overcoming stress

Making it Through Struggle in Today's Challenging World

Fall in Sweden

I'm writing from Sweden where fall has definitely set in and the yellowish-brown leaves float by as the winds whip through the crisp sky. It's beautiful really, even though the Southern Californian in me keeps hoping for the Santa Anas to push warm air in from the desert...all the way up toward the arctic circle. Ahh...the dreamer in me really never quits.

I've been talking to many friends, family members, and strangers on the street about today's world. The majority feel that things are wild...scary...unpredictable. The economy has many of us panicked and worried about our futures. This get me thinking a bit about how we navigate through life when things seem so unpredictable.

For me, when I feel things are falling apart at the seams I tend to not sleep...to have a hard time focusing...eat less...fret...worry...become like a frightened cat feeling there is no option but to run and hide under the bed.

I'm not in this place now, but I've been there many times. There was a time though in which I held on to things so tightly. I prided myself in living in my own apartment, driving a beautiful Audi, having excess cash for travels, etc. When I quit my well-paying job to pursue the life of a writer, it was darn wild. My savings diminished quickly, and I really had to fight to survive. Sometimes I still do in my effort to live between two countries with my other-half and write.

But...I feel it's been worth it...and hopefully it may pay off in more ways than one. It hurt when I decided I needed to downsize my car, reduce my "thing" pile, and  find a new place to live in Southern California/a roommate who would both help me save money and be an adopted cat mom while I am in  Sweden for months at a time (ouch!...before moving I kept invisibly hitting myself over the head for making this move. I kept thinking that someone my age should be much further ahead...with a house overlooking the sea...living the "dream").

Yet I learned something life changing -- I am not my things -- I am not my home -- I am not my car. In the end, I gained an amazing friend in my roommate and a new sense of humility. Who knew how much communal living could be? Who knew what freedom can be gained by not being attached to so many things?

I know someone right now who is so worried about finances and saving her home that she walks around each day with tired, bloodshot eyes. Her soul is weary...she cries often. She frets about things she should have done and about how bleak her future looks. "If I am forced to move, what will I do with my beautiful furniture?" she asked not long ago. All the while, her fears are sucking the life out of her. My question to her was, "what is your furniture going to mean to you if you're dead or sick?" She looked at me with pain in her eyes, wondering if I had fallen off my rocker. My point was...if she keeps letting fear be her guide...she will not last either physically or mentally.

It's wild to think...many people around the world revere an amazing being who had no home and no worldly possessions. Jesus roamed freely, not burdened by things...but driven by a passion and love for humanity. "Come to me all who are weary and burdened...and I will give  you rest," he once said. Whether you are religious or not, it is important to realize that these words were coming from a wanderer without a bank account, without a multi-million dollar home, without a Mercedes Benz. He realized how bogged down we can become when attached to things...that our connection and love for one another should trump our obsession with the material world.

I'm not saying for one second that it is bad to have "things." I still want to save up for a little bungalow overlooking the ocean in Southern California...and who knows...I may own a fancy convertible sports car one day. What I'm saying is that if you or anyone you know is struggling to keep your head above water financially, don't be afraid. Just make key decisions that will make your life easier to maintain. Don't beat yourself  over the head...don't alienate the people you love in an effort to hold on to your possessions...don't make yourself sick.

Downsize if you need to...

Learn to live on pennies for a while...

Make decisions that are going to propel you forward...

Let go of the need to hold on to possessions and begin focusing on to your loved ones instead...

It's going to be OK.

The moment we free our minds and unburden our hearts...the more we allow our creative energy to take flight. A healthy mind is essential for success in this life. Pray for guidance. Meditate on good things. Ask for help.

You'll make it through...

- Jen Engevik

Ideas for Becoming Proactive When Feeling Stuck or Lost

She sat across from me with tears in her eyes..."I don't believe in myself," she said. "I don't believe in my talents. Where do I start? How do I begin?"

I looked at my amazingly talented friend and thought to myself, what do I know? I can't tell you how many times I've wondered the same thing with regard to my own life.

It would be safe to say that most of us feel this way periodically - whether a successful business person, top doctor, artist, inspired teacher or all-loving  stay at home mom or dad - we experience the ups and downs of this thing called life. We are faced with tipping points in which we are driven to make decisions that will forever change the course of our journey.

While sitting across from my friend, it occurred to me that when I had been frozen in the past, the only thing that had the power to pull me out of my self-created abyss was action. In realizing this, I suggested, "Why don't we make a list of the things you need to do to move forward and feel better?"

Our brainstorming session began and we discovered that she needed to:

  • Update her CV
  • Make a concerted effort to grow her business
  • Create a portfolio Website/blog for her photography
  • Work on getting exhibited within a reputable art gallery
  • Organize her apartment to clear her mind
  • Open her heart to meeting the man of her dreams

After pinpointing the direction she needed to move in, we began working on her CV. By the end of our coffee date, we had drilled it out and she was beaming. There were many more things on her list to conquer, but knowing that she had crossed one item off of her list inspired her to move forward.

It only takes a single step in the right direction for our souls to be filled with hope and purpose. We must not get too bogged down by the big picture, but make a concerted effort to figure out which step is first -- and then after that first step is taken...take the second...then the third.

Most literature fans are aware that Tolstoy's War & Peace is a thick, thick book. And when an ambitious person begins reading, they are thinking to themselves, victory is mine!! I'm going to conquer this mad book!!! After reading a few chapters, they close it, place their bookmark where they have left off and realize that they have barely made a dent! In realizing this, many decide that the undertaking may be a bit daunting. The book then is left unread for days, weeks, months. The initially super-trooper reader looks at the book from time to time knowing that they should resume, or it will be added to the list of books that they've left unread.

The goal of the reader should be to pick the book back up and and focus on the amazing story...not on the overwhelming thought of the end goal.

We human beings are dissatisfied at projects left undone. They weigh on us subconsciously.  The only sure way for fulfillment is in finishing what we've started.

Each day we are faced with challenges, and sometimes we feel like giving up. Our list of to-dos and unfinished projects have us buried, and our concept of self if less then positive. But it only takes one step...and then the next...and then the next...

Start right in and do all those things you feel you have it in you to do. Ask permission of no one. Concentrating your thought upon proper undertaking will make achievement possible. Your belief that you can do the thing gives your thought forces their power. Fortune waits upon you.  Seize her boldly, hold her--and it is yours. It belongs rightfully to you. But if you cringe to it, if you go up to it doubtfully, timidly, it will pass you by in scorn. For fortune is a fickle jade who must be mastered, who loves boldness, who admires confidence. - Robert Collier, in the Secret of the Ages

Let's all go boldly in the direction of our goals and dreams!! It all starts now :-D

- Jen Engevik of Project BE Bold