We called ourselves Freedom House. Nestled in the depths of the woods where we had everything we ever needed: food, water, and a community where love, peace, and freedom were the purpose of living and the center of our lives. At least, that's what it started out to be.
I was only fourteen when I met Peter but at that time he already disowned that name and called himself Miles. Miles was age twenty when I met him at the corner of Broadway and 7th. He was making a water run and smoking a Menthol, something forbidden at Freedom House.
I tried bumming a cigarette from him but was unsuccessful the instant he looked at me and told me tobacco kills. Ironically enough, Miles and I didn't die from tobacco. We would kill ourselves 3 years later lying on the drenched bed at the bottom of the redwood floor and staring up at the circular piece of sky adorned by the tallest points of the redwoods.
Miles asked me why I needed a cigarette. I told him it was the one thing I could look forward to each day. And that was all I needed to say. I was welcomed with open minds and open arms at Freedom House. The entrance was inviting in a way that I didn't know why but I wanted to move toward it. There was a white picket fence with vine growing and twisting around each fence panel. Behind the fence, lay a lush garden with tomatoes, squash, carrots, and herbs. This would be the garden that killed us all.
Then I noticed something. Something unusual and strange but nothing serious at a glance. On the fence and on the front door there was a symbol painted. Two small horizontal lines, side by side and one vertical line underneath down the center, like a letter T. There was one circle on the left side of the vertical line and one on the right side.
As we walked through the garden, past the gondola, and down a small stone path to the blue door with that symbol, Miles extended his arm out and I saw the symbol tattooed on his forearm. He said, "Welcome to Freedom House."
This is Chapter 1 of a book in the making called Freedom House. I will publish one chapter every Sunday. Stay tuned for Chapter 2 of Freedom House.
-Written by Sterp
I started meditating 3 years ago when, at that time, I did not know how to harness peace and compassion for those who angered me – to say it bluntly, I was ready to turn ghetto on my husband’s baby mama.
I realized then that there are always “special” people in our lives that we cannot always avoid. We encounter them at work, in our personal lives, in social groups, or in line at the store. Why do we allow people to take hold of our emotions, take hold of our mind and our reactions? How can we take control over obsessive worries, thoughts, and emotions?
I looked myself in the mirror and began to hold myself accountable, because let’s face it – you can’t just get ghetto on the “special” ones when you have a career, a family, self-worth, and worth for others.
So I began to meditate.
I researched it and read about it but like anything, you just need to start.
Sounds a bit boring right? With everything always at our fingertips, with social media always there ready to tell us what we should look like or feel, I challenge you to take a 10 minute break each day to meditate because the benefits of meditation are backed by science – just like the negative effects of social media is backed by science. So what’s stopping you and others? Is it just the leap?
What’s In It For You If You Meditate Only 10 Minutes Each Day:
What are your questions on meditation?
Check out my last blog on Beautiful Lessons from Difficult People and thanks for tuning in!
I am a Buddhist. Being a Buddhist does not mean I am immune to difficult situations and difficult people. It doesn’t mean I do not get irritated, frustrated, annoyed, and anxious. It does not mean that I don’t overreact sometimes. It simply means I do my very best to come from a place of good intention, that I do my best to pause before reacting, and that I act compassionately no matter the situation.
I am a Buddhist and I do get bothered when drivers speed with no consideration for other people’s lives, I dislike unnecessary attitude, negativity, I am not fond of manipulative behaviors or people treating my loved ones unkindly.
Okay, to be put it simply, I do not like assholes!
Yes, I said it. I am a Buddhist and assholes sometimes piss me off. Does that mean I am not actually Buddhist or not living a mindful and compassionate life? No, it just means I am human.
Buddhist concepts have taught me some of the most important lessons to live by and to always practice. One particular concept is that our enemies are sometimes the best teachers of compassion, patience, kindness, and forgiveness. Why? Because it’s extremely easy to show all these traits to the people we love and like. If you love and like your mother and she does something to anger you or annoy you, it’s easy to forgive her, show her compassion, and kindness and then call it a day.
However, the ultimate test is when a stranger or a person you dislike angers you, annoys you, or disrespects you. This is the greatest and the best opportunity to overcome all odds and strengthen your ability to show compassion, kindness, and forgiveness. Without these moments, we have little opportunity to practice these traits and little opportunity to extend them to our enemies.
You might ask, what’s in it for me? Why is my enemy deserving of such traits? Why not just react to them with anger, resentment, hostility? Because that’s what they deserve.
Here's what's in it for you (some of the reasons are definitely a little selfish but well worth it compared to the alternatives.)
1. Compassion and kindness are contagious. There's no question about it that the world would be so much better if everyone came from a place of compassion and kindness. So many worldwide conflicts and challenges could get solved if everyone, including and especially people in power, acted from a place of compassion. I know it may feel pointless for a "normal" person like me or you to show small acts of kindness but it is contagious...as is hate and anger. I choose the former, always and forever.
2. If you react with anger and resentment, you will become those things all the time. You are in control of wiring and re-wiring your brain. It's not rocket science, it's brain science! Neuroscience to be exact and it's amazing that we can re-wire our habits. It's simple: if you always react to other people's negative behavior with hate and negativity, your brain gets used to that and you easily switch to that mode every time someone angers you. I am not saying you will turn off the anger, I am saying that you can train your brain on how to react when you are angry.
You go to the grocery store after work. It's crowded and busy. Other people are irritated in line because it's so busy. You are in line and a stranger makes some snide comment or gives you unwarranted attitude.
Now you get annoyed. Maybe you immediately say something back that will escalate this into an argument. (You are teaching your brain and making it very comfortable to react this way every time someone else comes at you like this.)
Example 2: (Own the shit out of your brain, and don't allow other people's discomfort affect you.)
You go to the grocery store after work. It's crowded and busy. Other people are irritated in line because it's so busy. You are in line and a stranger makes some snide comment or gives you unwarranted attitude.
What I do, most of the time, is observe from an objective point of view. It is okay to label the situation but without reacting. This person just gave me attitude and it is annoying but it is NOT about me. They are impatient, or maybe they do not feel well, I have been there. Shrug it off, smile - not condescendingly but a genuinely kind smile. Now you are beginning to train your brain to react with compassion, calmness, and kindness, and it will turn into a habit.
3. Your physical health is at stake. I am sure you have heard that stress causes a plethora of health issues yet so many people in the world continue with unhealthy habits that lead to stress. The list is long and can be an entire blog post on its own. If you train your brain to constantly react to others with anger, resentment, hate, on and on - these are stressing your mind and body out. If you can teach yourself to live with compassion and kindness, your physical health will be better off.
Check out this article on stress and women's health.
4. It teaches your children not to grow up to be...well, assholes. If you have kids I am sure most of you don't want them to grow up to be rude and angry people (although we do need these people in the world to teach us about compassion haha.) Children model their parents' behavior and they have a better chance to become compassionate adults who can become compassionate and emotionally intelligent leaders.
5. It feels good to be kind. If you've ever done a random act of kindness then you know it feels good! And that is great. It also makes the other person feel good so it's a win win. So the next time you are down or someone angers you, go out and do something kind for someone. Make it a habit to show kindness or be helpful and selfless each week or each day.
So the next time someone gets under your skin, remember to mentally thank them for giving you one of the most important opportunities to practice compassion, kindness, and forgiveness.
What challenging situation or relationship are you facing that you may need guidance on? Or, when did you recently experience someone being nasty to you and you reacted with compassion? What was the result?
Thanks for tuning in and until next time,
Time management. A subject that isn't given its deserved amount of...wait for it...time.
Most of my blogs focus on concepts, teachings, books, etc that I claim have made such an impact on my life and day to day activities, they become life changing. When I tap into a teaching that is easily accessible, understood, and leads to a happier life, I want to share that with everyone. My goal is to open the gateways that will lead people to live happier, more peaceful lives and flourish in their daily relationships with others. Time management is one of these gateways.
Do you find yourself saying, "I would love to do that, but I just don't have enough time" or "I am always so busy?"
There are many bad habits we have adopted in this information overload era, the era of constant digital distractions. The good news: we can un-teach bad habits, triumph over digital distractions, and develop healthier habits that will lead to a happier way of living.
I spent a weekend completing two LinkedIn Learning courses by Dave Crenshaw, thought leader, public speaker, and online trainer who has mastered the art of building productive leaders. Here are some quick tips I have implemented from his two courses: Time Management Fundamentals and Time Management for Managers. Some of these tips will seem, and are, very obvious, even elementary but ask yourself if you operate your day using all of the below methods. If you do not, you might experience a feeling of anxiety, chaos, and an overwhelming week ever too often.
I tried these methods, stuck to them, and it transformed my time management in just 5 days:
1. Eliminate distractions
Socialize less at work, put your phone away until lunch, eliminate personal social media engagement until lunch, and schedule time on your calendar to process email. You are not obligated to answer every single email right away, unless it's time sensitive to a project.
2. Open workspaces are not your friend
I work in an open workspace so what do I do? Book a conference room for some of the day or sit in an area that is more secluded. This is one of the best methods that helps me regain focus, becoming a Focus Superwoman. It allows for less interruptions and I am here to tell you, no one's world came to an end when I secluded myself. I got much more done, made less mistakes, and was able to deliver quality work.
3. Schedule all your projects
Most people use their calendar for appointments with others and meetings. Start using your calendar to schedule blocks of time for your broader projects and do not stray from that particular project unless it's an absolute time sensitive matter. Schedule your day in the morning and then follow that schedule. Most important: schedule time for a break.
For example, here is what I might schedule in my day:
8:30am - 9:45am Social Media (work related)
This means, from 8:30-9:45 I will focus only on social media management and everything related, like new projects, managing community comments, scheduling social posts, creating social media content and assets. I will not switch task (jump) to "Events" because I have allocated time for this at 10:00am. Your mind will stray, it will try to stress you out, however it's much worse skipping all around different tasks because it will cause more mistakes, more time, and more stress.
4. Take a break
This is especially true in environments that do not provide a strict schedule with allocated breaks. You must take time to give your mind and body a break. Take a short walk or do some breathing exercises. Many people just don't take this piece seriously. They think that they are getting more done than a person who might take breaks but it's not true in the long run. Studies show that when you do take a break, your mind re-energizes and is able to focus better, essentially getting more done in less time.
5. Educate yourself on time management
Time management is a skill that needs to be practiced. So many people think multi-tasking is a good thing, something to be put on a resume, but it actually isn't always a good thing and works against time management. I did not know this until I began my journey into managing my time better. There are so many valuable resources to teach you about the above tips and more.
Here are a few to get you started:
Check out Dave Crenshaw's website for other books and resources.
Invest in LinkedIn Learning, the training courses are invaluable.
What are some of your time management tips?
Thanks for tuning in,
It doesn't matter who you are, where you are from, what you do for a living, or any other category you place yourself in. All human beings experience suffering. It's a natural tendency to resist change and react to challenges, resisting fear and heartache. Yet, we know change is inevitable.
It's not easy un-training the mind but the beautiful fact is that we can absolutely train and strengthen the mind to live in the NOW.
I recently discovered Pema Chodron, a Tibetan Buddhist.
I just finished her book, When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times.
Not only did this book change my life, it's roughly 176 pages, depending on how you buy it.
Why is it so life changing?
It's simple, the Buddhist concepts she discusses can immediately be applied to your life right now. You just have to want it. You just have to be willing to practice making the shift.
Here are some highlights that stayed with me:
1. Fear is a natural reaction to moving closer to the truth: Chodron is a master proponent of being intimate with our fears rather than resisting them. She teaches to look fear right in the eye, guiding us to become more humble and less arrogant. She even says, "So the next time you encounter fear, consider yourself lucky. This is where the courage comes in."
2. When things fall apart: Have you ever wondered if you would ever be happy again? "When you have made good friends with yourself, your situation will be more friendly too." When we feel the groundlessness of a vulnerable situation, we can either be resentful or practice tenderness with ourselves and others. Chodron believes that the way to healing is to allow room for grief, misery, discomfort.
3. This exact moment is the perfect teacher: This book emphasizes how spiritual warriors face feelings like disappointment, irritation, anger, jealousy, fear, and embarrassment as unique opportunities that teach and rather than running from these, they face them head on. We can move beyond hope and fear, continually moving forward past any fears. This book teaches you just how to do that.
4. Relax as it is: Chodron poses the question, just how willing are you to lighten up and loosen your grip? Are you willing to open your mind and just relax? This is where simple breathing exercises come in that you've heard of, but it's a bit more than that. Your thoughts will distract you when you try to sit for even just 1 minute and breathe. And that's ok. Show kindness to yourself and just quietly say, "thoughts." Keep breathing. My life has changed from meditation and I don't think people realize the benefits otherwise everyone would be practicing this. It is the answer to ALL your problems.
5. Maitri: What is Maitri? This is a Sanskrit word which translates to loving-kindness or unconditional friendliness. Thoughts are what make us miserable. But Chodron does not teach to run from these miserable thoughts but rather allow space for them and sit with them while showing yourself gentle loving-kindness during the process.
6. It's never too late to become a better person: Have you done horrible things to people and to yourself? It's really never too late to practice loving-kindness. Chodron reminds us it's not about making pain go away, it's about giving up control overall and at times, letting our ideas fall apart.
This is just an overview of some of the concepts in this book but does not suffice in experiencing it for yourself. You too can become a spiritual warrior and that doesn't mean your fearless. It means sitting with fear and allowing things to just fall apart.
Feeling down, read this...
When Life's Turmoil Leads You Off the Path
How to Handle Work Stress
Learn How to Forgive
Thanks for reading,
Do you sometimes feel like you have everything in control, everything on the "right" path (whatever right means) and within a flash it seems that your reality is falling onto your shoulders, an impact so heavy you wonder if others around (who are faking it till their making it) feel the same?
Don't let anyone tell you feeling this way is not normal, because it definitely is normal at times and the more we don't talk to others about it, the more alone we feel.
If you live in a big city where employment is extremely competitive, it's nearly impossible to become a home owner, homeless communities are growing into tent villages on roadsides, and you have to manage daily interactions with challenging people all while raising a family...then you might feel overwhelmed at times. I want to make it clear how grateful I am for the things I currently have however every human being can and does lose sight of the bigger picture, one where the current moment matters most and where everything else truly is insignificant. We as people can only work so hard and spread ourselves so thin before we feel robbed and stripped of what Life is really about. What do you really live for in Life?
Recently, I have felt the pressures from multiple directions: trying to live up to be the best mother, wife, daughter, human, and trying to excel in my career. That is a lot to take on at once especially if you hold yourself to the highest of standards.
Funny thing is...we actually do not have as much control as we think. The true reality, not our perceived reality, always comes knocking, yet we never seem ready for it. Think of something recently that has happened to you outside of your control, something that makes you want to scream at the top of your lungs or just sit and cry or something that your mind obsesses over, almost to a point of insanity. You're not alone.
So what can you do when you feel such overwhelming pressures, literally a weight around you barely hanging on by a thread before it releases right on top of you?
1. Practice the act of not taking it personally. I am no master of this but I'd like to think I have made progress in my life. It is by far one of the hardest things to learn to do but take the leap and learn. You will fail at times but the successes are peace for your soul. There is plenty of literature out there to learn this method. I look to Pema Chodron, Eckhart Tolle, His Holiness the Dalai Lama - just to name a few.
2. Are certain people in your life driving you crazy? We have all been there but take a step back for a moment and really stop to think, why is it bothering you? Ultimately, does that person's behavior really matter? Everyone has their own agenda and they will do and act however they need to keep that agenda moving along. It has nothing to do with you and in the grand scheme it doesn't matter. If you really want to make a change to your situation, change your actions, reactions, perspective, and make the effort to change the environment you are in if that's what you need.
3. Face the discomfort head on. This is another method, very unusual and a nontraditional teaching for many people. The American Tibetan Buddhist, Pema Chodron, teaches this method in many of her texts and conferences. It is also not easy but a great way to change your perspective on dealing with uncomfortable situations that you'd usually run from. One of the best books I have read by Pema Chodron is When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times. This book taught me ways to see the world that I would not have discovered on my own and it's the type of book you can read again and again. When I finished this book, my first thought was, "I will continue to always be reading this book, once I finish, I will start again, wash, rinse, repeat."
4. Meditate. I talk about meditation in many of my blogs because it does work. It works the way exercising your body works or practicing a skill that leads to expertise. It takes some time and it absolutely takes consistency. It's just as important as physical exercise and neuroscientists are here to tell you that and to prove it. There are different forms of meditation. You can sit alone for 15 minutes and meditate and you can meditate while doing what you would consider to be meaningless tasks, like folding the laundry, washing the dishes, brushing your teeth, and sitting in traffic. The racing mind does not help to lift us up. Learn to slow it down and you will find yourself more relaxed and more carefree when facing stressful situations.
5. Talk to your loved ones. It's great to talk to someone you trust because they can help to shine a different light on the situation. Sometimes we just need affirmation that we are good enough and that's okay. So many people live their lives acting like they are the best but most people are making their way around just like you and me. So don't forget to reach out for that human connection because it works wonders.
I lose sight ever so often, in the grind of Silicon Valley, the competitive nature of work, attempting to be the best mother to my kids and a phenomenal wife, I lose sight. You must ask yourself, is the grind worth it? There are always alternatives, there are other places to see and live, new hobbies to learn, values to teach our kids, and most important - to simply live Life. But if we are too stressed out and feeling down from the grind, then we are hardly living.
Check out my other related blog posts:
When Life's Turmoil Leads You Off the Path
Learn How to Forgive
How to Handle Work Stress
Until next time,
It finally happened. I have been taking the light rail to work for the last few months and its been life changing. No traffic, no silly drivers, I get lots of reading done, and have been very productive with work. Then one day it just happened. My phone was on the seat under my leg a bit and when it was my stop, I got up and walked off. While the light rail doors closed, I paused to get my phone out and then realized I had left it...when I turned around to face the light rail it was off to the next stop.
I stayed calm, realizing there was not much I could do in that current moment. I walked down the street to the office and when arriving immediately went to my colleague in Operations (the guy who everyone goes to when they have something to fix or figure out.)
I walked right up to him, "I left my phone on the light rail and I don't know what to do." (BTW, before I even finished this statement, Anthony had the VTA light rail website pulled up and was already dialing their customer service number.)
And this began our 2 hour journey to find my phone...
What happened next I will never forget.
We are now on hold with customer service. I then go to another colleague and use her phone to call my phone in the hopes that someone will answer my phone. No answer. It rang and went to my voicemail but no answer. I continued to call it but no luck. Anthony got VTA customer service on the line. I explain to them all details of what happened and they assure me that they will contact the light rail driver to try to locate the device. I give them my contact info and they said they would call me back either way.
Another colleague steps in (a technical guy) and tells me to log into Find my iPhone. I do this and now we can see my phone making its way through San Jose on the light rail, riding along beating the Silicon Valley commute.
I continue to call my phone from my colleague's phone...and low and behold someone finally answers! The conversation went like this:
"Hello, I left my phone on the light rail. I am a good person, a mom of a 3 year old. Please meet up with me so I can pick up my phone. I will go where ever you are."
"Why hello, I do have your phone. Don't you worry, your phone is safe with me. I will be at the Homeless Clinic in about 20 minutes next to the Lexington Brothers hospital. I have a blue bike. You'll see my blue bike out front. Don't you worry."
"So you will be at the homeless clinic. I will meet you there. What's your name?"
"I will have a blue bike. My name is Michael Brennie. B-R-E-N-N-I-E. I'll be at the homeless clinic. I have your phone."
"Alright I will see you soon. Thank you so much."
And we were off! My colleague Anthony and I were on our way to the homeless clinic to meet up with Michael Brennie, B-R-E-N-N-I-E. On the way, I stopped at the bank and took out $40 to give him for being such a grand citizen.
As we drove to the homeless clinic, I was praying that this man was telling the truth about everything. We parked the car. As we walked toward the homeless clinic, I spotted something that reassured me, a blue bike right out front. We walked into the homeless clinic, passed folks who were definitely struggling with just living. We asked the reception where we might find Michael Brennie and she pointed us toward the waiting room.
We popped into the wait room where 4 characters sat, dazed, exhausted from sleepless strung out nights, and in need of something.
My colleague shouts "Is there a Michael Brennie here? Michael Brennie?"
We turn to our right and there sitting, slouched down with a green worn t-shirt, baggy pants, and white shoes that have seen better days, is Mr. Michael Brennie. He says "I'm Michael."
"Are you Michael Brennie?"
"Michael Brennie. B-R-E-N-N-I-E."
"Hi Michael, oh my goodness, you have my phone, thank you so much!"
"Well, actually, I don't have your phone."
"What?! What happened?"
"The VTA light rail security guard confiscated it from me."
"Oh, well that's okay. I really appreciate you helping me out. I got this for you." I hand him the $40.
Brennie says, "Oh wow, I really need this. Thank you so much." He looks over at the spaced out woman to his right. "See what happens when you do right and do good things."
My colleague then steps into the hallway and gives me a whisper. We huddle in the hall and he has me log into Find my iPhone so we can corroborate Mr. Brennie's story. I crossed my fingers and the app GPS'd to my phone...and what do you know - my phone was traveling again along the San Jose light rail line. God Bless Michael Brennie.
I walked back to thank Michael and he then asks, "Can I get a hug?"
"Of course you can!"
Brennie asks, "What's your name?"
"My name is Stephanie."
"Oh, I used to date a girl named Stephanie." (He breaks into song.) "Myyyy babyyy Stephanie, darrrrlin Stephy. Oh you smell like roses."
"Thanks again Michael, God Bless."
And that was it. I met Michael Brennie. We were now off again and this time chasing the light rail. My colleague stops at an intersection and we see a light rail stopped. He puts his car in park, hops out of the driver's seat before I notice, and shouts to me to drive his car. I quickly hop into the driver's seat and can't reach the pedals. Of course the light turns green and I have to quickly adjust the seat while driving and wearing heels.
I park his car and run over to where he is. Now he's on hold again with customer service and is talking to the VTA security guards. They inform us that my phone is now headed to Milpitas - really getting the most out of its trip.
We rush back to the car and get a VTA person on the phone. They know exactly where my phone is and we schedule a time to meet the VTA driver who has my phone in downtown San Jose.
We then head downtown to catch the 10:53 light rail driver on his route.
When the light rail comes to the downtown stop, I knock on the driver's window.
I immediately say, "You have my phone, I'm Stephanie."
The light rail driver, "Well, good morning to you," with a big friendly smile.
And that was it, my phone was returned to me and I got to encounter good ol' Michael Brennie.
Tune in next time for my wild shenanigans,
Are you spiritual? Spirituality can mean many different things and the definition focuses on one's soul, sacredness, and the separation from the body at death.
I am spiritual. I am only recently spiritual, over the past 3 years. Like most people, I turned to spirituality because of turmoil that was presented into my Life, turmoil caused by people. I am 31 years old and in my 31 years I have witnessed that the science of logic seems not to always solve the complex issues and emotions of humanity. So what will? Spirituality.
I am writing this because I have met turmoil again. Not the easy kind either. We all experience chaos in our lives, the type that brings confusion and sorrow to us. The type we will never understand and the type that make us feel hopeless. This begins to lead us off the path of compassion, forgiveness, and peace. How can we allow the uncontrollable actions of others to maneuver us off the path of enlightenment? We cannot, that is the answer. We must turn to meditation, prayer, mantras, scriptures, and all other sources of Spirituality - else we will get lost permanently.
I study all walks of Spirituality, everything from Buddhism, Taoism, Christianity, and so on. I do this because I learn from all of them and the funny thing is they all have the same message and overall teaching - how staying on the path of compassion, forgiveness, and peace will bring you happiness and will in turn bring others happiness and will help to teach those people as well.
Empty your mind of all thoughts.
Let your heart be at peace.
Watch the turmoil of beings,
but contemplate their return.
Each separate being in the universe
returns to common source.
Returning to the source is serenity.
-Lao Tzu, from the book The Enlightened Heart
Most importantly, faith and spirituality also help to leave fates in the eyes of destiny, karma, and natural consequences, essentially allowing Nature to do its job, one that we cannot do.
I can honestly say I am grateful for the situations and people who cause turmoil in my life because although I find myself losing sight of the enlightened path, I am able to recognize that I am losing sight and continue my meditation and prayer practices. Turmoil is the true test of Faith and Spirituality. Difficult situations and people are the true test of our wisdom, love, compassion, and forgiveness. I am grateful that I have the ability and strength to meditate and pray for the people around me and for myself.
I am writing this because I have found turmoil again. Am I oversharing? Is it surprising to read? Ask yourself when is the last time you met turmoil and difficulty, confusion and sorrow. I am sure it wasn't that long ago and we must talk about it. Not gossip. We must talk about how to deal with it in order to never be led off the path.
What do you do to stay on the path to enlightenment?
Here are some of my other writings on enlightenment:
When Life Gives You Crap, Don't Just Make Lemonade, Make Eggnog and Sing Carols
Learn How to Forgive
A Buddhist Approach to Dealing with Difficult People
Work stress...a pretty common topic and maybe even overrated when it comes to serious discussion however as someone who works in the marketing world in the heart of Silicon Valley - horrible traffic like our East Coast counterparts and Los Angeles commuter friends, top competition when it comes to skills, certifications, and higher education, and one of the most expensive cities to live in - combine this with being a wife and a mother to a toddler, and well, you got yourself a beautiful recipe of success (and maybe disastrous stress if you don't know how to handle it all.)
I want to follow the paragraph above with some facts. I have never been happier when it comes to my career. I am doing what I love and working at a company that has been the most innovative and creative in my entire work experience. Every day I come home I am happy and fulfilled. Sure I have those weird days like everyone else but the majority of the time, I live a very content and happy Life.
I also work in a very high pressured and fast paced environment. To all my fellow marketing warriors out there, you know the thrill of working in such a creative, around the clock department and yes, the phrase "I thrive off pressure" came from us in marketing. I don't work a 9-5 schedule because I need to be available for conference calls and sometimes urgent items around the clock (also accommodating worldwide employee timezones.) And even so, I wouldn't change a thing about my job. So how do I cope with day to day work stress on top of having a 2 year old, an 11 year old, and being the Wonder Woman wife that I am (let's face it, I am.) I am not going to pretend that I'm perfect and always grounded, like so many fabricated social media profiles. But I do continue to embrace the list below, out of order, and at times giving more attention and weight to a particular item in the list one month and changing it the next. Full blown healthy chaos!
As I said before, I am not going to pretend that I always do the above in any perfect way. Whenever I have those challenging days and find myself getting wound up, I pause, breathe, and refocus on the above. And although I have a career that stretches my skills to the max, I am able to continue with passion in my soul, with a tamed stress, and happier than ever.
Thanks for tuning in,
Based on the title of this article, you may be wondering if I'm a millionaire or what my net worth is today...
I am not close to being a millionaire and I won't disclose my net worth here but just know that keeping track of your net worth plays a significant role in becoming a millionaire. Why is it so significant?
Put simply, it's pure mathematics. If you want to buy a car in the next 6 months and you need $2,000 for a down payment, then you will need to save around $334 each month for the next 6 months. It is that simple and it really only takes discipline, financial discipline.
So, if by the time you retire you wish to be a millionaire...you will need to do the math. You will need to keep track of your net worth. You can calculate it here: http://cgi.money.cnn.com/tools/networth/networth.html
Once you calculate your net worth, it should then be equal to the number based on this equation: (Your Age) x (Pre-Tax Annual Income)/10
(which I got from the life changing finance book called Millionaire Next Door - if you don't have an Audible account, your first audio book from them is free.)
What if your net worth does not match up with the above equation? If you want to be a millionaire when you retire, one main goal in your life is to ensure these numbers match up. Your actual net worth should match up to the number from this equation: (Your Age) x (Pre-Tax Annual Income)/10
If it does, it means you're on track to becoming a millionaire because it's simply math (just like the saving for a car example above.)
You don't have to be born rich to become a millionaire. You don't even have to earn a large annual income.
We live in a world where we have learned that having stuff, accumulating material items, and showing these items off, equates to being wealthy. This cannot be more untrue. Accumulating savings and spending less on material crap will actually build your path to becoming wealthy.
I am 31 years old (and feel that I am quite behind to the financial planning club.) So what am I doing to set myself on the path to becoming wealthy and why am I so confident?
It's always simpler to take the easy way out. To expect wealth and retirement to be given to us or to just say "I only make 50,000 a year." Honestly, it doesn't matter how much you make, you can invest $50 monthly into your IRA and, once invested, that money will grow far past your annual income. (The sad truth is...if you can go out and party with friends or eat out for dinner...you can use that money instead to invest.)
It is simple math. It is about saving and investing and it is NOT about spending stupidly.
Unfortunately, my parents were not taught to manage and save for their financial future so I wasn't taught to build my wealth. I was taught to work hard to make a huge income and then to spend it but that is not correct.
You always invest in yourself the moment your paycheck hits your account. You don't go buy groceries first. You don't go eat first. You pay yourself first by AUTOMATICALLY depositing something into your IRA or your child's college fund. Strange right?
I've had my IRA opened for almost 2 years and I already see the growing benefits it will have on my future and my child's future. I'm determined to be a millionaire when I retire and it's not based on luck, it's all based on math.
Until next time,
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My Mantra: Strive to be the best me and improve a little every day. Be compassionate, especially to those who may not practice it. Continue to learn and love. Take a moment multiple times each day to breathe. Forgive myself and forgive others. Read books. Live what I preach. Accept others. And above all, laugh every single day. (P.S. I have an infatuation for horror and disturbing and dark true stories.)