Heather Sellers

Knowing Your Reality and What’s in Your Glass

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I’ve been thinking quite a bit about personality this week. And attitude. The different ways that our personalities affect our attitude, and vice versa.

I often refer to myself as an optimistic realist. Instead of a glass half full or half empty, I am very glad that there is anything in my glass and understand that realistically my perception of the glass is impacted by the world around it. I am solely responsible for whether there is anything in my glass or not.

I see myself as someone who hopes for the best, but I understand that realistically that is not always the case. Realism, however, might be different for different people. Ultimately, realism is the process of accepting things that have happened and being ready to deal with those things. How willing we are to accept the outcome as it is, and how prepared we are in dealing with it is going to depend heavily on our personality, which will then inform our attitude.

Outside input like a bad day or bad interaction with someone might result in a negative attitude, but ultimately our personality will find us resuming our normal attitude in no time at all. If you are someone that has a sunny disposition then this is less difficult, but, if you find yourself having a hard time seeing past the negative then it’s important to acknowledge this about yourself so that you can see it coming and react to it appropriately. Regardless of your personality, knowing yourself and how you feel about things will make it easier to tackle the difficult things and keep your footing moving forward.

Knowing my personality makes me realize that it is my call in how I react to things. I determine the outcome of my emotions, and no one else is responsible for my feelings. I can get angry, but someone else’s actions do not make me angry. I have to take ownership for these feelings so that I can better navigate what to do with them, and also so that I can better navigate how my interactions with people might go. I can’t be upset if someone won’t hear my thoughts on something if I always react negatively to things before hearing them out.

The ability to react well to critique goes hand in hand with the idea of knowing our personality. If we react poorly to outside opinions like critique or reviews then it makes it difficult for others to work with us, and makes it difficult for us to overcome the things that hold us back, and even more difficult for us to find our way going forward.

Be aware of your personality, understand how it informs your attitude, and understand how your attitude affects the world you live in. Once you accomplish that you make everything else seem that much easier by comparison.

Remember the glass – half empty, half full, it doesn’t matter, because you always decide what’s in your glass.

Do You Ever Find Yourself Wishing You Had More Time?

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Depending on where you are summer is already reaching the halfway mark. Parents are starting to get notices from the school about supply lists and teacher assignments. Kids are beginning the yearly “can’t wait to go back, don’t want summer to be over” back and forth. College students who take the summer off may be preparing for the fall classes – registration, ordering books, mentally psyching themselves up for the hard work ahead. I’m doing a little bit of all of these things. The summer is my time to unwind and spend time with the family and already I am seeing the end of it, and trying to prepare for wishing I had more … time.

That’s it, isn’t it? What we all do? After a certain age, no matter what stage you are at in life, you always wish there was more time available. The young are eagerly wishing those hours away, and those of us that have spent a little more time on the planet are shaking our heads trying to warn them. They won’t listen, our own youth tells us this, but we try anyway.

Let’s take a moment and instead of trying to cling to time – as futile as trying to catch air with our fingers – and just be. Instead of worrying what isn’t getting done focus on what is getting done. Did you get your story written today? No. What did you do with that time instead? If it was creating new memories with someone special then you can safely rest assured that the day wasn’t wasted. If you worried the day away over how many more hours you needed to be able to complete something then you will continue to do that tomorrow, and many tomorrows after.

Take time. It’s fleeting, and always gone quicker than we expect, but that is the one thing you can count on. Time will always be charging forward. Don’t hold on to the moments that you missed out on, instead charge forward for the moments you can still forge. The actions that you can still be proud you took. If nothing else, live. Time can only hold you back if you let it. Keep in the back of your mind that time is man-made, and your worry over it is too.

Make this year the year we don’t wish for more time, let’s instead see this year as the year we make the most of the time we have. If you find that you have more on your plate than you feel you can manage, realize that you are not alone. There are so many of us out there wearing many hats, and sometimes you just need to remember that. Whatever hat you are wearing as this summer starts to grow shorter, know that it doesn’t have to be put away once the summer ends, instead keep it hanging on the hook by the door, ready to be put on at a moment’s notice. This year, let’s take time back.

The Roadmap My Dad Left For Me to Follow

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Today has been about celebrating fathers – our own, our children’s, or even just the fathers who we know and deserve to be appreciated. There are so many wonderful dads out there that I want to say thank you and Happy Father’s Day to – know that you are loved and appreciated.

As I sit here I am thinking of the importance of fathers in our lives; the impact of their guiding force, what impressions they leave us, and how we choose to march forward on our own paths based on what they showed us. I think about my own Dad, who is no longer here to give guidance, or shake his head at my latest escapades (and I still have them, he would be deeply disappointed if I did not). I think about my husband, the man he has become as my partner in life and my partner in parenting. I think about all of the men who have played a role of father figure over the years – mentoring me, providing insight when I felt lost.

And then, I am reminded that for many there is not a father around to provide this guidance – they have passed on as mine has or maybe they were not available from day one and a mother has played the role of mother and father – and that does not take away from the importance of Father’s Day, but perhaps in these cases we celebrate it a bit differently. However you celebrate today, remember that you honor them with your words, your thoughts, the path that you walk far into the future.

Father’s Day is one of those days that I have a hard time talking about. Partially because I wobbled for awhile after my Dad passed, maybe even still wobble a bit from time to time. And partially because I lack the special insight a father has and I can really only speak about it from the sidelines – as someone that is standing in the flowerbed peaking in the window. With that being said, while I cannot relate to the distinct feeling of being a father, I can appreciate what guiding force my father has had on my life. He helped me see that if I was willing to put in the time any endeavor I chose could be accomplished. That I could overcome any obstacles that might come my way. He showed me that no task was too big, and no outcome was too small to be worthwhile. He helped me open my mind and see that there was a whole wide world out there ready to be explored.

The lessons my father taught me in the very short time I had with him has extended into the lessons I am able to teach my children, but they have also extended out into my writing. The writer I choose to be also has a deep respect for self, a deep respect for the people that I interact with – both in person and on paper.

In light of this, and today being Father’s Day, I remember fondly my dad and the things that he wanted me to carry with me. Our fathers – regardless of what form they take in our lives – will walk our path with us, even long after they are gone, and their memories will help remind us that respect, hard work, and an open mind are the street signs that lead us forward when they cannot.

Thank you, dad.

 

 

 

 

A Bit Like the Hero’s Journey Through Wonderland

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I took last week off from posting because I found myself deeply entrenched in the 10th anniversary edition of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods. I have been meaning to read this book for quite awhile [my husband has been patiently, and then not so patiently, waiting for me to read it as well]. Finally I found myself with enough time to be able to properly devote myself to the book, below I’ll walk you through my review. Be aware the version I read of American Gods is the 10th anniversary edition, also known as the Author’s Preferred Text, and has been identified as about 12,000 words longer than the original book published in 2001. If you have read the original published version there may be differences between your reading and mine and I’d love to know what you think and discuss.

American Gods by Neil Gaiman, HarperCollins (541pp),                                                             ISBN 978-0-06-208023-3,                                                                                                                    Buy it on Amazon ($14.31)

“‘The tale is the map which is the territory. You must remember this.’ From the Notebooks of Mr. Ibis”. 

In this tale we follow Shadow on his Hero’s Journey, and the story both challenges and inspires belief in the reader – asking that you not only suspend disbelief for the journey, but that perhaps you start to believe in it as well. While there are times where we wander away from Shadow’s path to see the journey’s of others we are reminded that these journeys are just as tied to Shadow’s own, and at the end of the tale Mr. Gaiman makes it all come together beautifully.

Neil Gaiman shows us a con artist’s repertoire, delights us with coin tricks, and befuddles us with riddles that we don’t realize we already know the answer to until after the answer is given, and all the while we are able to be enchanted the way a small child is when a rabbit is pulled from a magician’s hat. The moment you truly suspend disbelief is as magical as Alice falling into Wonderland, and once you allow yourself to believe when you return to the regular everyday a little bit of that wonder comes with you.

Certainly there are tropes throughout the story, and mysteries that are easily figured out, but in a way being able to figure it all out felt a little bit like being in on the secret from the beginning, and having that confirmed time and time again was less a let down and more a positive delight. After an initial read through this is one tale that will still surprise the reader with new details each time through.

If you’re looking for a more traditional story of good versus evil be aware that this isn’t that story – but if instead you’d like a complex antagonist you can’t believe you’re actually rooting for as well as a gray area hero to champion then this should check those boxes easily. There are no black and white views in the world of man, and neither do these views exist in the world of Gods.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read Critically, Grow Exponentially

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As I work through the latest book I am planning for my book review I have been thinking about why I want to do book reviews and what this adds to the idea of writing.

I have read a number of quotes from authors that talk about the importance of reading a lot in order to become a better author. I think that this is important, but do they really mean just to read a lot? Or perhaps, and this seems a bit more likely, we need to read a piece a little closer and truly begin to read like a writer. If I read a book as a reader I often find myself overlooking things because I am just reading for the enjoyment. When I take the time to read like a writer – and this is what I do when I am reading for my book reviews – then I find the clues that lead me to better writing.

Does this mean never to read a book for enjoyment again? Absolutely not, but when you read enough books with the critical eye you tend to hold on to these details a little better and they find their way with you when you read a book for any reason. Why did Sir Arthur Conan Doyle write Sherlock Holmes the way he did? What clues did he weave into the story that Doctor Watson (the every man for the purpose of explaining the story and clues to the audience) explains to the reader? How did the authors of the Nancy Drew series (and yes, Carolyn Keane was the name, but there were many who donned the hat of this pseudonym) maintain the character so that it felt like the same author was telling the story?

These are a couple examples, and while they are specific to the mystery genre, there are other stories that we have to ask the same kinds of questions. What was the author thinking and why did they make the choices they made. Digging a little deeper helps us ask the questions like what was it about the book that drew me in? Was it the author’s style of writing? Was it the personality of the cast of characters? Were there certain things that turned the reader away from the story?

These are some of the reasons behind doing a book review – it is far easier to train our minds to catch the clues and ask the questions when we make ourselves do it. I also find that when I do a book review I am able to add my own perspective and the questions I ask – what kinds of questions do you find yourself asking after reading someone’s book review? Do you scroll through Goodreads and wondering if you and the reviewer read the same book? Or perhaps you find yourself wondering who came up with the synopsis on the back of the book?

Once we take the time to read a book with the critical eye we see so many things that helps us learn to write better, as well as things that we learn to stay away from. The mindset and perspective I gain from writing book reviews helps me to see where I can change to be a better writer, hopefully this helps others gain a new perspective as well.

When You Just Can’t Figure Out How to Express Yourself …

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Finding a way to express ourselves can sometimes be incredibly difficult. Verbal, nonverbal, written – all the ways we have to communicate seem somehow limiting when we find ourselves unable to string together the thoughts that maybe even we are missing. My son put it succinctly when he said it’s like trying to explain what color is to someone. Color is, well, color.

Words are amazing, they are this fantastic way to remove confusion in our communication, but if you don’t know what you want to say they can’t help bridge that gap. Even this blog, when I don’t plan each week’s posts out in advance, can be incredibly difficult. And let’s be clear, planning my blog posts is not something I have mastered, or even find myself wanting to completely master. With regards to my blog I like to fly by the seat of my pants from week to week, and while this usually works for me it’s sometimes added stress because I am sitting here on Sunday evenings wondering why I didn’t just plan this out sooner. I know, once it’s all said and done and I’ve published my blog for the week, that the reason I don’t plan them out completely is because I like to look back on the past week and use some of the biggest inputs from the week to inform my post.

The guaranteed posts I plan out are my book reviews, because it’s actually impossible to review a book I haven’t read (or at least not possible to do with integrity) – and even still just as difficult to try to review a book I read years ago. Although, while I only have one book review a month planned, I still don’t have all of the reviews outlined for the year; I might need to be flexible and willing to change my plans based on new thoughts on books, or new books coming out, or even books being transformed into a new medium (shows, movies, graphic novels, and the list goes on).

My current book for the month is a surprise, but don’t worry – I can assure you it’s a good one. I just started it last night and once I hit page two my fingers were itching to write about the book and also on my own projects. I don’t think there’s a better sign of a good book.

With all of this in mind, it’s important to understand we all find moments where expressing ourselves becomes difficult. We may find our minds wandering, or our fingers creating a meandering path across the keyboard that maybe makes a little less sense when translated to the page, but that doesn’t mean that after walking away and coming back with a fresh perspective we can’t find our way back to the original path, and sometimes even finding that the new path we have set ourselves on is better than the one we started on.

Maybe the way to think about expression is that your words are your moment to define what color means to you – after all, is it pink or fuchsia? Different perspectives see things differently, and I, for one, am always open to a new perspective.

To Our Mothers and the Lessons They Gave Us

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This week I want to start by saying Happy Mother’s Day to all of the wonderful, amazing  moms – some I have the great pleasure of knowing and others that I don’t know but you should know that you are special too.

As a result, today I have been thinking quite a bit about motherhood; my own journey, the journey of the women in my life who have struggled to become mothers, either because they could not have children of their own or because they had a long and winding journey of motherhood change them – and the passionate and inspiring journey of mothers everywhere.

This morning my youngest gave me a card that had been torn when she was writing in it, in her excitement she tore the card and she and dad had to work some emergency card surgery. In the envelope was a darling card held together with medical tape – but I didn’t see this until they pointed it out because the important thing wasn’t even the card, but the fact that my little girl took a few minutes out of her morning to prepare this special thing for me to thank me for being her mommy. I have tears coming to my eyes just thinking about it – it was pretty sweet – and I got to have a great moment to share with her a story of my own mother’s day debacle when I was about the same age. The lesson – my mother taught me then as I hope I taught my daughter today that it isn’t the gift that matters, but the thought that went into the gift. If she had put in her hard work to show me that she loved me who was anyone to say that the gift was worth less because it was held together with a little tape? And perhaps, years from now, when I pull this card out of the box there will be a memory that goes with it.

We are not all born knowing how to handle each situation, and solutions to things are not a one size fits all – but perhaps in these tiny loving moments we can learn something that will surpass the moment and carry us through tough moments later on. This lesson helped me make my daughter feel better about her present for me, but it also helps me see that we shouldn’t expect to have our first efforts be the best. We have to keep at it. This might mean coloring outside of the lines, or even holding a card together with medical tape, and knowing that our hardest work is good enough for today. Tomorrow, and the next day, we can keep getting better.

Today, of all days, I want to take the time to let all of our mothers know that we held on to the lessons they taught us – even if they seemed very small. These lessons will be what help us to continue to grow, and see things in new ways.

Thank you, mom.

What to Expect: The Reaching Out Years

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Buddhism teachings say that you need to let go of expectations to find peace in life.

How is this possible? Without expectations don’t we just stagnate? Wouldn’t we fail to understand what is needed from us?

I have been struggling with expectations over the last week. Expectations I have of myself. Expectations I have of those around me. Expectations that others may have of me.

I have unhealthy expectations of myself and these expectations often find themselves being placed on those around me. I expect me to do more writing than the time I have allows. Is this an excuse? Maybe. But again, maybe not. I know I need to write regularly if I hope to see it become something more, but I need to understand that writing daily and putting something out there is a great start, and of course, every journey begins with a single step.

I take my small successes and turn them into expectations of those around me. How I expect that everyone has time to support the things I am doing and the disappointment I may feel when they, in fact, do not actually have the spare time any more than I do.

Then I get to the expectations that I believe others have of me. That is the key statement here, the ones “I believe others have of me”. I am not actually aware of these expectations, no one has told me that they really expect me to do certain things at certain times. This is in reality tied to the expectations I have of myself. I believe I need to do more beyond the expectations of my own writing, but instead of acknowledging this I play it out in my head as arbitrary expectations that are being placed on me. This is my way of coping.

How do you cope with expectations? Do you find yourself stressed when others are not meeting the expectations you have placed on them? Do you openly tell them you expect these things? How do you think they would feel if you did?

I feel like part of letting go of expectations, or at least not letting them run the show, is to understand where they come from. I know that my expectations come from how scary everything I am trying to accomplish is. The stress of wanting to do a good job and knowing I need support to keep from letting myself back down. As a result, those expectations have gained a life of their own and they lead to a lot of negativity.

This one is super important! I have to remind myself that my support network can’t read minds. If I don’t reach out to them and let them know I need support it is unfair of me to feel like they are not there in the way I expect them to be. Let go of the certainty that they aren’t there and reach out – let them know you are worried or stressed and maybe feeling particularly sensitive and a little extra support would be incredibly helpful for a little while. This does a couple of things; one, it lets them know where you are and what help you need and two, it lets them know if they ever need extra support they can reach out as well and you will understand.

We all feel stress, and fear of the unknown. Trying something new, especially if it is important to you, is scary. Terrifying in a way. Don’t let your expectations run things, instead remind yourself that you have got this!

And remember, reach out.

 

 

If Nothing Held You Back, Where Would You Go?

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It’s spring time in the Rockies, the plants are starting to blossom and our weather is back and forth unsure of what it wants to do from one day to the next, and that dramatic shift in the weather makes me think about how much can change over the course of a few months. In this case two months.

Over the course of the last two months I have been dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century of technology use, and pulled out of my quiet comfort zone where I didn’t have to talk to people I didn’t know.

And two months ago I started sharing my thoughts with you on this blog, and that has blossomed from the snows of winter and my uncertainty about what I was going to talk about here into a bright and sunny spring with podcasts on Anchor, and a video on YouTube. This has been pretty exciting and certainly farther than I thought I would get in this short of a time period.

When I showed my kiddos that I had created a YouTube channel and posted that video they were impressed, so impressed that my oldest daughter announced she was going to go to school and tell all of her friends that her mom was a famous YouTuber! I told her maybe to dial it back because 29 video views did not equal YouTube fame – her response? You’re famous to me. So maybe it isn’t the big steps, and maybe it doesn’t have to equal fame and fortune, but if you can inspire even just yourself with what you can accomplish then you have inspired someone.

When we let ourselves step outside of our bubble and embrace the unknown we can make some pretty great things happen. Often it is our own negativity that stops us from going forward. Take a moment and think about what you can produce in two months. Is this something you can see yourself doing? I know that I didn’t, but I am glad I kept going because now I do, and as I look forward to the next two months I am wondering how much more can I do now that I know I can?

While I can’t promise myself that I will continue to broaden my social networking horizons – that social interaction stuff is still pretty scary! – I can promise that I won’t shy away from the new quite so vehemently.

I want to spend the next several months building even more, taking more chances that will open new doors and help introduce me to new ideas. These next few months will hopefully turn into years, and when I think about things at that scale – I get a little nervous. But with what I know now, I also get a little excited.

Hopefully we’ll see these next few years together.

 

What Five People Will You Meet?

If the world is full of stories, how does yours connect?

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A couple weeks ago I had the privilege of reading Mitch Albom’s The Five People You Meet in Heaven and this week I am finally capturing my thoughts on the book – have you read it? If so leave a comment and let me know what you think, I’d love to discuss.

Now, as promised, a book review …

The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom, Hyperion (196pp),                                          ISBN 0-7868-6871-6,                                                                                                                                                  Buy it on Amazon ($8.88) or Buy it from Barnes and Noble ($10.07)

This is an older book, having been published in 2003 after the success of Mitch Albom’s Tuesday’s With Morrie, but in light of the sequel that is currently slated for release in October this seemed like the perfect start to a series of book reviews.

“The End” is the opening chapter to Albom’s story about Eddie, an amusement park maintenance worker and the five people he meets in heaven after his death. Don’t worry, if you haven’t read the novel yet his death isn’t a spoiler, the opening of the novel let’s the secret out right away. Through a series of chapters that follows Eddie’s life – specifically his birthdays – the character is swung through a series of memories a la It’s a Wonderful Life and the people that he had an impact on or who impacted his life in a meaningful way, even if he didn’t know it at the time.

Eddie strikes the reader as a typical grumpy old man that might be found in any story that spotlights this particular style of character – and as is typical of the character he has a rough exterior that belies the warm teddy bear underneath. This is not original, it’s been done many times in many different ways. What sets this story apart from the others like it is the cast of characters that share the spotlight with the protagonist for their sections and the reader is able to see them as both a supporting character and as the hero of their own story. This unique perspective could be applied to life; while we are the hero of our own story we can see how we may be the bit player in someone else’s story through Eddie’s experiences.

Is this the best novel that anyone will ever read? Most likely not, but Albom does something spectacular. He makes you feel for an old man who maybe wasn’t the greatest and maybe wasn’t the worst – he walked the line of mediocrity and regret and even through all of that it becomes possible to care deeply as if his pain is personal, as if perhaps his story is tied into your own.

“And in that line now was a whiskered old man, with a linen cap and a crooked nose, who waited in a place called the Stardust Band Shell to share his part of the secret of heaven: that each affects the other and the other affects the next, and the world is full of stories, but the stories are all one.”