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 

Advertisements

Fear: The Passenger. 


Hello lovelies.

Happy Monday. (not really). Ok I shouldn’t really be so down on Monday. I mean what did it do to me? Nothing, except create the start of a brand new week. I should be thankful for that. Thankful that I am allowed to even see and experience a brand new week, or even a brand new day. Yeah, it kind of sucks having to go back to work and the hectic daily life routine, but maybe if our attitudes weren’t so negative, and instead we found a sense of thankfulness, we wouldn’t feel so unmotivated on Mondays.

So really. Let’s start over. HAPPY MONDAY! 

::big smile::

Today I come to talk to you about my little pal called “fear.” Me and this guy (or gal – who knows?) have had quite the relationship for some time. I can’t really say that it’s been a very happy one, but it has been quite the task trying to make him (or her) go away and leave me alone. Because really, nobody likes fear. It makes you panic. It makes you feel uneasy. It makes you feel like you’re about to die sometimes. And it just plain sucks, kind of like Mondays, right?

Well, just like my Monday analogy, I’ve decided to turn my attitude around towards fear. Start to look at him or her as a friend, rather than a really toxic relationship. I was inspired by the idea that Elizabeth Gilbert has mentioned in her latest book, Big Magic, where she speaks about how she combats her own fear.

Elizabeth explains that she treats fear as a passenger in her “life” vehicle. She realizes that it will always be in the car with her, but it does not mean that she must listen to it when it tries to scare her into being afraid of things that might not necessarily be real danger and are actually harming her personal growth journey. One of my favorite things I’ve heard her say in a few different talks was that she allows fear to travel with her, but she makes sure she establishes some ground rules, and she definitely doesn’t let it choose the snacks or especially ever take control of the wheel. She says that she is the one that always remains in control, and when fear does decide to speak up, she takes into account whether it is warning her of real danger, and if so, she thanks it. She also, however, thanks it when it’s trying to get her attention otherwise too, telling fear that she appreciates it’s concern, but it’s not really necessary this time.

This was an interesting concept. Thanking fear sounds very strange to me, especially when it causes so much anxiety and misery sometimes. Have you ever felt a tremendous amount of fear whether real or perceived? It’s absolutely terrible. Why would you ever want to thank something for making you feel that way?

But then I thought about it. Fear was originally designed for survival – to warn us of real danger. Unfortunately, our brains aren’t very good at detecting whether something is a real threat or simply perceived by our own minds. This is where anxiety comes into play.

When I was dealing with anxiety and panic attacks on a daily basis, there were moments where my “fear alarms” were going off nonstop at almost anything – and I mean things that really were no danger at all. There were days where I was afraid to shower because I was afraid that the shampoo would never come out of my hair. It sounds extremely silly when I think back on it now, and some people may even laugh at it, but it’s a real thing and real mental illness that many people go through.

At the time, my brain truthfully could not distinguish between what was real and what was just something my mind was triggering as potential danger. It was so debilitating having to deal with this because when your fear response goes off, it becomes almost impossible to make yourself believe that you are not really in danger. Your body will immediately go into “flight or fight” response and it will prepare itself to survive.

The way I was able to combat this debilitating panic was to simply acknowledge it instead of being more afraid of it. Little did I know, I was practicing Elizabeth’s theory of “thanking fear.”

Every time my mind would decide that something was scary and threatening, instead of allowing myself to go from 0 to 60 and panic, I would acknowledge it. I would tell my fear that I was aware that I was afraid. I would remind myself that it was ok. That I really was not in any true danger. I then began to give myself permission to feel the uneasy feelings, to sit with the uncomfortable anxiety that was weighing down on my chest, and I would simply move through it.

Over time, the fear began to ease up. It began to listen when I told it that there was no real danger. And little by little, the things I was once afraid of, became not as scary. My brain rewired the patterns of fear that were originally being triggered, and I was able to heal.

I haven’t experienced panic like that in almost two years. It happens once in a while, but only when I really am afraid of something that could potentially be dangerous or makes me feel extremely uncomfortable. So I’ve been pretty lucky to be able to recover. However, there are always those moments when anxiety and fear do creep up, but I am learning this new concept of thanking it and treating it as a passenger in my car, rather than the driver that is leading me.


(The scary roller coaster he wanted me to go on)

This past weekend, my boyfriend decided he wanted to take me to a local theme park so we could enjoy the experience of riding rollercoasters and acting like grown kids together. While it ended up being pretty amazing, I really wasn’t so apt to go at first.

Let me tell you. I don’t like rollercoasters. When I was a kid I loved them, but as I am now approaching my later 20s, my love for them has definitely ended. They make me incredibly uneasy and after reading so many horror stories of rollercoaster rides gone wrong, I am very wary of the safety of them.

But I went anyway. Because I love him. And because I wanted to experience something new together.

So he believes in that idea of jumping in the water with both feet in order to learn how to swim. I’m completely opposite. I like to test out the waters and get used to things. So he thought the best way to conquer my fear was by taking me on the fastest, scariest ride in the theme park. BAD IDEA. Especially for a recovering anxiety freak.

So we begin our trek to this rollercoaster and the panic starts to settle in. Fear is screaming it’s head off at me telling me to “TURN BACK” and “DO NOT GO ON THIS OR YOU WILL DIE.” I threw out all of my “acknowledging fear” wisdom and simply agreed. “Yup. You’re right fear. I definitely cannot do this. Let’s panic together.”

So we panicked. And I instantly broke out into sweat and tears and hyperventilating. My boyfriend was completely confused and couldn’t quite understand why I was so afraid because he didn’t think rollercoasters were that bad. He did his best to convince me that it would be ok and that the ride would be over quickly. But I wasn’t having it. As soon as it was our turn to get on the ride, I bolted. Literally. I jumped out of the seat and I told my boyfriend I couldn’t do it. Then I proceeded to go cry near the exit sign.

Total embarrassment.

After my boyfriend came off the ride, I apologized profusely. I told him that I didn’t think it was a good idea for us to come and that we should just go home. I gave in to fear. I let fear win. HOW AWFUL.

My boyfriend told me I shouldn’t allow fear to rule me like this. That eventually, I would need to face it and I couldn’t just keep running from it and hiding away. It was only making it stronger.

I decided he was right. My better brain came back and also decided he was right. But I still thanked fear anyway, because maybe going on the biggest rollercoaster there was not a good idea for my first ride. So we decided we would start small and work our way up.

I’m proud to say that I did end up going on plenty of rides, mostly smaller, but I did go on one pretty crazy, fast, twisty, turny rollercoaster. It wasn’t the biggest one of them all. But it was definitely up there. And I’m pretty proud of myself for getting on it. And I must say, I did survive. (HAHA!) But thank you fear anyway for keeping me safe.

(The roller coaster I conquered!)

Will I ever go on another rollercoaster? Um…maybe, or maybe not just because I really don’t like them. But maybe I won’t let fear freak me out as much anymore with other things. Instead, I’m going to thank it more often because it really does a pretty good job at keeping me alive day after day. And that’s something worthy of gratitude.

What are some things you’re afraid of? Are they really dangerous or simply perceived? Can you work on acknowledging your fear and thanking it instead of running away from it?

Next time we feel afraid as we are driving along on our path of life, let’s ask ourselves whether it’s something real or not. And if it’s not, tell fear to quiet down back there and to stop being a backseat driver, because in reality, you are in control of the wheel so don’t let it take over and keep you from living a grand life!



The Self Love Daily Challenge:

Distinguish between your real and perceived fears. Then work on acknowledging and thanking your fear, rather than giving into it right away.

xx

Christina

p.s. Don’t forget to follow my new and improved Instagram page – @The.Self.Love.Challenge!

 

 

 

 

Instructions for Freedom.


“Someday you’re gonna look back on this moment of your life as such a sweet time of grieving. You’ll see that you were in mourning and your heart was broken, but your life was changing…” – Elizabeth Gilbert
It seems lately the common theme of my life has shifted to letting go, whether it is letting go of control, letting go of worries, or letting go of the past. I feel like this entire journey has progressed through so many different stages of healing and developing resilience, dabbling back and forth between complete brokenness, resentment and anger, a period of learning, and lastly hopefully ending up somewhere in actual healing territory. But that’s what journeys are for. If it were easy and we arrived quickly without any challenge, then I don’t think we would grow very much as human beings.

It’s been a tough road. My breakdown in 2014 was a turning point in my life where finally I would go from trying to control every aspect of my life to losing almost all control over everything and completely being in acceptance mode.  I was forced to accept many things, definitely not by choice, which led me to changing my lifestyle completely. As time went on, I did inevitably grow stronger. I was able to stop resisting, which is one of the most important factors of finding freedom. Once you begin to stop resisting things, or rather trying to keep your power of control, that’s when you will begin to find freedom. Once you begin to realize that you’re not really as powerful as you believe, and that ultimately things happen anyway, you will start to feel more peace. 

As I grew more confident with knowing who I was, I realized that the life I was leading was not one I truly wanted for myself. I was unhappy and ultimately leading a life that had drifted far from what I had desired for myself. My then boyfriend and I had grown apart for years, but because of fear, I did nothing about it. I stayed because that is what fear does to people. Fear is also what puts us in a control state of mind. When we are afraid, we grasp for control, and to me staying in that relationship gave me a false sense of control over my life when in reality it just made me unhappy and gave me a false sense of security. I bravely ended things after 8 years of being together. (For those of you following my blog, this is kind of a recap, sorry!) It was probably the bravest thing I’ve ever done. It now meant that I literally was giving up control over my future and trusting in faith in stead that somehow things would work out for me, that I would be led to whatever I was meant to be doing. 

Since then it has been a journey of trial and error, or learning and discovering, and of lots and lots of letting go. I didn’t realize until after things were over, wayyyy after things were over (I’m talking a year here) that I was holding on to so much resentment. 


Here’s the thing I recently learned about resentment. Resentment and fear are really connected. As this Life Hack article suggests, “We become trapped in a self obsessed cycle of being afraid of the future, angry in the present, and filled with resentment over our past.” I guess the resentment was always there, just because I was already harboring bitterness from not being in a place I wanted to be in my relationship and my life. I guess I just didn’t know it until after the fact, because that is usually what happens after things like this end. While you’re in it, you’re too blind by your own emotions that you don’t really know what you are feeling exactly except that it hurts. But once it’s over, and time passes, you begin to understand what you were truly feeling.

The point at which my resentment really came tumbling out was right after I found out he had gotten married to someone else right away. And it wasn’t really because I was upset that it was to someone else and not me, it was simply because I was afraid for my own future. 

My anger was coming out of a place of fear. I felt afraid for my future – “what if I never get married now, all because I let him go?” Anger and blame over the future coming from more fear – “it’s all his fault that I’m not married now.” And lastly, resentment – “I wasted all that time just to be unwanted.” 

Feelings are a funny thing. I don’t think we should necessarily avoid them when we have them, even if they don’t necessarily feel right to have. I think the more we avoid what we are truly feeling, the longer it takes for us to get over something and let it go so that we can move on to a healthier state of mind.  

I really was not aware that I was harboring these feelings because I was avoiding them for the longest time. I kept saying I was fine, that it didn’t matter, and that I was over it. In reality, I was just in denial over the fact that what I was feeling was hurt and most of all fear of my future after making the life altering decision to leave. 

So I guess I’ve been dealing with these feelings now. I’ve been trying to accept them and acknowledge them rather than avoid them or minimalist them. It’s difficult because when you finally begin to accept the feelings and really feel them, a rush of pain, hurt, and anger starts to course through your body. What I’ve learned to do is write down why exactly I feel resentment towards this person or why I feel hurt by them. I then have learned to write down what part of me it affects, for example, I feel hurt by my ex because I feel rejected that he did not want to have a future of marriage and family with me and this made me feel unworthy or undeserving of love. So my underlying fear was that I wasn’t worthy of being loved, then or even now, which explains why in my current relationship I feel so insecure and constantly need reassurance. Isn’t it crazy what holding in our emotions can do? How, eventually with enough passing time, it can even alter our core beliefs about ourselves? 

Most people do not realize this. They hold in these emotions like anger or bitterness or hurt, believing that by avoiding it, they are somehow saving themselves from a lot of pain, when in reality, it is alo hurting and causing further issues in their present lives. Imagine if we don’t get over some past relationship and then start a new one, eventually those old resentments will make themselves present in the current relationshii because ultimately we will end up projecting our deep feelings of hurt onto our current partners, sometimes even unfairly blaming them for it. 

With all that said, the key to freedom really is acceptance – and by acceptance I mean accepting what we feel. Accepting that we were hurt. Accepting that we were abandoned. Accepting that we were rejected. Accepting that we are angry. Accepting that we feel pain. Accepting that it happened. Accepting that it didn’t happen the way we wanted it to. Accepting that it was the past. Accepting that we have no more control over it. Accepting that maybe we never had control in the first place. 

Once we begin to allow the acceptance of thee things, then we can begin the healing process of letting go. Ultimately that is what we want. To let go of all the weight that we carry, and to feel free and light once again.  So, my goal for myself is to not only learn to accept what I am feeling right now, but to eventually let it go. To accept that it was painful, but that it’s ok to feel hurt. I must accept also that it was my choice. And that ultimately I had never had control over a guaranteed future. I still don’t. The future is never guaranteed because it is always changing and sometimes we really can’t control the course we are placed on. All we have control over is how we handle it. So we can choose to sit here with our anger and resentment and bitterness, and pretty much continue ruining our lives by living in constant fear or we can let it all go, find freedom, and begin to live by faith instead – trusting that one way or another it’s going to be ok if we decide to let go of our tight grip. 

I want to stop living in a place of fear and rather living in a place of love and acceptance. I want to stop controlling everything, and instead simply let go and let things fall naturally into place. I want to stop living in resentment and carrying this poison of bitterness inside me over something in the past that I literally have no more control over. I want to start enjoying my present and trusting in my future, whatever that may be. 


Lastly, I want to share a piece from Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, Eat, Pray, Love, where she shares a piece of wisdom from a New Zealand plumber she met at an ashram in India. In her own journey, she too was struggling with accepting the feelings she was feeling after her divorce and everything else she had been going through at the time. She was having trouble letting it all go and finding that freedom. So a man she met sends her off to the top of the ashram tower with a small note of instruction on how exactly to find that freedom. This is what it said:

 “Instructions for freedom”:

1. Life’s metaphors are God’s instructions.

2. You have just climbed up and above the roof, there is nothing between you and the Infinite; now, let go.

3. The day is ending, it’s time for something that was beautiful to turn into something else that is beautiful. Now, let go.

4. Your wish for resolution was a prayer. You are being here is God’s response, let go and watch the stars came out, in the inside and in the outside.

5. With all your heart ask for Grace and let go.

6. With all your heart forgive him, forgive yourself and let him go.

7. Let your intention be freedom from useless suffering then, let go.

8. Watch the heat of day pass into the cold night, let go.

9. When the Karma of a relationship is done, only Love remains. It’s safe, let go.

10. When the past has past from you at last, let go.. then, climb down and begin the rest of your life with great joy.
The Self Love Daily Challege: accept what you feel and let go.
xx

Christina Ciro

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

Permission to Be.

  
I was listening to a past episode from one of my favorite podcasts called “The Rob Cast” today. He was interviewing my favorite writer, Elizabeth Gilbert, and their discussion was pretty interesting. It was on the topic of creativity mainly, due to her new book, Big Magic, coming out in September. She had some great points on the topic that resonated with me and how I’ve been feeling lately, which I wanted to share with you all today.
I know I haven’t written in some time, and partly due to the fact that lately, I haven’t been feeling all that creative. The juices have not been flowing and mostly I think it’s because I’ve been stuck in a somewhat emotional slump that is bringing upon this total lack of motivation to do anything with my life at this point. I know it sounds kind of bad. I don’t really want to feel this way, and yet the more I try to resist it and tell myself I’m NOT feeling this way, the more I actually do feel it. It’s kind of annoying. So I figured the only way to really force myself out of the slump is to just move forward in any way I possibly can, even if it is just a tiny little step of progress. I’ve also noticed that because I have been placing that added pressure on myself to be motivated, it really hasn’t done any good towards me making any progress lately, no matter how small. So instead, I’m not going to pressure myself, but rather just give myself permission to be right now. It’ll pass. Just like any phase does.
I believe as humans we go through these waxes and wanes of emotions and one minute we will ok while the next minute we won’t and that’s perfectly ok. We just have to learn to accept it as normal, rather than resist it and believe that we have to do everything we can to “get out of it”, which will ultimately cause us to just get further “into it.” This is kind of what Elizabeth was trying to explain in regards to creativity. On some level, as artists we expect ourselves to constantly be creating magnificent work, and we place this pressure upon ourselves to do our craft and to make it work for us, when in reality, we are working for our craft. We should exercise creativity not as a chore or obligation but rather as an expression. Something that is not pressured, but rather we can find freedom in. Yet, so many people place this expectation on their creativity, whether it be that it must be perfect, or it must be good, or it must be liked, or that it must make them lots of money, and then ultimately because of these pressure, our creativity dies.

This got me thinking in relation to how we are as human beings. We do the same thing to ourselves that we do to our art. We place pressure on ourselves and expectations to be perfect or good enough or likable. And then we try and try and try to prove our worth to anyone who will listen, and yet, we don’t realize that it is not the world or other people who give us that validation, but rather ourselves. We must be who we are purely for ourselves, not for other people.

I know personally I often get caught up in seeking out validation of my identity from other people. I’m not sure why we do it, but I believe deep down it is human nature at the very core to want to find some level of acceptance from other people. But I’ve always had an issue with it from as long as I can remember, and it’s been difficult because lately I am trying to retrain the way my brain automatically thinks, and instead find my own value within myself. This is a very difficult thing to do, especially when you are so used to searching for your value from other people for so long. You are used to molding yourself to other people’s liking or transforming into someone that might be more likable. For as long as I can remember, I’ve acted like a chameleon, constantly changing personalities according to whatever background I was in. It is only more recently that I am discovering who I really am at my core being. And I still haven’t quite figured it all out.

It is scary in a way, because you have to truly face yourself in it’s raw form. You don’t know what’s in there because you’ve been hiding it and masking it for so long with other disguises that when you finally discover your true self, it’s almost quite shocking and you don’t know how to react. And then comes the second phase of actually accepting this true self. Understanding that it is probably very flawed and there are a lot of things that you will not like about it, but you must accept it anyway because that’s who you are. Sure, there are things you can tweak and improve upon but deep down there is always going to be some level of acceptance that you must make.

I think I am in between stages at this time – still discovering who I am, yet trying to accept it at the same time. I am resisting at times because I so badly want that approval from others. I want them to tell me I’m ok. That I am beautiful. That I am worthy. That I am enough. But then I realize, even if they told me that a hundred times, I would ask again, because I don’t believe it myself. It is only when we begin to believe these things about ourselves and validate ourselves, when we can finally begin to feel whole. So I am working on that. And it’s a process. I’m not going to lie and say I’m doing perfectly ok and I’m totally happy. I still struggle with so much brokenness, but that’s ok, because that’s what journey’s are about. They are called a journey for a reason, because we are continually making progress and moving forward, otherwise they would be called a destination, because we would be already a finished product. But I don’t think we are ever truly finished or that we will ever arrive at a destination. I think as long as we are alive we are on some sort of personal journey.

In the podcast, Elizabeth also spoke about her own personal journey and her memoir, Eat, Pray, Love, which pretty much documented what she went through. She spoke about how sharing her story helped changed so many people’s lives and she feels that it is because they felt like they finally found permission to be who they were. So many people feel that they do not have this permission, that we must earn it or someone must grant it to us. In reality, we do have permission to be ourselves. We have permission to seek out our passions or run into the wild. We have permission to grow and learn and indulge in our creativity. We have permission to be flawed, to be imperfect. We have permission to act silly or view the world in child-like wonder. It is OK! I am learning not to allow my fear of what others may think to hold me back from who I really am. For the longest time, I hid from who I really was because I wanted to be what everyone wanted. But I can’t afford to do that anymore. The only person who robbed of their joy is you if you act that way.

You have permission to be. Grant yourself that approval. Don’t wait on anyone to tell you that you are good enough or smart enough or rich enough or whatever enough to be able to do something that you want. Just be, at whatever stage you may be at in your life… just be.

The Self Love Challenge: Give yourself permission to be.  

xx

Christina Ciro
Ps. Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook!