Nothing Great is Ever Easy.


“Nothing in life that is great is easy. If it were easy then it wouldn’t be great.” – Who Says You Can’t? You Do, Daniel Chidiac
How come nobody ever told me that truth telling is hard? Or that loving other people is hard? Or maybe that loving yourself is very hard? And that being a kind person is hard? Or that being an authentic person in a very surface-level world is extremely hard? Or how about that being consistantly creative and not giving into your fears is, you guessed it…hard.

You can tell that today I’m kind of at this fork in the road where I’m asking myself if I want to keep going. I feel like I am failing at life. Can I just be honest for a moment? I think so.

I feel like I am trying so incredibly hard to get it “right” and yet I keep failing. I keep getting it wrong. I keep sucking at being a loving person. I keep sucking at loving myself. I keep sucking at pursuing my creativity and instead I just keep giving up on it because, frankly, I get lazy and I just don’t feel like it or maybe fear gets in the way, I don’t know! But either way, I keep failing.

And yet, I’m sure if Liz Gilbert were here listening to me whine about how much of a failure I believe myself to be she would tell me to stop it. Because am I really failing if I am continuing on with my journey? Am I really failing if I continue on trying to do better?

She quotes Clive James in her book, Big Magic, saying that “failure has a function. It asks you whether you really want to go on making things.”

So here I am.

Do I want to go on? Do I want to keep on being a truth teller? Do I want to keep trying to love other people even if I can’t seem to get it perfect all the time? Do I want to keep trying to figure out how to love myself even though I keep falling short? Do I want to go on being real in this almost too superficial world? Do I want to keep chasing my creative path that I know deep in my heart I am meant to chase after?

HELL YEAH I DO.

But you know what I’ve realized. It’s hard. And great things are always hard. Great journeys are always hard. So of course being authentic and creative and loving and kind and patient is going to be insanely hard because all of those things are GREAT things.

But they are worth doing. They are worth continuing. They are worth making.

Today, Liz Gilbert officially annouced on her Facebook that she was in love with her female best friend, Rayya Elias, who was recently diagnosed with pancreatic and liver cancer, and that she will be divorcing her husband to be together with her. This news was completely shocking to me at first because I have been such a devotee of hers and her novels and realizing that she was basically giving up on marriage (which she wrote an entire book on and even though she was never really fully committed to it in the first place) in order to be with this woman was kind of a shocker to me.

I almost felt betrayed and I don’t really know why. I mean I don’t really have anything against the LGBT community or of people’s choices to be with a same-sex partner, although I would never decide to go that path myself. But I have no hate for these people. But I think I was shocked simply because she was being so honest. Because in this world, it is almost uncommon for people to just go and be who they want to be. Most of the time we are hiding behind something or making excuses as to why we can’t be a certain way or do something we want to do. Most of the time we are simply following each other, trying to fit in, or not make any waves. So for this woman to be so transparent and honest this way, it just turned me upside down.

I felt like, “how dare she stray from the norm? How dare she be this person after I thought that she was this other person?” But aren’t I being hypocritical if I react that way? Because I am expecting her to be something she is not and therefore not being very loving towards her choices because of it?

See. That is why loving is hard. That is why being authentic is hard. And that is why taking your own path less travelled in this world that is encouraging you to just follow the lead, is EXTREMELY HARD. And that is why we become so afraid to do it – because it is so hard and anything hard produces fear which we do our best to avoid.

But then think about the joy that would come if we were to truly be ourselves? Think about how much joy Liz feels now that she gets to stop pretending to be someone everyone thought she was. And think about how great of a service she is doing for herself and for others even though it is incredibly hard to do.

In her announcement today she wrote, “I need to live my life in truth and transparency, even more than I need privacy, or good publicity, or prudence, or other people’s approval or understanding, or just about anything else. Truth and transparancy will not only make my life more ethical, but also easier. Why easier? Because untruth is always complicating – and truth – no matter the consequences – is always strangely simplifying.”

Which brings me back to the idea that doing anything great, whether it be truth telling, living a life of transparency and authenticity, being true to your creativity, learning how to love others or yourself, or simply just pursuing something great in your eyes, is always going to be hard – but in the end, living a lie, or untruth, is always more complicating. Sure, you may face a load of adversity at first, or maybe even the whole time through, but you are pursuing greatness, you are pursuing truth, you are pursuing something real. That is worth every last bit of that hardship.

If we want to make great things, we must take the path less travelled. We must put in the hard work and effort. We must go through the failure. We must push past the fear and doubt. We must go on.

That is how we can honor the greatness in us or the greatness that we are after.

So I ask myself again. Am I really failing? Am I truly failing because I may not be showing the kind of progress that may be easily recognized in the eyes of others or even in myself, but yet am continuing on in my pursuit despite how difficult it is? No, I’m not failing. And neither are you if you are still on that path – that path that is leading into the unknown that very few have travelled before you.

We could all easily just give in. We could take the safe route. The predictable route. We could call it a day and simply turn our heads from our curiosity and go on living a mediocre life. But that would be such a shame and dishonor to who we truly are. We weren’t meant to live in such drudgery.

We were meant to be real. To run after our calling. To how to love and to learn how to feel, even if it meant feeling heartache. We were meant to create. We were meant to dream. We were meant to keep falling, learning from our mistakes, and then putting ourselves back together even stronger. This is why we were created. To keep going. To keep moving onward (as Liz would say.)

So keep going.

If it’s hard to keep living an honest, authentic life and you’ve failed at it — keep going.  

If it’s difficult to love others or yourself and you’ve messed up again — keep going.


If you feel stuck and hopeless or even lazy in your creative process and have no more hope for ever creating again – keep going.

Keep going. Keep going. Keep going.

Despite what anyone says. Despite what your fear even says. Keep going.

If it is truly something great that you are pursuing, you wil face difficulty, but anything worthy of being called great is never easy.

The Self Love Daily Challenge:

Keep going.

 

xx

Christina Ciro

P.S Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram – @the.self.love.challenge 

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The Meaning of Life or What Really Matters.

I came across a Bible verse today that really struck me hard this morning. It wasn’t even the biblical context that really made me question things, but rather in relation to life itself.

And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? – Mark 8:36

For those of you who do not believe in God, I’ll translate it into what it meant to me that may relate to you more.

If you gain all the riches of the world, fame, fortune, all sorts of pleasure, any material possession, anything you can basically imagine achieving that is defined as success by the world, but then have nothing truly meaningful in your life like love, family, relationships, any sort of impact on other’s lives, or any kind of desire for creating eternal change, then what is the point of it all?

This made me think. It made me think of the world we live in. How literally everyone is focused on achieving their own instant gratification rather than creating deeper connections or greater impact. We have become such a selfish society. And I am not afraid to say that, even towards myself because we all fall into the same trap. It makes us feel good to fulfill our own desires. It is human instinct to be selfish. And the times we live in now, not only encourage it more so than ever before, but it has become the social norm to be this way, when in generations before, it was not.

Our image has become our God. We worship our image. We do everything we can to create this outward appeal. We go to great lengths, even if it means hurting others who get in the way. We sacrifice our families, our friends, our careers, our relationship. We seek more and more and more, and yet during our life time we have become the most depressed generation.

Why is this? Because we have turned inward. We have forgotten what it’s like to experience real connection. Loving others has become less of a priority and giving to ourselves has raised to the top. It’s not even about self-love, because we don’t even love ourselves. In fact, we hate ourselves more than ever because we are constantly so focused on outdoing everyone else’s image with our own. But we can never feel like we are enough.

I see how the widening popularity of social media has impacted the way we see our own identity. We base our worth on who “likes” our stuff or who we are friends with or how many followers we have.

It’s not only affecting our lives online, but also offline. Our culture has made it so that it has become so acceptable to overshare our opinions of literally everything that everyone believes that they must conform to what is popular in order to be deemed as a “worthy individual.” It is ruining relationships. Friendships. Careers. Causing identity crisis. Depression. Anxiety. Fear. Jealousy. Rage.   

It is creating so much hatred in the world as well. Look at the recent shootings. We are spreading news and opinions so quickly that people don’t even get a moment to digest it but rather are overwhelmed with the opinions of everyone else in a matter of seconds. Then before you know it, all of this promoting causes them to feel entitled enough to go out and fix the problem themselves – resulting in even more destruction. There is so much animosity. So much judgment. So much entitlement. So many opinions of what is right and wrong. And all it does is create chaos and produce more confusion.

I’m not blaming it all on social media. This isn’t a post about social media at all and how I am advocating against it (I’m not, I know now it can be used for good). It’s rather a post about the way our culture has evolved just in the last 10 years. How much importance it is placing on the wrong things. And as a result, we have lost the true meaning and purpose of life. It was never about us.

What is the meaning and purpose of life?

A friend of mine is doing a project on this very question. I responded to her question, and I wanted to share an expanded version of my response with you. I am not saying that even my own opinion is right, but what I can tell you is that the meaning of life is not to glorify ourselves and create a world of competition, lost identity, and hatred.

The meaning of life. Wow. Such a complicated yet simple question. I think the meaning of life is several things. The first purpose is to love. I believe we were created (by God) to love and to receive love in return. I think love was created for a good reason. It is obviously important because it is truly the basis for every purpose and motivation in life. We do things out of love. We experience things out of love. We pursue things out of love. We create things out of love. We are inspired because of love. Love is the one universal thing that connects us all. It is understood in every language.

It doesn’t even have to be romantic love, it can be any kind of relational connection from strangers to friends to family to significant others. Love is meant to be shared. It is meant to be given freely and received freely. It is not meant to be judged. It is not meant to create competition. It is not meant to spread division. Rather it is used to unite. Anything that is not love is based off fear and fear is what causes disconnection. Fear is what drives our need for competition. Fear is what creates hatred among each other. Fear is what causes entitlement. Fear is what tells us to focus on ourselves and not others. Fear is what kills. Love does none of this. Love is pure. It’s only motivation is for good. Love others. Love ourselves. 

The second purpose of life is to connect. We all learn from each other, whether growing up as children and learning from our parents to learning from our peers. Each of these relationships create a connection. Without connection humans would cease to exist. It is that vital. 

There was a scientific study in the 1950s called the “Monkey Love Experiments” conducted by psychologist Harry Harlow. Through the use of baby monkeys and robots, he conducted a theory to prove how critical it is to have emotional attachment and connection in our lives and when we cease to have this, we literally go insane. In his experiments he separated baby monkeys from their mothers and placed them in two separate groups – one with a surrogate robot mother that was made a plain electronics and wires but had provided nourishment (milk) and a second surrogate robot mother that did not provide nourishment but was covered in soft terry cloth to resemble the comforting presence of a real mother. He found that the monkeys that were placed with the plain robot showed signs of emotional deprivation and depression even though they were adequately nourished. The other monkeys seemed happier and more secure because they were able to form an emotional attachment and connection to the terry cloth covered robot. (Link)


What this proves is our significant need for emotional attachment and connection. Without it, we are empty. Purposeless. It is the same for human beings. Without adequate connections to others, our lives feel meaningless. I believe that one of our deepest human needs is to feel understood and we can only find that understanding when we connect to others. We connect by being vulnerable with each other and once we can break that barrier, we find understanding. We create the emotional attachment. Understanding allows us to feel loved and a sense of belonging.

In today’s world, I feel like we have less of that sense of belonging now more than ever. We are all trying so desperately to connect, and yet we have become so far from it because our attempts are directed in the wrong way. Instead of seeking to understand, we are seeking to compete. Instead of seeking to love, we are seeking to judge. Instead of being vulnerable, we are only revealing ourselves as a carefully put together façade of what we want people to see. Connection cannot blossom through this way of being.

The third and final meaning of life, I believe is to create. And not necessarily to create artwork, although it can be, but in essence to create anything. We can create life by reproduction , children. We can create beauty – through outward expression, through human connection, through love. We can create friendships. We can create whatever it is that inspires us to grow and learn, and most importantly to steer mankind into a worthy direction.

God created creation by creating us. He created love. He created nature. He created the Earth and all of the universe. Creating was His gift to us and we must also follow His lead by creating good things as well. We must create out of love, not out of fear.

This is what I believe the true meaning to life is. To love. To connect. And to create. When we lack these things, our life becomes empty – purposeless. Without love, we are nothing. Without connection we feel isolated and misunderstood. And when we have no creativity, we have no form of outward expression, no motivation to keep us going, so life becomes boring.

Three simple things originally based in love, and yet we have evolved into turning them all into things based on fear. Instead of loving, we now hate. Instead of connecting, we have now become selfish. Instead of creating,  we destroy. 


The self love daily challenge: Let’s work together to originate ourselves back to the true and worthy meanings of life. Let’s love again. Love yourself. Love your neighbor. Let’s connect again. Talk to someone. Understand them. Relate to them. And lastly, let’s inspire each other to create good things. To express ourself in positive, healthy ways. 

xx

Christina Ciro

 

 

 

Taking a Break for a little while.. 

 
Hi friends ,

Please note : I know I haven’t written much on here for a while but I did want to post this on here as I have done so on my various other forms of social media. So hopefully after my break, I will feel more inspired to create and write so I can resume with this blog as well as live a more fulfilling lifestyle. Thank you!
I listened to two TED talks today (see links below). One about a man going off the internet completely for one year and how much more present he became in his interactions after spending less of his time being consumed by the internet. And the other about a man who thought originally that success meant having a lot of stuff, and when he found out he was still unhappy after obtaining so many possessions, he got rid of everything he didn’t need and lived a more authentic and minimalistic lifestyle that focused on things that really mattered.

Both talks had the same idea – clearing out the clutter in our lives that keep us from following our true passions and purpose and leading lives that focus more on things that matter, like our health, relationships, personal growth, contributions and community.  

After listening to these men talk about their life changing experiences, I’ve realized how the more we connect and immerse ourselves online or become obsessed with our personal image, the more disconnected and disengaged we become from our real lives and the more unhappy we end up being. Lately, I’ve been struggling with feelings of lack of inspiration, disconnection, and some major insecurity about my life. (yes I’m being vulnerable here so bear with me) And while there can be so many contributing factors like normal every day stress and pressure, hormonal imbalances, and miscellaneous drama, I feel that a majority of this feeling of dissatisfaction within my life and lack of motivation is coming from what I feed my mind on a daily basis.

I’ve noticed that the more stressed I feel about not feeling good, the more I try to lose myself into finding seeking what I feel I’m lacking online. I tend to do this through comparing where I am with where everybody else is, comparing how I look with how everybody else looks, and then somehow driving myself mad with trying to compete with them, even on a subconscious level. I kept questioning myself, “why do I feel so uninspired and unhappy all the time?” “Why do I feel like I am never enough?” “Why do I feel like I’m not getting to where I should be?”

And then I wondered… is it because I’m not really living authentically? Because I am literally living for an image that I want to project rather than living for a real purpose. Have I literally been rushing through life trying to get from one milestone to the next just to show that I am significant? Am I not living presently? Am I not appreciating presently? Am I just constantly waiting for the destination to arrive rather than enjoying the in-between seasons of growth and change? Why do we do this? Why do we think that by documenting and presenting every single thing in our lives we somehow become more important or that life has more meaning because it has been shared online? I don’t think it really does.

It’s good to be connected online and it’s good to stay relevant with the times and to keep connection with family and friends, but at the same time I think we need to disconnect too. We need to find balance. We need to remember that we live in a real world and not just a virtual one. That it’s more important to live fully and experience things in the moment than to constantly be worried about what else you might be missing out on. 

I’m doing an experiment… Not that any of you probably even care because I don’t know if anyone even reads what I post sometimes (I know this is quite long so if you’ve read this far – thank you), but I’ve decided to go off all social media for one month.

I’m not doing it for any kind of attention or to make a point because I’m angry or anything or even because I am upset or angry at anyone, it’s simply because I want to take notice. I want to see if my life does change for the better and increase in quality. If I will begin to enjoy things more fully or experience things in a deeper way. I want to know what it’s like not to fill my empty time with mindless scrolling on Instagram or Facebook and maybe instead fill it with more important, worthwhile activities like pursuing my passions. I want to be able to taste meals organically without the attachment of needing to capture them with a photo so that I could 22 likes. I want to experience bike rides and beach trips and morning hikes without having to make some post about what I did just to get another form of affirmation from the world that it was cool.

I want to see if it even helps me on my own personal journey of gaining more self-confidence – seeing whether it will help me stop comparing my life to everyone else or even just trying to get to know myself more without the pressures and distractions of what everyone else is doing. I want to see if my relationships with friends, family, and even my own boyfriend will grow closer, richer, and more genuine.

I mean really what’s the worst that could happen – I don’t make it through the 30 days and succumb back to the addiction of being on my phone? I read that it takes 30 days to create a new pattern in the brain. If I can somehow create a new pattern in my brain to create more balance in my life and to not be so affected by these negative influences that social media has had on me then I say it’s worth a try.

I’m going to try documenting this too… in a personal journal, of course but if I do find any significant changes or experiences then maybe I will consider publishing it as a means of helping others find balance in their lives too.

So that’s it. Thanks for reading. Farewell for now.

 If you need to reach me for whatever reason, email me.

 I’ll leave this here: christinaciro@gmail.com

 And for reference the TED talks I watched:

Much love and well wishes.

xx

Christina
 

 

Self Forgiveness: A Lesson In Moving Onward.

  
Hey guys!

Man. I have had a major case of writer’s block lately. Or maybe it’s just laziness. I don’t know what has been with me but I have had pretty much no motivation to write at all. But I’m going to try today. I guess every writer goes through this once in a while, right? They just don’t feel inspired to write. It’s strange, most of the time I am gushing with ideas of topics to write on, and yet lately every topic I choose, I feel like it’s just not good enough.

What is holding me back from writing? Maybe it’s not laziness. Maybe it’s fear. Maybe, now that my blog is receiving more viewers and followers, I feel this obligation to write something good and when I feel like what I want to write is not good enough, I lose that desire to even start writing in the first place.

I think many of us feel that way with our art. In the beginning when we first start, we do it because we feel that sense of passion in creating something. We do it because we love it and because we feel like we NEED to do it or else we’ll go crazy. But as time goes on, and our work either becomes more popular or well known, we begin to feel this invisible pressure of needing to produce something that is good and will be well-liked.

I think that’s what I’m feeling now. I think because I have been getting such great feedback lately, I feel this pressure of not wanting to disappoint my readers with poor quality work. And yet, that very same pressure is killing my own passion for creating. So what do we do?

Elizabeth Gilbert stated it best in her essay on her thoughts on writing. She advises:

The more important virtue for a writer, I believe, is self-forgiveness. Because your writing will always disappoint you. Your laziness will always disappoint you. You will make vows: “I’m going to write for an hour every day,” and then you won’t do it. You will think: “I suck, I’m such a failure. I’m washed-up.” Continuing to write after that heartache of disappointment doesn’t take only discipline, but also self-forgiveness (which comes from a place of kind and encouraging and motherly love). The other thing to realize is that all writers think they suck. When I was writing “Eat, Pray, Love”, I had just as a strong a mantra of THIS SUCKS ringing through my head as anyone does when they write anything. But I had a clarion moment of truth during the process of that book. One day, when I was agonizing over how utterly bad my writing felt, I realized: “That’s actually not my problem.” The point I realized was this – I never promised the universe that I would write brilliantly; I only promised the universe that I would write. So I put my head down and sweated through it, as per my vows”

 Self-forgiveness, huh? Maybe that’s what we all need sometimes to give us that nudge to get us back into our groove and on the path of self-expression. I think many times we become stuck because of these pressures of expectation we place upon ourselves and then we place even more pressure on ourselves when we cannot become un-stuck from that place. The cycle then continues with us being angry or annoyed at ourselves, and shaming ourselves into thinking we aren’t worthy of being creators in the first place so we should just quit and move on. Of course, this kills any inspiration or motivation we have left and then we’re left in this place of emptiness and self-destruction because we were too hard on ourselves in the first place, when all we really needed was a little bit of self-forgiveness to help nudge us back into place.

So I think that’s what I’m going to write about and what I’m going to practice. Self-forgiveness is important, not only in the aspect of creation but in our every day lives. We’re not going to get it right all the time. We’re not going to feel motivated or inspired all the time. Some days we’re just going to feel like we’re not that into creating anything, but in the end, we are nothing less than creators, because that’s who we are at the very core of our existence.

And in the end it is also not our responsibility to please everyone or make sure we are never rejected, but rather to fulfill our duty of completing the very act of creating. Because that is what we must do. If you are an artist, you must create. If you are a writer, you must write. Never give that up just because once in a while you write something that sucks. Sometimes you may write a 1000 poorly written words, but sometimes you may write something brilliant, and it is when you can write those words of brilliance is when it will all be worth it. It can be with anything. Just being you. Some days you may be off on your game, but some days you may be a shining superstar, and that is who you really are. Not the person who feels uninspired or off, but rather that shining human being who will bring forth and share something magnificent with the world.

How can we practice this act of self-forgiveness? Well, first off, cut yourself some slack. (Yes, Christina, I’m talking to you too!) Tell yourself it’s ok to take it easy sometimes. To kick back and allow yourself room to breathe. Tell yourself that there is no external pressure of needing to please anyone, but rather, you are working for yourself and your own expectations of what you want to bring forth. If you are having an off day, who cares! Tomorrow you can start all over again. You created something pretty terrible? Oh well. Toss it aside. Learn from it. Burn it. Do whatever you want, but remember that there is always another blank canvas waiting for you.

We need to learn to accept that we are merely human and as human beings we are flawed and imperfect and THAT’S OK. Sometimes there is beauty in all of our imperfections. And sometimes it is only through our imperfections that we can learn to improve and grow in ways perfection would not be able to teach us. So what if we made mistakes in the past? So what if we did a few stupid things? We’re human. We learn. We move on. That is life.

I can’t keep placing this pressure upon myself that if I write, it has to be something good and readable. Not everyone is going to like my writing, and I have to accept that. Sometimes I’m going to write posts that are absolutely brilliant, and other times I’m going to write posts that are pretty sub-par. But what matters is that I am writing. That I am continuing on with my craft. That I am not backing down because of any one opinion, even my own. But rather I am writing because it is something I want to do. Something I feel passionate about doing. Something I feel I MUST do.

So maybe this post was a bit all over the place and it did not have a direct connection to self love, but who cares! In the end, if we are doing something for the greater good of others or for the greater good of our selves, I think that is an act of self love. Somewhere someone will find my words inspiring, or maybe not. But either way, I wrote today. I did it because I wanted to. Not because I wanted to please anyone or accomplish anything or seek any sort of applause, but because I WANTED TO CREATE. So I did. And I forgive myself for not doing it sooner. And I forgive myself for not feeling inspired this past week. And I forgive myself if this writing truly does suck. But so what. ONWARD! (right, Liz?)

The Self Love Daily Challenge:

Learn to practice a little self-forgiveness. Cut yourself some slack and move forward.

xx

Christina Ciro

Why So Serious?

  
It was Oscar Wilde who said, “To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.” I, myself, am only just now learning how to truly live. Honestly, I think most of us do not know how. We simply exist in our day to day lives, following our routines, playing it safe, and doing what we know is familiar. We try to control every outcome because we are afraid of letting things fall out of our control. And then what happens is we ultimately stop living. We stop enjoying life for what it is – this short, yet profoundly beautiful period of time, in which we are meant to simply experience, create, share, and love during our existence and to make the most of our precious time that we have been given.

But most people don’t view life that way and it is because they are filled with such fear that in order for their lives to be meaningful, they must treat everything so seriously and accomplish all of these tasks that will somehow make them feel worthy and successful.

Thanks to my “new” life, as well as my amazing boyfriend (yes, a little shout out to you bug), I am learning that life is not meant to be taken so seriously. That it’s ok to laugh a little and act playful. That sure, things are going to be rough sometimes, but you’ve got to have a little faith that things ultimately will fall back into place in their own time. Because if you continually allow yourself to live in that state of fear and worry, you are always going to be waiting for things to “get better” until you can begin to start enjoying life, and sometimes things are never going to be ideal, so you have to start enjoying now and making the best of what you do have right then.

How do we stop existing and start living? Here are a few things I’m coming to learn that may help you begin living a more fuller and joyful life:

  1. Be playful. Learn to laugh (at yourself and otherwise). I’ve always been the serious type, so being able to laugh at myself or acting playful, does not come easy to me, sadly. I do have a sense of humor, and love to laugh, but when it comes to allowing myself to be vulnerable enough to be silly, that terrifies me. It probably has to do with my own self image and wanting to always portray this totally put together person who never does anything wrong. How completely silly is that, right? We’re all allowed to be human and have flaws and sometimes that means being silly and laughing at ourselves when we do fall a bit short. One of my favorite yogi’s and the founder of Yoga With Adriene, Adriene Mischler, is constantly inviting her followers to be playful, especially in their yoga practice. Life is not all about being perfect all the time, but rather learning how to have fun even in the midst of difficult tasks. When we are able to not take things so seriously, it gives us that room for grace, so that we don’t have to try so hard to pretend to be someone we’re not just so we can appear perfect. We need to learn to love who we are and sometimes that means giving ourselves permission to laugh a little, especially at ourselves. Why should we create this idea around life that it has to be serious in order for it to be successful? I’m learning that the more we are able to laugh and brush off our failures, the more fulfilling and joyful life becomes.
  2. Have faith and trust life a little.
    I’ve always admired my boyfriend’s faith in God and in life in general. He’s always been the type to go after what he wants, and he will take giant leaps of faith, trusting that in some way things will work out because God is always looking out for his good. It takes a lot of surrender to be able to be that way, but it also eases his worries when he does let go of that need for control. I want to be that way. I believe in God, and yet I find it hard to surrender control to Him because I want that sense of control over my own life. I want to know that I can make things happen in my own strength – but then you know what ends up really happening – I end up worrying about EVERYTHING because I assume this massive responsibility of trying to control EVERYTHING in my life. And sometimes we need to let go. We need to surrender to that higher power and just trust in life to go as it should. We have to be willing to let go of our attachments to what we believe should be happening at that very moment, and just learn to accept things as they come because maybe that’s exactly where we need to be right then in our journey.
  3. Find balance.Balance is probably one of the hardest things to achieve. We are always either doing too much or too little of something, and when we do try to find some place in the middle, it doesn’t last for very long. But I think the reason for that is because balance is one of those things you have to work at every day. But when you do, you find that pure state of bliss. We must work to find that balance in our daily lives. Between work and play. Between healthy eating and indulging. Between taking life serious and not so seriously. It’s never good to be at one side of the spectrum, because that’s when we will begin to feel like our lives have become either too mundane or too chaotic. Finding that middle ground is possible. As Adriene says, “find what feels good.” You’ll know when you’re in balance. It’s when you’re not working too hard, but working just hard enough and still feel good about it.
  4. Choose curiosity over fear.
    Elizabeth Gilbert spoke about this idea on her podcast, Magic Lessons: “Dear Creativity and Fear.” She was giving advice to a fellow artist in hopes that she would be able to move past her fears of creating and venturing out into different parts of her craft. She told her to choose curiosity over fear and this had a great impact in regards to my own life. I feel that when we constantly choose fear, it is because we are trying to remain safe, and yet when we remain too safe, we hold ourselves back from experiencing anything that could be great. When we choose curiosity instead we are giving ourselves permission to go after what sparks our interest and allowing ourselves to dive into the deeper parts of our passionate selves, which will produce that fruit of creation. And that’s ultimately what should be our goals as human beings – constantly creating something, whether it is art or something else we are passionate about expressing. We must also remember that when we do choose curiosity over fear, that we are also taking that risk of failure, but we must learn that that is ok. Failure is a symptom of growth and as long as we are growing, then we’re not really failing.
  5. Look for your blessings first.
    Ever think that sometimes the reason why we feel so unhappy or that life is just too serious is just because our focus is centered on our problems? What you focus on, is what you manifest. If you think only about the negative in your life or what you are lacking or even all of your worries, you will begin to feel chaotic, depressed, and anxious internally. Life will seem miserable and you will begin to wonder who sucked all the fun out of it. If we shift our focus and start to remember how we are blessed, we will begin to see that life really isn’t as bad as we make it seem. Sure we may have problems, but so do others. It is only when we can take a step back and look at the entire picture, that we can begin to see how miniscule our problems are compared to how much we are blessed. We take for granted some of our most basic needs like having our health, or money, or shelter, or food. We forget that there are people who love and care for us, who we can always turn to. We overlook the fact that we have a job that sustains us or that we make enough money to even afford many luxuries that others cannot. Remember what you have and who you have and it will make life more worthwhile.

I’ve really been trying to incorporate these principles into my life more so I can begin living more fully. I’ve noticed already the changes in my attitude and well being. I feel happier. I feel like life seems brighter. I am appreciating more. And I am starting to feel like I am truly alive and truly living. That’s the most important part. Because when we merely exist, life can become so dull, repetitive, and passionless. And it’s definitely not meant to be lived that way.

The dictionary defines being alive as being lively, vital, energetic, and alert. How can we be these things if we are constantly worrying, stressing out, or taking life too seriously? We can’t. So let’s stop existing. Let’s go out and have a laugh. Let’s have a little faith that things will work out. Let’s trust in our journey. Let’s find some balance and entertain our curiosities. But most importantly, let’s appreciate what we already have, and realize that we actually have a lot that makes our lives so full already. Then vitality will follow.

The Self Love Challenge: Begin to find ways of feeling more alive in your daily life.

xx

Christina Ciro

P.S Don’t forget to follow us on FACEBOOK! 🙂

Your Greatest Value is What You Give Away.

  

I am a writer. I was born to be one. From the very moment I knew what the practice of journaling was, I began to record every thought I had. Since the age of eight, I have filled over 25 journals full of my thoughts, ideas, and observations. It is quite the collection of mostly nonsense or what I did that day, but as I was reviewing over my journals, I’ve realized that hidden between the pages are also experiences and wisdom I’ve collected over the years, which in reality is priceless.

And today, as I write yet another piece, I’ve come to realize that the writing process is not simply writing words upon paper or screen, but rather a process of sharing. When we write we share an experience. We share our knowledge. We share our truth. We share our emotions. We tell a story. And sometimes within our writing we make connections to our readers who make their own relations to what we have written. That in itself is also priceless; to be able to create that kind of connection between two human beings. So it got me thinking. It made me ask myself what is the greater purpose for my writing? Is it to make those connections? Is it so that I can find my own voice and let it be known to others? Or do I write for the purpose of giving something away – a little piece of wisdom or knowledge or truth that may further someone else’s journey and help bring them that much closer to figuring it out themselves. I believe that is the greatest value of our lives – when we can use our experiences, our failures, our successes, and our insights, and give them away to others living in similar circumstances and help them further move forward on their own journeys, in hopes that some day they will do the same for someone else. In the end that is the purpose of life, right? To produce growth. To move forward. To expand into something greater.

I believe that the greatest disservice we can do for the world is not to pass on our knowledge. This is why it is so important to share our experiences, by any means of creativity – whether it be through writing, music, art, film, or even simple conversations. When we connect with others through our own self expression, we pass on that wisdom and knowledge. We tell stories about the times we’ve failed and how much we’ve learned from our mistakes, and how after gaining some knowledge we tried again and succeeded. This is what art is to me – telling a story in creative form. This is the purpose of my writing.

So what I’m trying to get at is this: our greatest value in life will come from whether we passed on our stories or not. So we must tell them. We must not be afraid to share or be vulnerable. If something wants to come out of us, we must create it and let it live, so that someone else will feed off our creation and be inspired by what we have made.

We are all a unique combination of our personal successes and failures. We all have gained a certain amount of perspective, wisdom, and insight and it is our natural duty to pass on these things to others. I was listening to Elizabeth Gilbert’s podcast, Magic Lessons, today, and she was speaking to a woman who had recently lost her sister and was having a hard time with moving on after her loss and getting back to working on her music. She felt like her loss had blocked all of her creativity. As I was listening to this story, I noticed how immediately Elizabeth used whatever knowledge and experience she had to help connect with this woman. She even brought on her friend and fellow author, Ann Patchett, who dealt with similar loss circumstances to help connect with this woman and help her find inspiration again after her loss. It was beautiful how a community of woman, all from different backgrounds and experiences could connect over one other woman’s story and circumstance, and by sharing their own wisdom and insight, helped this young woman become unstuck and move onward on her own journey.

This is why it is important to share our stories because of this greater value that they bring after we are able to help someone else move forward after hearing our own experience.

I was also thinking about the different generations in my family. How my grandparents are constantly giving us grandchildren advice on what they believe we should be doing with our lives. Most of the time we brush off this wisdom because we think we know better, but in reality, this wisdom is great value. They are sharing their experiences, their successes, their failures, and the wisdom they have gained after many years and we must listen in order that we might learn something and grow in our own journeys.

I know this may not have much to do with self love, but sometimes self love isn’t necessarily all about the self but rather doing a kindness towards humanity, which does relate back to ourselves. When we contribute to creating a better world that we live in, it will come back to us. We will find happiness after doing it. We will feel that kindness shine back into our hearts after hearing that our experiences were not wasted and instead were valuable for someone to hear and use for their own future journey.

Everything we go through in life is for a greater purpose. The experiences I’ve been through so far, even though many have been tragic, are still experiences and stories that I will one day share with someone else who might find them useful. That is the greatest value we can pass on in our lives. Sharing our stories. Sharing our experiences. This is why I am a writer. So I can help even a single soul get further along in their own journey towards healing, wholeness, and finding the happiness that comes with self love.

The Self Love Challenge: Share an experience with someone who you think is going through a similar challenge. See if you can connect with them in some way and help them find a way to move forward in their own journey.

xx

Christina Ciro

Who are YOU?

  
Hello my lovely followers.

Can I ask you a question? What defines YOU?

Today I wish to bring you some encouragement as I’ve been seeking it myself lately after being in a bit of a slump since last time I wrote. This whole just turning 26 thing has got me all frazzled. (Yes, my birthday was a few weeks ago.) I feel like the older I get, the faster time passes. I’m sure you all could relate. And the more time passes, the more I feel like I’m just not getting enough done. I’m not doing enough with my life. I could be doing this or that. Or those people over there have got more than me. Or those friends over there are married and have kids already and what do I have. I’m Just an office worker whose job is going absolutely no where fast. I have no kids. No husband. Barely just started a new relationship (I know – yippee!). But who knows when I’ll ever get married or buy a house or have some little rug rats to show for it all. I haven’t written a novel. Or travelled the globe. I haven’t even been out of the country, for Christ’s sake!

Life seems pretty bleak, doesn’t it? Well when you put it that way, sure it does. But when you truly take a hard look at yourself and your life and begin to dissect what truly defines you and makes up who you are, is it really that awful? Have you ever that that maybe the words and sentences you are telling yourself (as well as other people) aren’t really what describes who YOU truly are and what you are made up of.

Am I really just an office worker? Am I really just an unmarried woman in her mid-twenties who is barely just getting by? Am I really just someone who just got her heart broken by so many different tragedies at once and was barely holding on to her own sanity? Am I just an aspiring writer? Just an aspiring photographer? Just an aspiring chef?

How about you? Are you just a parent? Just a bank teller? Just a teacher? Are these titles and roles the things that define who we truly are at our core? When we describe ourselves as just something, we’re basically setting ourselves up to say we’re a bunch of nobodies. That we really don’t matter. That we’re all the same. While yes, we are all human beings and all have our place and roles in society that we must be a part of, it does not necessarily mean that these roles are what truly define WHO we are. We are not JUST anything. There is so much more that entails who we really are.

We all have different passions and exclusive qualities that truly define who we are. We carry with us many different inspirations that ignite our souls and form depth in our character. We have vast interests and hobbies and talents. We all are born with unique gifts that should not be overrun by the other definitions of our lives. These are the things that truly define who you are. Not your career. Not your status. Not your net worth. Not what titles you carry. Not who you date.

And yet we all seem to mistakenly think they do. One of my favorite writer’s, Jennifer Pastiloff, described it best in an article she wrote recently. She says, “many people equate their self worth with their career or status or bank account.” She goes further on to say how we’re all nobodies and somebodies.

“I’m somebody. You’re nobody. I’m nobody. You’re somebody. Newsflash: we are all somebody. The more we buy into that bullshit, the more we perpetuate the myth that our job defines us. That our fame defines us. That if the world knows us, we are worth knowing.” (Link)

But I think the key to feeling like a nobody or a somebody is in the way we choose to describe what defines us. If we describe ourselves as just an office worker, then of course we are going to feel like nobodies. We’re going to feel like we are nothing of importance, a dispensable human being who can easily be replaced because their job is nothing special. And then when the time comes when we feel like we want to do something creative, like writing a novel, we feel like we can’t do it, because we’re just an office worker and that’s a nobody and nobodies just don’t write books.

Am I right or am I right?!

There is no way for inspiration and creativity to flow if we are not allowing ourselves to be defined by what we truly are – which is people who are unique and full of passions and talents that are just bursting at the seams waiting to be released from within. Stop describing yourself as just a nobody. Begin telling yourself that you are somebody and somebody great at that!

I went to Whole Foods the other day and this random, sweet lady suddenly walked up to me and asked if I was a dancer that went to Art school with her son because I had looked so familiar. I told her she was mistaken and that I was not indeed a dancer. She then went on further to ask what I did do for a living because my look was so unique. My automatic response wanted to tell her how I was just an administrative assistant at an insurance company, but then I realized she viewed me as someone who wasn’t just average and ordinary. To her, I was giving off some sort of image that I was indeed somebody. Instead I gathered up this new found confidence she brought out in me and I told her that I was a writer and a photographer. She jumped for joy almost and stated excitedly that she “just knew it!” That I was an artist of some sort because I seemed to put off this creative energy. We spoke for a good half hour after that and I told her about my passions and what I was working on and she told me about her son and how he was pursuing acting. It was a great exchange between strangers. 

But just that little tweak in my story of how I chose to describe who I was helped me feel like I really did matter. That I was more than just my job title. That I was a person full of passion and creativity and ideas. That I had talent. That I was gifted. That I truly AM a writer and an artist. Just because I may not be exactly where I want to be and have to keep a day job right now, does not mean I am not still allowed to be creative and pursue my passions and most importantly, define myself as an artist.

We kill creativity that way. We think that just because we don’t carry the status or money or fame that comes along with creative professions, it means that we are not allowed to define ourselves as creators. We are all creators in some way. Even if it may not be artistically, it may be some other gift we carry. Everything we do is an art form. The way we speak. The way we act. The interests we pursue. It is all art and creation. So just because you have a day job, doesn’t mean you should also quit your day dreams. Even if you were describing yourself as just a house wife or mother, it doesn’t mean you have to feel like that’s all you are. There is more to you. You are beautiful and passionate and loved and deserving of more.

Do not make the mistake of allowing your circumstances or daily obligations define who you truly are because you are made up of much, much more. Dig deep within you and find what ignites your soul. Find what motivates you. Find what inspires you to create and define yourself as such. You like to paint or even enjoy looking at paintings, then, BAM, you are an artist! You like to write, then write – even if it sucks, just spill your guts out onto paper! Keep moving forward. Keep pushing out of your comfort zone and releasing that creativity because it will enhance your life so much more if you can do that. We are all born with a need to express ourselves, so find that self expression.

You will begin to feel more confident and even love yourself more when you begin to describe yourself in a way that truly defines you rather than allowing everyday titles to cage your true talents.

Stay passionate and true to who you are. Love yourself enough to do that.

The Self Love Challenge: Discover what truly defines you and begin describing yourself as such to other people as well as yourself.

  

xx
Christina Ciro

Writer/creator of The Self Love Challenge Blog

P.S. 

Check out my photo of last night’s sunset. Creation is so beautiful, isn’t it? I’m going to start putting in more personal photos to amp up this blog. Hopefully get some more followers and input from those already following. So don’t be shy! Also don’t forget to follow me on Facebook!