Category: The Charge Blog

Not Everyone Needs To Follow Their Passion

Everyone nowadays thinks that the pinnacle of self-expression and self-actualization is to follow your passion. The thinking goes that you must be passionate about work or you are basically dead and living a worthless life.

In fact, this has become somewhat of a litmus test to assess whether we are living a good life or even whether we are living a valuable life. It seems that the common thinking has become that if we don’t follow our passions, then we are wasting our life, that we are asleep, we are lazy or scared.

But that is not the case.

Not everyone’s life is defined by their work. And not everyone’s passion is their work.
Following your passion can mean more than one thing. As long as we have passion in our lives somewhere, as long as we are passionate about something, then we are living a life that’s worth living.

Because life should have passion as well as stability, life should have play and excitement, as well as structure and continuity. And maybe your work supports your other passions, those things that move you, like travel, friends, or your family.

So what do I have to say to people who are decidedly and, even consciously, not following their passion because they have other passions? I say, go forth and do you.

Because following your passion is not always an easy choice nor is it a sure path to happiness and I can tell you that because I follow my passions (in the plural) when it comes to work.

Unless you are doing this for one reason and only one reason, following what you consider your passion, will leave you frustrated and disappointed.

I will get to that reason shortly, but first, let’s talk about why following your passion is not always what people think it is.

Firstly, following your passion is not a road paved with gold that leads to millions of pounds and untold riches. Most people who follow their passion build things brick by brick and often, especially if your passion involves the creative arts or entrepreneurship, you are likely to be broke at times, sometimes frequently, and for lengthy periods of time.

And trust me, financial instability is not for the faint of heart. Moving back in with your parents, which is what I had to do in my 30s, is probably not going to be the highlight of your life.

I am not saying that you can’t make money following your passions, because right now is one of the best times ever for doing what you love, just because we live in such a globalized world with so much access, but that doesn’t make it a surety or easy.

The bigger pie, to which we now all have access, has just as many people with spoons at the ready … and they are eager and hungry! And also, if you do this for the money, you most likely won’t survive, because making money through your passions is a long game, not a short one. I know of people that basically worked for free for 7 years before they started making a sustainable income.

Secondly, following your passion doesn’t mean it’s fun. I know, I know. Now I am really ruining it for you. But this is what I mean; it is still work. You have to show up every day and put in the hours and there will be things that, just like with any job, you don’t enjoy doing. In my work, for instance, the passion for what I do is an overall feeling, rather than a daily feeling of elation and joy.

I love building things that mean something to myself and others, and I love to express my ideas through words as well as design (in the case of my fashion business), but am I passionate about updating the website? No. Am I passionate about social media? Not really.

There are a multitude of tasks I dislike as much as you dislike about your work and following my passion doesn’t make these mundane tasks more fun, it just makes them a little more meaningful, because they are part of the whole. I can understand why I need to do them, but I don’t always enjoy them.

I think this one is important to focus on, and think about, because so many people say, admiringly, to their crazy friends, who are bravely following their passion, something along the lines of, ‘well, at least you enjoy it’ or ‘it must be great fun’. Sometimes, it is great fun. But sometimes it’s not and sometimes it’s boring and sometimes it basically sucks.

Thirdly, there is a myth that by following your passion, you have more flexibility and a better work-life balance. Again, incorrect. Obviously, this depends on the industry, but you may actually have less of a balance because, if you are obsessed with your work, like me, it’s difficult to draw a line between work and play.

When you love what you do, you can find that you really need to be conscious of carving out time for other things, which, in the long term, you would be sad to miss out on in your life experience.

It’s also the case that your schedule is often determined by the demands of your customer and suppliers and other stakeholders. If you are the boss or a freelancer, you are not necessarily more in charge of your day or calendar, at least not for a long time.

So far, I am making this sounds hopeless and pointless. And so I’ll answer the question: Why do we follow our passion? What is the one and only reason you should follow your passion?

The answer is this – because you cannot not do it. You must do it. You are called to do it. And that voice keeps whispering through years and years, even if you try and ignore it. You can’t live without it and, if you had to, your life would be smaller, dimmer, less fulfilling, and one in which your full talent and potential are not being given life.

That is the only reason. Not for money, not for fame, nor for ease, not because you’re bored, not because it’s cool to have a business or start-up or foundation or creative venture, not for access to men or women, not for status or power.

Only because you seem to have no choice but to follow the call, and that call is as much a part of you as your blood and bones.

So, think about your reason. Before you dive into pursuing your passion, with all the trials and tribulations that path sometimes includes, and all the sacrifices in time, money, and relationships; think about what’s important to you.

Because, truly, not everyone needs to follow their passion at work to have a life filled with passion and meaning!

What do you think? Do you pursue your passion for a living? And why?

following your passion

From Fear to Faith: Overcoming the Lies We Tell Ourselves

From starting to stalled. Excited to deflated. Passion-filled to filled with self-doubt.

You see, my thoughts and I… we don’t have the healthiest of relationships. 

For all my life, I’ve been everyone else’s cheerleader.  Helping others realize their potential and feel good about who they are is a real passion for me.

But what happens when the same voice that encourages everyone else discourages her own self? 

That’s my story.  I’ve often allowed my fears, doubts, and suffering self-esteem to override any good sense I’ve been blessed with. 

Those fears began to produce unhealthy patterns, thoughts, and behaviors.  I got into abusive relationships, stopped taking care of my health, and allowed my identity to become who everyone else said I was. 

Over time, these sneaky, self-defeating lies and patterns become so familiar to us that we get comfortable with the dysfunction, even if it’s killing us.

If your inner critic is a loud, obnoxious, constant talker like mine, all hope is not lost. 

So, what do you do when your own worst enemy is you? How do we break free from the lies that hold us at arm’s length from our dreams; always hoping but never actually achieving?

Joyce Meyer says it best, “You cannot have a positive life and a negative mind.”  Believing everything you think can set you up to fail before you even begin. 

We can challenge our ‘stinking thinking’ by becoming more mindful of what we allow to aimlessly wander through our hearts and minds.

Settling for less than we deserve and accepting lies as truth, is not something we have to put up with anymore.   

We all have a story to tell.  Some are darker and more painful than others with more twists and turns.  In my case, there was a lot of dysfunction and emotional abuse, lacking in love and acceptance.

Your story may be different from mine, but I’d be willing to bet most of us have experienced some difficult days that have shaken our confidence and trust.

If you see yourself in any of these lies, I invite you to face the lie for what it is so you too can grow into a life you love.

I’m not ready.

Healthy caution when making most life decisions is a good thing. Rushing into marriage, a career choice, or a business partnership without weighing the pros and cons could end in disaster.

However, there are times in our lives when our hesitancy is no longer healthy. Truth is – if we wait until we are “ready” for many decisions – we will never start.

If you find yourself stuck in a rut of overthinking; could it be you know what’s right, but are just afraid to go for it?

As a woman of strong Christian faith, I like to ask myself this question as I pray over it, “Do I have peace about it?” If something in my gut/spirit feels off, there’s probably a reason.

Let’s be honest, though. How often is, “I’m not ready,” or “I can’t, because…” just a cover-up for “I’m afraid to…?”

What I’ve discovered in my own life is that sometimes I just have to do it afraid.  When we are doing something we’ve never done before, it’s going to feel uncomfortable and uncertain.  That’s why it’s called, “getting out of our comfort zone.” 

I’ve just decided that I’d rather try and fail than look back 10 years from now and mourn for all I didn’t do.  What about you?

I’m not as good as them.

I’ve struggled with this one a lot throughout my life.  The more I compared myself to others, the more I lost sight of what makes me one-of-a-kind.  Instead of focusing on what I do have, my fixation became on all that I didn’t have or couldn’t do.

Because my focus was wrong,  I ended up doing nothing at all.  

We humans tend to have a bad habit of looking at someone else’s best and comparing it to our worst.

What would you say if I told you that when the person you look up to considered your strengths against their weaknesses – they’d feel exactly the same as you do?

That’s right.

Truth is, no one has all the answers. No one has it all figured out. There’s not a “secret formula to success,” that the person you admire has the monopoly on.

Most likely, they’ve just put in the work that it required to get where they are — which means you can too.

You weren’t designed to be a carbon copy of anyone. It’s fine to be inspired by others, but just remember, there is something you offer that no one else can.

It is good to be different. What makes you unique is what makes you shine.

They’re not smarter, better looking, the “right” age, or more talented — they’re just different from you. And you are different from them. My friend, that’s a truth worth celebrating.

I am learning to show up as my authentic self, no matter what others think.  Guess what happens next?  We begin to form real relationships with people who actually like who we are and what we offer.          

The needs of others matter more than my own.

I’m a recovering people-pleaser. Far too often, my value was tied to how well I served others and what they thought of me.

If you can relate, then you know the end to this story: burnout, frustration, emptiness, exhaustion, and unhealthy habits.

Self-love is not selfish. In fact, it is the very opposite. If you love those around you and want to be there for them, taking care of you is the perfect place to start.

Consider these examples for how to show yourself some love today:

  • Take time out to rest, even if only for a moment
  • Practice saying no when something doesn’t work for you and don’t allow yourself to feel guilty for it
  • Let go of toxic relationships
  • Heal from unhelpful mindsets through coaching or counseling
  • Find time for health-and-happiness-boosting activities
  • Be mindful of the foods you put into your body
  • Forgive yourself for past mistakes and wrong turns in life
  •  Boundaries are good. Don’t forget to use them wisely

We really do teach people how to treat us.  As I learned to treat myself with kindness and respect, I realized what was and wasn’t working in my life. 

Anyone who doesn’t respect your boundaries doesn’t respect you. 

I have to be perfect.

Perfectionism is a poison that many of us, including myself, drink every day and wonder why we aren’t well.

May I ask you a question?

Would you rather be friends with, and learn from, someone who is humble and shows their struggles; or someone who seems to never struggle with anything?

Most of us long to connect with the stories of others who have been where we are. It makes us feel less alone in our mess.

The world doesn’t need more phony, filtered, “perfection.” What we need are people willing to be real –  sharing the good, bad, and the ugly.

You have the power to make someone else see the hope in their own story. What you’ve been through can serve a purpose. Your pain doesn’t have to be in vain.

Choose the power of authenticity over the illusion of perfection. We are all growing and learning.  We will make mistakes along the way, hopefully, learn from them, and be better for it. 

I’ll be happy when ____.

Ever said this lie to yourself? I sure have. We convince ourselves that when we have a certain thing, reach a certain weight or goal, suddenly we’ll be happy.

It’s okay for us to have goals and to work toward growth in our lives. These are healthy, but it becomes unhealthy when we get so future-focused that we miss the gift of here and now.

No, we may not be where we want to be, but look how far you’ve come since last year, or even a few months ago! Celebrate that with a heart full of gratitude and notice how much happier you instantly feel.

Gratitude is a weapon. Use it.

I re-visit that quote from Joyce Meyer about being unable to have a positive life while thinking negative thoughts. 

It’s not easy, but little by little, I’ve been training myself to take those lying, mean-spirited thoughts, out to the trash where they belong.  You can too.

In my office, there is print art that reads, “The past is your lesson, the present is your gift, the future is your motivation.” 

Let’s choose joy right now.  In the simple things.  It could be the smell or flavor of your favorite cup of coffee, the way a fresh breeze feels against your skin, or the way your pet makes you laugh and feel unconditionally loved. 

Whatever it is for you, how about we determine that “I’ll be happy when___” turns into, “I’ll be happy now because this moment is a gift not everyone was given.”

Letting go of the lies.

By no means do I intend to make letting go of these lies sound easy. A lie must be replaced by a truth. Changing our minds is a process.

It is possible, though. One step, one day, one thought, at a time.

Challenge yourself to think about what you’re thinking about. You might find patterns in your thinking that are holding you back out of fear, and keeping you stuck in limitations that you may not have even created.

As you work your way through those cobwebs of lies, you’ll begin to see possibility where you only saw problems. You are worthy.

What lies do you tell yourself?  What is the best piece of advice you could give others who are struggling in the same way?

I’d love to hear your thoughts!  Great conversation helps everyone!

lies we tell ourselves

Don’t Wait For Life To Come At You

You are in danger of living a life so comfortable and soft, that you will die without ever realizing your true potential.

David Goggins, Can’t Hurt Me

Are you at a place in your life where the above quote rings a bell? Is there a nagging thought in your head that goes like this?

“My life is meant to be more…”

Do you feel a bit overwhelmed though because you’re not quite sure what to do?

I understand completely what that is like. I’ve been there. I know how impossible it can all feel. I understand how weak it can make you seem to yourself.

You are not weak, though, and change is possible. Will you keep reading to know more? I hope so.

The problem with growth, healing, and, ultimately, becoming who we are meant to be is…


It’s one hell of a roadblock. 

Fear of not knowing where or how to start. Fear of what might change because of the change required. Fear of having to deal with things being run away from. Fear of losing things or someone you’ve been holding on to for too long.

It’s hard and scary, but as the quote above at the top of this post insinuates…

…do you want to live your entire life missing out on your true potential?

I drank for a really long time to avoid all of this. Alcohol was fun at first in college, but at twenty-four I started self-medicating when I suffered a tragically emotional event. 

There was so much grief, guilt, and shame wrapped up in it, and with no one to talk to, I turned to alcohol. It became my best friend and numbing agent for thirteen years.

And then 2014 came along where I lost my mom to pancreatic cancer in less than six months and became a father a little over three months after she died. 

I became a parent while losing a parent.

The truth is this duality broke me. Even in the face of being a new father, I was drowning in grief. Not only that, but my unnamed alcoholism was almost quite literally drowning me as well.

Grief and alcohol. 

There is only one way that that dangerous combo can go which is down.

I hit rock bottom in June of 2015 and that is when I realized that life was forcing me to change.

I’ll spare you extensive details about my journey between then and now. You can learn more about how my self-growth and healing journey began, but in essence…

  • I befriended my grief
  • Dealt with bankruptcy
  • Battled alcoholism
  • Got sober
  • Relapsed
  • Got and stayed sober for good
  • Got divorced while learning to be sober
  • Started life all over with no money
  • 2020 COVID pandemic and now…

…here we are.

What do I have to show for it?

I have my sobriety, my mind, my body, my spirit, and, most importantly, my son.

Where did it all begin?

When my mom died.

I know that might seem morbid, but it’s literally just the truth. My mother’s death was the catalyst that forced me to change everything in my life in order to start becoming who I was meant to be for myself and my son.

This is my story of change. Would I prefer that my mom was here and I got to watch her and my son playing together? 

Hell yes, but that’s not part of my story. I railed against that truth for a very long time, but once I released a hold on a future that I thought was intended for me that is when life started to truly change for the better.

Learn from my story. 

Don’t wait for life to force you to change, but change nonetheless. Even if you think you have it all figured out, remember that life is a marathon and not a sprint. 

Becoming who you are meant to be takes a lifetime. It has to start somewhere, somehow and sometime. 

Do you have the courage to look within you and find what needs to shift in order to become who you are meant to be?

If so, what is one thing you can change starting today that will move you in that direction?

don't wait for life

Everything I Never Told You: My Life As A Highly Sensitive Person

To feel intensely is not a symptom of weakness.

– Anthon St. Maarten

Growing up, I was that girl who would easily find myself grumpy at the simplest situations. I couldn’t stand the sounds of people chewing loudly at a restaurant or indulging in loud talks or even whispering to one another. It would just sweep my mind to endless thoughts, and I would get tangled in toxic emotions. By the end of the day, my face would twitch into an unhappy expression if I wouldn’t be able to interpret all the experiences I had encountered. This would leave me drained, upset, and heavy at heart.

I would get easily offended at everything, take things personally at times, imagine people talking about me behind my back. At other times, my mood would swing like a pendulum between the extremities of happiness and sadness. All this would leave me overwhelmed, and I would push myself to delve deeper into questions like:

“Why am I so different ?”

“Why can’t I just be like the rest of my friends?”

“Why did his words matter so much to me?”

“Why did I feel so disturbed at the party last night?”

My questions would swirl on and on.

I tried to fit into my friend circle by going out to late-night parties with them, dancing to loud music, even though I found the disco lights overwhelming and intimidating. Despite having no interest, I tried to participate in their discussions about movies and celebrities, pretending like I was at par with their knowledge. I learned to enjoy listening to pop music and going to cinemas to watch the latest movies. I dived into group discussions and social interactions at every opportunity; going for coffee with the girls over the weekends, learning to use swear words in public like others, and so much more. I tried to keep myself busy with dance classes, gym, and cocktail parties else, my wounds that were forming beneath the surface would reappear and leave me gloomy and nervous. I just knew that I was different from the people around me, and that was something I had to keep under wraps.

All the sudden changes I made in my life to be like everyone else left me emotionally drained. I would wear a fake smile even if I was deeply hurt by someone’s harsh comments. At night, I would sob and shed tears to myself, recalling every moment the pain had pricked me through. Life would be miserable and lonely. I would spend hours pondering over how people could be so rude and insolent. All this would just leave me more upset as I would have no option but to hold myself responsible for the wrong that happened to me. 

Many years have flown by, and now I have learned to embrace my identity as a highly sensitive person. I have learned to provide an outlet for my feelings and let loose the devils that continue to haunt me all the time. I cry when I am exasperated and intimidated, even if it’s in public. I’m no more ashamed to do so, nor do I fear being ridiculed or laughed at. I love my personality and the beautiful person it has molded me into. 

Yes, I consider being sensitive as an admirable quality because we have the capability to feel emotions acutely and process information deeply. It’s more like a blessing in disguise. We stand out from the crowd in several ways. We possess the ability to sympathize with people and relate to what people are going through. We can have the rare ability to experience things at a deeper level and appreciate them like the chirping of birds, the steady flow of water, the whispering of leaves on a windy day, the fragrances, or even the shades of nature.

The day I realized my superpowers, I mustered the courage to fix my fragile heart, tear away my fake smile and let go of things that were fretting me.

The transformation was challenging because I had to learn to be honest and authentic after spending my whole teenage life pretending to be someone I wasn’t. I learned to say “no” when I didn’t have time for others and avoided watching scary movies and violent TV shows. 

Instead, I learned to spend time with myself, going out for a walk in the garden on a calm morning, and listening to the chirping of birds. I learned to avoid talking and stay away from people who overstimulated my emotions.

That’s also when I started working on my writing skills by reading books of various genres so that it would enable me to pen down my thoughts and share my story with the world one day. I painted, I sang, I wrote – I did everything that would keep my head and spirits high.

I learned to surround myself with people who would accept my authentic self, respect my emotional boundaries, and encourage me to be the person I am. I still empathize with people, feel things deeply, and cry easily — after all, being highly sensitive isn’t something you can change. But I’ve learned to embrace who I am. 

Having discovered my rare abilities and the way it makes me stand out from the rest of the crowd will never want me to pretend ever again or be like others.

I have finally found a sense of peace and self-acceptance. I never thought I could be the true person I am in this fast-paced world where we are bombarded with countless emotions every second.

My message to all the HSP’s out there:

You don’t have to pretend to be someone that you are not. You don’t have to fake a smile or laugh forcefully. There’s beauty that lies within your heart: be sensitive, be caring and be YOU!

highly sensitive person

5 Lessons I Learned After Losing Everything

I have had the privilege of losing everything.

– Byron Katie

I was rich at one point in my life. I felt on top of the world and yet, emptier than ever.

I was aware that I was grinding myself to the bone, but that wasn’t enough to stop my push forward. It wasn’t enough, it was never enough. I wanted more, more.

One faithful day, my luck ran out. The sleep deprivation was compounding. I hit my breaking point. I was staring at my monitor in disbelief. I had lost 75% of my net worth in a split second. The only consolation prize was an email in my inbox informing me that I lost a ton of money.

I was a day trader. I was a gambler. I won millions, then lost it all. Through an unfathomable chain of events, I turned a small sum of money into a fortune, only to lose it all back.

The worst part was I spent the next two years trying to climb up that same mountain I had once claimed. This time, the outcome was different. I wasn’t getting lucky any longer, I was watching my sanity evaporate.

Fast forward a year. My lease is about to run out. I’m down to my last few thousand dollars. I don’t know where to turn and the walls are closing in on me.

This was my moment of defeat. I had to admit, I failed. I met my biggest fear, being broke. Being a failure. It was destiny and I had to swallow the worst imaginable pain I had ever endured.

All the doors that were once open for me closed. One by one, I tried to force these doors to open again, only to realize they had been shut for good.

That was a little over 2 years ago. Since then, I’ve started over from zero. It was the hardest experience I had to go through. I know how difficult it can be when the walls are closing in on you. It’s suffocating. It feels hopeless. The light seems an eternity away.

But I made it to the other side. Hopefully, you can learn something from the hard lessons I had to endure. Below are the five lessons I learned from losing everything.

1. If you’re not helping, you’re hurting.

During my rollercoaster ride, I had made decision after decision to put my own success before anyone else. That meant above my family, friends, and even myself. I thought that if I worked hard enough, I could make it up later.

I was dead wrong. I wasn’t helping anyone. I was only hurting everyone around me. And for what? Money in the bank? Status? Luxury? Security?

I had lost sight of what was important. I thought that I would find happiness in the end, but when I got there, the only thing left was a black void. I had stomped my way to victory forgetting to look behind me. I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror. I was a husk of my former self.

Personal success is important, but if you don’t find a way to help people along your journey, you won’t find any satisfaction no matter how high you climb. You have to bring people along with you, otherwise, you’ll look around one day and realize you’re standing alone.

2. Question your motives.

I bought into the “hustle” mentality early in my 20s. The only thing I “grinded” out was my mental state. I was running on empty for years which led to extreme burnout.

When I had lost the last few dollars to my name, I was left questioning my path. I kept replaying the years over my head, where did it all go wrong?

My biggest mistake was thinking that I would find happiness after accomplishing my goals. To tell you the truth, I resented myself. I wished that the self-inflicted suffering would end. But I still pushed on, thinking that it would change after crossing the finish line.

Nothing changed, I only sunk myself deeper into a hole. If you aren’t finding happiness right this second, you won’t find it after crossing off your checklist. Question your motives and what’s driving you, because if it’s fueled by ego, you’ll only prolong the inevitable.

3. If it’s not working, pivot.

I tried for months to go down the path that the universe was so desperately trying to get me to steer off of. I was stubborn, I’m not the type to give up. But it didn’t matter. Years ago I went through a spiritual awakening and this experience felt like it was shattering what was left of my ego.

I kept trying to force who I thought I was. I felt like an outline of myself rather than a full-bodied person. I had to make a change.

It was more than hard facing reality and admitting that I had to start over. All of my hard work was for nothing. It wasn’t for nothing in hindsight, but it did feel like that at the time.

If your path no longer feels magical and the energy has been zapped out of existence, it might be a sign to pivot. When you’re in line with your deepest being, you won’t need to force it. I’ve found in my life that if things were meant to be, you won’t have to go looking for them. 

4. You have to accept.

You have to give up to get better. When I felt suffocated with no hope, I had to accept my destiny. I was broke, gutted, and without any means to provide for myself. That was my reality. Until I accepted it fully, I wasn’t able to move forward.

Acceptance is the key to finding peace. Even in your darkest moments, peace is available. I know it sounds counter-intuitive, but peace does not mean happiness. It means being ok with the present moment, without argument. Until you’re able to accept where you are, you’ll be stuck fighting against the current.

Flow with life. We all have to go through our own unique rollercoaster ride. The job in life is found when that ride comes back up.

5. It takes time.

Having to wait is painful. I felt that life would never turn around. I thought that I would never feel happiness or peace ever again.

You know how when one thing goes bad, everything starts to go bad? It was like that. I would feel that I was making progress only to be set back further. I was forced to take a good look at everything leading up to that moment.

I had to make big changes in my life, otherwise, I would be doomed to a life of unhappiness. I am so, so thankful that the invisible force of the universe brought me to my knees and made me look at what I was doing dead in the eye.

As long as the last few years felt, I wouldn’t change it. Even though I’m much less well off, I know that I’m going down the right path. I’ve helped more people than I can count and I plan to continue helping until my last day on Earth.

Final Thoughts

If you’re in a period of turmoil right now, know that it WILL get better. But it will only get better if you put in the effort. You don’t need to do a 180 today, but you do need to bring yourself one inch closer to the light.

Ask yourself what is important to you. Dig down and find what would make life worth living. And then go and live that life. We only have so little time here on Earth, it would be a shame to waste even a second of it.


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Shedding Your Armor

You deserve to be loved without having to hide the parts of yourself you think are unlovable.

Today I turn 51.

Four simple words. And yet, my heart flutters as a type, and I feel something akin to…fear. I have lied about my age for so long that I feel as if I’m pulling off some armor of acceptance. I fear if I “out” myself for being over a certain age, I will suddenly be deemed, unworthy, unattractive, unrelatable even unlovable.

As I type. I realize how crazy and superficial it sounds. I also realize how real it feels.

Let me explain.

I was told to start lying about my age at 26.

I worked in the entertainment industry in TV and Radio Broadcasting with some small acting work thrown in the mix here and there. As a woman in that field at that time, age, experience, and wisdom weren’t valued. The qualities of youth, vitality, energy, and attractiveness were important and considered “marketable”. (It took me a long time to learn they these qualities are not mutually exclusive of each other).

And so began a decades long career of lying. I use the word “career” literally and figuratively.

However, I wasn’t just lying at work or at auditions. I was lying about my age to friends, acquaintances, dates.

The more I lied, the more I believed THE LIE that if I revealed my real age people’s perception of me would change for the worse.

As I started to unravel the neurosis that I had built myself, I realized that we all hide the things about ourselves that we think will make people perceive us as “less than”.

The hidden parts can be actual literal things… like our thighs, our salary, our age. They can also be qualities and characteristics that we think make us unworthy, like our insecurity, our anger, our mental health issues.
As I started pulling the hanging thread on this jumbled ball of myself, the more I shook loose. I realized that although my age was what I was overtly hiding from the world, it was just a symptom of so many other things I was hiding, first and foremost from myself.

And so began what I like to call the dissection process. The cutting apart and examining myself with the precision of a surgeon and the compassion and gentleness of a nurse.

 Finding old wounds, old blocks, old triggers was a slow and tedious process. Once I discovered what these areas were, I moved on to the slow and painful process of figuring out where these issues stemmed from. The final step was healing. Healing was also slow, tedious, and painful, yet invaluable.

Healing involved forgiving myself for the traits and things that I thought made me “less than” or lacking and realizing that they were not flaws, just parts of being human.

My best friend passed away at 37. My brother died 6 months ago at 58.

I now know age is something to be grateful for, to be celebrated, admired, lauded. Each day is truly a gift. 
My “age hang-up” was just a symptom. 

I also now know that the things each one of us hides under our custom-designed ,impenetrable armor are also things to be grateful for. 

The purpose of our lives, as I see it, is to explore, understand, and tap into the beautiful wholeness that we are. Those “soft spots” and perceived shortcomings are where the real work begins. Not in “fixing” what we think to be the problem, but in realizing that there are no problems, only opportunities for growth.

5 Reasons Every Job is an Opportunity

Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.

– Thomas Edison

A part of me wanted to blame myself. Another part wanted to blame employers for not recognizing talent. And yet another part wanted to blame God.

I was working a job I didn’t care for after years of studying and preparing for an occupation in my field. Sound familiar at all?

By my final semester of college, I’d heard the gamut of wisdom and statistics shared by leadership figures and polls alike: “Most employers don’t even care about college degrees.” “Only about 27% of graduates work a job in their field.”

I blew it off at the time, believing that I would be the successful exception to those naysayers. I graduated with a B.A. in English Language and Literature/Letters with good grades and a thorough enjoyment for the education I received. Not only did my courses give me a better understanding of the field, but more importantly, they opened my mind to higher education. I gained respect and garnered interest for many different subjects across a bunch of different studies.

I always loved writing and believed that one day I could make a living off of it. After graduating, I was excited to get out there and demonstrate my skills to the world.

You can imagine my disappointment when I failed to do that.

I applied to several local newspapers, journals, and digital media outlets, citing my prior experience writing feature articles in my alma mater’s publications as a hard sell. I never heard back from most applications. Some rejected me. My own college even turned me down for a course editing position. Everywhere I looked, I ran into brick walls. My degree wasn’t earning me the career I felt entitled to claim.

But life doesn’t slow down when you can’t find work. So what did I do?

I did what many people have to do. I found work wherever I could, simply to survive. I got married after graduation. I needed to provide.

Through my last two college semesters, I worked part-time as a sales associate for a battery and light bulb store. I kept telling myself it was just a temporary position to get me through college and financially stable. It had nothing to do with what I studied in college. I wasn’t passionate about household appliances or electrical engineering.

But when career plans fell through, I started selling batteries and repairing smart phones full time. I did that for a little over a year.

Eventually, I looked elsewhere and found work at an ophthalmic clinic as a technician. Like my last job, I held little interest in healthcare and even less in eye care. But appearing like a more promising career path to me, I took the dive into a field I knew nothing about.

If, only a year prior, someone told me I’d be managing ophthalmic equipment and scribing for ophthalmologists, I’d call them crazy. But that’s exactly what I did.

Fast-forward a little over two years, to the present. I’m currently a freelance writer in the healthcare and medical devices field. Full time. How did I get here?

Through my rocky career path, I learned something: rather than complaining about my circumstances and blindly waiting for change, I decided to change my perspective a bit. Eventually, I discovered that every job is an opportunity for growth if I’d only recognize it.

Here are 5 reasons why every job you have is an opportunity, no matter how uninspired you are about it.

1. Every Job is an Opportunity to Learn

This was a huge one for me. Twice I was thrown into a field that held little English or writing significance. How would I be of any use? I couldn’t tell a battery blueprint from an OCT scan.

The answer: with an open mind and dedication, you can become good at just about anything. Degree or no degree, experience or no experience. And that knowledge can be a powerful asset applied to nearly every corner of your professional and personal life. Its value translates to more than just dollars.

For example, I knew absolutely nothing about ophthalmology, optometry, or eye care when I began at the clinic. But I was eager to learn—not just for the sake of the job, but for the sake of learning. So I spent two years navigating through the nuances of eye health.

Ultimately, it was only because of my exposure to the healthcare realm that I am now able to offer freelance writing services in the profitable healthcare industry. An industry I understand thanks to that job.

It’s vital to remain humble wherever you end up, and never stop learning new things. One of the challenges of achieving your career dreams is to remain highly adaptable to your situation, ever willing to master something new. As the saying goes, “A jack of all trades is a master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one.”

Every job involves a skillset with universal application to some extent. Recognize your abilities and how they can transfer to other job options.

2. Every Job is an Opportunity to Improve

Let’s face it: we all have weaknesses. Whether it’s a mindset issue, a bad habit, lacking a certain skill, or even a physical limitation, every one of us has an Achilles’ heel in our work lives. Many jobs—especially jobs outside of your passion—force you to patch these chips in your armor, strengthening your skill set and value as a professional.

I was never an outgoing kid. I avoided confrontation like the plague and preferred not to speak with strangers. I was comfortable keeping my head down, doing what I was told, and not asking any questions. I never pressed a matter and hardly ever offered creative suggestions.

Do you think that handled well when I was a sales associate? Absolutely not! Part of my paycheck depended on customer service and sales.

Instead, I was forced to step outside of my comfort zone and sharpen my weaknesses. I became familiar with customers. I accepted responsibilities. I stood up for store policy and confronted all the strange happenings that can only be found in customer service. As a result, I became bold and confident—skills that are highly attractive in the business realm.

Improving your weaknesses can provide you with more opportunities throughout your life, and each job you take acts as an arena to test your abilities. Fight to become better every day!

3. Every Job is an Opportunity to Excel

Through the various jobs I held over the years, I noticed something somewhat surprising, particularly in lower-wage jobs (but nevertheless prevalent across many occupations): the bar for work excellence is much too low.

Workers are late to their shifts, achieve the bare minimum in their work performance, call out on a consistent basis, and complain behind their superiors’ backs. They look forward to going home as soon as they begin working. This negative attitude can be understandable in context, but should never be permissible.

While the widespread adoption of the “live for the weekend” mindset is unfortunate—and can seem tempting when you aren’t passionate about your job—it does provide one enormous benefit for the career enthusiast who takes pride in their work: it offers a huge platform to demonstrate work ethic and excellence. When competition for enthusiastic performance is low, gaining recognition for quality work is easier than ever.

What are some extra duties you could do to impress your boss? Chances are, even the smallest demonstration of going the extra mile could do wonders for promotion and future opportunities within and without the company. Accountability is also a major asset to employers.

Standing out from the crowd and moving forward is what sets apart successful careers from stagnating jobs. Don’t just talk up a big game within the circles of your work—show your commitment to excellence, and do every task with an optimistic attitude.

And the extra benefit of pursuing excellence in the workplace? That attitude will likely cross over into your personal life and radically shape how you handle any complication which flies in your face.

4. Every Job is an Opportunity to Meet New People

In my own freelancing pursuits, I’ve come to realize the importance of networking and developing professional relationships with those around you. Especially in the field I wish to work in.

Even though the bulk of my previous jobs were not the ideal way I wanted to spend my time, getting to know the various coworkers I encountered proved incredibly useful for climbing the ladder to my dream job. Referrals are out there; sometimes they pop up from the most unlikely of people.

And when that coworker one day becomes a CEO in search of new, dependable talent? If you made a positive, memorable impression, that could be your ticket to moving up—a ticket you wouldn’t have in the first place if you hadn’t given that boring job your 110%.

I’m continually surprised by the connections I have to big name figures and marketers simply through the people I’ve met. Platforms like LinkedIn are fantastic for networking in this way.

And aside from professional networking opportunities, representing your best self to those around you can foster long-term relationships which last a lifetime. Get to really know your coworkers and appreciate their stories. More often than not, they have dreams they’re pursuing just like you. Encourage each other to take action to achieve those dreams.

5. Every Job is an Opportunity to be Grateful

Each of the previous four points relies on this final mindset: be grateful for every position you find yourself working.

No matter how bleak, dull, or uninteresting the job may be to you, it acts as an influential experience in your life just like any other impactful life event. You should treat it with humility and respect. If you can’t find value in your work and you truly live for the weekend, you’ll find an enormous chunk of your life has been wasted.

But you can always choose to be grateful. And once you are grateful for that nine-to-five job, you’ll be acutely aware of all the opportunities it grants you in your pursuit of that dream career.

Think of it this way: some people don’t have jobs. Other people can’t afford their living expenses with their low income. You could always be doing more work for less money instead. I know. I’ve been there.

Count your blessings no matter where you end up. Because at the end of the day, your work life is an important part of your personal life. Your future career success is molded by the lessons you learn along the way. I sincerely doubt many people turn out successful right off the bat—something I wish I could tell myself a couple of years ago.

And those are five reasons every job is an opportunity. I’m sure there are plenty more. It was only because of the growth I experienced in my past jobs and the expertise I learned from them that I finally springboarded into a sustainable career in writing. I leveraged my journey into my dream, and I still climb the ladder in pursuit of that dream.

In the end, I suppose it’s a matter of perspective—a claim I’m sure many readers have heard countless times. You can choose to focus on the worst aspects of your job, cast the blame on forces outside of your control, and let life happen to you without a plan to move forward. Conversely, you can assess the opportunities right in front of you and tap into their potential. Gain control of your career path. Take steps to get moving.

And always, always view a sunrise as a gift.

What opportunities do you see in your current occupation?

How to Remove Suffering From Pain

Don’t resist the pain. Experience the pain. When you experience pain and just observe it, it no longer exists as suffering.

This was the message from Ronan Oliveira, who is one of the trainers for the fitness program that I am currently going through.

He was making this point because one of the exercises in the program required you to hold the dumbbell you were using while keeping your muscle contracted until you literally couldn’t hold it any longer.

He was talking about how training is not just about improving your fitness and strength but also a journey about experiencing something uncomfortable — something that takes you to your limits.

Ronan then went onto say, “the whole fitness journey is about experiencing something new and then noticing how it feels.”

This statement became a revelation for me. I started to ponder that this idea he was talking about applies to beyond just fitness but life period.

And what if this is a simple definition of what life is truly all about?

What if we replaced the word “fitness” in his statement with “life”?

Consider this idea for a moment:

“Life is just about experiencing something new and then noticing how it feels.”

Doesn’t that in many ways beautifully sum up the human journey?

Growth. Transformation. Change. Evolution.

But those can’t happen without experiencing our fair share of pain and discomfort along the journey.

Discomfort and pain come with the territory and when it arrives we expend much of our energy trying to resist it. The immediate reaction of our mind is to avoid it — because we label pain, discomfort, or anything that makes us uncomfortable as negative. Our knee-jerk reaction is to seek ways to make it go away so we don’t have to feel it.

But what happens when we resist pain and discomfort?

It then becomes suffering.

I remember when I would get a sore throat or even a simple head cold when I was younger, my immediate response would be to hurry over to the pharmacy so I could douse myself with over-the-counter medicines.

I knew it wasn’t going to get rid of the actual sickness but as far as my mind was concerned, it allowed me to mask the symptoms so I wouldn’t have to actually experience the feeling of being sick.

Looking back, this was a form of resistance.

This shows up in other “unpleasant” situations in our lives like being at the beach on a beautiful day but the water is freezing. You want to go in to enjoy the ocean but you don’t want to feel the cold.

So what do you do?

You go in but you do everything in your power to resist experiencing the cold.

You slowly dip your body into the water — bracing your shoulders as a way to shield yourself from the dreaded cold temperatures and to siphon some warmth.

Your teeth are chattering and you begin to shiver.

All of these reactions from your body are a by-product of your desire to not feel the cold.

You are resisting the discomfort caused by the coldness and hence you are suffering through the experience.

And while you set the intention to have the experience of enjoying the ocean, you are resisting the full experience and all the feelings that come along with it.

Because to experience true coldness without the suffering (shivering, teeth chattering, etc.), you have to pay attention to how the cold actually feels.

You have to notice how the water feels on your skin… how the sensations of coldness feel throughout your body.

To truly know what coldness is like, you have to allow yourself to feel it.

So, back to my trainer Ronan’s statement from earlier, that paying attention to pain removes the suffering.

Yes, the pain and discomfort from the freezing cold water will still exist… but if we choose not to resist it by actually feeling it, we are no longer suffering.

Instead, the pain and discomfort just become an experience.

This is about deliberately stepping into something uncomfortable and unpleasant.

Leaning into the discomfort, breathing into the sensations, and bringing your whole mind to the experience.

This mindset is at the heart of practices like yoga and meditation.

In yoga, when the stretches and poses feel hard on your legs and your lower back, the instructor will tell you to breathe into the pain and pay attention to it.

In meditation, one of the first things you learn (hopefully) is that thoughts, feelings, and distractions are all part of the experience — to simply notice them and not resist. The meditation itself becomes a way to experience what it feels like to be distracted and to have racing thoughts.

Because we can’t truly experience what something actually is unless we allow it.

We can’t truly experience what something feels like unless we immerse ourselves in it.

Whether it’s the muscle pain from holding a dumbbell, the cold sensations permeating through our bodies from the ocean water, or even the tension and frustrations we experience when we clash with someone — there is always something to be witnessed and felt in our experience even when we believe it’s unpleasant.

Is there a temperature to what you’re feeling? A texture? Maybe even a color? Perhaps, a sound?

You may not buy into this idea that paying attention to pain removes suffering. But if you were to bring your full attention to what the discomfort you’re experiencing actually feels like, your mind likely wouldn’t realize you’re not suffering anyway.

It’s too busy noticing the sensations happening inside you… that it doesn’t have time to be focused on suffering… or anything else for that matter.

Like I said this is something I’ve started to ponder, that life indeed might be about just experiencing something new and then seeing how it feels.

What have you experienced lately that has been uncomfortable or even painful? How did it feel?

Please keep in mind I’m using the word pain very loosely here as what it means varies from person to person. Also, if you are indeed suffering from chronic pain or illness, in no way is this meant to minimize the realness of what you are feeling.

6 Life-Changing Tips to Mentally Heal from a Physical Injury

Your body can stand almost anything, it’s your mind you have to convince.

Dealing with an injury can go beyond just the physical components of healing.  It can require a great mental journey to fully heal as well.

Think about if you stub your toe getting into bed.  The next few times you’re in a similar scenario, your awareness will be heightened and you’ll be extra careful to not hurt yourself again.  And then eventually that will fade and you’ll go back to moving through the motions without thinking about it.

That’s just a minor example, but it illustrates the mental journey of an injury.

If you suffer a serious injury, the mental impact can be very difficult to manage and overcome.

A few years ago, I suffered a back injury that really affected me mentally.

I had been playing volleyball for almost my entire life – I would even go so far as to say that it was my life.  I played year-round almost every day. 

Volleyball was where I made friends, felt a sense of achievement, and found passion.  However, it also led to my life-changing back injury.

During my senior year of high school, right before I was supposed to start my last volleyball season, I started to experience some back pain.

At first, I thought with a little bit of rest and relaxation, everything would start to feel better.  But then days and weeks started to pass, and I wasn’t feeling any better.  It was time to go to a doctor.

After an initial exam and x-rays, the doctor determined that one of my vertebrae had shifted forwards.  In order to make a final diagnosis though, they needed to do an MRI. 

I had to wait a few days for my MRI results, which felt like years.  Meanwhile, I was still attending volleyball practice and games, cheering my teammates on from the bench just hoping to get some positive test results. 

And then doctor called and said I would likely never be able to play volleyball again. 

The days following were difficult.  I was dealing with constant physical pain which in itself was challenging, but it was mentally difficult as well.

I had to ask myself questions like “What are my hobbies or passions if I can’t play sports?” And I had to deal with the mental frustrations of wanting to do things that my body just was not ready for.  Exercising, sitting or standing for long periods of time, even going to an amusement park with friends…everything suddenly felt restricted.

But then slowly, through treatments like physical therapy I started to recover.  It took a while, probably close to a year, before I could fully live my life without constantly dealing with pain or being mindful of my injury. 

And now, seven years later, I have actually been able to recover to the point that I am able to exercise, play sports, etc. as long as I take care of myself when I do so.

All of that goes to say, if you are dealing with an injury and feeling the mental impact of that physical pain, I completely understand and you are not alone.  And I want to pass along some tips on how to mentally recover from a physical injury that I found crucial to helping me heal along my own personal journey.

Here are six life changing tips to mentally recover from a physical injury:

1. Accept what happened

The first step to mentally recovering from a physical injury is accepting what happened.  Come to terms with your injury and diagnosis.

Injuries stem from stress on your body, often through the result of an accident.  Whether you feel at fault or feel the blame is on others, you’ll need to find forgiveness in order to mentally heal from the experience.

Finding acceptance is important before moving through the rest of these steps.

2. Learn about your injury

The next step is to learn about your diagnosis.  The more you know, the more you can mentally prepare for the recovery ahead.

Understand things like how long you should expect recovery to take or what’s involved in the recovery such as medication, physical therapy, rest, etc.  By knowing the details of your injury and the expected recovery, you’ll be able to plan and set yourself up for success.

Planning will put your mind at ease and help you feel prepared to take on the journey ahead of you.

3. Commit to your treatment

Another important factor in mentally healing from a physical injury is to commit to your treatment.  If you got injured from a sport or hobby, it can feel devastating that you aren’t able to train for that activity any more.

Replace that feeling of a void in your life by regarding your treatment like training.  Set goals for recovery and take your treatment seriously. 

It will help ease your mind by focusing on the actions of recovery.

4. Don’t push yourself too fast too soon

While goal setting and committing to your treatment is important, it’s also critical to be conscious of not pushing yourself too fast too soon.  Once you start to see the progress, it can be tempting to rush towards that finish line.  But it’s important to remain on course and not push yourself too quickly.

Pushing yourself before your body is ready can lead to you injuring yourself even more.  It will also be even more mentally frustrating if you try too much too soon and then feel let down when you don’t find success.

The best thing you can do both for your physical and mental health during an injury recovery is to stick to your treatment plan.  Take things one step at a time and ease your way towards healing.

5. Find passions and hobbies that fit your new lifestyle

If you are injured, you’ll likely be unable to participate in the typical hobbies and activities that you used to fill your daily life with.  It will feel sad, frustrating, maybe even cause you to have some anger about it. 

All of that is okay – and understandable!  However, a great way to combat this is to find new passions and hobbies that fit the new lifestyle and restrictions that are impacting you right now. 

For example, I always enjoyed reading and writing, but volleyball took a lot of my time so those hobbies fell off my radar.  And then, once I was injured and could no longer find fun and enjoyment through sports, I reconnected with my passion for reading and writing. 

Having a passion or hobby that you can find fulfillment through will help you get through this injury.  You may even find a lifelong passion that sticks around even after your recovery, as I did with writing.

6. Lean on others for support

The last tip for mentally recovering from a physical injury is to lean on others when you can.  If you were injured during a sport, it may be tempting to distance yourself from the team and your friends because it’s hard to watch everyone else playing when you can’t.  But this is doing yourself a disservice mentally.

Having the support of friends and family will help you through your recovery.  Whether it’s a shoulder to cry on, an ear to listen, or someone to provide words of encouragement the support system will be comforting during this difficult time.

Surround yourself with positive people who can encourage you throughout your recovery from this physical trauma.

Those are the six life changing tips to mentally recover from a physical injury.

Recovering from an injury can be really difficult both physically and mentally.  At times throughout your recovery, you will likely feel in denial, sad, angry, and all of the other negative emotions that come with dealing with a difficult challenge.

However, through things like finding acceptance, committing to your recovery, and seeking support from others you can find both physical and mental healing.

What positive things have you discovered about yourself after experiencing an injury?