have a wandering mind, but we did a guided meditation as a group, and although I did feel my mind wandering a little, at the end of it, which lasted about 10 minutes, I felt like I was waking up from a dream. It was a strange feeling but the rest of the day I felt relaxed and very focused at the same time.

There are tons of mental and spiritual benefits to meditation. It is a great way to declutter your mind and regain focus on what matters most to you. You should try to concentrate on only one thing at a time.

“After you’ve practiced concentration and learned to focus on one thing at a time, you can proceed to the next stage: no thought at all. Achieving a silent mind is difficult, but when to attain it the experience is powerful.”  (Mindful.org)

Our minds are used to complication, so it takes practice to learn to focus on one thing or even nothing at one time.

I realize now that although I was taking time for myself in terms of managing my time to get things done, I wasn’t taking time to relax, put my guard down, and allowing myself to just breathe.  Meditation can help with depression, stress, headaches, attitude, immunity, sleep, creativity, relationships, burnout, GPA, reliance on painkillers; OK… the list goes on and on really. What better reasons to give it a go? I feel more focused and can start my day with a clear head, leaving any stress behind, and center on how I am going to accomplish my goals.

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Most people live with a false sense of emergency, and feel that the last thing they have time to do is meditate, but you can really spend just one minute a day meditating and there are tons of apps to help you get started. My favorite app is Headspace. It is free and can help get you started on an easy pace. If you want to try a guided meditation which is a little less open ended and may help you really get in the zone, listen to Denise Linn’s “33 Spirit Journeys”.

Take the time for yourself today. I was such a skeptic and used to think meditation was weird, but now I swear by it. It gives me a few minutes a day to really tune into what I am feeling and what I want.  If you try it out a few times, I would love to know how you felt about it and if you noticed a difference, especially in your concentration levels.

 

Making a Habit of Gratitude

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For the past couple of weeks I have been working on a gratitude journal. Every day, either morning or night, I write down at least three things that I am grateful for in my life. This process has made me look at a lot of things in life differently, and approach challenges, success and shortfalls with a new perspective.

One big change for me was this past weekend when I was on a team for the Reno Tahoe Odyssey relay race. I was exhausted from having no sleep, my knees were hurting, and I was running 6 miles in the heat of the day in July with no shade. The more I thought about how horrible I felt in that moment, the more I set mental boundaries for myself and the thought of going on was impossible.

I started to think about when I was 9 months pregnant and all I wanted to do was to go running. I missed having the ability to run, which made me miss the feeling of adrenaline and physical freedom. Remembering that feeling made me grateful to be in my situation. I felt grateful to be able to run, to have a support team of good friends and family to do this challenge together, and to have the freedom in my life to choose to participate in this kind of event.

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Long story short, having the gratitude journal has formed a habit of gratitude where instead of stressing over things or thinking negatively, I am starting to automatically find gratitude in whatever circumstances led me to the opportunity in the first place, or to reflect on all of the other good things in my life.

“Studies have traced a range of impressive benefits to the simple act of writing down the things for which we’re grateful—benefits including better sleep, fewer symptoms of illness, and more happiness among adults and kids alike.” (Berkley)

How to get started:

  • Nothing has to be formal or lengthy; if you just want to start with gratitude, make three to five bullet points for things you are grateful for, who you love, what you hope to do, and what you have been able to do in the past. All of this can help you find the gifts in your current life.

 

  • Try and focus on people and opportunities that you are grateful for rather than things in your life. This will help you get more depth and make it more personal.

 

  • Reflect on what your life might look like without certain blessings, rather than just adding up all of the good things.

 

  • Have fun with it. It doesn’t just have to be a list every time, as you can include drawings, photos, and movie tickets.
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After writing down your gratitude, you might find it natural to begin to expand on your thoughts in writing. Writing regularly helps you clarify your thoughts and feelings, solve problems more effectively, reduces stress, and understand your own feelings.  “Writing about stressful events helps you come to terms with them, thus reducing the impact of these stressors on your physical health.” (Psych Central).

Journaling, especially through a time of personal development, helps people keep track of their daily lives and how they change. Most things you do to better yourself can be difficult to measure, but keeping a written record of your experiences and even your down days allows you to look back at how you are handling each day and the challenges in your life, and how you have grown over time.

Tonight, make a list with three bullet points and write down three things that happened today or people in your life that you are thankful for. If you feel inclined to do so, reach out to someone to thank them for something they positively contribute to your life. What are you grateful for?

To the Reno Tahoe Odyssey Teams

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This morning the first runners took off to start a 178-mile relay race around Lake Tahoe, through Genoa and Virginia City and back to Reno. The Reno Tahoe Odyssey is unlike any other race and is far from a competition for most. Around 260 teams gather to support each other and have a great time as they run a beautiful historic and scenic course. Each runner averages three legs of the race and survives on little to no sleep. Thousands of people come together for one event with little competition and a ton of camaraderie.

To the runners:

Cheers to you! You said “Yes” to this crazy idea! Maybe you ran last year and maybe this is your 13th year running, and you came back and said “Yes” again. Committing to your team, training for your miles and preparing for the unexpected, this race is no easy feat. This is a true physical and mental challenge. The people who come back year after year and the ones who spontaneously agree to participate, these are all of the people who make this event so much fun. It is hard to commit to the unknown and it is also hard to commit to repeating something you know was extremely challenging that you have done before.

It is far from glamorous as you spend 26+ hours in a van with people running and sweating, and trying their best to sleep through adrenaline. You might be sleeping in a hotel at the lake, in the Walmart parking lot, or in your van. Here’s to you for stepping out of your comfort zones to be willing to push your limits and grow through discomfort.

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Recognize your supporters. Every runner gets to do this kind of race that lasts two whole days because of someone else. Someone who supports what they are doing. They support the adventure and the challenge. Maybe they are watching your kids while you run, making meals for your team, or even just the one saying, “yeah, go for it!” when you presented this wild idea. These people are the balance that allows you to develop yourself and become resilient.

Once you finish the race you will be completely wiped out, but you and your team will be united and proud because you all did it. You will be stronger, more resilient, and more likely to do an adventurous challenge again. Nothing feels better than running to the finish line of your leg with your team cheering you on. Runners, get out there and cheer everyone on, push yourself, and have an amazing time! I will be running leg 12 so I hope to see you all at the finish line! Good luck to all of the teams!