Small Changes for a New Life

I’m Old. Not like dinosaur old, but I’m far from a spring chicken. The fact that I use the term ‘spring chicken’ just goes to show how old I am.

Ugh.

They say you’re as old as you feel, and for me, I do feel dinosaur old. Well, I did until recently.  As a freelance writer and social media consultant, I spend a lot of time on my ever-growing backside. Sometimes, in life, you get to a point where just have to look at yourself and wonder what the hell went wrong.dinosaur-1430240_1920

For me, that point came when I realized that I was over 250 pounds of all fat, and I’m pretty sure the only thing holding my body together was the tub of ice cream I downed every week. Yeah, things were bad. That was the first small change I made in my life. Actually, it’s a pretty big change and the one that really kick-starts everything else. I had decided enough was enough. I was sick of being fat and the only way to fix it is to work for it. So I did. With kids, family, dog, and life, finding time to sit down and work PLUS do something to stop becoming the Blob was becoming difficult. At least, that was my excuse.

I just don’t have the time.’ Like everyone else had a crap load of time except me.

So, the next thing I did was find a schedule that worked for all (albeit a bit wonky). Unfortunately, this new schedule has me up around midnight, so ouch there. I tend to get up between 12:00 am and 3:00 am to start my day, so it’s still a work in progress to get up and get going.

The biggest part about my change is the addition of a 3 mile walk first thing in the morning. Doing this before I eat help raise and maintain higher metabolism rates in my body, allowing my body to burn off food more efficiently throughout the day. More than that, this early morning walk helps my mind focus and when I unplug during the walk, my mind actually clears and seems to just see things more clearly.

For this walk, I’m not out there trying to run and kill myself, but I am walking brisk enough to sweat and be out of breath at times. That’s very important. If you simply take a leisurely stroll in the morning, your body won’t improve. You need to get your blood flowing and your muscles working to get the true effects of a workout, even if it is only walking. It’s hard. It will be hard. This is where the want comes in to say ‘Get up and get out there, fatty!’ And so I do.pexels-photo-221210 

Do not get down if things seem to slow or be tough. That’s my final little change. I am constantly getting down on myself about everything. To me, it’s as if the entire world rest on my every decision and action – of course, we all know it doesn’t. So, I would tell anyone trying to improve themselves, stop beating yourself up all the time.

Slips happen. Get over it and keep on going. Nobody is perfect. Remember that.

It’s about a month later. I’m getting used to the screwy early schedule and walking first thing in the morning, even before I eat anything, is helping my metabolism stay up and actually increasing my focus throughout the day. When I can, I try to throw a second walk in, but as long as I get my good walk in, I’m a happy camper. My weight has even dropped about fifteen pounds, which makes me want to continue to work.

If you think it’s time for a change in your life, chances are it is. Nobody knows you and your life better than you, and nobody can change your life but you. In the end, it comes down to how much do you really want to change? If you truly want it, anything is possible… Even change.

This is a guest post by Joshua Cook. Please feel free to visit his site below.

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Joshua Cook is a father, blogger, and social media consultant enjoying the beautiful weather in the Pacific Northwest. Recently starting the Cook Consulting and Content Creation firm, Josh is happy to be able to bring his life changing experiences and ideas out to help others.

YEAR REVIEW: 25%

I can’t believe it’s April already. I was going to write a review of each month as I went by to track my progress and see how well I was doing but February messed everything up. That month was so stressful. March just stressed me even more. Anyways I’m grateful for all of it. Here’s all I’ve achieved so far:

1 BLOG

I’m very proud of my achievements this quarter. I started this blog on Dec 13th, 2016 and I started with 12 days of Christmas. I did so because I had put off starting for too long and I’m very happy I did. But I like to count my beginning from January. I didn’t know you could promote blogs in Facebook groups. I just posted and hoped for the best. I discovered you could, last month and I got a whooping 2000 views. I had set a goal for 1000 and I beat it twice over. I feel so proud. I met genuine people I instantly felt connected with. I’ve made new friends in my niche and outside it. I also met ladies that have inspired me and I was finally able to define my niche and target audience. I picked College, Life and Inspiration, as my categories show. There definitely will be personal posts here and there but mainly, these.

2 SOCIAL MEDIA

I couldn’t work on social media s much as I would have loved to. I was doing a lot of trial and error deciding which social media I wanted to focus on and how to do it. Since I started with Instagram, it’s always at the top. However, I had to make some tough choices. I decided that I didn’t just want a random set of followers there, who probably wouldn’t like what i have to offer. Now, I’m trying to find my ideal reader and Lord, it couldn’t be any more difficult. I started using Twitter but I’m looking for good accounts to follow so if you follow me, I’ll follow back. I’m yet to use Pinterest but I am using StumbleUpon and it brings quite some traffic here. I’m also using Bloglovin though I haven’t paid much attention to it. I’d appreciate any tips or ideas to improve my social media.

3 VIRTUAL ASSISTANCE

In an attempt to get some extra cash so I can invest in my blog, I decide to pick up virtual assistance. For years, I’ve been looking at the possibilities of picking it up and now I’m in the world of blogging, I finally got the hang of it. I even got my first client after putting up a post on a Facebook Group asking for VA resources. Isn’t God great? I really like the job because I help people grow something they love and being a part of that is amazing to me. I do mainly social media, but I want to expand to email management, blog management and administrative support and I need clients for that. If you are interested or know anyone who is, feel free to contact me. My services are affordable.

4 ACADEMICS

For someone who loves education, academics never comes first in these lists. Anyway, I’m happy that I’ll complete my basic medical sciences on Friday as I write my NBME exams. Medical school is tough and I’m happy to be halfway through. After which I’ll start my clinicals hopefully and after approximately two years of rotations and some exams, I should be certified as a doctor. I’m keeping n open mind and my fingers crossed. I know God has great plans for me.

5 HEALTH

I completely stopped exercising and checking what I eat because I’ve had so much on my plate. Once this exam is done, first thing Monday morning after prayers is exercise. I added a lot and my tummy is a small pouch now. I really have to burn everything off. By next quarter, I should be a brand new person. I really miss the feeling of exercise and the near-death feeling that comes with it. Spiritually, I’m glad I was able to deal with some really pressing personal issues, never to come up again. I feel free and brand new. I know that by the end of next quarter I would be very far up from where I am now and I’m excited for it.

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Phew! That was quite a read. I hope you enjoyed it. II’m planning to start writing posts on relationships very soon. I have some things I’d like to share so be on the lookout. If there is any kind of post you’d like to see, you can comment and I look into it. I read every comment posted and it makes me so so happy ( I never understood this when other bloggers wrote it till now ). I’m also open to suggestions and tips to help me in any of these areas.

Thank you for being part of this amazing journey. God bless you all and keep you. Have a beautiful day and an awesome month!

Letting Go: Setting Yourself Free

People think forgiveness begins and ends with saying ‘ I’m sorry’. When we think of the phrase ‘forgive and forget’, we only see and hear the forgive part, the forget part is well, forgotten. Isn’t that interesting? I’m sure forgiveness exists in every religion in one form or the other. Jesus told Peter to forgive 77 x 7 times which was code for forgive until you can’t anymore translated as a memory wipe whenever we forgive. Ironically, we do everything but that.

Can we really forget? Probably not exactly. You’d need an actual memory wipe for that. lol. But. Do you know that feeling when you think of a situation from your past that used to hurt and now you feel nothing. It’s now a memory of what used to be your reality. That’s as close as you get. If you’re lucky, you might reach that point where it never really comes up in your thoughts or conversation, so its stored in your passive memory and might require some kind of description of the the incident to remind you how and why you were hurt. Wouldn’t you like that?

The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is an attribute of the strong.

-Mahatma Gandhi

Forgiveness is hard. It requires you to accept an apology that was never given and to heal a wound you didn’t inflict. You have to pick yourself up for what seems like no reason. If you have to cry, if you have to think about it, whatever it takes but by the time you get to the end of this, I want you to decide to set yourself free.  You have to move forward to achieve all that you’re meant to. You may not realize it but the chains we use on others bind us too. Like revenge, it always two person package.

There are two easy steps to do this:

  • Forgive
  • Forget

Okay that may not be explanatory.

  • Forgive by trying to remember why and how you got hurt and you started feeling the way you. You just have to do this one time. Think about everything. Pool all the feelings together. Imagine having a conversation with the person, what would they say? what would you have them say? Then. They’ve said it. All you have to do is accept their apology.  Now, let everything go and take a deep breath in and out. It’s over. You may still feel a little but at least today is day one of your recovery.
  • Forget – Don’t think about it anymore. If and when you see them, smile and wave. Resolve the feelings within or express them safely. Write them on paper, throw them away, make a tape and delete it. Whatever works for you. Your peace the most important factor. They may not feel remorse but it’s their burden to carry, not yours.

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 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.

Matt 5: 44  NIV

Phew! Look at you. 10 lbs lighter already. Is it just me or did the room just light up? Try not to harbor any more unhealthy feelings. If you have to talk to the person in question, by all means do.

If, you happen to be the reason someone else is hurt, and it haunts you day and night. You should go apologize in person. They don’t have to accept it. All you need do is sincerely apologize. People reject apologies because they sense insincerity or they still feel hurt. Just let them be, in time, they’ll come around. If they never do, it’s not your fault. You’ve done your part and they’re the one with the burden now. You just have to get right with God. You may try to make it up to them,if you or they feel you should.

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At the end of the day. The idea is to love. Love and love unconditionally. It will always set you free.

It’s (NOT) Okay

Before you crucify me, hear me out. No it’s not okay. I think we need to put a quota on how many times we get to say that because it’s getting out of hand.  It’s not always okay. ‘Okay’ is not the answer. It’s going to be okay is not the answer to the problem. It’s a construct for when you don’t know what to say and now it has become the norm. It’s no longer okay. Think about it, how has saying that helped anything. It’s just a quick fix. Let me explain myself to you.

When someone is hurting, you hear people say ‘It’s okay to feel hurt’ and then after the hurt what next? Nobody comes back to say “here’s how you can work through this” or “this is how you can feel better”. You know what happens in such cases? They absorb the idea that it’s okay to continuously feel okay and nothing more. Before we fought through situations and circumstances, we always got up, we always fought through everything but now, we just want to be ‘understood’. We want to receive applause for being human beings. Oh! You don’t know what I’ve been through, I was [insert a struggle here] but guess what? Clap for yourself. Now get up and move on. Life happens. Sob stories never paid off unless of course you’re a writer.

Today, I watched a short clip on the life of J.K Rowling. How she started, lost a parent, had a miscarriage, got divorced and then decided to put all her effort into the one thing she knew the most, writing. Today, she is worth almost $1 billion dollars. Imagine if all she was told was ‘It’s okay to feel sad, don’t worry it’ll be alright’. In her case, she may or may have not had people say that to her. I’m worried that this generation will be full of people who are just absolutely content with whatever life throws at them. I was born this way, It’s not my fault, I married the wrong guy, If I had gone to better schools. We should stop patronizing these behaviors.pexels-photo-320007.jpeg

The only thing that’s okay is that you have realized where you are and the drawbacks you may or may not have. Once you do, start working through them. Fight! Don’t just sit there and throw a pity party. Did you know that some doctors don’t recommend telling a child with any kind of say behavioral disorder what the name of the disorder is. Yes, the child realizes he/she is not like any other child around them but their parents are told to avoid as much as possible, labeling them with one difficult-to-pronounce medical term. This prevents the child from dwelling within a box that can be broken down.

We need to start picking people up, not building houses in the pits they’ve fallen into. Sometimes, what your friend needs from you is not ‘support’. There will always be time to grieve, break down and cry and weep but once that time is over, it’s time to give life a try again. Tell people hard truths. Not rudely but politely, with love, not with an air of contempt or pity. When people can sense love in your word, even if they may be hostile at first, they will eventually process your words logically. They’ll be grateful for the tough love in the end. Trust me.

While You’re Still Young

Youth flies faster than the speed of light. One minute you’re crawling, the next minute you’re telling your mom you’re now grown up. Truth is you’re 15. I get it, most of us we’re pleasantly misconstrued about life. Now you’re all grown up finally and responsibilities got you owing a lot of debt. You’ve lost that inner child you used to have bubbling inside you and causing you to find new adventure in your life. You have to do what you have to do because you’re mature now.

Okay. Take a deep breath and look around you. Life happens whether you stop or not. Take it all in. Some days I forget I’m only in my early twenties, I’m not even close to twenty five and yet all you hear from me is what I have to, what I have to do. Yesterday, someone asked me, Is it what you have to do? what you want to do? Or what you should do? The saddest part was that hardly any of the answers were intersecting. Sigh. Wouldn’t it be awesome to have all those things be the same? I mean, yes that would only exist in an ideal world but then we can try to get as close as possible because things like doing dishes exist and I do NOT love doing the dishes. Some things never change. Take for example, I’ve noticed a lot of young married couples on Instagram of late and it’s really beautiful to watch. The thing I admire the most is how cool and chill they are or at least they seem to be and some of them have up to three kids. Yet, some of my friends can’t relax.

Mid-life crises percentages are increasing because kids are not allowed to be kids anymore. Rushed curricula, so much pressure from school. Matter of fact, I run a program that has three semesters in a year, four months per semester which is pretty accelerated. No worries, I picked it so I know what I signed up for but then most of these programs are made to save time. A little extra stress to save time. You basically spend your late teens and a good part of your twenties trying to get there. Good grades, volunteering and good recommendation, you just spend your time piling loads of paper to make a good first impression.pexels-photo-261895

Just breathe. While you’re doing all you can to make your life better and to secure a better future, remember you can only be this age once. Personally, I’m scared of those articles that say drink alcohol, have a one night stand etc I’m always wide-eyed wondering why anyone would give that kind of advice but I guess each man to his own. Embracing your youth doesn’t have to mean doing things you could regret. It just means trying to do the things that make you happy and learning how to grow. Trying not to lose your individuality, finding more ways to do the things you love and finding new ways to love the same person over and over again if you’re into that stuff ( which is really cool).

Remember, you’re only young once and you’re only as young as you feel. Never lose your child-like wonder.

What Kind of Influence are You?

Monkey see, monkey do. Thank God we’re not monkeys because if we had to learn everything we know by just shadowing the actions we see around us, Lord knows the disaster that would surface. At some point, which was when we were babies, it was a usual thing to imitate what we saw because our eyes were the most important form of communication after the mouth ( the oral stage). As we grew, we realized, things were not as black and white as they should be and everything that was done was not based on a set of hard and fast rules. Basically, different situation, different actions. Which brings me to this, what kind of influence are you?

Influence. The word itself has power. It is the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something, or the effect itself. People spend millions of dollars buying books and instructional videos to teach them how to gain influence. With influence comes power and with power comes the keys to the kingdom. I personally couldn’t care less about how much influence you have, a thousand or ten thousand, what do you with it. This question is what causes the general public to place so much pressure on the celebrities of nowadays that causes them to crack. Parents saying “my daughter looks up to you” and “my son adores you”, makes you want to always stay in line to always remain a good influence.

I am writing this because we need more and more good influences in our lives. While I feel like we should not put the burden of shaping our children and youths into the hands of those who have achieved fame for anything but being a good influence, I also feel like if you happen to be in such a position, it wouldn’t hurt to use your new-found voice to raise awareness on something. I am really grateful for people who from their little homes try everything in their power to make a change. I also happen to believe strongly in the butterfly effect, that the phenomenon whereby a minute localized change in a complex system can have large effects elsewhere, in reference to the chaos theory. A little goes a long way, and even if it doesn’t, you may have affected the one life that is required to create the explosive one you desire. We all know how a single tweet, no more than 140 characters can cause massive effects, how much more your actions.

Today is kind of #motivationmonday from me to you. Think about it. What kind of influence can you create. Is it speaking up about bullying, rape or just maybe raising awareness for that little cause nearby. Recommendation letters for the students nearby trying to get into one school or the other. They’re already on the right path and your influence could help them get there. I saw a blogger recommending blogs she liked for an affiliate program on a Facebook group and I couldn’t be more pleased,. All for free.

Even the simplest things matter, like your actions. Recently,a video of a guy separating a fight went viral, later he was honored for what he did. His action, turning the fight around and his very witty words raised public awareness and someone else used their influence to thank him publicly. Hopefully more and more youths will find fighting in neighborhoods with high number of fight outbreaks not cool and those who are scared of breaking fights, because it’s not their business will have a change of heart. Whatever and whoever, wherever you are, just please be a good influence.

To close, here’s this simply put by Ann Voskamp

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Service: A Form of Gratitude

Did you know you could show appreciation in other ways than saying thank you and giving gifts. Sincere appreciation is hard to come by nowadays, people don’t even say ‘Thank you’ anymore. To summarize, people now say Chivalry is dead. I disagree. It’s scarce but not dead. I mean endangered species are still species right? I was taking the 5 languages of Apology test by Gary Chapman because I was arguing with someone that for me, saying sorry doesn’t just fly with me and there are many ways to apologize. I read emotions, facial expressions and body language but what I hate the most is when someone never actually acknowledges that they’re wrong or doesn’t think they are especially when they couldn’t be more wrong. You can take the test here. Anyways I digress.

Have you ever considered being of service to anyone? No matter who you are and how materialistic you might be, our innate selves love the idea that someone would go out of their way to ‘do’ something for us. Not pay someone to do it or but something that does it, but actually do something for us with their time and their whole hearts. It’s funny but service differs from scenario to scenario. For example, if a very strict superior tells you to take a break after working very hard, that they’ll finish it up, it would make you feel very happy because you’ve been appreciated as opposed to your busy friend who you’d want to just give you five minutes of their time so you can hang out together. It’s a very common phenomenon. Children of rich kids want their parent’s attention so they can play ball or watch a movie together, wives of busy spouses just want their husbands to have a candlelit or fireplace dinner with them. It all boils down to service. Volunteering to do something out of your normal schedule which may or may not be convenient for you.

Why do we all want this? Because humans love to feel important and it is only for an important person you would stop everything. I’m sure by now someone must have popped up in your mind. This applies to not only your spouse, friend or family but your community. Sometimes you see people in charge of community affairs saying that even though monetary donations are great, hands on service is often needed as well. It builds a bond among the members of the community. So? how can you be of help? There are many ways you could be of service to anyone or any group. The trick is to ‘See a need, fill a need’

Hence, in honor of the upcoming  Mother’s Day, here’s a thought. Instead of the usual ‘Mother’s Day Gift Ideas’ which a lot of you might be considering, in addition, spend time with your mama. Some mothers would kill just to cook with you or have a family dinner or have an outing with her, just mother to child. I also realize that some of you may have lost your mommies. You know what? Find a mama with no children or a child with no mama. Remember see a need, fill a need. As much as you ca, be of service to someone. The material things may get lost and stolen or even out of date but the memories now and the smile across their face is what you should live for. They are priceless.

Happy Mother’s Day in advance. To all the moms out there, we love and appreciate you.