Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Why I Like to Read My Horoscope

Some people think astrology is a bunch of hooey. I'm not sure I totally believe in it either, but I have to admit, I do like reading my daily horoscope.

Horoscopes may not always reflect what's really going on in our lives, but there are days when my horoscope, while not dead on, comes pretty close to addressing issues I am actually having, or just how I am feeling.

Just recently I wrote about being cautiously optimistic, and the next day my horoscope warned against getting my hopes up too high and advised using "caution" with optimism. It's pretty cool when my horoscope says stuff I've been thinking about anyway.

Of course, not all horoscopes offer the same predictions. The newspaper may say one thing, and my horoscope on Yahoo! may say something different. So it's not an exact science, but I still find horoscopes useful.

Some great things about horoscopes are:

They can put you in the right mindset. When I read my horoscope in the morning and it says I'm going to have a good day, I may be more likely to have one because the horoscope helped me to be in a positive frame of mind. If it warns against problems, I'll likely spend some time thinking about possible solutions.

They can give you something to think about. Sometimes your horoscope can give you some ideas about things to do or what direction you may want to go in life. It can get you thinking about starting a new project, taking a chance on love, doing something to improve your relationships or just doing a little self-improvement.

It's fun to read about yourself. Sometimes your horoscope can hit the nail on the head when it describes you. Not all of it may sound like you. I'm a Sagittarius, and while people born under this sign are supposed to be athletic, I most certainly am not. Still, some of the characteristics and behavior your horoscope may describe can sound just like you. You almost feel like the person writing it knows you.

They can offer guidance and encouragement. Sometimes horoscopes can help us make choices. They can help us identify the good and bad points about our options. And once in a while, my horoscope will make me feel better if I'm feeling down about a situation. The horoscope may point to challenges or tough times ahead, but it will also tell me that I am strong enough to get through it. Reaffirming your good qualities and your abilities may be a way to take the edge off the bad news in the horoscope, but it does help with maintaining a positive attitude.

They can help you look forward to the future. It's always fun to see what your horoscope says the future has in store for you. It may not be accurate, and it may not affect your life plans, but at least it can give you a positive outlook.

Whether you believe in it or not, astrology can offer some great insights. No matter what your future holds, it could very well be in the stars.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Kids Are Alright

I don't have any kids, but I really do like them. Kids are awesome in so many ways. I just felt compelled today to pay tribute to these great people.

Most of my favorite memories are from my childhood. It was a wonderful journey. Being around kids now always takes me back to that time in my life when I had no idea what stress was or what fatigue was. One of the things that makes me happiest is talking to my little nephew Jadon (the blondie on the bottom left in the picture) about his day.

Jadon makes everything in his life sound so great. He speaks with such excitement in his voice about school, the weather, riding his bike, finding bugs outside. Oh my gosh, the kid is a ball of boundless energy! He's always cheerful and upbeat, and he never fails to make me laugh.

On my list of why kids are awesome, their positive attitude is number one. Here's the whole list:

  • They have a positive attitude. Kids don't just look on the bright side - they own it. To a kid, anything is possible.

  • Kids are encouraging. Without even knowing that they're doing it, kids can lift adults' spirits with a story or joke, an impromptu smile or hug, or just any little thing they do that brings a smile to a grownup's face.

  • Kids are very resilient. They bounce back easily from disappointment. Look at how a little kid falls down and starts to cry. Then, five minutes later he's up and running around again like nothing ever happened. Wish I could be that tough!

  • Kids can make you see things in a whole new way. It's pretty cool looking at things with kids. Their observations can give you a fresh take on an item or a place, or help you appreciate it that much more. And of course, it's most fun watching them see things for the first time, like the lake or an elephant at the zoo!

  • They offer lots of free entertainment, and they get adults talking. For example, I got to hear some great music recently when Jadon was playing his own rendition of soft rock on my electric keyboard. Then there was the baby in the shopping cart at the store that had all of us ladies in the checkout line talking about how adorable he was.

  • They can touch your heart with their sweetness. With just small gestures, too. I was bowled over last spring when Jadon offered me a bouquet of dandelions he'd picked.

  • They can help you get in touch with your inner child, or bring back memories of your childhood experiences. It's always fun to pull out the crayons and get creative, or build something with blocks. I guess there are some things from childhood that never really get left behind completely. My older nephew Nick (center in the picture) got to spend time with me before I had MS, so he got the piggy back rides and got me to climb hills and chase him and all that good stuff. But no matter what you do together, you can get so much out of spending time with kids.

The kids are definitely alright.

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Half-Full Glass - Trying to Stay Optimistic

It seems like there isn't much cause for optimism these days. Lots of folks are having a tough time, and with a gloomy forecast for the economy in 2009, it's hard to have a positive outlook on the future. Sometimes I feel like things are only going to go from bad to worse.

I've always been cautiously optimistic at best. My whole life I have battled pessimism and negative thinking. I have felt time and again that I brought myself down and caused my own misfortunes by having a dim view of things. That old self-fulfilling prophecy.

I wish I knew how to be more optimistic. I mean, I do have a sense of optimism about things. I don't get down about the fact that I have MS. I don't get all gloomy and doomy about my future as far as that is concerned.

I would like to be more optimistic about the future in general, though. I think about what I want my life to be like, say five years from now, and sometimes I feel down about it. I catch myself thinking no good things will happen. I refuse to let myself envision my future self having a lot of money and living in a nice big house. That would be optimism, and my mind doesn't seem to want to go there!

It takes work to fight off pessimism. Sometimes I think we just don't want to get our hopes up about things. Or past experience has taught us not to.

I tend to have little spurts of optimism. Today was a good day. I started the ball rolling on trying to become employed again by meeting with a job counselor and signing up for some career assessment classes. I felt pretty good after that, like I had gotten on the right track, and I could see myself becoming employed in the next few months.

I think sometimes we just don't want to get ahead of ourselves with the optimistic thoughts. That way, we think we won't be disappointed when things don't work out. But of course, we still do get disappointed when things don't work out.

Being optimistic seems like the better way to go. I'd rather feel 'up' about something. If it doesn't work out, the disappointment is short-lived, and I can just move on. I'd rather be hopeful right now about my future and the future of the nation.

So I will remain, as ever, cautiously optimistic. But maybe with a little less emphasis on the cautious part.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Challenge Thyself

Life can hand us a lot of challenges. There are also times in life when we challenge ourselves.

Some of us may want to do something to reinvent ourselves. Others, like myself, may want to make major changes in our lives such as getting a new job or career.

Challenging ourselves begins with a goal. What is it that we want to strive for? Then we have to decide if we want to take that journey. Are we up to the challenge of working toward fulfullling our life goals or dreams?

In my own life, I feel like being complacent and accepting the way things are is not the direction I want to go in. I know embarking on a job search isn't going to be easy. I haven't worked in two years because of my MS. But trying to get back into the working world is a challenge I am ready to take on.

Here is a list of what I see as rules to live by when challenging thyself in life:

Think big. Don't go for something too easy. If it's too easy, where's the fun in that? You want to go for something big, something that's going to really make an impact on your life. Want more from your life. Do more; work harder. Have a positive attitude and don't back down from the challenge.

Follow your dreams. Everyone has something they dream of doing. We all have that airplane we want to jump out of or the desire to do something that we really love for a living. Think of the thing you dream of having the most in life. Maybe you want to challenge yourself this year to finally take the first step in making that dream a reality.

I think having a dream is a wonderful thing, and while I would never discourage anyone from pursuing their dreams, I'd caution them not to shirk responsibilities or quit their "day job". You can still go for the thing you really want more than anything even while having to stick things out in your life as it is now.

Stay motivated. Sometimes we may feel trying to reach our goal is becoming too challenging, and we're tempted to just say "forget it" and give up. Don't give in to that feeling. Maybe you can get friends and family involved for encouragement. Even with their support, it still comes down to you, though. Work on your self-confidence and be your own biggest cheerleader.

The important thing is to keep moving toward the ultimate goal and not lose momentum. Stay focused and keep pushing through.

Keep your eyes on the prize. Fear of failure is a sure fire destroyer of motivation. Don't worry about not succeeding at reaching your goal. Just keep thinking how great it will be and how much positive change will come into your life if you do succeed! (Or I guess I should say when you succeed.)

Setbacks may occur, but they are only there to step over as you move toward meeting your goal.

Celebrate your achievements, however small they may be. If you've had even a small success on the way to accomplishing your goal, reward yourself. Knowing that you're moving in the right direction and keeping up the positive energy will get you that much closer to your goal.

This new year seems like a good time to rise to your own personal challenge and do something awesome.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Living at a Slower Pace

One thing that I've noticed a lot more since I've been living with MS is how much of a hurry everyone is in these days.

I used to walk briskly when I didn't have MS. Now that I can't walk that quickly anymore, I can't help but notice people rushing past me everywhere I go. It's like I'm standing still and everyone else is moving.

Being a reluctant slowpoke, I sometimes run into a problem where I'm following someone when they're showing me where something is in a store, or what room I need to go to in a building, etc. and they end up getting several yards ahead of me. I guess I just need to get in the habit of letting them know I can't go that fast.

It's not easy watching the rest of the world scurrying past you or running ahead of you. It gets me thinking, though, what is the hurry? Why can't everyone slow down a little?

Sure, life is hectic these days. Even I sometimes have feelings of urgency, of being 'busy', although I can't physically keep pace with those feelings. With so much on our plates, time has become a precious commodity. But, in a way, are we maybe overbooking our days a bit? Maybe we are trying to squeeze too much in.

One thing I have to do now that I am living with MS is to find a balance between tasks, time and energy. Since I can't rush around, a packed schedule is unrealistic. So I have to juggle tasks and errands to fit my limited energy budget.

I still get restless sometimes. When you've got a lot to do, it's only natural. Inside, I still feel like I want to hurry up and get things done, yet my body moves a lot slower than I'd like it to. Internally and externally, I have to slow things down.

If you're looking to slow the pace a bit, here's what I'd suggest:

Pare down the 'to-do' list. Go to five different places in one day? Are you kidding me? Not gonna happen. I can go to one place a day, maybe two, so I have to decide which are the most important. Chores are the same way. I choose one or two things that absolutely must be done that day, and that's it. The rest can wait.

The key word is: Prioritize. Spread things out a bit instead of trying to get it all done in one day.

Avoid getting overwhelmed or stressed. Give yourself plenty of time to get things done so there's no last minute rush. Don't take on more projects at work or extra responsibilities than you can handle. It's okay to say "No" once in a while.

Relax. Make time for yourself part of your schedule.

Plan a day of doing nothing. It seems every day we're busy. Even on the weekends there's always much to do. Pick a day where there are no major events to go to, no shopping trips or chores that can't wait, and just relax all day. Veg out and watch TV, lie on the beach, whatever you need to be totally relaxed.

Being slowed down by MS has really taught me a lot about appreciating things more. Slowing down a bit won't lessen how much you can get done, but it will reduce stress and increase your enjoyment of life. Life may be a rat race, but even the slow tortoise made it to the finish line.