Making Mountains out of Molehills

One of the leading female runners.
One of the leading female runners. (Photo credit: magandafille)

I have a new motto – and I think that this particular saying is going to save me a lot of stress, make me more productive, and help to return the enthusiasm to my life.

It is – wait for it…Things are only as hard as you make them.

You see, I’ve discovered that I’ve been making things much harder than they actually are – even simple things – and it’s sucking the joy right out of my life.  For example, Thursday is my house cleaning day, and it usually starts out with me grabbing a third cup of coffee while sprawled depressively on the couch – half watching Live with Kelly and Michael and half saddled with the mental burden that I have to clean the house.  Of course, its total nonsense, cleaning the house isn’t necessarily difficult and it doesn’t even take that much time but somehow I always choose to build it up in my mind like I’m setting out to run the Boston Marathon or something. It’s an illusion, a misconception – but I’ve acquired a terrible habit of doing it regarding almost everything.

“Oh my gosh, I said I’d have dinner with my friend tonight, I guess I’d better go get ready for that.”

“Ugh, I haven’t written a blog in over a week.  So.  Much.  Pressure.”

Whiney, whiney, whine.  How did I become this way?  It’s ridiculous.  As a freelance writer I have more time now than I ever have – and yet I think I’m complaining more.  And it’s not even that I’m lazy, while it may sound cliché, I guess I’ve just fallen into the habit of making “mountains out of molehills.” I suppose those old sayings always come from a place of truth – we’ve just learned to tune out the bigger message over time.  But no more.  The first step to recovery is realizing that you have a problem, and I am Marci the Mountain Maker. Or was.  Because now I know  – wait for it…Things are only as hard as you make them.

It’s true, of course.  Getting to the gym is always the hardest part.  Most things in life aren’t brain surgery or rocket science (except for, of course, brain surgery and rocket science, and I don’t plan to do either one of those).  It’s all a matter of perspective – and semantics.  From now on I’m changing my wording.  Instead of saying:

“I have to pick up the kids from school,” I’m going to say “I get to pick up the kids from school” (because spending time with my family is what I’ve always wanted.)

“I have to clean the house,” I’m going to say “I get to clean the house” (because I love my home – and I especially love it when it’s clean.)

“I have to write a blog,” I’m going to say “I get to write a blog” (because I love the way it feels when my thoughts fall neatly into place and I actually discover something meaningful and helpful in my life.)

English: Molehills on farmland near Willoughby...
English: Molehills on farmland near Willoughby House (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The truth is, life is good, and even the mundane little “have to’s” are blessings – but I guess I haven’t been honoring them as such.  But hey, if rediscovering my joy is as easy as a simple shift in perspective then I think I can handle that. I will let my molehills remain molehills – or better yet, maybe I’ll make friends with the mole.

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Marci Wise is the author of Pain, Passion & Purpose. Copyright © 2013 marciwise.com. Material is copyrighted but free to repost as long as proper credit is listed, including our website address.

Breaking Free from the Hype of Perfectionism

(Excerpt from Pain, Passion & Purpose )

You may not know what is going to happen when ...
You may not know what is going to happen when you try, but if you do not try nothing will happen. (Photo credit: deeplifequotes)

In our competitive world we’re constantly bombarded by messages to achieve top status – at record speed – while looking absolutely gorgeous. No pressure there! Without even realizing it, our minds become trained to measure ourselves up against impossibly high standards. It’s no wonder so many of us wakeup feeling defeated and then carry around an underlying layer of sadness. Although it seems that society would prefer for us to think otherwise, perfection is an illusion, and we can break free anytime we choose simply by changing our mindset. Here’s how:

Realize that Nobody’s Perfect – Yep, its true….not your parents, the President, movie stars or the Pope.  Nobody. Everybody makes mistakes, and in fact, mistakes serve the purpose of helping us learn our lessons much more quickly. Change your perception to view them as annoying little friends. Although their presence may not always be pleasant, they’re the necessary tools needed for fine-tuning your efforts to become a happier, more polished person.

Be Kind to Yourself – No one is all good or all bad. Make an honest assessment of your own unique areas of strength and weakness. When you do find a fault, don’t constantly berate yourself. The negative messages we send to ourselves can often have longer lasting effects than any the world could throw at us. Strive to keep your self-talk as positive as possible by always acknowledging something good about yourself for every shortcoming. 

Be Kind to Others – As we become more accepting of our own faults we naturally become more understanding of others. The false notion of perfection begins to fall away and our expectations become more realistic. Owning up to our own mistakes doesn’t allow for a “holier than thou attitude.” In many ways, becoming friends with imperfection makes the world a kinder and gentler place.

trying times

Take action to Improve – When you do screw up – just fix it. Simply accept that what’s done is done and make sure that the next decision brings you closer to your desired outcome. It’s a simple as that. With every new day we get another chance to try again. Don’t allow yourself to be held hostage by guilt or shame. Diffuse the power of those demeaning feelings by being brave admitting any fault and apologizing, if necessary.

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Marci Wise is the author of Pain, Passion & Purpose. Copyright © 2013 marciwise.com. Material is copyrighted but free to repost as long as proper credit is listed, including our website address.

Until We Meet Again

Today, I’m very sad. I just found out that a wonderful person that I talk about in my book Pain, Passion & Purpose has died. I’m still awaiting details but I suspect that it was a suicide.

DSC00250 Never Laughs Mountain
DSC00250 Never Laughs Mountain (Photo credit: AlbertaScrambler)

I met David online when someone referred him to me for writing advice. What I found was a powerful storyteller – a person who had lived an amazing life – full of dramatic highs and lows.  I couldn’t see that he needed any advice on writing but what I could see was that he needed a friend.  He had been fighting a life-long battle with depression and had already made suicide attempts in the past.  Yet, in the good moments, this was a person of exceptional clarity, wit and charm.  He loved to mountain climb and sail, and all of the hard challenges in his life had made him a deep and thoughtful thinker, contemplating the nature of life and God.

In many ways, he was more “alive” than anyone I know.  I suppose it’s because he “felt” everything.  There was nothing numb about David.  I admired that and sort of wished that I could live with the sense of abandon and freedom that he did.  But of course, the other side of that coin is the lows. Not all feelings are good – and at times a suffocating heaviness would creep up on him and cast a shadow on his amazing shining Spirit.

DavidWhen we first met, I was writing a book about pain and the purpose it serves in our lives – so I asked him if I might share some of his journey.  He enthusiastically agreed saying that he wanted to make it all count for something and “help people.”

With such a sense of poise, depth and intelligence, I suppose I naively believed that David would find his way out of the darkened spiral within which he found himself.  But it appears that he didn’t.  I regret that he never got to see the book – to see how his example might just serve as a saving grace for someone else – but I suppose it just wasn’t meant to be.

He was a person with much to say – and a life story to rival any major motion picture.  In the sources section of my book, I provide a link to David’s personal blog where he routinely laid out the raw and real details of his life and struggles.  And in it you’ll also find the most divinely inspiring glimpses of hope – of someone walking so close to the other side that he sometimes just wasn’t sure which one to call home.

Although I didn’t know you long, David – I honor the life you lived and will continue to use your life as an inspiration for others.  I only wish I could have helped to ease your own personal pain.  One thing we shared in common was awe for the miraculous nature of life and the fact that we could feel something very powerful and mysterious at work behind the scenes.  I find comfort in the thought than perhaps now you can see beyond the veil and are reunited with that loving and peaceful energy.  Blessings my friend – I’m so glad that I got to know you – if even for a short while.

Marci Wise is the author of Pain, Passion & Purpose. Copyright © 2013 marciwise.com. Material is copyrighted but free to repost as long as proper credit is listed, including our website address.

Perfect Wisdom from an Imperfect Dad

Me and dadYes, my dad looked like the Godfather – and he certainly did make me a few “offers that I couldn’t refuse” – but his unique brand of tough love also taught me the true value of respect, loyalty and hard work.

While there were times when daddy definitely veered over into the gray area of what could actually be considered good parenting (he had a volatile temper that could flare up without warning), he really did want to see us all do well in life.  He died when I was 25, so he never got to meet my kids or share in many of my life’s milestones so I often wonder what he would think of me now.

Despite the fact that he’s gone, his gruff yet well-meaning advice still echoes in my ears all these years later:

1. “Don’t be Stupid!” – This was my Italian father’s way of saying, make your choices carefully and think about what you’re doing.  Now that years of self-therapy have revealed to me that I’m actually not stupid and simply trying not to show it – I can see the value of the deeper message.  We each steer our own ship – and it’s our job to make sure that it stays on course.  We need to own our own power and take that job seriously. Got it.

2. “I’ll cover my own ass first, and then (maybe) I’ll cover yours” – While this may sound rather harsh, when you think about it, it’s true.  It’s the mindset of a survivor. While it might be more polite to say “In the event of an emergency, place the oxygen mask over your own face first, and then help others” – the fact is that you can’t help anyone unless you’re first in a position to do so.

3. “Pace Yourself” – I think this advice has been the most useful to me.  It seems like life can easily take on the speed of an out of control freight train – if we don’t consciously decide to put on the brakes now and then.  It’s important to slow things down enough to keep your clarity, energies and priorities all focused in the right place. While we’re a society that prizes achievement, being deliberate in your actions will help ensure that you’re happy with the outcomes.

4. “Give it 110%” – While this may sound in conflict to “pace yourself,” I think he was really talking about perseverance here. Never stop trying. Even if you have to start at the bottom and work your way up the ladder one step at a time – just keep climbing.  When you think about it, that’s what really separates the winners from the losers – staying in the game (both physically and mentally).

Pain, Passion & PurposeI talk a lot about growing up with my dad in my book Pain, Passion & Purpose (that’s the self-therapy that I was telling you about) and sometimes I feel a little guilty about pointing out his imperfections.  But then I realize that maybe that was actually the greatest gift he ever gave me; the realization that we don’t have to be perfect for our lives to matter. And he did matter to me – and still does after all these years.  Thanks dad, I sure hope I’ve made you proud.

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Marci Wise is the author of Pain, Passion & Purpose. Copyright © 2013 marciwise.com. Material is copyrighted but free to repost as long as proper credit is listed, including our website address.

Harnessing the Power of Dreaming

Finding Meaning in the Mysterious _Understanding Our DreamsHave you ever wondered if dreaming serves a larger purpose in our lives than simply animating our nighttime hours with rambled images and vague recollections?  Many believe it does.  In fact, some say that if we can just learn to understand the subconscious meaning of our dreams we may just develop greater insight into our deepest lingering questions.

I’ve always been a vivid dreamer.  It’s not uncommon for me to remember up to three separate dreams upon waking – all of them in full detail.  However, not everything in the dreams makes logical sense in the light of day.  That’s where the help of a dream interpreter can come in handy.

English: Still frame from White House video of...

In an effort to find out more about this fascinating aspect of human nature, I interviewed Dream Expert Laurie Quinn Loewenberg – and found out that there is definitely a benefit to deciphering these hidden messages.  Not only can we solve our own personal dilemmas quicker and more easily by understanding the symbolic messages of our dreams but perhaps even tap into a rich and undiscovered area of inspiration. Throughout time, some of the greatest works of art and invention have been received through dreams: Paul McCartney “found” the song Yesterday in a dream – Stephen King dreamed the entire premise of his best seller Misery while napping on an airplane – and Jack Nicklaus found sporting fame by emulating an improved version of his golf swing that he saw while dreaming.

English: Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth Presid...
English: Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth President of the United States. Latviešu: Abrahams Linkolns, sešpadsmitais ASV prezidents. Српски / Srpski: Абрахам Линколн, шеснаести председник Сједињених Америчких Држава. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Some dreams even appear to defy the laws of logic. I remember my mother had a dream that she found a long-lost ring under the refrigerator.  The next morning, out of curiosity, she decided to check that spot – and sure enough, there it was!  Abraham Lincoln was said to have had a premonition of his own death in a dream, recounting the chilling details of his eventual assassination to those around him – days before it actually occurred.

So how can we harness this power to our advantage?  Here are interpretations of some of the most common dreams:

Falling:  Something in your life feels out of control and you feel the need slow it down and reassess the situation.

Flying: This is an empowered dream reflecting happiness, contentedness and the fact that you’re moving in the right direction with your life.

Death: Not to be taken literally, this dream simply implies a time of change (or need for change).

Birth: Indicates that you’re are embarking on a new venture and investing yourself in a time of free-flowing creativity.

Animal dreams: When dreaming of an animal, immediately ask yourself what qualities the animal represents to you – then relate those qualities to yourself.  Do you have them, or do you aspire to have them?

If you have trouble remembering your dreams, it’s important to try to recall them first thing upon waking before even moving your position. Loewenberg recommends keeping a dream journal by your bedside and recording your dreams in dated entries.  With time and reflection it’s not uncommon to see repeated patterns appearing in your dreams.  Who knows, you might just discover something remarkable!

In my book Finding Meaning in the Mysterious: Understanding our Dreams, you’ll discover more about the power of dreaming – and Loewenberg will tell us why our nightmares are the most important dreams of all!

Copyright © 2013 marciwise.com. Material is copyrighted but free to repost as long as proper credit is listed, including our website address. Marci Wise is the author of Pain, Passion & Purpose. Please “like” us on Facebook.