The Problem With Passion: In Pursuit of Balance

The Problem With Passion: In Pursuit of Balance

I have this problem. I love what I do for a living. I have always known that I wanted to be a writer, and now that I’m doing it successfully, I couldn’t be happier. I really feel fulfilled in my career and I am generally very satisfied in that area of my life. I feel lucky to be doing what I love and getting paid for it. Really, really lucky.

And also, part of what I do is help other freelance writers to succeed. That’s almost as awesome as actually getting paid to do what I love. A lot of people have helped me along the way in my career (and many still do) so paying it forward feels good to me, and really, is probably part of the reason for my success. (Since you get what you put out there back and all.)

Did I mention that I love what I do? I really do. A lot.

So much, in fact, that I very often work seven days a week, and I don’t mind a bit. Not even a little. I am very passionate about my work and I often run on continuous creative bursts of energy.

You feel me, right? I’ll get an idea and I’ll be just absolutely driven to bring it to fruition, and I can’t stop until it’s done. It’s what I like to call inspired action.

So what’s the problem?

The problem is that in being so focused on my work, I have no time to just relax. Between working and taking care of my wonderful family, it’s really easy to put off anything that could be officially classified as fun. (And again, being the writing nerd that I am, I don’t even notice sometimes.) I honestly can’t remember going out with my girlfriends for a night on the town in…several years. Sad, I know.

This weekend, I was on a couple of hot deadlines. I had things that needed to be done by Sunday night. Big things. And, if I’m being honest, I could have probably finished all of my important stuff on Saturday, and then I could have taken Sunday off and could have just relaxed with my family that day.

So why didn’t I do that? 

Because, as I was working on Saturday, I was suddenly hit with a flash of inspiration that caused me to create a welcome/about video for one of the WM Network websites (The WM Freelance Writers Connection–I know, you’re shocked.) The video turned out ok, I think, but did you know that it can take two or three hours to make an almost four minute video? Yep, it’s true.

So, while I did manage to get some of my “real work” that was due on Sunday done on Saturday, I did not finish all of it. So, when my husband suggested on Sunday that we take the kids to the park to feed the ducks and then out to eat, I felt a little anxious. We do things like this pretty often, but this week, I had so much to do and I just didn’t think I had the time to do it.

At first, I told him I couldn’t go, but that went over like a lead balloon. He said that I shouldn’t work seven days a week–that everyone needs a day off sometimes. (That, and he didn’t want to try to wrangle three kids at the duck pond all by himself.)

I tried to reason with him. I love what I’m doing, so my work doesn’t feel like work, I explained.

He stood firm, and insisted that I come out with the family. Of course, I realized that he was right…eventually…and we all went to the park and fed the ducks and stopped and had dinner afterward.

We had a great time. And, believe it or not, I only thought about all the work awaiting me once or twice during our adventure. But in addition to enjoying the time with my favorite people in the whole wide world and watching my kids faces light up when the ducks and geese ate the bread they threw out, I thought about something else…something big.

I decided my husband was right (gasp!)–maybe I needed to take a day off. In fact, maybe I needed to take at least one scheduled day off each week. Now, don’t get me wrong–I spend time with my family every day.

But, while we have fun and love one another like no one’s business, I work all day when they’re at school and work, and then a lot of times in the evenings after dinner and late into the night–basically, I work anytime I’m not spending with the family. I hardly even watch TV and rarely get the chance to read for pleasure, let alone any other type of non-Mom, non-wife or non-writer activities.

So, I decided as we walked in the park that it was time to rethink that strategy. While I’m not unhappy with my crazy work habits, I am definitely a bit out of balance. I have to have time to renew my spirit, refresh myself–and time to have fun. Fun that is unrelated to writing.

“From now on,” I declared to my family as I stopped walking to emphasize my point, “I am taking Sundays off!”

While I expected a surprised and enthusiastic cheer to burst forth from my family, the likes of which would be heard all over town, I got more of a subdued response.

“Cool,” one of them said.

“Sounds good,” said another.

“I’ll believe it when I see it,” said a particularly pessimistic member.

“Come on, Mommy, give me more bread so I can feed the ducks!” said the smallest one.

So, regardless of my family’s less than epic reaction, that’s my plan, at least the first step of it. I am officially (gulp) taking Sundays off. And, I think, it just might be time to schedule one of those girls’ nights out…you know, before I forget what my friends look like.

How about you? Do you find yourself working or playing too much? How do you find balance? Tell me in the comments!

Keep Your Gavel to Yourself: How to Deal With Being Underestimated

Keep Your Gavel to Yourself: How to Deal With Being Underestimated

“When you judge another, you do not define them, you define yourself.” ~Wayne Dyer

Have you ever been in a situation where someone has underestimated you in some way?

Whether the offender misjudged your intelligence, your abilities or your strength, how did it make you feel?

Did you begin to believe that person was right, or did you feel defensive or angry because you knew he (or she) were wrong?

Nearly everyone has been on the receiving side of an unfair judgment. People judge you on your looks, your age, your weight, your financial (and parental) status, your address, your religion, your career choices (or lack thereof)–the list goes on and on.

This is especially true if they don’t know you personally, but it can even happen within families and friendships.

Even people who have high levels of self-esteem can find themselves feeling frustrated when they’re misjudged–but those who sometimes feel like they’re not good enough anyway can really struggle with feelings of inadequacy if the right insult gets hurled their way.

So how do you deal with people who underestimate you or misjudge you?

Let It Roll Off Your Back

In some situations, you can just ignore the person because you’ll never see or deal with them again. For example, if you’re at a clothing store and a salesperson or fellow customer makes a rude comment to or about you–it can be really upsetting. But if you think about it, once you leave that store, you may literally never see those people again.

And remember, you get to decide who has the power in this situation, so claim it! Don’t give some stranger the power to ruin your day–choose to be happy instead. (And if it helps you, remember that whole “the best revenge is living well” thing.)

Prove Yourself. Or Not.

If the underestimator is someone you know personally, you’ve got some choices to make. If it’s important to you to change that person’s mind about you, then try to do it through actions rather than words.

Don’t confront him or her or try to defend yourself–if you’re being underestimated, the judger is not likely to actually listen to you anyway and you’ll grow more irritated when they won’t hear you or acknowledge the validity of what you’re saying. That’s just inviting negativity into your life.

But really, you need to first get comfortable with yourself, and who you really want to be. When you are comfortable in your own skin–mentally, physically and emotionally–you aren’t likely to feel the need to prove yourself anyway.

When It Hurts

Sometimes, being underestimated can hurt, especially in personal and professional situations. Whether it hurts your feelings or your pocketbook, it can make you feel badly about yourself and/or the people and situations in your life.

The most important thing to do when this happens is to keep it in perspective–are the people who are judging or underestimating you perfect? It’s highly unlikely. Everyone has flaws–and in most cases, one man’s flaw is another man’s treasure.

Embrace yourself and remember that you are perfectly YOU–and that’s really all that matters.

Even though it’s easy to feel negatively when you get judged unfairly, you’re only hurting yourself by doing that. Remember that what you put out into the world comes back to you–like attracts like, so if you’re feeling like you’re unfairly judged all the time, you definitely will be.

Remember too that people who feel the need to constantly judge and belittle others are most likely insecure in themselves in one way or another. That means there’s something wrong with them–not you.

You’re Not Alone

Like I said, nearly everyone has been in this situation. Take me for example. I once worked with someone who seemed to think I wasn’t smart enough to pour myself a cup of coffee, let alone actually do the job I’d been hired to do.

I’ll admit, it really pissed me off–especially because I knew for a fact that I was more experienced and capable than this person. I felt like telling her exactly what I thought of her, too.

And–another admission–I was not having very many nice thoughts of her after she blatantly misjudged me without even asking me who I was and what I could do. (She made an incorrect ASSumption. And you know what happens when people ASSume right?)

But even though I had a strong emotional reaction to this behavior, I stepped back and took a logical look at the situation. If I were to blow up and do the diarrhea of the mouth thing, it would very negatively affect my career–and certainly that particular job.

So, I decided to change my mind, and I managed to maintain a professional and fairly friendly relationship with this person, despite my personal feelings. And eventually, she got the clue that I knew what I was doing. We actually became “work friends,” even.

And, for me, making peace and finally being recognized for my abilities was a far better alternative to blowing up and ruining the chance that it would ever happen. The moral of the story? Think before you speak–and don’t let the bastards get you down. 🙂

So how about you? Have you ever felt misjudged or underestimated? How did you deal with it? Tell me your story in the comments!

Help a Blogger Out: Got Links?

Help a Blogger Out: Got Links?

As far as bloggers go, I’ve been around awhile. I started this blog back in April of 2006 and to date, have written around 200 posts here. In my very first post, I told my potential readers that this blog would be a place that I could, and I quote, “babble endlessly on whatever subject (or lack thereof) comes to mind.”

Within a few months, though, the theme of the blog sort of developed itself, and I was inspired to change the name from something like “Angie’s Babbling Blog” to “In Pursuit of Fulfillment.” I redesigned the template (many times, and I just did it again–what do you think of the new look?) I redefined the overall feel of the blog, and I developed the blog’s signature statement, one that gives my readers an idea of the types of posts they’ll find here.

“Take care of your body, take care of your soul. Nurture the real you and introduce him or her to the world. Be comfortable in your skin, and in your place in the world. Take your spot, take it now, and the universe will take its cue from you.”

Over the years, I have had periods during which I didn’t post often, but I have managed to keep the blog alive. I have gone from a .blogspot name to a dedicated domain and have, in spurts, continued to grow the site. And, I’m in the process now of reviving the site and am hoping to bring it to the next level, along with the WM Network sites.

Times, they are a-changin’.

Today, I realized I hadn’t even really looked at my blog roll  in months–maybe years. I had tucked it away in its own page and sort of forgot about it. I decided maybe it was time to revisit it, and much to my surprise, only about five of the 50 or so blogs on my list were still active. Some had last posted as long as five years ago.

So, as you might expect, I deleted all of the dead or out-of-date blogs I had linked to before. And now, I’m in the process of rebuilding my blog roll page.

That’s why I’m asking for your help today. 

I am seeking links to current and regularly updated blogs that are focused on topics that are related to this blog’s theme so that I can share them with my readers on my “blog roll” page.  Specifically, I’d like links to current blogs and websites that feature the following types of material:

  • Inspirational
  • Self-Help
  • Law of Attraction
  • Self-Esteem and Confidence
  • Living Well
  • Health
  • Beauty
  • Happiness
  • Creating Your Own Path
  • Other Similar or Related Topics

So, readers, lay it on me! What are your favorite inspirational-type blogs or websites? Please tell me in the comments or send an email to me at [email protected] with your ideas!

Soul Suckers: On Toxic Family Relationships

Soul Suckers: On Toxic Family Relationships

Back in September of last year, I wrote a post about how to identify toxic family relationships, and at the end of that post, I promised to come back and explain how to deal with the situation. When I wrote that, I assumed I would have figured it out by the time I wrote that post.

But It Was Personal

What I didn’t mention in that post was that I was dealing with a toxic family situation of my own which had culminated into an event of painful betrayal that affected me on an emotional level so deep that I was physically ill for weeks afterward.

It wasn’t with anyone in my household, thankfully, but it did involve a couple of extended family members I had been very close to at one time. One of them had been toxic for many years, but because of the nature of the relationship, I had continuously “turned the other cheek.” I tried and tried to make it work and I now realize that I developed a shockingly codependent relationship that I couldn’t even recognize while immersed in it.

The other family member involved had been a ghost in my life for the previous 15 or so years, only showing up on rare holidays and special occasions, and the act of betrayal on this person’s part shook me to the core because it was completely unexpected.

How I Handled My Toxic Family Situation

So, as I often do when I experience challenges in life, I wrote through it. If you’re familiar with my work, you know I’m not a poet and I don’t do flowery (very often) so I did what I do–I did some research and wrote a logical, fairly informative article on how to identify toxic family members. Though I wanted to share with my readers how to handle such a situation, I stopped there because, at that point, I had only identified my toxic family members–I didn’t actually know how to deal with them.

In the last few months, I have had a lot of realizations. I have connected the dots, so to speak, of my own experiences. I have come to understand those toxic relationships on a whole new level, and in fact, after many hours of reflection and emotion, I have managed to forgive the people involved–at least within myself. I needed to do that for the sake of my own sanity.

What’s Happening Now With the Toxic Relationships

As for the relationships with my toxic family members, you might be surprised to know that I haven’t repaired them. Considering the events that took place, I don’t know that those relationships can be repaired at this point, and I don’t think it would be healthy for me to try.

But what I do know is that now that I am not dealing with these people on a day-to-day basis, I don’t have to try so hard to see the positive side of things. The weight of the relationships has been taken off my chest, and I can breathe. There is a new lightness in and around me that I’m not sure I’ve ever felt before. In some ways, I can be grateful for the situation, because in dealing with it, I found a level of strength within myself that I never knew was there.

What’s Happening Now With Me

It would be easy for me to sit around and feel sorry for myself and to cry over the things that happened, but I choose to hold my head up and keep smiling. I prefer to live in the present moment instead. I don’t want to focus on the negative and the past–I want to live in the now and look expectantly to the future.

So that’s what I’m doing. I’m enjoying my relationships with my kids and husband and some extended family members. I’m following my passion, rocking my career and exploring the new-found freedom that comes with healing–and generally all is well in my world. These days, I’ve decided, I’m writing my own ticket.

I’m Still “Human”

Don’t get me wrong, I still have feelings of sadness about the situation and the lost relationships. I have those moments of self-pity when I wish things could have been different, just like probably anyone who has dealt with a toxic family member or situation.

Staying Positive is the Key

If I sit around worrying about what happened and constantly rehashing the events in my mind, I draw more of that type of negativity toward myself. On the same note, if I focus on feeling love and gratitude for the wonderful people, things and events in my life–guess what? More of that comes my way.

So when those feelings of sadness or depression or self-pity creep up, I intentionally change my mind and focus instead on all of the awesomeness in my life.

If you’re in a similar situation, you should try intentionally focusing on the positive too–and on changing your mind if the negative thoughts do creep in. It might feel forced at first–but once you get the hang of it, it comes naturally. And the more you focus on what’s good and right in your world, the more power you give to those things. The less you think about the things you don’t want in your life, the less of those things you’ll draw toward yourself.

I don’t know about you, but I’ll take happy and positive over negative and soul-sucking any day.

Have you ever dealt with a toxic family relationship? How did you handle it? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this sensitive subject. Please tell me in the comments.

Image Credit: PixelPlacebo/Flikr

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I Sing At Stoplights and I Don’t Care Who Knows It

I Sing At Stoplights and I Don’t Care Who Knows It

I’m the sort of person who sings in the car. I don’t mean just humming along, either. I’m talking about a full-on karaoke-style concert from the front seat. But today, as I was out running errands, I noticed something. If I’m at a stoplight or in an otherwise closely populated area where people might catch me singing, I stop.

When I noticed it today, I asked myself why I did this. Was it because I was embarrassed that people might see me singing? Was I afraid that someone would make fun of me?

After thinking about it for a moment, I realized: This was a “leftover” behavior from the days when I cared what people I’d probably never speak to or engage with thought about me. Now, don’t get me wrong–I still want to give people a good impression and I do still care what people who are important to me think (at least to some extent.) But I don’t mind if people know I’m happy or that I like music–and that’s all anyone could technically infer if they did happen to catch me singing behind the wheel.

That’s why today, I decided that I am now the type of person who sings at stoplights.

I don’t know if its because I’m getting…more mature…or if it’s a growth thing, but the more time passes, the more comfortable I feel being who I am when I’m out in the world. Instead of always pretending to be what society or other people think I need to be, I just present myself as I am–and if people give me funny looks or turn their noses up, I no longer take it personally. Instead, I just smile at them and understand that their problem is something within themselves–not with me. More often than I expect, they smile back at me.

I’ve realized that focusing on the positive things, people and events in my life, along with giving myself permission to be my true self in every situation, has made me feel happier overall. And by the law of attraction, happiness breeds more happiness. Worrying about what someone in the grocery store or in the car next to me thinks about me is just a waste of my time and energy.

The best part, I think, is that when I learned to stop focusing on the negative things people thought or said about me and started looking at the good things people said/thought/felt about me, more of those good things came toward me. And those negatives? They’re hardly even there these days. (And if there are/were any, I wouldn’t pay attention to them anyhow.)

Now, I base my opinion of myself not on what other people think, but on what I think. What a concept. As it turns out, I’m pretty cool–even though I sing in the car.

So what about you? Do you feel comfortable enough with who you are to sing at stoplights? Tell me in the comments!

Image Credit: Aka Hige/Flikr

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