Have Confidence in You!

 



Soaring by StacyJMT, originally uploaded by StacyJMT.

 

In The Sound of Music, Julie Andrews’ character sang a rousing pep-talk to herself in an effort to boost her self-confidence. We can do the same. Taking a cue from the lyrics to “I Have Confidence,” we can follow the character’s example and build our sense of self-worth—proving to ourselves that we are capable of achieving more than we think we can.

“I must dream of the things I am seeking”

How you see yourself goes a long way toward influencing what you become. Imagine the person you want to be—play it over and over in your mind, like a movie. If you have a hard time visualizing, try writing down the qualities you desire. Start each item with “I am…” not “I want to be…” Tell yourself you are, and you will become that.

“And while I show them I’ll show me!”

Action gives birth to confidence. Are you afraid to do something on your goal list? Then do it. The knowledge that you faced your fear will encourage you—and you’ll discover that you can achieve your dreams. That sense of accomplishment will make your confidence soar.

“With each step I am more certain”

The more you realize your progress, the more confident you will feel. Track your progress—have good pictures taken of yourself, and look at them daily. If possible, put examples of your work, thoughts, or projects online, such as in a blog, photo hosting account, or group forum. Seeing your work onscreen and receiving positive feedback from others will do wonders for your sense of self-worth.

When someone gives you encouragement, print it out or write it down, and look at it often. Drive it into your mind that you are good, you are worthy, and you can do whatever you set your mind on.

Think that sounds conceited? It’s not—it’s edification, and it’s essential. You would do it for others—give yourself the same kindness.

“Besides what you see I have confidence in me!”

Look the part. Invest in a good hair cut. Buy clothing, accessories, or cosmetics that make you feel good. Don’t think you can afford it? The truth is, you can’t afford not to spend money on your image. Work it into your budget, if you need to, but do not scrimp in this department.

Spending money on your image is as viable an investment as putting it into office supplies or business cards. If a $40 trip to the stylist makes you feel like a million bucks, that’s a good return on your investment.

“Wake up! It’s healthy!”

A fast way towards feeling confident is to exercise regularly—not only is it good for you, strenuous exercise also causes your body to manufacture endorphins, chemicals which actually produce a pleasurable sense of well-being. According to Wikipedia, they’re released during exercise, excitement—and orgasm. Think that will get you to exercise?

“I have confidence in confidence alone!”

A wise adage urges us to act as if we have already received what we want, even before we receive it. If you act confident, you’ll feel confident.

Stand up straight, put your shoulders back, keep your chin up. That alone gives a sense of stability. Speak firmly. Breathe. Relax. Think of all the steps you have taken to boost your confidence, remember the progress you have already made, and take the next step forward. You can do it.

I have confidence in you.

 

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A Sign for the Times

No Parking

I have a lot of ideas. A plethora of them.

Sometimes these ideas cram together in my noggin until I’m certain they’ll be pouring out my ears. Most often it’s “good” ideas–story plots, art projects, web design plans, goals, wants, dreams, hopes, desires. Things I can do and be and say.

But there are stressful ideas, too–thoughts, really. The time frame I have in which to complete these projects. The magnitude of work that’s involved with them. The limitations of the resources I have at hand. My own lack of experience in certain matters.

What often winds up happening is that the overload of ideas and mounting stress cause me to clutch–I get stuck between having a ton of things to do, but not knowing how to do them all. The ideas and energy build up inside me, while I stand immobile. Imagine filling a pressure cooker with more pressure than it can handle–at some point, something’s gotta give.

Facing one of these moments yesterday, I decided to go for a nice long walk. Burn off some of that energy, clear my thinking. But I was delayed until it was too dark to walk very far; so, instead, I sprinted up and down the block.

Probably looks strange to passing motorists to see someone in jeans and a windbreaker running back and forth as if there were monsters on her heels, but I’ve long since given up worrying about looking strange.

As I ran, I was still thinking. The energy can be burned away, but the ideas remain. Tons and tons of thoughts, pouring through my mind. I puzzled over them, wondering to myself, How can I get all these things done? How can I do what I need to do?

And then I looked up in mid-sprint, and saw a road sign. It read:

“NO PARKING ANY TIME. BEGIN.”

Hit me like a blast of cold air. Keep running, keep moving. Let the energy and ideas pour out together. Just begin. Dive in and start working.

And don’t stop running.

You’ll get where you want to go.

It felt good to run; felt good to have the fresh air. I could have kept moving back and forth, back and forth, till I collapsed from exhaustion. But that’s the thing about running–you won’t get anywhere unless you have a destination in mind, a purpose. If you’re not running toward something specific, you’re merely burning energy.

So I plied my feet back toward the house. Back to my office room, back to my ideas. And I’m simply digging in.

No parking at any time.

Begin.

 

Bound to Overcome

I’ve had a lot going on in my life, thoughts, and goals just over the past couple of weeks. Not much would show on the surface—but between my ears and behind my eyes, the world is a different place. Maybe because I’m different inside. I know it’s been building for some months now—like the Lord is putting together the puzzle pieces of my life, one day at a time.

This is something I’ve been hoping for, aiming towards, for most of my life. I had an epiphany at age 17, suddenly knew what I wanted to do with my career and life, and started working towards that. A few years (ahem, be polite, don’t run over to my About page) and several setbacks later, I had not progressed very far past those goals. Make that “visibly.” Between the ears and behind the eyes, the world was quite different. But looking at my life from the outside, at a casual glance, not much of that showed through.

For the majority of my young adult years, I lived most of my life inside my head, between my ears, and within a few walls. I was a homeschooled highschooler (personal choice). When I graduated, I was tested at a college level, so I chose to postpone college and dive into the dreams I couldn’t wait to dig at. I spent the next four years living at home with my family, attending business seminars, reading voraciously, and pursuing an advanced art education through studying others’ works and writings. In other words, I homeschooled myself through college, after all.

In the meantime, I was writing. Writing fiction novels and graphic novel scripts. I was drawing, drawing like crazy throughout my days. Doing character design for my graphic novel series, studying comic book publishers so I would know the one I wanted to plug it to. I had my sights set on the independents, because keeping my rights was important to me–I wasn’t writing for the present, I was building the foundation of a future. So I could wait a little, sacrificing present income opportunities in order to invest in a bigger future. For that “income,” I started my own Amway business and did freelance artwork, to tide me over while I wrote. How did that go? Well, let me just say I’m grateful my family let me live at home.

Some of my lack of success was caused by the fact that I was incredibly shy and introverted, trying to build a career in very extroverted fields. But I had that dream—I thrived on inspiration, and let it fuel me forward, even when the shyness made it almost painful to do so. As I look back now on the person I was then, I wonder if I could have made it work, despite my weaknesses? But at the time, I didn’t get the chance.

During my teens and early twenties, my family and I spent ten years as caregivers for my grandparents. My grandmother had dementia, and eventually forgot who we were. My grandfather died unexpectedly from a sudden onset of cancer. There were other hard situations we were overcoming as a family then, too. I learned many things, and grew a lot between the ears, behind the eyes, in those years—things that would never show up in my resume or bank account. They delayed my dreams. But they made me stronger, bolder. Partially because, once you’ve been hurt in certain ways, you stop being afraid of certain things. You lose some sense of self-preservation…you kind of don’t care what happens to you. So you get braver, and bolder.

I moved on with my family (my choice, turned down a graphic design job to do it). I looked at life as a new opportunity—I felt set free from the hurts of the past, and felt I could finally begin achieving my goals for the future. But anyone who thinks they can emerge from an emotionally abusive situation and hit the ground running is deluding themselves. It took a month-long bout with pneumonia and a dance with a nervous breakdown to teach me that.

And yet…I came away from those days, and emerged into a patch of brighter light. Suddenly I was free to return to my dream, and I did, with my whole heart. Back to the writing, back to the drawing. Back to the quibbling freelance work to bring in a bit of income while I lived with my patient family, too; but back to filling my days with creativity and excitement, and plans for a big future.

Enter carbon monoxide poisoning.

This was a setback that not only invaded its presence upon my goal plan, and delayed my dreams yet again; this monster literally stripped me of the ability to achieve my dreams. I forgot my stories. I lost my words. My hands forgot their skill and learned a new weakness, a new tremor that would forever mar my drawing. I was one year away from publishing a fiction novel and was beginning to draw the final draft of a graphic novel when I had to stop, and teach myself how to write and draw all over again.

Starting all over, yet again. When obstacles keep blocking your pathway, over and over, and you have to stop, and start, and stop again, you have a tendency to get tired. When you keep falling face-first into the mud, it gets very hard to see the way ahead. Dreams and faith and hope will carry you far, through many hard times…but Discouragement can be a towering monster. It can overshadow everything. When things get so very dark, the light seems to fade away, and you begin to feel that the darkness is all there is, all there ever will be anymore.

Yet the light is still there—the light of dreams, and hope, and faith. It’s just being obscured for the time being. Somehow, someway, you have to climb up out of the mire and walk past that beast of Discouragement. It’s the only way to see light again. Oh, it tries to walk with you, mark my words—does its very best to keep blocking the light. For me, I actually began doubting the dreams I had held for so many years. I began to doubt the worth of what was between my ears, behind my eyes. And that’s a tough situation, because that was all that I had left in me. Without the dreams? To my eyes, if the dreams weren’t real, then I was nothing.

Enter God.

Not that He wasn’t there the whole time. Until I stand before Him at the end of this life, I probably will not understand the whole meaning behind everything that is in my past. I see glimmers, I get a few things; but some of the “whys” escape me. Somehow I’ve managed to cling to faith through it all. But then again I wonder—is it really so hard to cling to One who is gripping you in an embrace that will never let you go? He’s been there with me the whole time. And now, just when I felt like I couldn’t pick my face up out of the mud one more time, and would lie there and drown in darkness…it’s as if He’s saying, “Let’s turn the lights on.”

I can’t explain it. I don’t understand it. Something has changed. Maybe it’s me. Yes, I’ve been working…imagine trying to scale a sheer mountainside by only using your fingernails. Yeah, that’s how I’ve been working the past couple years. So yes, I have all those years of work that must have been building to something. But they never led anywhere, to my thinking.

Until now. Something has changed. Something is different. Between my ears, behind my eyes, it’s been a long journey. It’s been…violating. It doesn’t feel like there’s much of anything left of me inside…just numbness, blankness, tears. Tears that flow easily at times. And fear…the inheritance of so many years of living life in the shadow. Fear that crouches and waits for the merest weakness to show within me…so that it can snatch my new life away from me. And fear upon fear, I am afraid that it has the power to do so.

But then I realize…there are arms around me. Strong, mighty, powerful arms. There is a vengeful love washing over me, shielding me, forgiving me the weaknesses that make me despise myself. Someone is holding me fiercely, saying the He is carrying me on through. Past the mire that threatens to envelop and smother me. Past the dark beast that wants to claim me. Carrying me forward to that beautiful light, which has been there waiting for me all along. He’s taking the emptiness between my ears, behind my eyes, and filling it with glorious things that I never dared to dream of, and can hardly comprehend. The dreams of my future.

And something is telling me that my future, at very long last, is here.

I’m sorry for the long blog post…but I think I’m moving forward on a new journey. And I must have needed to travel light.

*Cough Cough*

 

To take cough syrup, or not take cough syrup: that is the question.

Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous coughing,
Or to take arms against a sea of maladies,
And by opposing, ease them?

Ay, there’s the rub…but where’s that bottle??

 

Heating Safely in Frigid Weather

My thoughts and prayers are going out to anyone in the country who is dealing with the frigid ice and snow storms lately. I’m keeping in touch, well as I can, with friends in those areas, and every news report weighs heavily on my heart.

I’ve just heard from a friend whose neighborhood is struggling with ice storms. She mentioned widespread power outages and the dangers of hypothermia, which threaten residents—such as the elderly—who don’t want to leave their homes. They’ve also had reports of fires that were caused by people who brought their outdoor grills in for heat.

This news sent a different kind of chill through me—there’s another danger that many people may not be aware of, in this time of cold and ice. Carbon monoxide poisoning. CO is the leading cause of poisoning deaths in the United States. Many times the poisoning occurs when inappropriate grills and heaters are brought indoors, to an enclosed space without adequate ventilation.

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that is a byproduct of incomplete fuel combustion. Anything that burns can produce carbon monoxide. Fuel-burning appliances such as gas stoves, fireplaces, and kerosene heaters should be tested by the fire department, the gas company, or a heating technician every year, to make sure they are working properly. Also, adequate ventilation should always be made available—for example, kitchen fans that vent outdoors; chimneys and flues that are properly maintenanced; and windows that are opened a crack in furnace rooms.

But who has a window open during the middle of winter? When people want to heat their homes, they will be doing their very best to seal up all the cracks. This is danger enough simply with normal household appliances—but when outdoor grills or stoves are brought inside for heat, the carbon monoxide can accumulate and reach deadly levels.

If you know anyone who might be trying to use such methods of heating their homes, please spread the word about carbon monoxide safety. My family and I survived chronic exposure to CO, and came away with long-term damage. Yet we were lucky.

And I’ll keep the prayers going.

Be Safe, Think Blue

 

'A Little Blue' by mousewords

 

Two main reasons my blogging hasn’t been up to snuff recently: Firstly, I’ve been busy planning a charity art auction.

And secondly, I have survived carbon monoxide poisoning.

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that is produced as a by-product of incomplete fuel combustion. Anything that burns can produce carbon monoxide, which is also known as CO. A flame with perfect combustion burns pure blue—any yellow, orange, or red in the flame is a sign of incomplete combustion. A sign of the presence of carbon monoxide.

 The gas is called “The Silent Killer” because of its nearly undetectable nature.  But the name can also be considered a chilling metaphor for its anonymity.   

CO is the leading cause of poisoning deaths in the United States alone…yet when does anyone ever hear about carbon monoxide poisoning?  For myself, the only instances I had ever heard of were from old movies—when someone wanted to commit suicide, they locked themselves in a garage with a car running, or stuck their heads in an oven with the gas on.  I’d heard the term “carbon monoxide,” but it was a vague reference.  It had little meaning for me. 

 And then I survived it.

Thanks to old movies, “acute” CO poisoning—exposure to high levels of CO during a brief period—has received most of the recognition. But less well known—making it all the more insidious—is “chronic” CO poisoning, an exposure to varying levels of the gas over an extended period of time.

This is what my family and I experienced, four years ago. Acute CO poisoning can result in unconsciousness and death within minutes. Chronic poisoning hangs on for days, weeks, months…even years…masquerading as a plethora of other ailments. Some symptoms resemble those of the flu—headache, nausea, dizziness. Symptoms such as fatigue, numbness, tingling, forgetfulness, and fuzzy-headedness can be associated with any number of other causes. And often are.

Do you think your house is haunted?

Maybe it isn’t. Not by a supernatural being.

Carbon monoxide is a documented cause for complaints of paranormal activity. Hallucinations; feelings of foreboding and dread; sensations of a cold chill; unexplained noises. Each of these becomes apparent as CO slowly claims its victims.

What does all that have to do with blogging? The same thing it has to do with putting my mascara on in the morning. Or waking up in the morning, for that matter. Carbon monoxide causes brain damage—it robs your body of oxygen, resulting in hypoxia…literally, suffocation. As a result, among other things, I have a constant tremor in my hands—which makes using mascara a rather interesting experience. Four years later, I still suffer from fatigue and depression, which on some days make it a battle to simply get out of bed in the morning. My thinking ability is impaired—I can no longer multitask easily. When I try to do too many things at one time, I burn out, and can’t think at all. Hence, my blogging falls by the wayside while I focus on other things.

Believe me, you don’t want to experience this. As winter comes on, we heat our homes and crank up the kitchen appliances to bake things for the coming holidays. We focus on sealing up every crack in the house with the goal of fuel efficiency—but first, let’s focus on safety, please. Have your homes tested right away for carbon monoxide. The fire department and gas company will perform this test for free, and a heating professional may be hired to do the task, as well. If there is anything in your home that burns fuel—a fireplace, gas appliance, a kerosene heater—please be aware that it needs proper ventilation.

If you are experiencing unusual symptoms that you think may be related to carbon monoxide poisoning, go to the emergency room immediately. A blood test, if taken right away, can show evidence of CO. But time is important. The Silent Killer leaves the blood rapidly…even though the damage it has done still remains.

If someone you know is showing signs that resemble CO poisoning, please make them aware of it. A person who is suffering CO exposure experiences a limited ability to think clearly and make decisions. Victims of CO may seriously be unable to save themselves from the situation, which is why vigilance is so essential on the part of others.

For myself, I am everlastingly grateful for the person who saved us.

And right now, I’m living to be a voice about the Silent Killer.